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When I took this CTO position, I thought that I’ll just be making cool stuff.

Fast forward a year, I discovered that I’m more interested in learning what my team members felt about the feature that we’re building and why they think it will work, or why it won’t.

I’ve made connections that I didn’t think I could and saw people grow and soar to heights that felt like should've taken them years, when in fact it just took them weeks.


When blaming isn't BLAMING

The company has developed three iterations of our product in 14 months. One app was legacy, the other two were directly built by my team. We broke the apps a bunch of times, and we’ve had disagreements along the way, but I’ve had no turnover from my team. For a startup, 14 months is a lifetime.

I think it’s because we are honest and earnest. It didn’t happen overnight, and we had a rocky start. There were days that I ignored everyone in the team because I was too busy planning for the next sprint. Imagine having a question for the current sprint and the person who was supposed to guide you was “too busy”? I thought I was leading by making detailed plans or coding a feature, when in fact I was holding people back.

As a newly minted CTO, there were a lot of things I didn’t know how to do well. But there was one thing that I did know perfectly – it was to trust my team completely. Everybody knew this and so whenever I asked, “who broke the app?”, nobody felt someone was out to get them. The same way when I broke something, it wasn’t taboo to blame me. They tell me how I broke something after they’ve patched it.

But most of the time, I make it a point to fess up and say “Whoops, I broke the app.”