It took years for Chad Dickerson to get a CEO job. But when you hear how he got there, it’s not the typical corporate path to the C-suite.
Dickerson is CEO of Etsy, the online marketplace that sells handmade and vintage goods. He began his career in media working at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., later moving on to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and eventually to CNN, not to mention lots of places in between. Along the way, he taught himself how to code and started working on the techie side of the media business. That experience ultimately set Dickerson on a path toward future jobs in Silicon Valley as a technology expert at companies like Yahoo.
He tells Fortune’s Susie Gharib that when he was tapped to run Etsy in 2011 he “had a lot to learn.” But he caught on fast. He grew the company, and after just four years in the CEO job, he took Etsy public.
His leadership skills came through in communicating with Etsy employees as the company went through dramatic changes. It also helped that, as a native of North Carolina and an English literature major from Duke University, he likes to tell stories. “I’m kind of a natural story teller,” he says. “I’m a native Southerner and I grew up hearing my aunts and my grandparents, everyone, tell stories.” He adds, “People think of business as just numbers and spreadsheets. But I think every company has a story and I think being able to relate those stories really helps people motivate.”