Skin In The Game

I  was reading Astroball the other day and it made me think about how important the concept of “skin in the game” is when you are executing a turn around.

skin in the game

“Skin in the game” refers to the extent to which someone is invested in the results of your enterprise. Without skin in the game there is no accountability and no repercussions for failure.

There’s  A Lot of Noise

My first professional season of coaching my team started off slowly. We weren’t winning on the field even though we played pretty well and most of our games were close. Still, losing is not acceptable.

Many people had an opinion about it.  Friends would tell me what they thought and were generally supportive. Family weighed in, although they were mainly worried for me. Fans, of course, were critical, but that’s OK, that’s the job of fans.

And, other coaches–I knew a lot of successful coaches–called, emailed, texted or stopped by to let me know their ideas and the solution.

Then they walked away back to their own lives.

Meanwhile my head was spinning. There were many good ideas from many smart people.

You think we should press? You think low pressure? Just play so and so there, or there?

Many  good ideas all coming from people with no “skin in the game.”

While we were winning or losing they were sitting in the stands, or watching on the game on tv or reading about it on the message boards from their homes.

If you really want to change a program it is good to consult with other  people, but you want it to be people who have something on the line.  People who are invested, accountable, reliable and involved.

Just like you are.

If a consultant wants to let you know what they think then they need to be willing to tell everyone that they are invested in the idea. Succeed or fail. List you as a client on their website. Other coaches? Come join us for a week. Get to work.

All the information was sincere, kindhearted noise. That’s right–noise.

Realizing this was incredibly helpful.


I was lucky that I had an incredibly talented and committed staff. All of them had “skin in the game,” an incredible work ethic and were talented at what they did.

Together we crafted and enacted a plan. Then we followed the plan.

Nobody writes about this idea of “skin in the game” better than Taleb.

By the way, our second season we won the championship.

The most useful book for me was Bill Wash’s Finding the Winning Edge.

I thought about all of this while listening to Astroball: The New Way to Win it All



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