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Hi, I'm Ken

My mission is helping founders and software leaders create incredible software by creating incredible teams. 

Startups are intense. I've been working in this world for over 25 years, and in that time I have seen, and felt, just about everything there is to see and feel. I've been the first employee and grown a team. I've joined rocketship startups. I've founded and grown a successful bootstrapped business. I've felt the exhilaration of a big exit and the terror of nearly missing payroll. 

Along the way, I've picked up perspective, both on how to create incredible software under impossible conditions, and some unconventional but effective ways to think about the social architecture that underpins everything you do. In my experience, the best leaders find a way to think about the technical and the human parts of their system as coequal in importance.. If you are looking for someone who can help you set up a "typical" Silicon Valley company, I'm not the right advisor for you. But if you want to create a culture that soars above, and hire employees who will thank their lucky stars for finding your company, and inspire them to walk through fire for you, I can help.

Ken Miller Headshot

“Ken is the Engineer Whisperer.  Nobody keeps a team humming and happy like he does." - Artie Wu

Engineers are weird. Even we have to admit that. This brings with it challenges for management—after all this is where the famous phrase "herding cats" originated.  We tend to be too smart for our own good, independent, opinionated, passionate about things others find boring, and neurodivergent at rates greater than the general population. Whether it's nontechnical founders trying to come to terms with how they work, or engineers themselves when they find themselves in leadership, working with them requires some finesse. If you can figure out what individuals need and give it to them, your whole team gets better.

At a few different points in my career, I've had the good fortune to stumble upon someone who truly believed in me and my potential, took an interest, and and helped me level up as a leader and a maker. These mentors are my most cherished professional friendships to this day.  

It helps to have someone who is 100% in your corner. I can be that person for you and your team. 

I offer personalized mentorship and advising. I prefer ongoing relationships, so I have the time to really get to know you, your team, what your mission is, and help you navigate the frequently choppy waters of whatever seas you are sailing.  But once I have a good understanding of your situation, I'm also happy to be an occasional sounding board to help you think through a difficult problem. One of the things I love the most is thinking through how the technology and the team work together to maximize their potential, and our conversations can be as technical or non-technical as you need.

  • Are you a nontechnical founder or leader who is new to the sometimes bewildering world of technology or startups? Does it sometimes feel like your technical team is speaking in Klingon?  Do you want to learn to communicate more effectively? I can help you.

  • Are you a first-time CTO or tech lead making the jump from maker to leader? Are you finding engineers maddeningly more difficult to debug than code? Are you struggling to find a balance between your creative builder side and your new responsibilities? Do you just want support designing an incredible culture? I can help you.

  • Do you find yourself dealing with dysfunction or trauma in your team? Does it seem like everyone is going in a different direction or undermining each other? Has the see-saw between morale and turnover flipped in entirely the wrong direction? I can help you.

  • Do you just need some experienced technical leadership but aren't ready for a full-time CTO or VP of Engineering?  Do you need someone who can handle anything that comes up, whether in the code or the team, so you don't have to worry? I can help you.

If any of these resonate or could just use some support, please get in touch.  I love hearing from founders across all walks of life, and I'm more than happy to just chat even if you're not sure.  You can contact me using the form below, or if you're ready, you can book a consultation using the button below.. 

Specific services I offer include:

  • Fractional CTO consulting

  • Development team audits

  • Leadership development coaching

  • Startup advisory boards

  • Software marketplace analysis

Rajiv Ayyangar, CEO, Product Hunt

“Ken came onboard as an interim CTO to help during a critical transition period. I’d stepped in as the new CEO, we went through a deep layoff, and I didn’t have a CTO plugged in yet. Ken built trust really quickly with the team and helped define working norms and cadences. As an incoming CEO striving to unlock the potential of the company, Ken’s insights and perspective on the team dynamics, culture, and working styles were invaluable. Ken is particularly experienced in working with a distributed / hybrid team, and his technical expertise and ability to get hands-on and unblock gnarly technical projects was a powerful bonus."

Contact Ken

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