0.43 — Your Startup is a Pirate Ship w. Jack Dietrich & Ryan VanMiddlesworth

Our guests this week are Jack Dietrich and Ryan VanMiddlesworth of Fount Studio.   Join the partners of Fount as they explain The Pirate Code Of Startups how Pirates were doing workplace democracy before it was cool.  Awesome.

0.42 — Optimize Your Learning Velocity w. Scott Carleton, Andela

Our guest today is Scott Carleton.

Scott has a passion for building communities and empowering self-growth through education. Scott is currently the VP of Technology at Andela, a global engineering organization dedicated to fostering the next generation of elite tech talent across Africa. Previously, Scott co-founded Artsicle as CTO, building a global community of visual artists now featuring over 6000 creators in 100 countries. His work on Artsicle’s discovery engine, which was able to create a personalized experience for passive users, earned NYER’s “Best Use of Technology” award in 2013. 

This episode is for you if you’re into #learning #hiring or #mentorship.

Favorite Quotes

  • You hear a lot that “its all about the people”, but you don’t really get it until it kicks you in the shins.
  • I think a lot about communication through a company in the context of dynamic systems and controls. You can have an input of information where someone’s unaligned or there’s some dissonance, and you’re not going to feel the full impact of that until it works it’s way through the organization.
  • In the early days, I felt like I needed the “best” engineers. That came out as needing Stanford Grads. But what I realized very quickly was that they had very different expectations and needs. I couldnt provide for them the right kinds of challenges because we were still hunting for product market fit.
  • I’ve found that in hiring I should look for “potential” and not “pedigree”.
  • We created a culture of really customer focused engineers. The engineers really own their parts of the product. They *really* care about it’s usability.
  • Friction rises in communication when information doesnt have a place to settle.
  • Chat is a tool. I’m sold on it. A tool is necessary but not sufficient. You need the tool to be able to create the behaviour you want, but you need a cultural change or a behaviour/belief change to use the tool effectively.
  • Chat allows us an always on meeting in its worst form. At best, it’s an asyncronous tool to keep everyone in sync.
  • On chat, my top belief is “Get everything into public channels”
  • The health of an engineering team is: How many issues are raised and resolved, and how fast is that iteration?
  • Finding out how to have the right focus for a conversation in a chat channel is important.
  • When I first started doing 1:1s, I totally didn’t want to do it. I’d make up excuses. Every 1:1, there were engineers who would complain and I just wanted to avoid that. But it turns out 1:1s are invaluable because you’ll always discover something important that you don’t know.
  • If you’re having problems in your organization, a 1:1 is like taking a knife to that problem and sinking it a little deeper.
  • When I first joined an organization with an existing engineering team, the first 1:1s were very much “clearing out the backlog” — Figuring out the existing problems.
  • I have a passion for developing peoples potential.
  • How do we measure someone’s learning velocity – how quickly they’re picking up new skills?
  • The killer problem with distributed teams right now is whiteboarding. It’s just *so* hard to do remotely.
  • Distributed teams are about trust. How do you get the information you need? How do you communicate outward & upward so that we have trust at all times? We need to know we’re all pushing in the same direciton.
  • Whats really incredible about sotware development is that the people who are building the applications have a lot more information about the problems thye’re solving than you do. You really want most solutions coming from the bottom up.
  • I focus on how I can expose business problems to the team. I tell them what we’re solving that quarter, and I put retrospectives on the calendar.
  • Zone of Proximal Development is the Goldilocks Zone for Learning — It isn’t too easy, it’s not too hard.
  • In learning science, you’re trying to “observations”. If you know a skill, you can observe whether an engineer has certain behaviours and beleifs.
  • Customer relationships and ownership of your work are really important for engineers.
  • The height of collaboration is really direct feedback.
  • The most generous thing you can do is give really good critical feedback.

0.28 — Rethinking Education from First Principles w. Manuel Mattke

Manuel Mattke is an innovator, entrepreneur, tech product guy (and from time to time developer), with a background in finance, technology and innovation consulting.

This week is an extra special episode.   Manuel was Kevin’s CTO mentor at the last startup he founded, and Kevin is super excited to share some of the insights that Manuel shared with him, with all of you.

When he’s not mentoring up & coming CTO’s, Manuel is building his own startups. He has founded and built several startups, including an enterprise software company, a mobile app company and an innovation consulting firm, and likes to focus on combining business strategy, innovation and design thinking, and technology products.

Manuel is currently designing and implementing relevant & engaging learning experiences for teens in the US and in the developing world. Education models around the world have seen limited innovation over the last 50+ years, and are ripe for significant new efforts.  Learn about Manuel’s work as Chief Innovation Officer disrupting education at Opportunity Education in this week’s episode. 

Continue Reading …

0.25 Building Teams that create Customer Success w. Ingrid Alongi

Ingrid Alongi is the co-founder of Quickleft, a software development firm in Boulder Colorado which was acquired by Cognizant in March of 2016.  In this episode, Ingrid takes us through the founding story of QuickLeft, and how QuickLeft used Net Promoter Scores to drive great outcomes for end-customers.

Find Ingrid on Twitter at @electromute and check out QuickLeft at QuickLeft.com.

Favorite Quotes:

My biggest engineering value is pragmatism and collaboration. Things get done better when you work as a team. The best solution is the one that launches.

Its really important to be able to communicate ideas, and to sell your ideas; even if the client is not technical. We invest in speaking at conferences and blog posts a lot.

If people write software on time and clients are happy, then that’s a success. It doesn’t matter as much if the code they write is poetry.

I’ve seen the ebb and flow of people wanting more structure and then less structure. Organizations today are much flatter than they used to be.

Don’t miss out on future episodes! Subscribe quickly at StartupCTO.io/subscribe.

0.22 — Creative engineers are the leaders of the software world – Jud Valeski

(review this episode on iTunes)

Jud Valeski was co-founder of Gnip (acquired by Twitter), a real-time data portability software initiative. From client-side consumer facing products, to large scale back-end infrastructure projects, he has enjoyed working with technology for over twenty years. He’s been a part of engineering, product, and M&A teams at IBM, Netscape, onebox.com, and AOL. He has played a central role in the release of a wide range of products used by tens of millions of users worldwide.

Find Jud on twitter at @jvaleski and at http://one.valeski.org/.

Don’t miss out on future episodes! Subscribe quickly at StartupCTO.io/subscribe.

Continue Reading …

0.20 – Distributed teams with Maria Gutierrez & Glenn Vanderburg

(review this episode on iTunes)

Maria Gutierrez and Glenn Vanderburg lead Living Social’s distributed engineering teams for the past 5 years. They’re both now at different companies, and still at different geographic locations, but in this episode of our podcast, they sit down at their respective locations with us over Skype to talk about how to hire, manage, and lead distributed engineering teams.

Don’t miss out on future episodes! Subscribe quickly at StartupCTO.io/subscribe.

Continue Reading …

0.14 – Global Engineering with Dan Mayer

(review this episode on iTunes)

This week’s episode has Dan Mayer, the Director of Software Engineering at Off.Grid:Electric. Dan manages a software team distributed all over the world to deliver software for hardware that runs in Africa, all from his office in Colorado. He discusses the challenges of remote working across the entire globe, staying on mission with your end user in another continent, and his advice on how to get a group of remote developers to put out a fire in an efficient and quick method. Enjoy!

Don’t miss out on future episodes! Subscribe quickly at StartupCTO.io/subscribe.

0.10 – Distributed workforces, algorithms, and scaling with Scott Brave

(review this episode on iTunes)

This week’s episode is the final interview from the “How to CTO” event at Boulder Startup Week, an interview with Scott Brave.

Scott is the CTO of FullContact, a company in Denver with teams in Europe and Asia, so he has some really interesting advice on distributed workforces. Also, Scott is an academic researcher in a former life and is the best person I’ve ever talked to about algorithms and scaling engineering.

Find Scott on twitter @ https://twitter.com/sbrave and find FullContact at FullContact.com.

Don’t miss out on future episodes! Subscribe quickly at StartupCTO.io/subscribe.

0.1 – Interview with Miles Matthias

(review this episode on iTunes)

Miles is CTO at .  Hear EquityEat’s founding story, and hear about some technology and product challenges in the equity crowdfunding space.

Find Miles on twitter at twitter.com/miles_matthias.

Find Kevin on twitter at twitter.com/owocki.

Don’t miss out on future episodes! Subscribe quickly at StartupCTO.io/subscribe.