Benjamin Johnson Podcast Transcript

Headshot of Founder and CEO Ben Johnson

Benjamin Johnson Podcast Transcript

Benjamin Johnson joins host Brian Thomas on The Digital Executive Podcast.

Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, home of the Digital Executive Podcast.

[00:00:12] Brian Thomas: Welcome to The Digital Executive. Today’s guest is Ben Johnson. Ben Johnson is the CEO and founder of Particle41. A development firm founded by industry veterans that aims to help companies accelerate their initiatives through software development, DevOps, and data science. Ben Johnson is a serial technical co-founder with a track record of success and hands on open-source programming experience.

He has a wide range of being both board level advisor and founder, but also an in-depth understanding of how things work. Through his 20 plus years as a software developer and leader, he has gained extensive experience with remotely distributed development teams and business hacks. With a constant focus on results and ways to improve, Ben is having fun building highly scalable and highly secure applications.

Well, good afternoon, Ben. Welcome to the show.

[00:01:01] Ben Johnson: It’s great to be here. Thanks for all the kind intro.

[00:01:04] Brian Thomas: I appreciate you making the time, Ben. We get to typically speak with someone every single day and that’s what truly gets me out of bed. That’s what’s my passion in life is meeting new people, and with your permission, we get to share your story with the world. So that’s awesome. So, thanks again.

[00:01:19] Ben Johnson: Glad to be here.

[00:01:20] Brian Thomas: Absolutely. So, Ben, jumping right in here. Let’s talk a little bit about your career in technology. You were a software developer, you’re an entrepreneur, and now you’re the founder and CEO of Particle 41.

Could you share with our audience the secret to your career growth and what inspires you?

[00:01:37] Ben Johnson: Yeah, I appreciate the question. I really think it’s all about extreme ownership. So all along in my career as a software developer and then climbing up I really just took An ownership of all things tech.

Whether it was an it issue or software issue or really problem solving is what challenges me. And I really love to carry that forward now as a CEO solving a different set of problems, but really helping other CEOs. Find their advantage in the market using technology.

[00:02:09] Brian Thomas: Thank you. I certainly appreciate that and love how people, especially entrepreneurs, right, they love to really be fulfilled with living out their passion and what they do. And I certainly appreciate the things that inspire you. So, Ben, switching gears here, you believe in building better products, platforms, and processes along the way.

Particle 41 uses a flexible, fast paced approach that delivers results to better compete in your client’s industry. And I know ultimately, your goal is to increase your client’s real-world value by strengthening their processes and differentiating their offering. Can you touch on this a little bit?

[00:02:46] Ben Johnson: Well, it goes back to our core values and it’s even in our name. So, the 41st element particle 41, what we named ourselves after is niobium. I didn’t really want to call my company that. But niobium is added into the steel manufacturing process. The foundry process where steel is made it’s combined to make steel stronger, more flexible, and even look a little better.

You can anodize steel because it has niobium in it. And so, we really feel like our purpose in the world is to partner with businesses, make them stronger, more flexible. And we do that through modern best practices in software development and consulting.

[00:03:25] Brian Thomas: Thank you. And I love, you call it an analogy or whatever you want to call it, but that’s so cool, you based your company’s name off a particle, particle 41, right? That is flexible and I know that’s what your company is all about. You talk about it a lot. I did a lot of research on you, and I love the fact that you’re trying to really be adaptable to your client’s needs. So that’s awesome.

Ben, so here’s where you and I were techies. We get into this. I started cutting my teeth in my career as a developer. You’re obviously leveraging some of that new and emerging technologies in your tech stack. Is there anything you might be able to share with our audience tonight?

[00:04:02] Ben Johnson: Yeah, I have three or four things I’d love to mention.

We first feel that building great products starts with great communication. And we’re heavy Slack users and many of your users are probably using Slack or Teams, but we’ve really rested on Slack. If you work with us, you get a Slack channel. We love to give you an update on what we’re working on every day from every teammate.

So, we have a very, Flat open communication culture and visibility is one of our core values. So, we really love Slack. And if you don’t have a messaging client in your like in your tech stack, that’s something to look into. Even service companies, plumbers, HVAC guys, they could benefit from having a closer and tighter communications in a place that stores all of that history.

 And one of the things that we do in Particle 41 in our advisory service, is we talk to CEOs about their full tech stack, and we identify what kinds of tech can work together. Most businesses have a suite of different SaaS tools, and we help them define that periodic table of elements, if you will, with what choices they’ve made in all these different categories of tools.

So, this is something we really love to discuss. Something that a lot of our clients are interested in right now. And we have a specific policy on how we leverage AI in the software development. Many services companies in general, they’re starting to use AI in their development process or in their service process really to help them make more money. They get more margin because they’re able to do things that they’re selling at a flat rate or a package rate. They’re able to do those things faster. And so that extends their margin. We’re a little different. Because of the way that we the way we price and the way we interact with our customers, it’s more of a partnership.

So, any advancements that we make as we start to put AI in our software development process, really, those efficiencies go directly to client value. So we’re constantly researching that. And we’re talking to a lot of our clients about what their AI policy is, and we’re trying to see what the use cases are inside of their organization.

And we also have a fast launch to a private AI sandbox so that they can try those use cases in a safe way. They don’t have to worry about what some of those free tools are doing with their information. And so, we’d love to do that. And in many cases, we’re also being able to tune the back end models to make their use case is even more efficient and work even better.

[00:06:39] Brian Thomas: Love that. And thank you for sharing all those with the open communication the fact that your clients get updates, but I really like that you’re adding that extra value. You go the extra mile as far as that and looking at that integration with machine learning AI for your clients which is phenomenal.

I know a lot of times a client will ask for a particular widget. But I like the fact that you go take it a step further and help them with their needs. So, thank you so much for sharing. And Ben, last question of the evening. Can you share something from your career experience that would be helpful for those listening looking to grow their career in tech or entrepreneurship?

[00:07:17] Ben Johnson: I would just say a lot of people will use this idea of stay in your lane. I think one of the things that you can do that is kind of a guiding principle of ours is you can aggressively learn and responsibly adopt. And as we’ve looked at new technologies and as we’ve seen the world changing, I think this has been my mantra is just to aggressively learn, look at all those possibilities and then, responsibly adopt, see if it’s really going to serve me well to identify those things.

And then the other thing is that our lives are more than just work. And I’ve adopted four pillars that help me faith, family, fitness, and finance. And I feel like you’re a high performing engineer or a entrepreneur or business person professional. If you stay balanced and you can give the most to your workmates.

If you’re also keeping up with your family and everything is in that proper proportion. So, I think that’s very important to figure out, it’s easy to be in a way for guys like you and me, we’re techies, we actually like what we do. At least I speak for myself here. And so staying at work 80 hours a week is actually not that hard for me. In fact, what’s harder is to make sure that I can put in a high performant hour of work. So, it’s not about the hours, but I can also make sure that the people around me and the people that pen on me also get what they need.

[00:08:45] Brian Thomas: That’s awesome. And thanks for setting the way you set your parameters between your work, your life, the balance you have, and sometimes as an entrepreneur, you know, a lot of hours, but you’re right.

 You hit the nail on the head as far as productivity, you can work 80 hours a week, but if you’re just doing that, the things that, you know, you shouldn’t be working on that’s just a waste of time as we all know. So, thank you for sharing. And that’s been some great little nuggets for our audience tonight.

And Ben, it was a pleasure having you on today and I look forward to speaking with you real soon.

[00:09:15] Ben Johnson: All right. Great. Thanks.

[00:09:16] Brian Thomas: Bye for now.

Benjamin Johnson Podcast Transcript. Listen to the audio on the guest’s podcast page.


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