How to keep your job as CTO

And, the 4 things you must know

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

The meaning of CTO

Operating at the CTO level is the most counter intuitive endeavor you will ever take on.

1. You are a sales person

If you think your job is just the technology you have already failed. It’s easy to convince yourself that focusing on your technical duties is your only job.

The Executive role is not a meritocracy

I mean we all know the world isn’t a meritocracy, but somehow we still operate that way. Is this you?

Making friends with your colleagues

To get buy-in, you need to sell. I am not referring to a used car, sleazy salesperson. I am talking about doing the job of a true executive.

  • I am not sure she knows how we make sales here.
  • I don’t really see her as an executive. She’s not executive material.
  • She’s really good at running her team, but I am not sure she even knows what our customers want.
  • She’s not <Insert your respective domain expertise here>

2. Be willing to quit everyday

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Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Playing politics

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Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

3. You must constantly negotiate.

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Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

4. It’s your fault if they don’t understand technology

A huge mistake is to assume that other departments understand your pain. Somehow, they should know that your engineers don’t want another death march.

My CTO Tips

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Photo by Nadir sYzYgY on Unsplash
  • Establish your own relationship with customers. To stay connected, you must know what your customers really want. You cannot afford to get second hand information about something so essential. I invited customers to some of my engineering sessions so that we could learn from them. We all have one engineer that shouldn’t be in that meeting. It’s still worth it.
  • Present all the issues you know, first! Many times, I found that someone in the business didn’t understand me because I didn’t understand them. Even if I couldn’t do anything about it, I didn’t hear their pain. It goes along way to listen. If you don’t repeat the pain back to them, then they assume you don’t understand.
  • Write SLAs. Set expectations on when bugs can be fixed. Let them know how and when features will be released. Share the same SLAs with your team. In fact, I would have my team write then approve them. You will create alignment.

Founder of COFEBE, Inc. We build tools that make engineer’s jobs easier.

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