Vidyard's Michael Litt on the importance of stepping away

Patrick Campbell Nov 17 2020

Think about the serenity of the great outdoors… the smell of fresh air, the sounds of birds. Maybe even a taste of some nice, fresh spring water? Ok, I get that the outdoors, to you, might not be something that’s better than your cold brew keg, or your Doordash delivery, but getting back to nature can be restorative. It can give you perspective in the context of sales quotas and revenue goals, and everything in between. And I get that kinda sounds a little too “self-help instagram,” but sometimes your inner lumberjack or lumberjane can help your business by getting you unplugged. It’s definitely something that’s helped Michael Litt, the CEO and co-founder of Vidyard.


Using a chainsaw on some overbrush is hardly an appropriate metaphor to apply to the growth of a company, but doing so gave Michael the necessary point of view to contemplate the important things in life. In addition to this valuable outlook, his experience with the culture of Canada helped fuel his zeal for growth, leading to thousands of companies using Vidyard for their video needs. Michael’s one of the deepest thinkers I know, and his thoughts on building a company with cockyless confidence is coming up next.

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Here we summarize the main takeaways for you to implement or hand off to your team for implementation.


Key actions: 

Reset and recharge:

As a founder, CEO, or any kind of business leader, the pressure is constantly on. Everyday there’s intense pressure to deliver results and to continue scaling. A lot of people depend on you and navigating the many demands and expectations is challenging. 

Having an effective strategy for execution is crucial for success. However, few think of resetting and recharging as part of that strategy. But stepping away from your business, even for a short period of time to do something you love or even try or learn something new, will have a huge impact on the long-term success of your business, and more importantly, your mental health. You’ll be able to do your job better.


Why is resetting and recharging crucial to your business?

As a leader in your organization, you’re doing exactly that—leading. If you’re stressed, tired, or worse, burned out, you’re not performing at your best. You’re not making the best decisions for your business, which in the long term will have negative consequences. As Michael states, taking time to do other things you love, provides the opportunity for unique experiences that, in turn, provide a sense of gratitude. Those distinct experiences ground you and help you gain a new appreciation for what you do. And when you’re back in the office, you’re energized, excited, and ready for all of the challenges that come with being a leader.


“As your career develops you go further away from who you are and the things that are amazing in life. And the further away you go from that, the closer you get to burnout. As a leader you need a vehicle to bring yourself back to the things you love.“ - Michael Litt


Action plan:

What to do today: 

  • Follow Michael Litt on LinkedIn. 
  • Make a list of interests you have, places you’d like to visit, or something new you’d like to learn.
  • Commit to doing at least one of things on your list within the next month.

What to do next quarter:

Stick to your commitment by scheduling and preparing for your “reset.” The better you prepare for it, the more you'll be able to appreciate it.
  • Do it… actually step away.
  • Keep a journal if possible. You’ll be surprised by the awesome ideas that come to mind relating to your business when you’re in a different setting.
  • Get back to work re-energized and clear headed. Take note of any changes you see in your performance, both positive and negative.

What to do within the next year:

Rinse and repeat.

Depending on your role and responsibilities, determine the frequency of these "resets." But definitely make them a recurring part of your execution strategy. It’ll prove to expand your opportunities for success and growth in the following ways:

  • You’ll be able to see if you’re doing too much and be able to prioritize more efficiently.
  • You’ll clearly see what difficult decisions need to be made instead of avoiding them. 
  • You’ll realize that this break is fun, productive, and great for your mental health and the long-term success of your business. 
  • You’ll be a better leader.
Who should own this? 
Founders, CEOs, or any leadership roles looking to improve and become better leaders and propel the growth of their business will greatly benefit from a "reset." Stepping away generates the type of space you need to be mindful and obtain the clarity to be intentional about your life and work. It’s beneficial for all aspects of life.

Watch the full episode


Coming up next week
Next week, Pluralsight’s Heather Zynczak talks to us about the importance of having a learner’s mindset.

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This is a ProfitWell Recur Studios production—the first media network dedicated entirely to the SaaS and subscription space.

By Patrick Campbell

Founder & CEO of ProfitWell, the software for helping subscription companies with their monetization and retention strategies, as well as providing free turnkey subscription financial metrics for over 20,000 companies. Prior to ProfitWell Patrick led Strategic Initiatives for Boston-based Gemvara and was an Economist at Google and the US Intelligence community.

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