Developers are not CTOs. I remember an argument I heard from a single developer CTO. He’d say stuff like, “Well I made the product, and I was here when it started so I’m the best fit for CTO.” That was me, a decade ago. Wow, was I ignorant.
What if we extend that logic to other parts of life? “Well, I was standing next to him when he had a heart attack, and I make medical equipment, so I’m the best one to do the triple bypass.” Laughable. If I rest on past achievements I’ll never grow. Let me put it this way. A genius programmer could be a lousy CTO. On the other hand, a mediocre developer could be a CTO that makes companies millions.
Hold the hate mail
This doesn’t mean a developer can’t learn to be a CTO. It took me over a decade on a tough road of experience, pain and expense to get there. We’re never good at something the first time we try. I’m heavily experience dependent just like Machine Learning heavily depends on a good set of training data. More Data + Higher Quality = Improved Performance.
Wait, how long? 17 friggin years, really
It took me about 5 years to get good at programming and 5 more to become excellent. And it took me 5 years to not look like an idiot as a CTO and another 5 years to become fantastic. That’s actually about 20 years then.
The shift in thinking from writing code to creating and communicating value didn’t come easily for me. What did come easily for me was understanding how people think. I stumbled around for quite a while, about 4 years. Then over the course of that 5th year these isolated lessons and skills all melded together: How people think, How to create value, How to communicate value and How to manage people.
Pro Tip: Leverage other’s experience
Books condense a lifetime of experience into a few hours read. Powerful right? When I was cutting my teeth, there weren’t any books or blogs on how to be a Modern CTO. Nobody was out there to point me in the right direction about testing. I have obtained the experience, so maybe something I say can help pull you up.
Here are a few quick reads if you are interested in learning from my mistakes:
What should you do?
Leveling up from Developer-to-CTO isn’t clear every step of the way and this can be tricky. The people at the top in life are always working, growing and improving with the help of others. It’s how you got to where you are, and it’s how you will get up through the next stage on your journey.
I have experience that you can leverage. If you don’t use me, use someone else. The point is for you to get what is on your mind resolved immediately, don’t wait. Set an appointment with me and tell me about your situation so I can help. Click this link to reach out. Something else on your mind? Whatever you need, I’m here. Life is meant to be done together, just reach out.