Hot Mess Hotline

Hot Mess Hotline

Remember the start of The Real World? "Find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting REAL." That's the inspiration behind this podcast. Leaders will learn from CEOs and others who've landed in a hot mess, and how they got themselves out.


June 7, 2024 39 mins

Scaling without structure in IT often allows bad behaviors to create toxicity in a culture. The Change Architect’s executive coach, Tonya Wallace, shares an experience scaling a team where one person’s toxic behavior was limiting autonomy, creativity, and decision making. This team had recently gone from launching an innovative product to then maintaining it — but the team hadn’t adapted its speed and practices to this new way of w...

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Are you accountable for action or outcomes? Jason Botts is an innovative, results-driven technology leader who creates high-performing teams. He is passionate about creating tech transformation that actually matters to its companies, customers, and stakeholders. 

We discussed why benchmarks aren’t good enough and how trust and listening can solve even the worst tech disasters. Listen to this episode where Jason shares one of the wo...

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Extreme ownership for IT leaders means: if you’re involved, you own it. Brian Burk brings his IT leadership experience to our conversation with his wise counsel and practical tools for accountability. Today’s projects are complex and have moving targets. It’s easy to want to avoid responsibility for results. But you’re here because you’re a leader that wants to see big change so avoidance is unacceptable.

Brian shares multiple tool...

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How about a specific example of technical debt and its cultural consequences? Ken Knapton shares a real world example where tech silos and cultural silos reinforce each other. This company had several overlapping solutions that wasted money and created at least $5 million in cash expense — while individuals were losing their jobs!

If you’re struggling to articulate the case for why technical debt is holding your enterprise back, li...

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Insider threat detection comes from new school technology and old school relationships. Robert Field learned of sabotage coming from one of his employees from a trusted relationship outside of the organization. Yes, technically, technology could have detected this. But the reality was that Rob’s focus on relationships saved his company’s bacon. He had people around him that cared about his success.

As a leader, do you have strong e...

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What got you here won’t get you there if you’re a leader driving growth and transformation. Ravi Bommireddipalli is a CEO who focuses on unlearning as much as he learns. For Robosoft’s next level, he’s being charged with leading the company to where it has never been. Along the way he’s going to become a leader he’s never been. And he’s going to grow more leaders so that not all operational details continue to come through him.


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Every step of growth has its own challenges and hot messes. CEO Asad Ur Rehman learned these lessons the hard way as he’s grown from freelance software developer to CEO of a 300-person global firm. There’s a myth about success that when you achieve a certain salary, revenue, job, client, etc. etc. etc. THEN things will get easier, better.

Here’s the good news: as you uplevel, you get more challenges. These challenges get bigger and...

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Do you know how to tell the story of your career when there’s too much variety in your resume? Adrian Koehler is an executive coach who has transformed a “hot mess” of career experience into clear confidence for how he delivers compelling value every day and in the present moment.

This episode is for you if you’re working to develop the through-line to communicate how your variety of positions can contribute to your next career mov...

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Making decisions isn’t always hard, but taking action on the decisions can be hard. Alexei Miller is a leader who lived that firsthand when his company’s locations were caught in the middle of international conflict. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Data Art’s “people first” philosophy was put to the test. 

A decision for their Ukrainian employees felt like a betrayal of their Russian colleagues. And a decision for their Russian collea...

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Successful leaders find themselves creating alignment during change. Michael Judd shares one of his initial turnaround gigs where he learned this skill directly and then took it with him for the rest of his career. Learn from his experience and self awareness:

  • Do you know your business’ safety net and risk tolerance?

  • Do you know how to create clarity when there’s confusion?

  • Do you know how to align the expectations of yo...

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Richard Luna came to a hard realization when he said to himself, “If you micromanage, then you’re not managing.” As his business and team were growing, he learned — the hard way, of course! — that he was controlling too much: filtering 1,000+ emails a day; creating specific dispatch schedules; putting out fires; selling services; being the CEO, COO, CSO, and CTO; working 18-hour days, the whole shebang.

Anyone who is driven recogni...

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Leaders lead humans and people working together, not robots working together. Denise Cooper and I explore this topic in a very frank conversation. We’ve gone off course with leadership when we think that multi-tasking and motivating all employees in the exact same way is going to work in the 21st century. 

Humans can’t multi-task; hell we’re not even supposed to have multiple priorities. (“Priority” was created in 1400 and “priorit...

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IT executives have too many root cause analysis examples to count. Benjamin Pulatie is a leader and entrepreneur who’s no different. But because of his mega hot mess he learned how to take control when everyone was in charge but no one was in control; and check his emotions at the door.

Listen to this Hot Mess Hotline episode as Ben describes how he methodically evaluated what wasn’t working across 300 servers to find a soluti...

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Solving the right problem with change management is a perennial problem for IT leaders. Juan Betancourt is a tech entrepreneur who is willing to keep looking in the mirror, ask the hard questions, and continuously improve until he gets it right. Our conversation focuses on how he led his team through massive business shifts because that’s what it takes to keep up in his industry.

Leading a team through change that is forced from ex...

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Leadership is about taking risks, not seeing into a crystal ball. Pamela Diaz is a leader that asks her team to trust her enough to take risks with her. And she returns that trust with empathy. Here at The Change Architects, we work with a lot of teams that demand all their questions be answered from their manager before they move forward with plans — which stalls progress and problem solving. And it’s simply impossible. Fortunatel...

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Resistance to change doesn't always show up in your team like you think it does. Jessica Carroll is an executive who has driven multiple digital transformations as a CIO and Chief Customer Experience Officer. The same lessons that apply to "going to the cloud" also apply to digital transformation and how to use AI in 2023. In this episode we discuss how it's easy for the leader to think their teammates are resisti...

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Have you ever felt like you weren't delivering the results as an executive that matched your compensation? Scott Couchenour is our faculty member who can tell you exactly why and how to get you focused on results, actions, and the mindset needed to do the strategic work necessary at your level. It's easy to get sucked into too many meetings, too many decisions, and too many tasks. As a senior leader you need to focus on del...

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Action and empathy move at different speeds in companies. Don Monistere is a longtime IT leader who has driven a lot of change. He's led the acquisition and merging of several companies and freely admits that plans on paper sometimes sound great and play out in the real world in a terrible way. He cares deeply about his people and he has a strong bias for action. For those of us who have a bias for action (me included) it's...

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How do you come back from burnout as a leader? Jimmy Burroughes was an overachiever who tried to prove himself for too long and burned out. In epic fashion. As someone who knows he's here to make a difference in this world, he wanted to do too much, be too much, and was burning the candle at both ends. One day in 2017 it all caught up with him and the life that he had unraveled.

Luckily for him and for us, he came back from bei...

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How to say "No" in IT is tricky. Heather Darring shares with us what's even trickier: saying Yes too frequently, projects going out of scope, and then reading an IT audit that says, "You suck." Okay, okay it didn't actually say that she and her 1 colleague sucked, but it described missed expectations and she took it personally. Years later she's able to share how that experience turned into an opport...

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