The Operating System for Success

The Operating System for Success

Michael Sacca

Episode Summary

A successful leader doesn’t leave success on the matters of chance. In this fast-paced world, one of the key abilities that will set a leader apart from the rest is the ability to see and create order from chaos. It may take them painstaking years, even decades, but these leaders believe that success is a slow and steady craft.

One of these leaders is Michael Sacca, External Vice President and General Manager of Dribbble. Through his background in technology and business, he's got different views on both small and large businesses.

His million-dollar tip? Success starts from a dynamic internal system. Here are his principles:

Set it up

Life is messy. But this should not stop us from making audacious goals. Michael swears by the importance of setting up personal and organizational systems that will make your ambitions a reality. Start by laying out a framework for what success looks like. This will define your direction. Next, establish a system that will drive you forward.

Creating successful organizations is setting up the same plan for every single person on our team to make sure that they're growing, striving, and challenged. – Michael Sacca

Start small. It doesn’t have to be grand. You can ensure progress by setting small achievable goals or key performance indicators. These goals should be simple enough to reach but challenging enough to ensure your team’s growth. Sounds easy? Not quite.

Leaders usually fall short in being consistent with their key metrics. According to Michael, consistency is the most crucial part of setting up your system. Be consistent enough with your intention and effort that it becomes a habit. And if you miss a beat, forgive yourself. The important thing is you remain consistent in honoring your system.

We try to create these habits individually, but we're not meant to be solo machines. We are community beings. And so it's incredibly important that if you have a personal mission, set yourself up with some kind of system of accountability so that you have to go to somebody and say, 'this is what I did.' – Michael Sacca

Architect an environment that supports each other to follow through and remain committed to your system. This environment is created when accountability checks are encouraged. How your team shows up and is accountable for your system will determine its success.

Focus on impact

Organizational and personal systems don’t ever exist in a vacuum. That’s what makes it exciting.

You have to keep up with developments, trends, shifts, and innovations. Otherwise, you’ll get left behind – or so you think. Michael gives us a crucial reminder that you don’t have to do everything. You have to prioritize the most important thing. In doing so, ask yourself, “What would be the most impactful?”.

You have to prioritize the most important thing because you can’t do everything. Doing everything of course would be amazing, but everything that you choose to do and everything you pick up takes you away from everything else that you're already doing. – Michael Sacca

In order for a system to be dynamic, it has to be self-adjusting and ever-evolving. You can make this happen by doing regular impact assessments for your roadmap. This means you assess the progress and processes of your team and determine what is and what is not making the most. This practice forces you to not only think about the system itself, but evaluate it as well based on results. From here, be ready to switch gears. Put down a project, start a new one if that is the most impactful, and keep the rotation going.

Value longevity

Lastly, don’t give up. One reason why startups fail is because they give up too soon. Michael believes that the key to success is the willingness to go the distance. Don’t aim for that quick hit, just focus on being around.

Most opportunities come to the people who are in the game the longest. – Michael Sacca

Things will always take a lot longer to build than you first imagined. It will certainly take you years before you can achieve the vision you had in your meeting room. When you look back, try seeing the velocity and be honest and kind with yourself. If you’re not seeing the traction you want, if you weren’t able to meet a million customers in the first two years like what you projected, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means your business isn’t growing.

Make that honest assessment and go back to making the most impact. Start again if you have to, but don’t rush or you’ll end up with a fragile company. Really spend the time to hire the right people, build a culture you can be proud of and excited to work with, and continue that growth.

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