I have been a part of a few start-up companies and have learned quite a bit along the way. One question that many early employee candidates of start-ups struggle with is how to ask for equity in the company they are being asked to help build (assuming there is not a formal program in place). I have helped frame this question in a few different ways but a friend of mine, Gary Peat, put it as concisely as I have heard it said:
What do I need to do to earn an equity position in this company?
I like the way this particular question is framed because 1) it puts the onus on the company to stake out what performance level it requires to grant equity and 2) it allows the candidate to put forth he question in an humble manner because he or she wants to earn that which will be granted. In the era of 140-character abbreviated rants, it is nice to see how a well-phrased question can make all the difference in the world as to how it will be received.