How you can thrive because you still have lots to offer

person standing in an office setting holding a briefcase and rolled up newspaper
person standing in an office setting holding a briefcase and rolled up newspaper
Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

If you feel like 40 is too old, you are wrong.

Imagine this: You arrive at the office early. You drop your backpack and head for the kitchen. Your kids woke you up early after you spent half the night coaxing them to sleep. You need coffee.

With your coffee mug in hand, you notice three software developers talking in the kitchen. It’s 9 a.m. These youngsters are here early, you think to yourself.

You notice they’re wearing the same clothes as yesterday. Oh my God, they’ve been here all night. Crap! Did something fail? What now?

The CEO zooms…

How to negotiate like a pro

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Moving up the ranks as an engineer is something that many accomplish. From the time I was nine years old, I wanted to be at the top of the technical ladder. My father gave me my first few lessons on how to be a pro; he ignited a fire in me that would burn until I stood at the post of CTO — several times.

Before I ever saw the words “Chief Technology Officer” written in an offer letter, I failed a lot. I paid my dues, slogging through 13 startups, building software, and growing businesses. …

And how you can make it happen for yourself

Man smiling and holding up hands in excited gesture
Man smiling and holding up hands in excited gesture
By StockSnap — 894430 from Pixabay

The abridged answer is I learned how to deliver value.

I’ve read oodles of articles about growing careers that, frankly, sound cliche. As a connoisseur of stuff that helps me strive toward excellence, I consume an impressive amount of articles. Sadly, I am unimpressed with the litany of unoriginal ideas. It’s easy to be bludgeoned by one-liners such as “be all you can be” for modest gains — at best. Many engineers wonder why they have colossal work-loads but remain on a financial treadmill.

Most engineers rise quickly and then plateau.

Earlier in my career, I valued the work. Coding…

You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond.

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It was 30 minutes before Star Trek came on. I needed my TV snack, so I grabbed my keys before I went to my mother’s room.

“Mom, you want anything?”

Binge-watching Star Trek was our weekly innocent existence — a mother and son bonding over one of TV’s all-time, most popular series. We watched Colombo too.

“Yes, baby. Get me a honey bun, a Dr. Pepper, and some Doritos.”

I checked my pockets to make sure I had cash. With ten dollars, I was about to create miracles at the liquor store on 69th street. I hopped into my beat-up…

Empowering people is one way to help businesses grow

Work meeting
Work meeting
Photo by on Pexels.

I thought I had lost my job when I crashed a production database.

In one of my first jobs, management gave me the task of re-indexing the database. The performance was horrible, and I was next in line to take on a heavy responsibility. I prepared by reading every book possible. I bathed in the documentation and signed up for seminars. I spent weeks diving into the problem domain. As they say, “I was booked up.”

I studied the database schema as if it were a final exam. …

Bootcamps get you a job, colleges don’t. But fundamentals do matter

Two Legos fencing
Two Legos fencing
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The bickering must stop.

There’s been furious debate over computer science degrees versus bootcamps. It’s an age-old fight fraught with unnecessary insults and tension. It’s a battle between elites and the self-taught.

Often, both sides sit in their corners, ready to throw technical blows. Proponents of CS degrees decree that computer science is superior. Bootcamp graduates revolt against purists who study “impractical” algorithms. Some hide their bootcamp certificates for fear of absolute judgment.

I’ve been around long enough to remember the debate of Javaschools versus C++. It’s no surprise that the arguments are the same, and there’s still no victor.

There's one thing that matters most . . . sales

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I started my first business over twenty years ago to prove a point. I grew tired of MBA’s telling me what to do when they knew nothing about technology.

They simplified the engineering process, and it made me sick. So, I decided to take my own risks. If I was going to be a victim of bad decisions, they would be my own horrible decisions.

Back then, I survived on the people I knew. I’d called friends to let them know I had time, and I’d land projects. …

…and still make it to dinner

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A long time ago, I took my five and three-year-old to work — at night.

I worked for a startup that was “the next big thing,” at least in our minds. We dreamed big. We would make billions and cement ourselves as a household name.

The night I took my kids to work was critical for the company. The first major release of our new product was going live. Customers were clamoring. We were on edge, but there was a positive energy in the building.

Some of us saw generational wealth as a possible outcome. We were counting our chickens…

Practical advice to ease your anxiety

Meeting. Person writing on a whiteboard.
Meeting. Person writing on a whiteboard.
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Technical interviews are scary as hell. Often you feel like you are boarding a roller coaster without a seatbelt.

You dread walking into a room where a panel awaits with a list of trick questions; your stomach sinks, and your hands sweat. The judge and jury studied these questions beforehand, yet expect you to hit the nail on the head in 45 minutes.

Your colleagues are your harshest critics. An interview failure is a blow to your ego. What will the panel think of you, and what does it mean for your career?

Interviewing for something you do all the…

Here’s why.

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Chief technology officer is like being Jon Snow in Game of Thrones: you are the bastard executive.

I dreamt of this titled position from a young age. I wanted to change the world with technology. With ingenuity and a computer, I could do anything.
When I got my hands on my first coding magazine, I thought I had won the lottery. Letter by letter, I’d type in code to make things work. My fascination would lead me to college and later a career in technology.

I had no idea what life as an executive had in store for me. They…

James Williams

Founder of COFEBE, Inc. We build tools that make engineer’s jobs easier.

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