COVID is here, and it’s going to be with us for some time. To confront and deal with our new normal, I’ve personally adopted the Stockdale Paradox:

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

This paradox, named for Admiral James Stockdale, a POW during the Vietnam War, and popularized in Good to Great by Jim Collins, teaches us that confronting crisis by balancing optimism and realism was the key…


Throughout my career and now as the Founder and CEO of a tech company, I’ve seen hundreds of teams implement diversity and inclusion initiatives with the aim of increasing gender diversity. Not all diversity and inclusion initiatives are created equally though. Some are a huge waste of time, and others are so simple you wish you would have done them sooner.

Below I’ve compiled 11 of the best practices I’ve found most helpful for hiring and retaining women on engineering teams.

Simplify job descriptions.

Research shows that most women only apply to jobs when they meet 100 percent of the criteria, whereas men…


Harassment has been all over the news the past couple of years. That means we all know what not to do and can stop making a big deal out of it in our workplaces, right?

Unfortunately, no.

A survey from January 2018 found that 81 percent of women had been sexually harassed in some way over their lifetimes. 38 percent of those women reported having been sexually harassed at work.

Those are big numbers, and they reflect a big problem.

Yet, just because the problem is big, doesn’t mean we can sit idly by. Instead, it’s on each of us…


Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Recently, an ex-Google employee detailed his experience working at the tech giant via Twitter, using 149 tweets, to be exact.

Morgan Knutson was at Google for eight months. He was a designer, and worked on Google+. In his time at Google, he experienced both ups and downs. The 149 tweets take some time to read, but I highly recommend checking it out. They give a very distinct inside peek into what life at one of the world’s biggest tech giants is like on a daily basis.

One thing is clear to me from reading the tweets. …


Stress can be an essential ingredient for success both in work and in life. The key is knowing how to unlock its positive powers.

It’s 7 A.M. Monday morning. Your roll out of bed and check your email — only to find forty unread messages urgently awaiting your reply.

You thought you were on top of your work — after all, you sacrificed most of your weekend trying to get ahead — but before getting a single sip of coffee, new time-sensitive projects and requests start to pile up.

Sound familiar?

For most ambitious professionals today, this is the way all-too-many of our days unfold. …


At 21, I had just graduated college and started my first job.

Today, I’m 43 and my career is in full swing. I’ve started five companies and been CEO of three of them. I’ve landed two consecutive companies on the Inc 500 list. I have experienced many successes and have weathered many failures. I have learned a lot. I’m still and always will be learning. Yet, there are a handful of truths that I’ve accumulated throughout the years that guide me.

Whether you are starting your first business, your second, third or fourth, I hope you get as much out…


Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

The number one hiring mistake I see people make is prioritizing skill and experience over integrity and the ability to learn. As counterintuitive as it may seem, skill should be the least important thing you vet for when hiring. Instead, follow the lead of one of the most successful companies in the world: Visa.

Of all the hiring advice I’ve ever come across, the most valuable words of wisdom come from Dee Hock, the founder and former CEO of VISA:

“Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and…


Trust is a critical component of effective teams. I personally believe that trust is the number one, most important criteria of effective teams.

Yet the path to building trust among co-workers is misunderstood.

According to Bruce Tuckman, all teams evolve through four distinct phases:

  1. Forming — The team starts to come together. Members are anxious and uncertain. They don’t yet know or trust each other, so everyone is on their best behavior.
  2. Storming — Conflict is at its height. Team members think they know and trust each other, but they really don’t yet.
  3. Norming — The team members share a…


The 2018 Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America was recently announced and I’m honored that my company, Stride Consulting, is no. 256 overall, and is the no. 1 fastest growing bootstrapped software company in New York.

In fact, this my second consecutive bootstrapped company on the Inc 500 list. My first Inc 500 company, Cyrus Innovation, landed on the list in 2009, and was then on the Inc 5000 list five years in a row, from 2009 to 2013. In 2014, I sold that business and started Stride Consulting, which has grown 1,917 percent in four years…


Raising VC funding takes an enormous amount of time. Before you head down that path, think twice.

Global venture capital funding reached a decade-high of $155 billion in 2017, according to auditing firm KPMG. That’s a whole lot of funding. Yet, it might surprise you to learn that only 0.62 percent of startups raise VC funding.

It’s tempting to try and raise VC money as soon as possible. But, raising VC money isn’t always a good idea. It’s often a huge distraction, and ultimately unnecessary. Before you go out and try to raise a VC round, take a minute to ask yourself if you really need it.

These four questions can help guide you:

1. Do I aim to have a “hockey stick growth curve” that ends in an exit?

A “hockey stick…

Debbie Madden

CEO at Stride www.stridenyc.com Agile software development consultancy — developer consultants embed with your tech team. @debbiemadden200 www.stridenyc.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store