🏗 A Recipe to Grow Leverage
Grow your career by embracing accountability
How do you grow your career faster than your peers?
Naval Ravikant, prolific investor and co-founder of Angelist, has a non-intuitive suggestion:
What does a business risk here mean for a product manager?
To me, it’s working on a risky company-critical initiative — one where success can reinvent the business and where failure can be a huge setback.
Think of working on Disney+ before it launched or delivering the upcoming Augmented Reality (AR) glasses from Apple.
If you can successfully deliver on a company-critical initiative, you’ll be rewarded. Specifically,
You’ll be trusted to lead larger teams
You’ll become more senior in the organization and
You’ll earn the trust and respect of the broader team, increasing your influence internally
These items all increase your leverage. This is the “fuel” to your career growth and what allows you to have an outsized impact on any environment you work in.
Below I want to share a recipe for growing your leverage internally through company-critical initiatives. It includes:
Meta-Execute to Deliver
Earn Leverage (and my story of doing this myself)
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🔭 Seek Accountability
Accountability for a company-critical initiative bears the risk of a highly-visible failure. That’s scary!
But just as your failure is amplified, your success is too. People will notice if you can lead a challenging initiative and deliver what you’re accountable for.
In the end, taking calculated bets on yourself is how you grow faster than your peers.
So before finding accountability, ask yourself: are you ready to add fuel to your career fire? Things to consider are:
Can I handle my current scope well?
Is the new initiative clearly more important than my current one?
If you say yes to all three, let your manager or skip-level know that you have the capacity should a critical initiative come up. You may say:
Hey! I want to make sure I’m having the most impact as possible across the company. Let me know if there are any undersupported critical areas — I can make some capacity to drive them.
Alternatively, seek out underfunded but critical initiatives yourself;
Hey! I’ve been speaking to Jane (Director of Product) and she mentioned that we’re at risk of not delivering Initiative X by EOY. Can I lean in and support? I have some capacity and know the urgency of this initiative.
By putting your hand up to work on critical scope, you’re showing you care about the overall success of the company.
Meta-Execute to Deliver
How can you deliver a company critical initiative while not dropping the ball on your current scope? The answer rests in a practice I learned at Facebook called meta-execution.
Meta-execution is executing through others. This is how product directors can steer a team of 200 people without writing tickets, doing experiment reviews or writing weekly updates.
The ability to empower leaders within your team to have more ownership is what separates execution for a PM on a 5-person eng team and a PM who drives a 40-person eng team.
Imagine a world where you need to balance your existing scope with a company-critical initiative. The best way to meta-execute would be to find a capable leader on your team and delegate meaningful parts of the execution to them. This person may be:
An engineer, engineering manager or tech lead
A designer, data scientist or UX researcher
A customer success lead, product ops associate or program manager
Here’s what that division may look like:
Tactically, meta-execution unlocks your capacity to drive additional scope. In this case, the company's critical initiative is more important so it’s critical to spend more time there.
With this setup, it’s up to you now to deliver on the critical initiative. There are no shortcuts or secret sauce to do this correctly — it’s just executing to the best of your capabilities.
Accountability Earns Leverage
Success in your new initiative can earn you leverage in the form of a larger team, more influence and a higher role within the organization.
I experienced this firsthand while I was a growth product manager for Facebook’s Video team. As lockdowns spread in the spring of 2020, more people were watching videos on Facebook.
We saw a surge in organic traffic but realized the need to drastically improve parts of our first-time user experience (FTUX) to retain them. I put my hand up to lead this initiative and quickly aligned the broad team on a strategy, feature roadmap and execution plan.
As the surge slowed down and the dust settled, I looked back and noticed that I was successfully able to lead my existing scope (which was user activation) and the critical improvements to FTUX.
This led to my leverage growing internally:
I took a calculated risk on my ability to execute and it paid off. Give taking great accountability a try and let me know how it goes!
Seeking accountability is like adding fuel to your career fire — it amplifies successes and failures
Successfully delivering on a key initiative where you’re accountable requires meta-execution
If you can deliver on the initiative successfully, you’ll be rewarded with more leverage
Leverage is the key to growing your career at an unusually fast pace
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