CTO Compass

Welcome to The CTO Compass

Welcome to The CTO Compass. In a 5-minute coffee break, my goal is for you to gain an insight or new perspective, plus give you a practical tool or exercise to apply it, should it inspire you.

A quick primer on me

I am the CEO of Foxsoft and often act in an interim or fractional CTO capacity for other organisations.

I’m what you might call a lover of wisdom; I always have my head in a book or three. I don’t think there’s a better way to gain knowledge outside of your direct experience than by learning from others who have taken the time to distil it in written form.

Outside of my professional life, if you have visited our office, you’ll know I’m a big fan of LEGO; I like the creative act of reimagining how small plastic bricks can be perceived as something else. Plus, it’s a great way to relax and clear your mind while taking a break from screens and technology.

Why am I doing this?

At the start of 2023, I began training as a Heroic Performance Coach to become a better human being and help my team, and others, do so too. I am inspired to contribute to Heroic’s wildly ambitious target of having 51% of humanity flourishing by 2051.

During the height of the COVID pandemic in early 2020, when the lockdown was in full effect, I used the quiet time to go deep and learn about a new note-taking application that had just been released called Roam Research. It pioneered a different paradigm to help you make connections between disparate notes. As I built my expertise, I created a course to teach it to others and accidentally grew a several thousand-strong personal newsletter centred around it.

Subscribers today include growth-minded individuals, CEOs, journalists and a wide variety of researchers and academics from institutions around the world. It led to me providing personal coaching services, and I was invited to give talks to groups and appeared on several panels and webinars.

To be able to go all in with Heroic, I took an intentional pause late last year to free up the time required. However, I find that I miss sharing knowledge that can help others.

What you can expect

Technology in business is not just about using software to run the organisation more efficiently. It permeates all aspects of our modern lives, and it pays to learn how to leverage it effectively.

Each Thursday, I’ll share one idea and a practical tool or exercise to encourage you to take action. Topics will run the gamut from ideas around software development, business strategies and tactics and personal and professional growth.

I’ll show you how to use technology to become a more effective person and give your organisation an unfair technology advantage.

Here’s a flavour of what you can expect.

Thinking Time

At Foxsoft, we run on EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System), something I’ll return to over the coming weeks and months. One of the most powerful tools in its arsenal is deceptively simple. They call it taking a Clarity Break. I came across the same idea in a different form called Thinking Time.

It is time you make for working on the business, not in the business. That’s it.

It might be simple, but we’re all busy, so achieving it can be challenging. It’s tempting to look at that appointment and say, “I’ll do it next time; I just have to do this urgent thing. I can think later”.

However, it could be the most impactful time of your week. Counter-intuitively, the busier you are, the more time you need to make time to think. It’s not a time for reflection. It’s a time for looking forward and making adjustments to improve for the future.

Next week, find 30 minutes in your schedule and block it off in your calendar. Then, when the time comes, unplug from the internet, turn off your notifications, grab a notebook and pen and find somewhere quiet. Whether that’s just closing the door to your office, going to a nearby coffee shop, or, as I usually do, sitting in my armchair at home. The key is to find somewhere that works for you.

Sit, think, and make notes. Maybe you’ll come to a realisation or insight you can take back to the rest of the business. Or perhaps you’ll figure out the next step that needs to be taken.

Or maybe you won’t. Thinking deeply is challenging and requires practice and persistence. As software developers, we get a lot of practice in this. It is necessary to stay undistracted and focused on the problem for long periods to be able to hold many ideas in our working memory and see things from different angles.

No matter the outcome, schedule your next Thinking Time session before you finish and commit to honouring it. Make it a weekly discipline and train your brain to focus better into the bargain. With practice, you can increase the time you dedicate to the activity.

In each email, I’ll include relevant questions or prompts for you to consider in your Thinking Time.

Here’s a prompt to get you started:

What’s the biggest problem I have in my organisation right now?

Time to take action

Open your calendar right now, and book a 30-minute appointment with yourself.

According to Mel Robbins, you’ve got 5 seconds to make that decision and start taking action.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Go!