Surviving Startup Adolescence

Each startup is its own unique snowflake, and there’s no denying that. Nevertheless, after working with and talking to hundreds of founders, one can pick up many recurring patterns. While these might be harder to observe from the inside, an outsider’s perspective—which is naturally less entrenched in the details—can shed light on which problems are […]

CTO Ergonomics: Stop Shrugging!

Over the years, people have described my work in different manners: bridge, therapist, coach, shadow adviser, zipper(?!), Babelfish, etc. One part of my work no one has verbalized yet is sort of a masseur. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t touch my clients, and most of my work is done remotely anyway. But since so […]

The Bright Side

More than a decade ago, I was at an open-air metal festival in Germany for a few days. The highlight for me was seeing Iron Maiden live. As they finished, the PA system started playing Monty Python’s Always look on the bright side of life (that’s from that concert. The internet is amazing). It was […]

Upstream Tech

Technology is a wondrous thing. We type on our keyboards and create things that impact people’s lives. A handful of talented engineers can move mountains. That’s precisely why I can’t help but cringe whenever I see another company where technology is too downstream. When the tech team and its leaders are not “brought into the […]

Feeling the Void

That’s not a typo. A secret for highly impactful leaders is that they have learned how to sense a vacuum around them and address it. Whenever there is a gap, motivated people are not likely to just sit idly. They fill it with something. If you are unaware of it and can feel where it […]

Velocity or Acceleration

Back in my days as a senior engineer, I would put a lot of effort into stepping up my personal productivity or helping those around me become better. We all know that most 10x engineers achieve that by acting as force multipliers: They make other people better and don’t type really fast but drive to […]

Tech Exec—Cofounders Fit

We all know that whenever someone interviews for a role, they should also do their due diligence and interview the company. Having seen many times when a tech executive joined a company as a CTO or VPE only to realize later they do not work well with the founders, I decided to lay out a […]

Time Crisis Dilation

I regularly keep in touch with tech leaders globally as part of my work. That means that there are many people that I only talk to every six months or even less often. When we catch up, I often remind them about whatever crisis they were handling back then. Do you know what many say? […]

Leadership SLAs

As part of the toolkit all leaders need, no matter how senior, I often find myself recommending an interesting exercise to clients: Instead of simply trying to prioritize things as they appear, try to decide ahead of time what type of leader you would like to be. In this exercise, you list the different aspects […]

Optimism For Geek Leaders

Sometimes when I talk with tech people turned into executives, even CEOs, they lament how they seem to lack capabilities other successful executives have. It sometimes feels more like a humble brag: “I could never BS people like that guy.” Those who sell effectively are “sure the sun circles them.” However, being influential as an […]