Trace3 IT Leadership

Insights on Innovation

What is in it for Me?

I have been giving a lot of thought to leadership lately.  I am currently the CEO of a 300 person company, head guy in a 4 person start up, the weakest link partner in a winery, and the President of a Board of a tremendously effective charity.  Each of these organizations are very different.

The leadership part of what I am supposed to do for each nags at me sometimes.  With the larger company I actually feel like my role is more to help others be heard by me staying in the shadows.  In the start up, I feel that most everything in set squarely on my shoulders and my job is to crush the go to market strategy around client engagement.  In the charity, there was so much work (and conflict) to be done getting the right board in place and finding the correct CEO to run the cause.  Now with all that set I am beginning the process of stepping down to let another take my place.  In the winery I have two partners and a winemaker who is basically a 4th partner.  Decisions are made as a team.

Different stages, different organizations, different styles?  Is there any commonality with all of these different situations?

I think there could be a thread of leadership floating around that runs through all of them.  I think I caught hold of it this morning.

I am not exactly sure how it was placed in my head this morning but a thought occurred to me and I could not really shake it.  I then started to think about it in the context of all these different ventures.  I even applied it to my personal life of trying to raise four children (trying being the key word).

The phrase that kept coming to mind and got stuck in my brain is:

“What is in it for me?”

I believe in so many ways that we are taught this phrase from a very young age.  If not in words, than for sure in watching the actions of others.  We start companies to get ahead.  We join boards to network and for the prestige (personal brand).  We negotiate most everything to try and get a leg up for ourselves and the ones we care about.  To many of us this is the way the world works.  You grow up thinking, “If I don’t take care of myself, who is going too?”

I was stuck on this phrase and it got a little weird.  Bare with me on this, but I kept seeing a picture in my mind of a stream flowing swiftly between trees and down a hill till is disappeared out of sight.  And in that stream, right in the middle, there was a rock.  The rock was not big, but the water ran around it and just the top of the rock bared itself to the trees and sky above.   It didn’t seem big enough to part the water, but it did.  All the water rushed around it murmuring, “What’s in it for me?”  And in my head, the rock, grey and clean whispered, “What’s in it for them…”  Not so much a question as it was a statement.

This little vision was an epiphany for my little brain.

What’s in it for them…

It has been whispering to me all day.

THAT is the bond.  Them.  It has never been Me.

Trace3 – Lift others around us and help our clients Evolve to face the changes in this marketplace.  We must help THEM transform and thrive.

PoP – Bring enterprises together (read THEM) and help them crowdsource and crowdsolve their problems.  Give THEM a platform to innovate.

Memento Mori Winery – Help everyone “Remember to Live” by creating an amazing product meant to be enjoyed in the best moments of your life.  Help THEM live in the moment.

Project Hope Alliance – End the Cycle of Homelessness for 500 kids and their families in 2014.  Help THEM see and realize a new possibility.

Being a parent – well that was easy…I want happiness and safety for THEM.  They have my heart.


I could write on this for hours, but I won’t.  I think THEM might be bored if I did.

So to conclude – I think this focus, this way of building organizations that think first of “THEM” rather than “ME” might be one of the major keys to many things.

My challenge to you is this: When you go to work tomorrow ask yourself, who you are focused on?

Are you the water or are you the rock?


Twitter: @hayesdrumwright (PoP)

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