567. Admitting a Gap, His Opportunities Explode
Michael created an online product to help clients manage their brand assets. “Customer feedback was great,” he said, “but we quickly realized we had no idea what we were doing!” So he started a podcast to open doors to the experts whose brains he needed to pick. It led to a whole new gig.
Michael Sacca is the president of Crew and host of Rocketship.fm. He started his career by moving to Los Angeles, California, and pursuing a career in music. After three years of waiting tables, with little success, he decided to teach himself to write code. He used these skills to launch Tiny Factory, a web development agency that won clients like General Electric, Scholastic and Kobe Bryant. While running Tiny Factory, he started the Rocketship.fm podcast and built many other applications and products. He joined Crew two years ago as Head of Partnerships and has now taken over as president. Companies have trusted Crew to source freelancers for more than $30 million in design and development products.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I started playing piano at the age of 5. In high school, I picked up the guitar and played in several noisy punk bands.” He knew how slim the odds were of making a career as a professional musician, but he found a degree program in music business at a state college in Oneonta, New York. “I figured, worst case scenario, I would work at a record label. They were still a thing back then. They still mattered.” He arrived in Los Angeles as the recording industry was imploding, and he had to dig deeply into his creativity to plot a new course.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Temporary work at a restaurant in L.A. ended up lasting three years. I was getting burned out. I had gone to college and graduated. I thought, “There’s got to be something better than this! I moved in with a new roommate in Santa Monica. He would come home at 4:00 a.m., wake up at noon, and make three times the money I did! He had taught himself how to code PHP and he liked what he was doing. So, I leaned on him to teach me the ropes of coding to get my first clients.
The Most Powerful Lesson Learned?
His clear realization of how much he did not know about bringing a new product to market led him to find a creative way of getting experts to talk to him for free—through a podcast. His willingness to acknowledge his limitations and look for reasons to convince experts to open up to him eventually connected him to a totally new opportunity. Within months he was president of Crew and quickly forming new productive partnerships.
On His Bookshelf
The Social History of the Machine Gun, by John Ellis
[Michael explains, “I like this because it takes you through what happens when we create things, and the implications of our decisions.”]
Steps to Success from Michael Sacca
1. Cultivate enough self-awareness to know what you’re good at and what you’re not.
2. Be conscious of your own limits.
3. Develop empathy and use it with your team or your co-workers.
4. Think through the implications of the things you create and their impact on the world.
Connecting With Michael Sacca
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