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CTO Insights — February 2022

Celebrating Valentine’s Love w/ my fellow CTOs :)

Hello, I am Anup Marwadi, and I write about technology, Web3, Domain Driven Design, Microservices, Software Architecture, Leadership, Psychology, Well-Being, Books, Ideas and anything else that really interests me.

I’m a “Student-for-Life” and have caught up with some interesting skills along the way.

I’m also an award-winning CTO at 7CTOs, a fractional CTO for a few really cool startups, and CEO of HyperTrends Global Inc. and a few stealth businesses that you will hear about soon because they will most definitely make an impact in your life.

If you’re a CTO and you’re not in 7CTOs, I highly recommend you join. My friend Etienne De Bruin has built a world-class community of CTOs that almost act like a swiss-army knife in your back pocket helping you become a better leader and a CTO. Let him know I sent you :), he will appreciate it.

NOTE: I get no financial incentives from 7CTOs. I am just a very strong advocate of peer-driven growth and 7CTOs has been instrumental in my life over the last 4 years. I have not only become a better CTO, but most importantly, a good friend to many and a better human being.

Let’s get the ball rolling on our learning from February!!

February is usually a month when a lot of fun-stuff happens. The freshness of the new year comes to an end, and with it come — broken promises, bad habits and goals abandonment.

So it was apt that we talk about…

The Power of Stillness

This was NOT something I was expecting.

See, as a LEADER, I have an inherent inclination to “go, go, go” all the time.

I want actions, I want outcomes, I want to get there 2x faster - you know the drill.

Well, it turns out, that this type of mentality can lead to a LOT of “reactive” decisions. Reactive decisions work, and being ON all the time also works…but we are encouraged to do things differently.

What if there was a better way to do things?

What if there was power in BEING STILL? In some introspection? In not stepping over things?

What if there was power in becoming MORE INTENTIONAL in our daily lives? It can only happen if we take the time to pause the madness of the world around us and slow the hands of time and really TUNE-IN or LEAN-IN as they say…

Case in point — COVID

Let’s look at our last 2 years.

Our lives have been completely uprooted by COVID.

Yes, tech may have not been impacted as much, but the toll it has taken on us is immeasurable.

And what have we done now that it is almost over?

We’ve glossed over it. Many of us are still walking around w/o any closure at all.

I see employees who feel unacknowledged.

I see leaders who are pushing their emotions under the rug.

I see organizations act like everything is back to normal. “It’s business as usual y’all”

But is it?

Have we as leaders taken the time to really connect with our employees or peers to find out how they are *really* doing?

Did we talk about the emotions that COVID brought to our lives? Helplessness, Despair, Trust-issues (GOVT response to solving problems, anyone?), Loneliness, Fear, Trauma — I could go on and on…

How did we deal with them? Have we had personal losses? Have we mentally processed deaths in family? Have we spoken honestly with our loved ones?

Have we taken the time to ask our employees how they dealt with reduction in pay? Or the transition to work-from-home? Or the loss of personal connections with co-workers? Or being on Zoom for ungodly hours in a day?

I bet you the answer is a loud “NO”.

And that’s what this principle of stillness is trying to promote. How about we get more intentional in our ways.

How about we set the intention to have these conversations in our teams and with our peers?

How about we create a safe-space to process these type of conversations?

Would that make us better leaders? Would we be more empathetic? Could it help us make better decisions?

After going through this exercise, I built up a list of things that I had glossed over.

After all, I was scared when I found out a few core employees had COVID and that we were going to miss a few critical deadlines. How selfish of me?

I didn’t talk about the mental impact of COVID with my own mom and my dad (who are both in India).

I still HAVE NOT spoken about COVID with my wife, who works in healthcare.

Why? Well, a large part of that is SELF-PRESERVATION. I was protecting myself.

Well…all of that changes this month.

A few tools that that can help you, as they have helped me are:

  1. Meditation
  2. Journaling
  3. Setting time aside for *real* talks
  4. Acknowledging that we went through a tough phase and we’re vulnerable
  5. Acknowledging that it may never go away
  6. Personal Favorite — Gazing at the ocean or the mountains for prolonged periods of time — oh how it puts things in perspective

We also had a few interesting discussions about how “transparency” can be a double-edged sword.

“Do you open up with teams before you have established trust? Or do you open up to establish trust?”

If you chose the latter, you’re good.

Try this in your Skip-Level Meetings, or your 1:1s and let me know what you think?

I’d love to learn more about this.

Until then….see you next month.

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