Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson On Having A System–Any System

Etsy’s CEO has created an intricate system to keep everything organized and never forget details about new connections. He’s even taught a class about it to his young employees. Here’s what he wishes someone taught him when he was 22.

The CEO of Etsy doesn’t sit in a lofty corner office, out of touch with his 500 employees across seven cities.


He takes time to find out what they need–even when they don’t know it themselves. When Chad Dickerson, who’s been with the online maker’s marketplace since 2008, asked his employees about their workflow–what keeps them organized, productive, and on-task–many didn’t have an answer. “It doesn’t matter what your system is,” he said. “You have to have a system.”

For networking, especially, he has the system down. When Dickerson meets someone at an event, he puts their contact information in his address book with a few context notes. “Met this person in March 2007. We talk about Content Management Systems,” for example. The next time he reaches out to that person, he’s able to recall when they met and what they were interested in; a personal touch beyond the business card title. He’s capitalizing on the connections of strangers.

“I wish, when I was 22, someone had come to me and said, ‘Here’s an entire system . . . here’s what you do.'”

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