Breaking News: Good Tech Needs Good Leaders

Hey! Tech folks! Over here!

Who wants to solve some juicy and interesting problems?

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Who wants to make good money while making the world a better place?

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Who is having trouble aligning these goals?

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Stick around, because I’ve got some skills you need to increase your impact with integrity.

A lot of our industry feels like this these days:

The underpants gnome mentality has left us with a lot of technology in search of a business model. And the business models we have wound up with are… problematic.

The common wisdom has become: do some ideation and niching, focus on greenfield development, pivot, get some VC funding, pivot again. Gather lots (millions) of users, and hopefully achieve profitability before you run out of cash.

Even for the people working on these projects, this sucks. Our cultural focus on the handful of unicorns that come out of this process covers up a lot of dashed dreams, broken marriages, and sleepless nights. It’s a huge waste of human potential.

Even more, as one scandal after another hits the headlines, and more of the big tech leaders wind up on apology tours for the compromises that they chose to make to “monetize” their ideas, you’re starting to worry that maybe there’s more to it than that.

I’m here to tell you that you’re right.

I’ve split my career into two tracks, one keeping up with what’s current, and one studying and listening to how technology professionals think about their work.

I’ve been talking to friends and colleagues at conferences, meetups, and parties for over 20 years, and as much as shiny and new technologies can be fun, I know that a lot of you came into this looking for more meaning.

When I talk about ethics and how we could deploy our newest fancy accomplishments (cough, machine learning, cough) to improve people’s lives, you lean in over mediocre coffee and dry sandwiches and whisper, “I’m in.”

But when you go back to your job, they’re not so much “in” as you had hoped.

A lot of companies are still searching for a revenue stream, and they are running scared ahead of payroll and their next quarterly report.

Anxiety is a poor foundation for decision making. It bleeds into everything that we do, and even if we try to mask it (surprise twist!!!) They Know.