Insights and Opinions

What's In It For Me?

If you want to best describe the motivation behind the action, think "What's in it for me"? Your employees, your shareholders, your customers, and your suppliers are all driven by this question. So why not put yourself in their shoes and develop your action plan and goals to help each of them to achieve theirs?

Employees want to be challenged, appreciated, and rewarded for good work. So create a plan for each that will accomplish these goals upon successful achievement of their tasks over time. Be bold enough to ask each during their periodic reviews to tell you what they want to achieve. Be a good manager by creating paths to achievement that reflect those ambitions and allow the employee to measure success in a meaningful way during the effort to progress.

Suppliers need you to be a good customer, to pay a reasonable price for goods or services, to pay your bills on time, and of course to reorder when the time comes. But suppliers also want to know what makes you productive and help you win at your game.

Good suppliers want to create solutions to your needs and distance themselves from their competition. So meet with critical suppliers and challenge them to meet your needs, asking how they can help solve your problems. Both sides win when you take the effort to inform, challenge, and partner with suppliers.

Your customers want to be treated as special. Each would like to know that they are important, genuinely important, to your success. Many would gladly share their problems with you hoping that you could provide solutions that would benefit both parties.
Your board members would experience a special feeling of accomplishment if they, as a group, could help you solve a problem that is strategic to the success of the company.

But deep within each of these stakeholders is the question baked into our psyche: "What's in it for me"? You can unlock lots of energy, talent and effort from each of these stakeholders merely by thinking ahead and planning your approach in response to that simple question.

Dave Berkus is a noted speaker, author and early stage private equity investor. He is acknowledged as one of the most active angel investors in the country, having made and actively participated in over 70 technology investments during the past decade. He currently manages two angel VC funds (Berkus Technology Ventures, LLC and Kodiak Ventures, L.P.), is a partner in Trenchant Ventures, LLC. Dave is past Chairman of the Tech Coast Angels, one of the largest angel networks in the United States. You can read more of his blog posts at, where this was originally posted. Dave's most recent book is BASIC BERKONOMICS, which was just released earlier this year.