Amazing CTO Newsletter
🚀 #2 2022
by Stephan Schmidt
this week I’ve wondered with a coachee why all the work outside core product development
ends up with the CTO? We have developers, devops and QA, but topics like stakeholder management,
compliance, security and project management too often end up on our table. When I was CTO at
an eBay Inc. company, I sat in SOX compliance meetings - I didn’t want to bother developers
already under pressure to deliver features. The CFO didn’t show up, he had someone on his
staff for compliance (which was the right thing!). As CTOs we need to fight harder for staff
engineers for compliance, security, project management and other topics. In many companies this is
an uphill battle, everything beside more developers seems to be a struggle.
But I have seen too many CTOs ending in burn out territory - get some staff engineers for topics
outside product delivery as soon as possible and don’t try to do everything on your own.
In this weeks newsletter we look at titles (a hot topic for some CTOs), how to do less (the right and only
way to prioritize) and - again - about hiring. This and more in today’s newsletter.
Good reading, nice weekend and until next week,
PS: If you have feedback, I’d love to hear from you - email@example.com
How to Identify What You Enjoy
What is joy? A principle I have is to enjoy your work. If you don’t enjoy your work, change it or do something else. But what is it that you enjoy? Many people don’t know. This weeks podcast explores the topic on how to identify what you enjoy
How to get the most out of your 1:1s
1:1s is the magic tool for managers. I could not be without. Aligning, explainging, helping, nurturing, developing and listening for feedback is all managers should do in their 1:1s. Sadly if 1:1s even happen - too often there are none! - they are reduced to status updates. This article goes into more detail on how to make 1:1s successful:
Titles? Titles! It starts with you being a CTO or a VP of Engineering. To some people titles are meaningless, to some people they are utterly important. The progression of titles gives a sense of progress to employees. Gokul Rajaram gives some guidance on how to use titles
How To Do Less
You do too much! Every coachee does too much. Which beside being unhealthy, is unhelpful to the company. Work less, but on the right things I’d say
MLOps Is a Mess But That’s to be Expected
Companies and CTOs are dipping their toes into AI. After playing around, soon MLOps becomes a topic and it’s messy. But “MLOps Is a Mess But That’s to be Expected” should give you some relief
Shopify’s Data Science & Engineering Foundations
Some startups don’t have data engineering and business intelligence. Some do. But too many are unstructured and unguided. Take a look at what Shopify is doing.
The most important thing to understand about queues
I won’t spoild this one for you, but you might have already guessed :-)
CTOs Worry About: How to Hire Remote Engineers
“Instead of summarizing common wisdom and advice from other CTOs, I’m going to share with you my personal technique for finding and hiring great remote talent.” Refreshing.
Light Mode, Dark Mode, and Gen-Z Mode
I didn’t know what Gen-Z Mode is, but it is some food for thought. Over 25? You need to read this.
Keeping Developers Will Be the Priority in Great Developer Resignation Next Stage
Everyone is hiring. Everyone of my coachees is looking for more engineers. But it does not make sense fill water into a bucket if the bucket is leaking. First fix retention, then fix hiring.
How to design better APIs
I have seen so many bad APIs in the last decade. Surprisingly everyone is coding up APIs but there is not enough wisdom and thinking around good API design - this should be core to our profession.
Pair Programming Antipatterns
If as CTO you do not guide pair programming (and code reviews!) everyone will do what they think is the right thing. Depending on preferences and experiences this can be a good or bad thing. As a manager you NEED to give guidance to your engineer on what you expect pair programming to be. Some ideas on what to prevent can be found in “Pair Programming Antipattern”
Book of the week
This weeks book is “The Art of Leadership - Small things done well” by Michael Lopp, who already brought us “Managing Humans” and which
I recommended to many new managers. This book is for the more experience tech manager, and focused in detail on the role of Manager,
Director and Executive with chapters like “Delegate until it hurts” and “The New Manager Death Spiral”. Worth a read!