Top CTO Podcasts

By | Executive

Here is a list of regularly updated podcasts that the Chief Technology Officer, regardless of company size or experience, should keep an eye on. In between all the incredible technology talks and episodes that fuel our geekiness, there lies the podcast focussed on helping engineers turn into leaders and grow into visionaries.

There is definitely something for everyone here so take a look and let me know if I’ve missed anything!

Modern CTO

Average length: 50 minutes
Topics include: CTO Role, Scaling, Organization, Growing Leaders
Style: 1-on-1 interviews via video conference

Joel Beasley is doing a stellar job, not only finding ALL the CTOs, but as someone who has experience as CTO and as a developer, his conversations are engaging and fun! The gold lies in the banter between general leadership and growth topics when all manner of tools, trends and books are casually discussed.

If you’re interested in learning how people grew into their roles as CTOs, tackle coaching and development of middle management roles like directors and lead engineers then Joel and his guests are definitely a table you’d want to sit at.

Killer Innovations

Average length: 40 minutes
Topics include: Ideas, Creativity, Innovation
Style: Interviews and coaching

Phil McKinney reads my mind! As CTOs we have rich imaginative conversations in our heads especially when the going gets tough.  Don’t you wish that you could go talk to someone who’s been there, done that sometimes?  Well, this podcast is like having coffee with an advisor who not only gets you out of your head but also gives you solid actionable advice.  This podcast has a nice balance between interviews and 1-1 coaching which I really like.

The CTO Advisor

Average length: 30 minutes
Topics include: Just enough tech to keep CTO on their toes, Personal, Technology Trends
Style: Conversational

I love listening to Keith Townsend and his crew. I feel like he is really close to all the topics CTOs are thinking about. I also get a sense that if I were to meet them at a party, I would be jealous of the camaraderie and rapport they have with each other.

This is one of those podcasts where it’s not that important *what* people are talking about, but rather the trust you feel for *who* is doing the talking. This is not to say that the topics are weak by any means at all. But if you enjoy freestyle banter between people who are obviously very well informed, super experienced and comfortable with each other, this is a great show to add to your subscription list.

CXO Talk

Average length: 30 minutes
Topics include: Tech
Style: 1-on-1 and panel interviews

In our roles as CTOs we are members of a C-Suite and I love this podcast for giving me a glimpse into the minds of my fellow company leaders. In an age where collaboration and emotional intelligence is a significant differentiator, host Michael Craigsman guides us through very interesting conversations that fuel empathy.

The true value of this podcast lies in various experts’ opinions on topics that are relevant, and most essential, to the role of CTO.  CXO Talk has also been around the block so it has a nice air of confidence in the way it’s produced and backed by sponsors.

CTO Think

Average length: 40 minutes
Topics: Product Development, Leadership
Style: 2 “recovering CTOs” talking, no interviews

This podcast has more of an episodic vibe tracking the journey of two “recovering CTOs”. The gold in this show lies in the fact that both hosts, Don Vandemark, and Randy Burgess are currently building products and seem to be in leadership roles at their companies so the topics give you a glimpse into their decision making processes and navigation of real-world situations on a weekly basis.

The benefit that comes with not having guests on a show is that you grow comfortable with the hosts and they tend to speak to their audience more directly rather than hosting a talk show in which they have to guide a guest through a conversation that provides value to their listeners.  In this case, you have two extremely knowledgeable, hands-on CTO types checking in with each other every week and we all get to listen in on that conversation.

CTO Colloquium

Topic: Wide ranging
Style: Live presentations to audiences of CTOs

I’m a lover of live music where the authenticity of the moment trumps the production of perfection and so here you have a unique TED stage meets indie conference vibe that brings CTOs out from their workplace and onto the public stage. Sometimes it sounds like the speaker is referring to slides but overall, the topics are absolutely focused on what Chief Technology Officers should be thinking about and offer a whole plethora of frameworks, models, and systems for getting work done while scaling your organization.

CTO and Co-Founder Talk

Average length: 1 hour
Topics include: Startups
Style: 1-on-1 interviews

An often neglected aspect of the role of CTO is whether it also includes co-founding the company. What I love about this podcast is the perspective Dave Albert brings by interviewing people that help CTOs who also wear the ownership hat. A key differentiator for this audience is the requirement to help with sales.

So, there you have it, our list of podcasts that we think every CTO should listen to.  There is one final podcast that I would be remiss not to add to this list but it’s focus lies more with the entrepreneur founder and is not a technical podcast per se.  But every time I listen to How I Built This, I feel inspired.

Go check all these out and please let me know what else CTOs should be listening to!

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4 Steps To Gain and Solidify Your Executive Role As CTO in the C-Suite

By | Executive, Leadership

I have come across so many CTOs who have lost their executive decision-making power in the C-Suite.   Or even worse, they never had it to begin with.  This often happens as a result of CEOs not fully understanding the role of the CTO, but it could also happen because of repeated failures to deliver on promises made.  Eventually, this leads to a lack of trust, diminished responsibilities, and overall job dissatisfaction.

If you find yourself in this situation, there is great news!  You stand before a perfect opportunity to break through the stereotypes often associated with the role of CTO.  The framework I’ll discuss with you not only helps with how you see yourself but also educates your C-Suite on the role of the CTO in your organization.

Having served as CTO for multiple organizations, I have fallen into the trap of taking a back seat when things didn’t go my way in the executive sync-ups and I can honestly say that the following framework had a radical impact on my results as CTO.

The CTO Authority Ramp

1. Frame

Those who know me know that I am a huge fan of Oren Klaff’s “Pitch Anything”.  In the book, he talks about frame control.  Frame control is giving someone else the lens to see what you see.  The first step in the CTO Authority Ramp is to take control of the frame.  If you don’t control the perspective, you’ll end up debating, contending and even arguing against a point of view that will leave you unfulfilled and feel unheard.  Here are a few ways to take back control of the frame:

  • Don’t react. If you’re starting sentences with “Yes, but..”, “It depends…”, you’re in reaction mode.
  • Don’t commit. If you’re committing to anything as a reaction, you’re in trouble.
  • Don’t agree. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing even if you can’t articulate the exact reason why in the moment.

Instead, inform the alpha dog that you will carefully consider their comments and get back to them.

2. Focus

There is a reason “retrospectives” have their place at the end of a sprint in the agile software development processes.  It is because they are not productive before, or during the sprint.  In the same way, it is almost never a good idea to focus on the past, or on “what got us here” in your executive sync-ups.  If you find yourself explaining and re-explaining how we got into a situation, you’re wasting your breath (and losing the frame).  Keep your focus on the current reality and the steps needed to advance in order to achieve maximum results.

3. Forecast

Always be forecasting.  The absolute best way to ramp up your authority is to demonstrate that you are firmly rooted in the present, focussed on the future and pursuing attainable results.  I highly recommend a 1/1/1 approach:

  • 1 month. What should we focus on in the next month?  This is a very important unit of measure because payroll is tied to it.
  • 1 quarter. Most companies pick a strategy for the year.  Breaking it down into quarters is a great way for people to understand progress against the overall strategy.  It is also easier for people to tactically visualize 3 months out into the future.
  • 1 year.  As CTO you’re always aligning your technology with future goals.  Constantly demonstrate that you have an eye for the future, securing your company’s technological viability.

Another tip for your forecasting exercise is to stay away from using many many words in a document with many many bullet points and sub-bullet points.  Instead, use a presentation format with simple shapes like a circle, some squares, and many many colors.

4. Fund

And now for the most important step in establishing your authority in the executive suite: bet on yourself.  Put your money where your mouth is.  Be willing to suffer the consequences if you don’t hit your targets.  If you’re blaming anything or anybody but yourself, you’re playing the victim card and perpetuating the back seat stereotype.

Are you ready?

You may say that you are too introverted to match your C-Suite using the CTO Authority Ramp, or that you do not have enough information to go build a forecast, not to mention backing it.  But here is my encouragement to you, if you do this, you stand to gain a lot more leadership clout from your team.  The potential for higher reward skyrockets.  Don’t shy away from doing this and if you don’t have access to numbers, budgets or planning, go with your best guestimates.


Here’s how you’ll know that you’re ramping up your authority in the C-Suite: you’ll be consulted more frequently, if not incessantly in strategic decision making.  You’ll be awesome.  Enjoy 🙂

Please send me feedback on how this framework has helped you and as always, I would love to help you any way I can.

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