You’re a developer, NOT A CTO (yet)

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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.

Mind shift

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:

The Virgin CTO

Over-Engineering and fear based features are a problem

Avoid: Bottom of the 9th guy and Wears many hats guy

When things go wrong: Bouncing back from unforeseen constraints.

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.

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.

Read more about Joel

Reach out to Joel

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