Today we are talking to JR Hayward, the VP of Software Development at TopDown Systems.  And we discuss how a feature isn’t done until it’s shippable, tapping the next generation to drive innovation and the importance of asking the question “How could I be wrong?”

All of this, right here, right now, on the Modern CTO Podcast.


J R Hayward is a software professional with more than 20 years of experience helping software companies both, large and small, bring products to market. He has successfully architected and managed the development of SaaS products all developed and deployed completely in the cloud. He is unique in that he has a deep understanding of the complete software life cycle from development on into sales and marketing.

He has successfully championed and implemented Agile Methodologies within the software development and marketing lifecycle and has extensive experience in computing from the mainframe to the micro computer. He has managed development teams in more than 5 operating systems including Windows, Unix, Linux, and z/OS, as well as developed in those environments himself. His experience covers the breadth of software development including JAVA, C++, C#, Visual Basic, Fortran, 370 Assemby, and etc. His database experience includes RDBMS, No-SQL, Graphic, and Memory Grid Databases. He has extensive knowledge in a large number of Open Source software packages and has architected systems integrating them into a cohesive package and then led the implementation of those architectures.
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Show Notes:

  • What does TopDown Systems do?
  • New Product called InTouch
  • What does JR love about technology today? API System
  • API’s are simple and easy to use
  • Talking about programs writing programs
  • The real strength in development is creativity not technology – value is in creating the products
  • How did you get involved with TopDown Systems?
  • Mike Fitzgerald brought JR in to TopDown
  • Started by working on IBM mainframe systems writing assembly language at TopDown Systems
  • You can get a degree in Java Programming – JR would rather you teach them just programming
  • Does a lot of volunteering in the local school system
  • Science is Art
  • You can make a much better movie with technologists involved
  • You can have a movie set in rome and never leave your basement
  • IBM and Big companies have big systems lying around that they have to write off
  • Many people don’t understand how Computers work
  • Programmers have gotten sloppy because memory and speed has gotten so much bigger
  • Getting in to large systems – Mainframe systems – huge workloads – Facebook – Amazon
  • Get your young kid an arduino
  • Kids working with arduinos are learning more about the hardware than some programmers these days
  • That level of computing in the world is coming back
  • Adults have the ability to make concepts much more difficult
  • How large is the development team at TopDown – Run between 7 – 10 people
  • Team is distributed
  • Modern SDLC Process – Runs an Agile shop – Morning standups
  • Tatsu integrates with slack – Morning standups
  • What are you excited about at topdown systems? InTouch – they have the future road map
  • TopDown has been around for 30 + years
  • Built a microservices architecture – Docker was in its infancy
  • The ability to do a green field project and say yes is great
  • If a developer gives you a time frame double it and you’ll still be late
  • One of the issues they had getting people to adapt Agile – don’t estimate with time estimate with points – People want credit for their points – the daily meetings
  • Programmers aren’t paid to write code – They are paid to ship code
  • Excited that John Zimmer – Director of Marketing has knowledge of the technical side
  • One of the talents that a good technologist needs is understanding that it has to be shippable
  • Customers will always rave about TopDown’s support
  • Basically API with other companies
  • Look for really smart younger people – Innovation came about from kids right out of college
  • Saying yes teaches people to learn and think critically
  • How could I be wrong is one of the best questions you can ask
  • Where is InTouch at today?
  • Someone who has no IT experience should be able to walk in to InTouch and customize it to their needs
  • The Rules do not require a programmer

Joel Beasley

Joel Beasley founded the Modern CTO Podcast in 2017 while writing his book, the Modern CTO book, with the goal of interviewing CTOs and sharing their experiences with others in the tech community.

Joel’s conversational style and insightful questions quickly gained traction, attracting high-profile guests such as Microsoft’s CTO, Kevin Scott, and T-Mobile’s CIO, Cody Stanford. With each episode, the podcast’s popularity continued to grow, and soon, Joel found himself with a waiting list of future guests.

Today, the Modern CTO Podcast has become the number one leadership and tech podcast in the world, with over 150k active listeners, including CTOs, lead developers, and rising tech leaders. Joel’s commitment to creating a conversational atmosphere for his guests to share their experiences has inspired a new generation of leaders and innovators.

As the success of the podcast grew, Joel founded ProSeries Media, a podcast production company that helps companies worldwide create their own podcasts. With a team of producers, content creators, and podcast bookers, ProSeries Media produces over ten shows, providing a platform for companies to connect with their audience and share their expertise.

Through his work on the Modern CTO Podcast and ProSeries Media, Joel Beasley has become a respected voice in the tech industry, inspiring others to share their knowledge and insights with the wider community. His passion for creating engaging content that informs, inspires, and entertains has made him a sought-after speaker and advisor on all things tech.



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