Office Hours: I teach founders how to manage teams and projects like a CTO without being technical. I am the founder of TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs and have been recognized by Fast Company and the Wall Street Journal.Featured

ElphaStaff's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for joining us @DigitalWoman!Elphas – please ask @DigitalWoman your questions before Friday, February 5th. @DigitalWoman may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
tilou's profile thumbnail
This is great! Thanks for hosting! What advise would you give a mid-career project person who does not have a technical background on how to acquire sufficient tech expertise to speak knowledgeable and confidentally with tech partners? I often find myself having to challenge certain assumptions but not always sure how to investigate or question the answers given especially if they are very technical. Thanks!
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @tilouhere are 3 things that I would recommend....1. The fastest way to gain knowledge is though courses. Figure out what type of knowledge you need and seek out an expert you want to learn from.2. Start having conversations with people more technical than you and look up any terminologies/words that you don’t understand. This includes asking questions from the developers that you work with. Take notes and start googling them 😀3. Start reading technical blogs/articles and listen to podcasts. One of my favorites is: https://hackernoon.com/ and https://alistapart.com/Nelly
tilou's profile thumbnail
Thanks @DigitalWoman for the tips. I started checking out HacknerNoon and can’t wait to start on the others!
ThereseLCanares's profile thumbnail
@digitalwoman Nelly- Thank you!I’m a physician-MBA and solo founder of a med tech startup. I’m commercializing university tech that I’m building with my university computer science research team. The rest of the product (to be built outside of the university) will use a mobile device app and cloud based algorithms. Since I don’t have a technical background how do I figure out what type of engineer(s) and/or software developers I need? Are there people who do software programming, can build mobile apps, and do computer science/machine learning? Or is this person a unicorn, and I need 2 or 3 separate people?Not sure which questions to ask to find the people I need. Thanks!
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @ThereseLCanaresIt is possible to find one person who is versed in both building algorithms and a mobile app, but you will probably have more luck hiring two separate people. The one skill that is an absolute must in my book for non-tech founder to run a tech startup successfully is to become TECH LITERATE.this means that you’ll need to learn some fundamental technical concepts, you’ll need to know what some of the jargon means, you’ll need to understand the best technical processes, and know how to easily identify when things are going wrong. Then you can set the expectations in your mind and with your team, on how things should work. This is what will give you the confidence to have those conversations and ask the right questions. This will give you the confidence to push back when a developer says it can’t be done or that it can only be done a certain way. It will give you the confidence to control and negotiate how much time something should take and how much money it should cost.Having that knowledge is going to completely transform the way you see and make connections with technology. All of a sudden things will make sense. You’ll see things in the future that you wouldn’t have been able to see before. I do an entire webinar on how non-techies can run successful tech startups. You can learn more here: https://www.techspeakforentrepreneurs.com/launch-tech-startups/?utm=elphaNelly.
ThereseLCanares's profile thumbnail
Thanks @DigitalWoman! The link didn’t work but will go directly to your site.
hannahlake's profile thumbnail
This is the topic that keeps so many of my non-technical manager friends and clients awake at night. I can't wait to share TechSpeak with them. Thank you for doing this!What is the best and worst leadership advice you've received throughout your career? What is the best mistake you've made?
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @hannahlakeThank you for sharing TechSpeak as a resource to your non-technical manager friends and clients. I really appreciate it!What is the best and worst leadership advice you've received throughout your career?I was lucky to have really good mentors throughout my career and very early on in my career I learned about functional leadership…those who know best on a topic take the lead and I still used it to this day. This type of leadership gives a lot of autonomy to the people that I work with where I try to foster mini-entrepreneurs. What is the best mistake you've made?The best mistake that I’ve made is actually deciding to study Computer Science… I had no idea what computer programming meant and actually thought I would be learning how to use Microsoft Word and Excel really, really, well and I turned on the computer for the first time in my first computer science class.The first six months were so hard and I was ready to give up almost every day…but boy am I glad that I decided to stick with it!Nelly
AnnaMariaM's profile thumbnail
Very cool! I haven't met many female CTO's in my lifetime, but I could see myself trying to become one if I was in other circumstances (if I didn't have my companies right now), because I do know the basics of coding (obviously not all languages, but for php, javascript/react and others) and technical (server side etc) aspects. With this being said – I'd love to see how you lead a team without these prerequisites, what becomes the most difficult part? If the lack of technical knowledge is not the main one, then what is? :) What personal strengths have you put into work to be a great CTO?
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @AnnaMariaMThe role of a CTO changes depending on the stage of the company:1. If you’re working in an early stage startup as a CTO, you need to have deep technical expertise because your job is to actually do a lot of the coding of the early product.2. As the company matures, the CTO’s role evolves into more of a manager and visionary and at that stage, the CTO needs to be an expert in a lot of different technologies…not a deep expert but at least understand the pros and cons of each. Their job is to be aware of what’s currently available and what technologies are coming up that you can take advantage of…. always staying ahead of emerging trends. The 3 key non-technical skills that are important are Communication, Deadline Management, and People management.I recently published a video about the 6 qualities of a CTO that might be helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAvNg3rmG8k&t=255sNelly
sabinas's profile thumbnail
@DigitalWoman Thanks for doing this! I'm a Non-technical founder who recently launched our mobile app. Our app is a dance application that automates video tutorial production for the instructor and delivers an interactive video player for the user. I am now in the process of working with a dev team to make iterative upgrades to find our product-market fit (PMF). What is the best advice you have to save time & money in achieving our PMF?
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @sabinasCongratulations on your launch!The number one metric I advise founders to focus on early in their product development is retention...which is all about figuring out out how to get users to come back to your app and use it as much as possible. You will do this by implementing behavior analytics so you can understand how users use your product. All of these data points will allow you to use data to confidently make improvements to your product. The more users use your product, the more likely they are to pay for it and also recommend it to their colleagues and friends.Nelly
WenlinT's profile thumbnail
Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us @DigitalWomanI'd love to hear your advice on: 1. How you'd do things differently if you could give your old self advice when you first started building communities2. Which tools you'd recommend for community building - there are so many options from FB groups, to Mightynetworks, to Slack, Discord, circle and various Pros and cons of each. I'd love to hear your personal favourite and why 3. What technical & soft skills you consider to be essential to acquire for new virtual community builders / managers
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @WenlinT1. How you'd do things differently if you could give your old self advice when you first started building communitiesAlways have a published posting policy, especially if you are going to moderate your community. You have to moderate it consistently and having posting rules easily accessible and specify what is acceptable and what is not will help you take control of a "bad" situation quickly.2. Which tools you'd recommend for community building - there are so many options from FB groups, to Mightynetworks, to Slack, Discord, circle and various Pros and cons of each. I'd love to hear your personal favorite and whyWhen you invest time in building a community, it's really important to be able to reach the community members directly. That's why I prefer tools like Mightynetworks and Circle over Facebook groups and slack channels.3. What technical & soft skills you consider to be essential to acquire for new virtual community builders / managersWhen building a community, it is important to remember that it is not just about building community, but, about seeding and fostering relationships. It is not just a one-way or even two-way conversation…it is an omni-directional conversation. You might seed the conversation but then the conversation takes on a life of it’s own within the community and having your conversation extend to other communities should be the goal. Being a good community moderator is also an important skill to make sure that the community doesn't devolve and continues to be helpful, relevant, informative, etc. Also, being conscious about encouraging the diversity of perspectives is paramount to make sure that everyone's voice is represented.
ClaireSiegel's profile thumbnail
Hi Nelly! I'm a non-technical founder of Nutritional Freedom (Techstars '21). We help women ditch diets and get healthy for good through coaching, community, and curriculum. We currently run our subscription membership on a third-party tech stack, which gives us very little insight into customer data and overall user experience.I've been in the process of interviewing dev shops, engineers, and product managers and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by the different potential configurations to build product. For a company that's pre-product, has revenue traction, and a limited budget, is there a best case scenario team, e.g. in-house product manager working with outsourced dev shop? Or does it just depend on many factors?
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @ClaireSiegelIt will depend on many factors. But generally, it comes down to whether you have the resources to be able to manage an in-house team. If the answer is no, then in-house product manager working with outsourced dev shop is probably the best configuration.Nelly.
MollieFleury's profile thumbnail
Hey Claire! Love the concept of Nutritional Freedom - kudos on the hard work to get to this point. 😊I actually work for a digital product studio that will often do product management, UI/UX design, and software dev all in one for founders (or a la carte if they have some in-house team members). We also help them recruit, advise, or hire internally when the time is right. Happy to chat if you want another perspective on team structures that we've seen work.
KalyaniTholeti's profile thumbnail
@DigitalWoman, I am a software professional with 15+yrs of experience. When pursuing any leadership role, I come across requirements seeking experience in many technical skills. How can I pitch myself to these roles and what is the most important skill to develop to grow as a CTO?Thank you.Kalyani
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @KalyaniTholetiI think it's important to first get clear on what type of company you want to work for:1. If you’re working in an early stage startup as a CTO, you need to have deep technical expertise because your job is to actually do a lot of the coding of the early product.2. As the company matures, the CTO’s role evolves into more of a manager and visionary and at that stage, the CTO needs to be an expert in a lot of different technologies…not a deep expert but at least understand the pros and cons of each. Their job is to be aware of what’s currently available and what technologies are coming up that you can take advantage of…. always staying ahead of emerging trends. The 3 key non-technical skills that are important are Communication, Deadline Management, and People management.I recently published a video about the 6 qualities of a CTO that might be helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAvNg3rmG8k&t=255sNelly.
jobequality's profile thumbnail
Thank you for doing this.What advice will you give someone who is starting a new community?What is the fastest way to grow a community?What incentives or platform would you recommend for getting the word out about the community?Thanks!
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @jobequality!What advice will you give someone who is starting a new community?Building a great community takes time, so you have to be patient and stay consistent. This means consistently generating new content, posting it, engaging with the community members, and seeding conversations. What is the fastest way to grow a community?I think the fastest way to grow a community is to create amazing and engaging content and then leveraging partnerships to drive a targeted group of people to consume your great content and choose to follow you because they want to learn more.What incentives or platform would you recommend for getting the word out about the community?To me, content is king. Focus on creating content that will resonate and attract the types of people you’re looking. Nelly
jobequality's profile thumbnail
Thank you!
emilytsitrian's profile thumbnail
Thank you for doing this!!!What advice would you have for a non-technical leader who is leading a technical team?Also, I'm starting a podcast this year for first-time people managers and would LOVE LOVE LOVE to interview you as a guest <3 <3 <3
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @emilytsitrianI would love to participate on your podcast. Just reach out when you're ready!The one skill that is an absolute must in my book for non-tech leader to lead a technical team successfully is to become TECH LITERATE.this means that you’ll need to learn some fundamental technical concepts, you’ll need to know what some of the jargon means, you’ll need to understand the best technical processes.Knowing all of these things will enable you to communicate with your technical team more effectively and is going to change how other technical people perceive you and, of course, you will be able to lead them better because you'll understand them better.Nelly
briellenickoloff's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much for your time this week Nelly! I LOVE the concept behind TechSpeak, I have literally been looking for a resource *exactly* like this! I will be checking this out asap. My question is: if you are currently a PM and you have essentially zero tech knowledge (like, the other day I learned that a 'directory' == a 'folder'), where's the most useful place to start building your knowledge? And a followup to that: would your answer to that question^ be different if I *did* have the intention/goal to someday be a technical PM? If so, where would I begin in that case?
DigitalWoman's profile thumbnail
Hi @briellenickoloffThank you for your note about TechSpeak. Please reach out if you have any followup questions.Regarding your question...here are 3 things that I would recommend....1. The fastest way to gain knowledge is though courses. Figure out what type of knowledge you need and seek out an expert you want to learn from.2. Start having conversations with people more technical than you and look up any terminologies/words that you don’t understand. This includes asking questions from the developers that you work with. Take notes and start googling them 😀3. Start reading technical blogs/articles and listen to podcasts. One of my favorites is: https://hackernoon.com/ and https://alistapart.com/
briellenickoloff's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much!! Great advice!
lisastory's profile thumbnail
@DigitalWoman thank you for joining us and sharing your knowledge. My question: how do you recommend determining whether one should be building a community? I ask for all of us who might be wondering whether community building is the right path right now in a seemingly crowded market, and I also ask specifically because I'm building a media company/platform and have wondered whether it should be a community.
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Hi @lisastory! In today’s environment, every company is a media company and I believe if you are able to build a community around your product or service, you will have a much easier time selling your products and services because you establish so much trust with potential buyers through your community.Content marketing, podcasting, video (pre-recorded and live) are all ways that give your potential customers a chance to connect with your brand on a personal level. People are much more likely to support and recommend your products and services if they identify with your brand and your brand values.Nelly