Real Technologists: Jonathan Rivers

Real Technologists

Aug 10 2023 • 31 mins

I'm noticing a few core traits in the many guests I've hosted for the Real Technologist podcast. Authenticity and a willingness to say yes. This rings true for guest Jonathan Rivers. He was recommended to me as somebody who absolutely is passionate about making opportunities for others.

Talking with each guest is filled with surprises and challenges my own preconceived notions. Jonathan Rivers is the CTO of Fortune Media which includes Fortune Magazine. In doing some research, I came across Jonathan's headshot. Sometimes his photos show a mild smirk though often the photos have an intensity that you feel. This looks like the kind of person that you want on your side, especially when the chips are down.

Interestingly, my expectations for the Zoom call were that I would see an opulent executive office in a high rise overlooking a spectacular view. Perhaps with some modern art chandelier. What I encountered was an average guy in what looked to be like an average cube spot or office touchdown spot. The lighting was less than average, though it doesn't really matter for audio. Over his shoulder was the only discernible decoration: a whiteboard with an architectural diagram scribbled in marker.

He doesn't smile often, though when he does, you feel a sense of satisfaction that he is human. I would not say that he's a big old teddy bear like my close friend Bryan Finster. Instead, I would say that this is a super intense and intelligent human.

As we discussed his origin story, and going from a kid in Texas to the CTO of Fortune Media, we touched on myriad topics including his philosophy on diversity. I was very curious what I was going to hear from this white, middle aged biker dude.

Jonathan Rivers:

It's incredibly near and dear to my heart. For so many reasons. One, I'm really proud of the team that I've built here at Fortune.

I built it with that in mind. And I'll tell you why... One, 'cause it's the right fucking thing to do. But more importantly , you look at this from a tech industry perspective, the moment that you establish a bro culture in tech, if you hire a bunch of white nerds out of suburbia that all wanna talk about Fortnite, you are sunk, right?

If I hire me, me number two is gonna have all the same blind spots that I have.

And I want a team of really different people that see things from different backgrounds, that see problems from different angles, that want different things out of life. Frankly, they all behave better. Everybody behaves better when you're in mixed company than when you do when you're with your buddies.

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