Having Skin In The Game

skin in the game

Skin In The Game

‘Skin in the game’ is a term I first heard when I got into business. Essentially, it means that someone should have an element of personal risk when offering advice, opinions or taking action.

The ancients used to get this principle – If an architect built a house which collapsed and killed anyone, then the architect would be accountable for those deaths. He would be put to death as a consequence of his poor performance. If a child of the architect died, then the architects child would be put to death. Some might argue brutal, but mightily effective and holds everyone to account.

Nassim Taleb wrote a book called ‘Skin In The Game’ which is worth a read.


Having Skin In The game

You have personal risk

You are accountable

You take responsibility for your opinions

You have freedom to express (because you have full ownership over your opinion)


Consequences Of Not Have Skin In The Game

The complete opposite of the above

No personal risk


No Responsibility

No freedom to express (authentically at least)


Today’s World

In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés, a Spanish Conquistador, landed in Veracruz to begin his great conquest of the Aztec empire. Upon arriving, he reportedly gave an order to his men to burn the ships in which they arrived.

There was no way back. No better way of ensuring total effort and performance.

What do we see today?

Politicians sending young men to war while they sit on their thrown giving orders about. Highly bureaucratic organisations screaming ‘climate change’ while they fly around the world in their private jets. Hypocrisy of the highest orders, and a sincere lack of responsibility in high places.