Leadership

A key part of success that a lot of people overlook, according to the 34-year-old Kickstarter CEO

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Everette Taylor, CEO of Kickstarter
Everette Taylor

Hard work, determination and perseverance can all contribute to a successful career. But there's one key underrated element, according to Everette Taylor, CEO of the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter: Timing.

Taylor, 34, is a serial entrepreneur with seven C-suite positions under his belt. And though he says he's worked diligently to achieve his current stature, timing played a huge role, too.

"There's a ton of people out there who are just as smart, or smarter, than me, or work just as hard as me. I've just been very fortunate with timing," he tells CNBC Make It. "I think a lot of people put so much [pressure] on themselves and they don't understand that sometimes life has to give you some lucky breaks."

For example, "the way Kickstarter discovered me is that one of the board members happened to be reading a Financial Times article about me," he says. "[They] happened to know the writer and reached out, and the writer connected us."

The article detailed how Taylor "scaled and exponentially grew" the team in his previous role as chief marketing officer at Artsy, he says, prompting the board member to pursue him.

"It's the balance of timing and alignment. But also the intentionality to put yourself in a position to have new opportunities and then execute on those opportunities," he says.

How to position yourself for success

So how do you prepare for opportunity if you have no idea when it'll come knocking? By getting clear on your goals and working every day to bring them to fruition, Taylor says.

That doesn't necessarily mean dedicating the 10,000 hours recommended by author Malcolm Gladwell to mastering a skill. But it helps to consistently put your best foot forward, at work and in life, and place yourself in promising, or at least helpful, situations.

If you're vying for a promotion, for example, try to make a good impression on your boss in the months leading up to your request. 

A clear history of high performance and communication with your manager about your desire for more responsibility puts you in a "sweet spot" for a promotion in the future, Dave Weisbeck, chief strategy officer of Visier, a people analytics company, told CNBC Make It in 2018. 

If you've done the work, you'll be prepared to seize an opportunity when it presents itself, says Taylor.

That said, don't wait around for an extended period of time hoping for a big break, especially in a job that no longer serves you, said Weisbeck.

"If you're in a role and you're there for less than 12 months and you think, 'I haven't been promoted, so I'm going to move on to greener pastures,' you're probably doing yourself a disservice," he said. "But if you've been there for four years without any sort of adjustment, then you're probably doing yourself a disservice by staying there."

Take smart risks, Taylor says. Step out of your comfort zone and reach out to professionals in your desired field for advice. Connect with a recruiter and put yourself out there, armed with quantifiable experience. Attend networking conferences in your field, even if you don't know anyone there.

"[Risk-taking] allows you to innovate, take chances and do something even more special and impactful," he says.

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