CTO Think

CTO Think

www.ctothink.com
A pragmatic podcast about leadership, product dev, and tech decisions between two recovering Chief Technology Officers..
37: Review of the State of JS Survey
Dec 4 • 65 min
How is Angular doing vs React and Vue? What are the most used and growing back-end JavaScript frameworks. Which strongly-typed flavor of JavaScript is winning hearts? This week, Don and Randy discuss the State of JS survey results for 2018 and review from…
36: Crossover Episode - The World vs React (Nuff Said)
Nov 20 • 30 min
The previous two episodes of our sister podcast, This Old App, discussed the rapid development of React and its possible side effects on the development community. For this CTO Think episode, we run our first “crossover” and discuss how tech leaders and…
35: Should We Open Source This Code?
Nov 7 • 28 min
Don and his company, AspirEDU, decided to open source a small bit of code for the first time for the Django community. We discuss the various considerations—across proprietary, support, and licensing questions—the company made to push forward the release,…
34: Adventures in Interviewing
Oct 23 • 70 min
Randy is moving to Kansas City and exploring new job opportunities both local and remote, which has him in the thick of a variety of interviewing processes. Don and Randy discuss the good and bad about some of the firms’ approaches and how Randy is still…
33: Build vs Buy and Disrupting Processes
Oct 9 • 40 min
We’re back after a couple-week break! Don and Randy discuss the ever-debated strategy of building versus buying your software solutions. But they up the ante by discussing how existing workflows and processes are perhaps a bigger consideration than SaaS…
32: Handling Critical Feature Updates
Sep 11 • 55 min
Don’s firm recently underwent its first major platform upgrade and we discuss the various ways they prepared, tested, and worked through the changes, all the way up to the dreaded “point of no return.”
31: Elon Musk and Leading Your Team to Burnout
Aug 21 • 60 min
Pulled from the media, Don and Randy discuss Elon Musk’s interview regarding the personal toll that his attempt to run three companies, perhaps poorly, is taking upon himself. Moreso, they talk about what it means to be in a leadership position and how…
30: Debating (Angrily) the Responsibility of Cross-platform Support
Aug 14 • 61 min
Don runs into a problem with a podcast app as he launches a new podcast of his own, Friday Night Stripes, and wants to deploy his show on Overcast. The issue? Don is not an iOS user and cannot find a way to sign into the Overcast website, which . . .…
29: Betting on Vue JS with Gregg Pollack
Aug 1 • 57 min
Covering everything from Rails for Zombies to Code School to Vue Mastery, we talk with one of the original online tutorial creators, Gregg Pollack, and how he decided to invest in the Vue.js community and a new front-end open source project. Gregg also…
28: When People Don’t Listen to You
Jul 17 • 53 min
We discuss the inevitable issue of bosses, owners, managers, and clients not listening to every bit of advice we offer up. From ignoring the frustration, the psychological reaction, and avoiding a passive-aggressive response, to the maturation of our…
27: When Everything’s Going Wrong
Jul 3 • 51 min
How do you get things back on track when everything from the engine to the caboose is falling off? We discuss steps to take when everything and anything is spiraling downward on a tech project.
26: Stakeholder Types and Working With Them
Jun 26 • 62 min
We discuss the various types of stakeholders that a technology leader may need to deal as being part of a company or a particular product. We discuss the various motivations and communication techniques necessary across Executives, Investors, Regulators,…
25: Thinking About Dependencies
Jun 12 • 62 min
What are the considerations do you need to make regarding third-party services and software? We talk about relying on Github after the Microsoft purchase, using AWS or Firebase, and the world of JavaScript, Node, and NPM. And Randy talks about his pet…
24: Learning as a Cultural Component with Griffin Caprio
Jun 5 • 60 min
We speak with Griffin Caprio of Dante32 about his experiences building trust and psychological safety, accepting failure in a positive way, and creating a learning-based culture on teams from the top-down.
23: GDPR Pain and Projects Outside Your Expertise
May 29 • 53 min
We lament about the recent GDPR hullabaloo, our initial reactions to the new regulations, and how we approach projects that we don’t have any business handling in the first place, but still fall onto our shoulders.
22: Compassionate Coding with April Wensel
May 22 • 36 min
April Wensel started a company named Compassionate Coding, which aims to “humanize the tech industry.” We discuss why she started the firm and how she goes about making the tech industry a better place to work. We also learn that using the term “soft…
21: Meetings, Schmeetings
May 15 • 54 min
We talk about meetings, the negative vibe the tech industry has taken against them, how to best run meetings, or finding ways to communicate without wasting so much time.
20: Social Media Side-Effects
May 1 • 49 min
Would you hire Kanye West if he was a great programmer, despite his social media presence? This week, we talk about social media quality control, public personas, and the challenge of being inclusive while trying to maintain a steady team dynamic. We also…
19: Networking for Introverts
Apr 24 • 59 min
Having a strong network makes for a huge advantage for career opportunities and learning how to lead. We discuss how to push past shyness and introverted tendencies to grow your own network of relationships.
18: Choosing a Tech Stack
Apr 17 • 60 min
There are a lot of factors tech managers need to consider when inheriting or choosing a technology stack. We talk about how we chose specific stacks in the past (or didn’t) and why we’re using a brand new one for a side project.
17: Identity Heft
Apr 10 • 48 min
With hacking, data security, and privacy as huge issues in the press, we discuss how we approach identity management on both products and across our teams.
16: Don’t Be Evil-ish?
Apr 3 • 52 min
Where do you draw the line on ethics? How do you take a stand when you want to keep your job? This week, we discuss ethical behavior and the responsibility people have regarding it.
15: Non-Disclosures, Non-Competes, No Way?
Mar 27 • 48 min
Should you sign non-compete or non-disclosure agreements? Are these kinds of contracts binding? Are they even useful for your business? We discuss everything from saying “heck, no,” to turning the ask into an initial business agreement test.
14: You’re so vain, you think in-office work is about you
Mar 20 • 59 min
We discuss our history with in-office and remote work, why junior devs might reconsider working outside the office, and how requiring folks to work in your proximity is a trait of managerial vanity.
13: Fostering a learning environment with Mark Thompson of Trilogy
Mar 14 • 55 min
We speak with our first guest, Mark Thompson of Trilogy Education, about his approach to creating a productive learning environment both on the job and in a classroom setting. Mark is also working on a side project named Totally Strong, which is pushing…
12: Communicating on a roller coaster of uptime and downtime
Mar 7 • 58 min
Randy and Don found themselves stranded, mid-ride on the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. Following their rescue, and during an in-person recording from Orlando, they talk about how a tech manager should handle technical…
11: Are code challenges a lazy or legitimate method for hiring developers?
Feb 25 • 54 min
Are code challenges or quizzes a legitimate practice for hiring developers? We debate whether the method of filtering candidates via whiteboarding or code games is plain lazy or a necessary part of the recruiting process for engineers.
10: Skills for a career in tech leadership
Feb 18 • 44 min
If a junior developer is looking at the fork in a technology career path of software engineering or management, what kinds of skills do they need for the leadership side?
9: Developer focus is an excuse not to talk, right?
Feb 10 • 46 min
Is the call for “developer focus” a selfish complaint from precious snowflake employees? What right do developers have to ruin the design trend of great-looking open offices where collaboration magically happens? This week, we discuss how we feel about…
8: Your hosting strategy - Choosing from self, managed, cloud, or serverless
Feb 3 • 40 min
How do you choose the best hosting options for your product or firm? This week, we discuss the thinking in a choice between self-hosting, managed hosting, cloud options, and the new buzz word: “serverless”.
7: Work-life balance
Jan 27 • 39 min
We discuss the importance of a work-life or non-tech balance for someone building a career in technology. Do folks need to set aside a specific amount of time, or any at all, not working on things related to their job?
6: Does a tech manager need to code to be effective?
Jan 18 • 37 min
Randy is a CTO that codes almost daily. Don has found it difficult to string together multiple days where he’s able to code for his current roles. Today, we tackle the topic of whether a CTO or technical manager needs to be able to code to be effective at…
5: Antifragile and TDD - What’s the value?
Jan 12 • 33 min
Don brings up the subject of chaos, based on a book he’s been reading, Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. We discuss the merits of test driven development, unpredictability, and how technical managers can work towards a more resilient product in the…
4: Risk and Exploits - Dealing with Meltdown and Spectre
Jan 5 • 42 min
Randy and Don discuss an item ripped from the headlines: What should a technical manager do about the recent Meltdown and Spectre exploits? They move into the CTO modes of research, understanding, translation, preparation, upgrading, monitoring, and, most…
3: Managing tech debt - When best to work on it?
Jan 2 • 28 min
Don faced an issue at his education tech firm: When should you slow down forward progress on new features in order to spend time on festering technical issues?
2: Hiring developers - Who should I hire to build an app?
Dec 28, 2017 • 25 min
Randy was posed a question by a potential client: “I want to build an app. Who should I hire?” and he asks the same question to Don.
1: Introducing CTO Think
Dec 23, 2017 • 4 min
Welcome to CTO Think, a podcast about how technology leaders think about business, tech, and people problems. Don VanDemark and Randy Burgess, two current and former Chief Technology Officers will discuss the various challenges managers face in a product…