Tuesday, March 18, 2014


One big difference between intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs is that intrapreneurs must care about the infrastructure they are disturbing. For an intrapreneur, achieving buy-in for an idea is key.

In my experience, true buy-in is best achieved through 3 stages: form a team, find a champion, and achieving true buy-in from a decision maker.

Read the full article on Huffington Post - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/debbie-madden/intrapreneur-playbook-3-s_b_4987426.html

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

4 Ways Your Business Can Benefit from Agile Engineering Practices Today

Creating useful software is a craft. There is no black and white formula for success. Yet, there are certain Agile engineering practices that, if used thoughtfully, have shown to repeatedly add value to a business.  In this article, I’ll share 4 specific ways that your business can benefit today from Agile Engineering practices.

(If we use the basic formula of Scrum + Extreme Programming (XP) = Agile, I am referring to the XP piece of the equation when I say Agile Engineering Practices. Things like Test Driven Development, Pair Programming, & Continuous Integration.)

In a brilliantly simple blog post, James Shore claims:

"Scrum is easier and less threatening than XP(Extreme Programming), so I see a lot more people starting out with Scrum. On the downside, the teams that start with Scrum tend to struggle more than the teams that start with XP. The XP teams experience more pain starting out, but then get to a high performance state within the first year." 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Jim McCann’s Most Valuable Lesson About Life and Business

Tonight, I had the pleasure of attending an Inc Business Owner’s Council (IBOC) event in New York City. Jim McCann, the founder and CEO of 1-800-Flowers.com spoke with an intimate gathering of 30 entrepreneurs for about an hour.  

I’ve been a member of the IBOC for 5 years, and I’ve been fortunate to have a front row seat to some pretty amazing, small gatherings of various wildly successful people. But until tonight I’ve never met someone like Jim.

Monday, March 3, 2014

3 Recruiting Tactics You’re Probably Missing Out On

Whether you’re a startup looking for your first employee, or an established firm looking to scale, keeping on top of the best hiring practices is a key competitive advantage. Here are three recruiting tactics that are underutilized:

1. Gender-Neutral Hiring Practices

In 2013, a study published in the American Psychological Association by the authors Gaucher, Friesen, & Kay called, “Evidence That Gendered Wording inJob Advertisements Exists and Sustains Gender Inequality, ” concluded that certain masculine-themed words impacted the percentage of women that applied for jobs. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Starting a New Company? Step 4: Create a Landing Page with KickoffLabs

After 10 years of growing a successful consulting company from the ground up, into a profitable, 50 person firm, I've sold the business and I’m launching a startup.

Launching a startup is exhilarating! There's so much to do, and it's definitely an adjustment from working at a 50 person company.  

Many things are different. For starters, the way I generate and process ideas is drastically different. I used to rely on collaboration with my co-workers. Now, I've taken inspiration from the movie"Akeelah and the Bee". Akeelah is studying for the big spelling bee, and he coach sets her free to study on her own. She's terrified and confides in her mom, who tells her "I bet if you just look around, you got 50,000 coaches."

Thanks to the outpouring of support from the NYC and Boston tech communities, I truly feel like I've got 50,000 coaches. 

With the combined advise of my coaches, here are the first 5 things I did.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Would I do if I had One Month to be CEO?

Whether discussing it with our friends, seeing it as a topic on our favorite TV show, or just imagining it for ourselves, we are all familiar with the question “What would you do if you had one month to live?” And even though we’ve heard it a bunch of times before, this is not just some fantasy, throwaway question. If taken seriously, the “one month to live” question will challenge you to focus on the things that are truly important in your life, whether that be family, friends, career, or hobbies. It can also help you learn how to live life to the fullest in order to minimize and eliminate the regrets that many people have as they grow older.

Recently, I was thinking about a slightly different version of this common question. My version was related to work, and it was “What would I do if I only had one month to be CEO?” It started out innocently enough as a fleeting thought, but as soon as I took the question seriously, it spiraled into a long, well-thought-out exercise that was helpful to me, and I believe could be helpful to everyone. Some of the questions I asked myself were:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Want Your Startup to be Successful? Hire Intrapreneurs

Before I was named the CEO of Cyrus Innovation, I spent 9 great years working my way up at the company. I watched it grow from a small startup with big ideas, to the cutting-edge software development and consulting firm it is today. Before that, I spent 8 years at various other tech firms, most of which I began working with at the startup stage. And just like with every other person who chose to build their career around growing tech companies (or any type of company, for that matter), I have experienced my share of successes and failures. But from each of these experiences, I learned a valuable thing or two.

Looking back, there are some common traits that the successful companies I worked for all had in common. For one, everyone involved with these great companies, from the CEO on down to each software developer, had a passion for what the company stood for and was looking to accomplish. But that isn’t enough. At the startup stage especially, not only do you need people who are passionate, but you also need employees with a certain personality type. You need people who are willing to think outside the box to come up with great ideas, and who have the guts to pursue those ideas with a goal of putting them into play. What you need… is intrapreneurs.