1/“What would need to be true for you to….X”

Why is this the most powerful question you can ask when attempting to reach an agreement with another human being or organization?

A thread, co-written by @deanmbrody:

2/ First, “X” could be lots of things. Examples: What would need to be true for you to

- “Feel it's in our best interest for me to be CMO"
- “Feel that we’re in a good place as a company”
- “Feel that we’re on the same page”
- “Feel that we both got what we wanted from this deal
3/ Normally, we aren’t that direct. Example from startup/VC land:

Founders leave VC meetings thinking that every VC will invest, but they rarely do.

Worse over, the founders don’t know what they need to do in order to be fundable.
4/ So why should you ask the magic Q?

To get clarity.

You want to know where you stand, and what it takes to get what you want in a way that also gets them what they want.

It also holds them (mentally) accountable once the thing they need becomes true.
5/ Staying in the context of soliciting investors, the question is “what would need to be true for you to want to invest (or partner with us on this journey, etc)?”

Multiple responses to this question are likely to deliver a positive result.
6/ Positive answers/outcomes include:

A) straight answer that includes a set of conditions that you can reasonably meet (e.g. a reasonable equity ask).

Positive outcome: clear criteria to establishing a deal.
7/ B) straight answer that includes a set of conditions that are not realistic to meet (e.g. renounce leadership position).

Positive outcome: get out of the deal pursuit and save your time OR counter propose with more favorable conditions.
8/ C/ no straight answer and uneasy body language. They struggle to give a clear/concise response.

Positive outcome: bail!  Save your time and money as they are not ready or willing to do business.
9/ Note: The Q should come from a place of seeking mutual benefit. Or else it’ll ring hollow and manipulative.

When asking for a raise, it's less: “true for you to feel I deserve this?"

More: “true for you to feel it’s in all of our best interest?”

And you genuinely mean it.
10/ Put differently: The Q below isn't phrased “buy my product, be my employee, etc —


it says “be all in”—be a partner.

Seeking win-win.

Like any conversational framework, use somewhat sparingly, and only when genuinely seeking mutual benefit!

Most Liked Replies

Diego Ibarra:
Or they don’t really know what they want. And that’s the worst escenario you could be in if the agreement moves forward.
Dean Brody:
You’ve taken the question and thoughts behind it to a new level. As you have shared, when used correctly and with good intent, this can save so much time and energy - so those resources can be applied instead towards value creation.
Brent Jensen:
Absolutely clears the dust around any deal. Let's you focus on true pain points and forget the fluff that clients don't care about. Great thread.
Alex Hardy 🦊🦔:
Have you ever read Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss? I really enjoyed it and it's very on-point with what you're laying out. Would be curious your thoughts.

Patrick South 🔗:
killer thread. clear thoughts.


1/ Here’s a list of conversational frameworks I’ve picked up that have been helpful.

Please add your own.

2/ The Magic Question: "What would need to be true for you

3/ On evaluating where someone’s head is at regarding a topic they are being wishy-washy about or delaying.

“Gun to the head—what would you decide now?”

“Fast forward 6 months after your sabbatical--how would you decide: what criteria is most important to you?”

4/ Other Q’s re: decisions:

“Putting aside a list of pros/cons, what’s the *one* reason you’re doing this?” “Why is that the most important reason?”

“What’s end-game here?”

“What does success look like in a world where you pick that path?”

5/ When listening, after empathizing, and wanting to help them make their own decisions without imposing your world view:

“What would the best version of yourself do”?


And here they are...


Remember, this money is just fun. If you launched a product (or even attempted a launch) - you did something worth MUCH more than $1,000.


The winners 👇


Lattes For Change - Skip a latte and save a life.


@frantzfries built a platform where you can see how skipping your morning latte could do for the world.

A great product for a great cause.

Congrats Chris on winning $250!


Instaland - Create amazing landing pages for your followers.


A team project! @bpmct and @BaileyPumfleet built a tool for social media influencers to create simple "swipe up" landing pages for followers.

Really impressive for 24 hours. Congrats!


SayHenlo - Chat without distractions


Built by @DaltonEdwards, it's a platform for combatting conversation overload. This product was also coded exclusively from an iPad 😲

Dalton is a beast. I'm so excited he placed in the top 10.


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Built by @jesswallaceuk, the project is focused on highlighting the experience of developers and people learning to code.

I wish this existed when I learned to code! Congrats on $250!!

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