Our mention in CIO Magazine

Just a heads-up for readers: CTO/CIO Perspectives was mentioned this week in an interesting article in CIO Magazine, titled “20 Things You Can Do In 20 Minutes to Be More Successful at Work“. Not all the tips are spot-on, in my view (and I commented to that effect in the comments section), but there are definitely some gems there worth considering. All of us juggle a varied and heavy workload, and have frustrations about maintaining our personal productivity amidst the fray; lots of things in this article can help. Check it out!

In general, I highly recommend following the content published in CIO. As with all things, not everything is of equal value, but the range of topics and discussion is absolutely germane to anyone in an executive IT role in particular.

Is there any CIO/CTO out there who is still inclined to answer a desk phone?

Just a quick one, this time, in what may become an ongoing motif of describing some of the pet peeves I’ve developed in this role.

For years now, I’ve been unable to answer my desk phone. Or rather, I’ve been unwilling to answer it, at least for calls that I can tell are coming from sources external to my own company.

Nineteen times out of twenty, any external call is almost certainly a cold call from a software or hardware or services vendor. It’s as bad as dinner hour used to be at home, before the advent of the National Do Not Call list. Sometimes I even detect the telltale blank pause that occurs while the automated outbound dialer, robotically jumping for joy at having landed a live one, is routing the call to a real person. The caller is often obviously reading from a script, rapidly.

They want to impart things along the following lines:

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Skills that have mattered to me as a CTO/CIO

This time on a more personal note: I’ve been reflecting lately about the various specific skills that helped propel me in my career, and how I picked those up. These are mostly metaskills, rather than specific technical capabilities. A number of technologies that I spent a long time becoming expert in are not listed, for example, in the interest of emphasizing the broader lessons, the mindsets, the “core understandings” that have molded my outlook. Are these skills applicable to you and to your path? Only you can be the judge. I offer them up simply as a catalog of things that I feel have boosted my career.

  • Writing. The ability to express one’s thoughts and plans in clear, logical, well-formed language is, I feel, the single most valuable skill to bring to the workplace, particularly in an executive role. Writing is not easy, and the result is by no means always perfect. But this skill is definitely top of the list.

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Introduction and goals

Joining some 89 million of my fellow netizens, I’m starting a blog. But there will be no pictures of my dog here. Instead, this one will concern itself with what I’m calling “Intensely practical lessons learned in the CTO/CIO trenches.”

Despite my considerable and immutable youth (I assure you that this is true), I’ve had a 25-year career in information technology, serving as a senior executive at Internet companies for the last ten or so of those years. I’m a strange combination, I think sometimes: a CTO who rose up through the ranks of software development, then got “religion” on project management and operational issues, and who maintains an extremely strong interest in and affinity for business issues, particularly those revolving around customers. I’m also a bit of an amateur “internet sociologist”, fascinated by what makes such companies succeed and fail, rise and fall. This admixture will make for some odd, but I hope interesting, topic choices at times.

I searched around the blogosphere (perhaps rightly one of the top most hated words on the internet), looking for something similar to the kind of blog I envisioned, and frankly, I couldn’t find it. Listed at the bottom of this post are links to some of the CTO/CIO blogs I did find, and I welcome people’s comments that point me to useful blogs that I might have missed.

One thing I’ve learned as an executive is the value of stating one’s goals at the outset, so here are mine for this blog: [Read more…]