223 episodes

The CTO Podcast explores the worlds of Chief Technical officers as they manage the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of technologists in the C-suite. Hosted by Etienne de Bruin, founder of 7CTOs and author of CTO Excellence in 100 Days: Becoming the leader your company deserves.


The CTO Podcast Insights & Strategies for Chief Technology Officers Navigating the C-Suite while Balancing Technical Strategy, Team Management, & Innovation

    • Technology
    • 4.7 • 31 Ratings

The CTO Podcast explores the worlds of Chief Technical officers as they manage the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of technologists in the C-suite. Hosted by Etienne de Bruin, founder of 7CTOs and author of CTO Excellence in 100 Days: Becoming the leader your company deserves.


    Dave Adsit, VP of Engineering SamCart: Coding Roots to C-Suite Insights

    Dave Adsit, VP of Engineering SamCart: Coding Roots to C-Suite Insights

    In this conversation, Etienne and Dave reminisce about their early experiences with computers and programming. They discuss the different computer models they had, the challenges of typing in code from magazines, and the evolution of technology. They then shift the conversation to their roles as VP of Engineering and CTO, and the differences between the two positions. They talk about the importance of product management and design in software development, and the value of delivering in small batches. They also discuss the concept of lean software development and the economic mindset behind it. The conversation explores the conundrum of developers being resistant to working on new features and instead over-engineering existing ones. The fear of the unknown and the comfort of familiarity play a role in this resistance. The conversation also delves into the importance of prototyping and experimentation in the development process. The concept of failure and its relationship to learning and psychological safety is discussed. The impact of different communication mediums, such as texting and video calls, on team culture and effectiveness is explored. The conversation concludes with a discussion on measuring team productivity and effectiveness through inputs, outputs, outcomes, and impact.
    Time Stamps
    00:00 - Reminiscing about Early Computers and Programming
    13:16 - The Differences Between VP of Engineering and CTO
    24:23 - Delivering in Small Batches for Faster Feedback
    26:47 - Embracing the Economic Mindset in Lean Software Development
    35:50 - Developers' Resistance to New Features
    38:10 - Prototyping and Experimentation
    44:33 - Failure and Learning
    51:20 - Impact of Communication Mediums
    01:04:53 - Measuring Team Productivity and Effectiveness
    The CTO Podcast is honored to be featured among Feedspot's top 45 C-suite podcasts.
    We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials Video
    Contact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Dave: LinkedIn / Website

    Get full access to The CTO Podcast at www.ctopod.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Ksenia Palke, Head of AI at Airspace: AI in Time-Critical Shipments

    Ksenia Palke, Head of AI at Airspace: AI in Time-Critical Shipments

    Ksenia Palke, Director of AI at Airspace, discusses the use of AI in time-critical shipments. Airspace builds tech for fast automated solutions in shipping critical items such as organs, medical devices, and industrial parts. The goal is to remove unnecessary manual steps and optimize the delivery process. Ksenia explains how AI is used to predict delivery times, optimize routes, and automate interactions with drivers and customers. She also discusses the use of large language models (LLMs) in their AI initiatives and the importance of prompt engineering and ragging. Ksenia emphasizes the need for context-specific training and the ongoing comparison of different LLMs. In this conversation, Etienne and Ksenia discuss the implementation of language models (LLMs) in business and the importance of being specific and intentional in their use. They emphasize the need for a clear strategy and goals when using LLMs, rather than chasing the latest and greatest technology. They also highlight the importance of having a human in the loop to validate and manage LLM outputs. The conversation explores the limitations of LLMs and the potential for future advancements. Overall, the conversation provides practical advice for founders and CTOs on how to approach AI projects and make the most of LLMs.
    Time Stamps00:00 Introduction and Overview02:12 Automation and Optimization in Time-Critical Shipments09:22 Using LLMs to Automate Interactions14:05 The Importance of Prompt Engineering and Ragging in LLM Training24:14 Bottlenecks and Challenges in LLM Development29:29 Being Specific and Intentional with LLMs35:04 The Importance of Performance over Novelty39:18 The Role of Human Validation44:29 Avoiding the Hype and Focusing on Practical Applications53:26 Understanding the Limitations of LLMs57:47 Embracing Advancements in LLM Technology
    We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials Video
    Contact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Ksenia: LinkedIn / Website

    Get full access to The CTO Podcast at www.ctopod.com/subscribe

    • 58 min
    Devastate the Competition via Robust Design with Adam Bahret

    Devastate the Competition via Robust Design with Adam Bahret

    Etienne sits down with Adam Bahret, whose unique journey has fueled his passion for creating robust product designs that can outperform the competition. The conversation reveals how prioritizing reliability can significantly impact a product's success and why reliability often trumps marketing.
    Tune is as Adam introduces his innovative R-Three blueprint which balances cost, features, and risk to ensure successful product launches without regrets. He also discusses the often overlooked issue of technical debt in software development, emphasizing the importance of early risk assessment.
    With his insights being drawn from his book Devastate the Competition: How to Take Market Share through Robust Design, he aims to connect product development with achieving business objectives, and he and Etienne engage in insightful dialogue about the challenges and solutions in reliability engineering. They discuss Adam's experiences living in Denmark and the cultural differences that shaped his approach to learning and working in engineering. Their conversation also touches on the differences between reliability and quality, illustrating how these concepts play important roles in the design and manufacturing processes.
    Adam also highlights the importance of using proper methods for early risk assessment, ensuring a more dependable final product. He shares his creative approach to making reliability concepts accessible to everyone through comic book guides, aimed at simplifying complex tools and techniques.
    Listen in to gain valuable insights into how robust product design can lead to dominating the market, the significance of balancing multiple factors in product development, and practical tips for incorporating reliability engineering principles across various industries!
    Time Stamps:[1:29] - Adam, born in New York, now lives in Boston after working in Denmark for two years.[3:54] - Adam shares how he pretended not to understand Danish so that a homeless person switched to English for spare change.[5:00] - Learn where the title of Devastate the Competition comes from.[6:17] - Adam explains the concept of reliability engineering.[8:48] - Quality ensures consistency in manufacturing, while reliability creates robust designs for durable, useful technology.[10:00] - Adam touches upon why he wrote Reliability Culture and why he wrote Devastate the Competition.[13:07] - Adam aims to prevent regrets in product development by establishing processes for wise, efficient decisions.[14:46] - Adam explains his R-Three blueprint.[16:50] - Adam emphasizes the importance of product ratio factors in decision-making.[18:24] - Adam suggests prioritizing robust design for proactive decision-making and smoother processes.[21:29] - It’s important to align individual goals with overall business objectives for success.[24:00] - Etienne discusses how individuals in different roles prioritize their incentives, possibly leading to deviations from the intended path.[25:10] - Adam advocates for measuring "time to reliability" for better decision-making.[28:54] - Adam explains the sawtooth pattern in software reliability curves.[31:00] - Reduce software bugs by identifying and eliminating infrequently used code through script scanning.[32:02] - Hear how Adam simplifies reliability concepts via comic books, aiming to make fundamental tools more accessible.[35:20] - Adam explains why he finds the term HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Test) misleading.[37:26] - Adam compares reliability tools to car controls, advocating for their accessibility and understanding.[39:13] - Etienne discusses technical debt, emphasizing the trade-offs made in software development for faster time to market.[41:21] - Where can listeners reach Adam?
    We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials Video
    Contact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Adam: Website / Instagram / LinkedInAdam's Books: Devastate the Competition / How Reliable Is You

    • 43 min
    Going First: Leading with Purpose in an Overthinking World with Nell Derick Debevoise

    Going First: Leading with Purpose in an Overthinking World with Nell Derick Debevoise

    Etienne is joined in this episode by Nell Derick Debevoise, the founder of Inspiring Capital which helps leaders grow their business with purpose and build impactful legacies. Nell has advised leaders at American Express, Cisco, Google and more, and she focuses on expanding impact, growing businesses and building legacies that are inclusive, anti-racist and sustainable. 
    Etienne and Nell discuss East Coast vs. West Coast cultures, with Nell reflecting on her experiences in New England and California, and how these cultural differences shape leadership styles and priorities. They also discuss the importance of purposeful leadership to overcoming the paralysis of overthinking, with Nell offering practical advice drawn from her book, Going First: Finding the Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action.
    Etienne and Nell also candidly dive into the challenges and rewards of purpose-driven work, sharing personal anecdotes and reflections on their journeys. From navigating the complexities of international service work to empowering local communities, they discuss strategies for maximizing impact within one's sphere of influence.
    Listen in to gain valuable insights into aligning your personal values with your professional endeavors, overcoming self-doubt and insecurity, and fostering collaboration within purpose-driven organizations. Whether you're a seasoned leader seeking to reignite your passion or you’re a newcomer navigating the intersection of purpose and profit, this episode offers actionable tips and insight for making a meaningful impact in today's world!
    Time Stamps:[1:52] - Etienne discusses having walked the East Coast before settling in California.[4:09] - Nell, influenced by New England, values a blend of progressive and traditional ideals, particularly regarding nature.[5:49] - Etienne misses seasons and makes note of his children's unfamiliarity with weather changes.[8:03] - Nell reflects on what stood out to her the most from her last dinner meeting with Etienne.[11:19] - Nell highlights the superficiality of American identity, contrasting it with the authenticity observed in European culture.[13:16] - Hear how Nell's international work in human development emphasized holistic, purpose-driven development.[15:43] - The essence of "teaching the right people" is leading purposefully and inspiring action through everyday courage.[17:12] - What motivated Nell to write her book?[20:22] - Etienne contemplates bridging the gap between massive enterprises and individual humanity, especially in education.[22:34] - Nell addresses the challenge of maintaining purpose amid complexity, urging acknowledgment and focused persistence.[24:25] - Nell advocates for Seth Godin's idea of "niching up," making a localized impact within one's sphere of influence.[27:06] - Etienne reflects on the desire to address grand challenges all at once, advocating for steady but meaningful impact.[28:26] - Aligning actions with purpose, whether asking for donations or engaging directly with communities, is crucial.[31:10] - Etienne expresses frustration with inaction despite ample support and opportunity to make a difference.[33:05] - Hear Etienne share an inspiring story of community transformation sparked by a small investment as he laments his own inaction.[35:15] - Nell discusses how insecurity can hinder bold action and impact, emphasizing the need to be confident in one's goals.[38:42] - Nell suggests framing the past five years positively, emphasizing meaningful change and exciting progress.[39:36] - Stephen Covey's concept differentiates between our concerns and what we can influence, highlighting impactful actions.[42:25] - Recognizing the scope of influence involves not just identifying issues but also effective solution delivery.[44:22] - Nell plans to leverage her upcoming trip to San Diego for revenue-generating opportunities.[47:18] - Learn about a key tool that Nell uses to assess individuals' energy for team or project contrib

    • 50 min
    Joel Beasley, Modern CTO: Mastering the Art of Podcasting

    Joel Beasley, Modern CTO: Mastering the Art of Podcasting

    Etienne is so happy to be sitting down with his good friend Joel Beasley for this episode. Joel is the mastermind behind the Modern CTO Podcast and founder of Pro Series Media, and he is here for an enlightening conversation on the ins and outs of podcasting. With years of experience under his belt, Joel shares invaluable insights on starting, cultivating, managing, and scaling a successful podcast.
    From the importance of in-person interviews to the art of crafting compelling questions, Joel breaks down the key elements that make a podcast stand out, emphasizing the significance of building genuine connections with guests and providing valuable content to listeners and stressing that quality engagement is more important than quantity.
    Joel's approach to podcasting is refreshingly authentic, focusing on human relationships and meaningful conversations rather than gimmicks or marketing tactics. He shares his journey from focusing solely on technical leaders to exploring groundbreaking ideas shaping humanity, inspired by visionaries like Jordan Peterson.
    Listen as Joel offers practical advice for aspiring podcasters, from niche selection and guest outreach to effective interviewing techniques. He emphasizes the value of preparation, genuine curiosity, and caring for both guests and audience members.
    Joel also unveils his plans for the upcoming Joel Beasley Show, where he aims to dive deeper into transformative ideas and continue fostering meaningful connections. With Joel's expertise and passion for podcasting, listeners are in for a treat as they embark on their own podcasting journey or simply tune in to enjoy engaging conversations with fascinating individuals!
    Time Stamps:
    [2:31] - Joel feels that in-person interactions foster deeper connections compared to remote ones, enhancing relationships and responsiveness.[4:39] - Exploring diverse perspectives and groundbreaking ideas drives Joel's new show, inspired by transformative encounters.[7:35] - Joel argues that human connections hinge on shared values and content quality, reflected in his authentic podcast approach.[10:12] - Prioritize genuine connections over high conversion rates; quality relationships yield long-term podcast success.[13:18] - Invites based on episode performance prioritize engaging guests.[15:59] - Etienne and Joel met seven years ago when Etienne launched 7CTOs.[17:08] - Joel reveals that he plans to offer free, high-quality podcast creation content to build trust with businesses.[19:27] - Joel outlines a B2B podcast course focusing on niche identification and audience value delivery.[22:23] - Etienne admires marketing instincts, recognizing simplicity and potential in targeting conference audiences.[23:43] - Joel delegated conference research after obtaining options from a hired research analyst.[26:34] - Joel shares how he discovered a passion for sales, emphasizing value and dedication in podcast production.[29:04] - Joel emphasizes the core of podcasting: serving listeners by aligning audience needs with valuable content.[33:17] - Joel aims to assist creators transitioning to professional podcasting, stressing value, guest validation, and collaboration.[36:55] - Joel finds coaching the host to be rewarding due to their innate curiosity and care, key success traits.[38:31] - Consider turning coaching expertise into a podcast, offering recorded sessions to address common challenges.[40:05] - Joel advocates for hiring a local videographer for professional setup, maximizing quality without breaking the bank.[43:12] - Joel prioritizes audience value in conversations, subtly promoting podcast services and achieving 10% client conversion.[45:02] - Joel reflects on having sent 250 emails nightly, refining the process, highlighting problem-solving abilities.[47:47] - Joel bases his prices on team size, offering packages or individual options.[48:31] - Joel is planning to launch The Joel Beasley Show in early fall.
    We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Te

    • 49 min
    Alex Balazs, CTO Intuit: Generative AI, Vulnerability and Leadership

    Alex Balazs, CTO Intuit: Generative AI, Vulnerability and Leadership

    Etienne sits down this episode with Alex Balazs, the CTO of Intuit, for an eye-opening discussion on vulnerability, leadership, and the cutting-edge realm of generative AI. Alex shares insights from his journey, from TurboTax's chief architect to leading technology at Intuit. He delves into the pivotal role vulnerability plays in effective leadership, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and humanity in fostering collaboration and innovation.
    Alex sheds light on the transformative potential of generative AI and its applications in revolutionizing customer experiences. From enhancing email marketing with MailChimp to reimagining tax preparation with TurboTax, Alex reveals how Intuit is leveraging AI to deliver tangible benefits to users.
    Alex and Etienne also navigate the challenges of staying ahead in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. Alex emphasizes the need for CTOs to dream big, experiment boldly, and prioritize customer impact, and he underscores the power of community and collaboration in driving positive change, urging technologists to harness their skills for the greater good.
    Through anecdotes and insights, Alex inspires listeners to embrace vulnerability, seize opportunities, and leverage technology for transformative impact. Join Etienne and Alex in this enlightening conversation about the intersections of leadership, technology, and human connection.
    Time Stamps:
    [1:09] - Alex discusses how he progressed from Turbotax's chief architect to Intuit's chief technology officer.[3:23] - Vulnerability, often overlooked in leadership, fosters connection and strength, a crucial lesson in leadership.[5:09] - Alex argues that shifting from having answers to asking questions fosters growth and leadership.[8:23] - Being a CTO can feel lonely, but community support humanizes and strengthens leadership.[10:29] - Etienne discusses how the accessibility and humility of influential leaders contrast with those of smaller companies.[12:00] - Mastering scale is crucial for large company CTOs, balancing priorities and fostering efficiency.[15:15] - The rapid progress of generative AI and cutting-edge hardware designs signal groundbreaking technological advancements.[18:32] - Alex points out how the rapid evolution of technology has made home automation mainstream.[19:45] - Alex shares a story of how during a loud event like the Super Bowl halftime show, noise-canceling earbuds offered a safer, clearer experience.[22:03] - Etienne argues that navigating disruptions and commitments as a CTO demands staying informed and strategic.[24:21] - According to Alex, to truly shake things up with tech, it's not about being just slightly better but rather ten times superior.[26:26] - Intuit prioritizes customer impact, aiming for tenfold improvement with AI innovations.[29:19] - Alex discusses how generative AI shifts tech to prioritizing accuracy over human fallibility, which requires education.[31:48] - Tech innovation now surpasses predictions; building adaptable organizations is key to embracing disruption.[34:08] - Alex points out that we should be embracing both practical and groundbreaking cases for innovation.[36:49] - Alex closes by encouraging community support, networking, and dreaming big to leverage technology for positive change.
    We have 200+ CTOs in peer groups: Quick Testimonials Video
    Contact Etienne: Website / YouTube / LinkedIn / X / Instagram / The CTO Podcast WebsiteContact Alex: LinkedInSchedule a meeting with Etienne on Calendly

    Get full access to The CTO Podcast at www.ctopod.com/subscribe

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
31 Ratings

31 Ratings

Dan1777999877 ,


CTO Podcast has quickly become a favorite in my feed! I'm consistently impressed by the engaging conversations, insightful content, and actionable ideas. I truly learn something every time I listen!

Ken Cone ,

Great Podcast - Cool Speakers

Always interesting; this is a podcast that I follow regularly.

Bastosmichael ,

Timely and articulate

Very timely and articulate messaging.

Top Podcasts In Technology

All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg
All-In Podcast, LLC
Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal
Search Engine
PJ Vogt, Audacy, Jigsaw
Lex Fridman Podcast
Lex Fridman
Hard Fork
The New York Times
TED Radio Hour

You Might Also Like

a16z Podcast
Andreessen Horowitz
Thoughtworks Technology Podcast
All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg
All-In Podcast, LLC
Software Engineering Daily
Software Engineering Daily
Gartner ThinkCast
WSJ Tech News Briefing
The Wall Street Journal