Kristina Madden is a speech-language pathologist, certified lactation counselor, entrepreneur and business owner.
One thing not on her resume: red tape buster.
That was the mindset that led Madden to leave a comfortable position practicing pediatric speech therapy for Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, and before that, at Duke University Medical Center. While she loved the work, and connecting with and helping the clients and families, she also often lamented the bureaucratic nature of health care could be stifling
In 2018, after eight years at All Children's, Madden decided to do something about it: she opened Madden Therapy Solutions, starting as a company of one. In four years she has grown the St. Pete-based practice to 10 employees, with No. 11 starting soon. Now one of the largest speech therapy and swallowing specialist firms in Florida, MTS offers a range of services beyond speech. The list includes postpartum doula services, sleep consulting and nutrition, in addition to recently adding occupational therapy.
The growth, Madden says, stems both from community need and the client-family first approach she always strived for at big organizations. “We are able to solve real-world problems for people and their families,” Madden says.
Even though Madden saw the need, leaving a steady job was a big risk she thought about and planned for months, if not years. She worked seven days a week for five to six months, she says, getting ready to launch MTS while holding down her day job. “It’s scary (knowing) you are losing a guaranteed paycheck,” Madden says. “But I’m a hustler. I trust myself and I really believe in myself and do whatever it takes.”
One aspect of starting and growing MTS in her corner has been her mentor, her father Michael Madden. The elder Madden, who currently runs a private equity firm, has had a long Wall Street career, including senior leadership posts at Lehman Brothers and Kidder, Peabody and Co. The Madden School of Business at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, is named for Madden, who donated $7 million to help launch the school at his alma mater.
“We’ve been close my whole life,” Madden says. “My father, like me, was a hustler, very ambitious. I always run my business ideas by him because I want to grow big, but thoughtfully.”
“Growing up, my dad used to say ‘unwrap each day like a precious gift,’ and my siblings and I would roll our eyes and laugh,” Madden adds in her 40 under 40 questionnaire. “But he was right; every day is a gift and I'm so grateful for what I have, what I've created and what's to come."
— Mark Gordon
• City of Residence: St Petersburg, FL
• Birthplace: Manhasset, New York • Years in the area: 15 • Marital Status/Children: Married, no children • Alma Mater/Degree: Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University in Maryland; Master of Science from Medical University of South Carolina •What community group or organization are you most involved with? Heavily involved in dog/animal rescue, specifically Passion 4 Pits • Are you working from the company office, home office or hybrid? Hybrid; I have two office locations as well as work from home; my employees also travel into homes/schools/daycares • What's your top tip for being productive? I recently read "Eat that Frog" which has helped my productivity a lot; I often feel overwhelmed with the ever-growing to-do list each day. In the book, the author relays that essentially "There will never be enough time to complete everything you have to complete." Since reading that book and working with a business coach, I've started creating an MI5 list each day (Most Important 5 tasks); I also prioritize these things "A, B, C, D, E." That way, I make sure I complete the things that are most essential to run and grow my business, and can put off or delegate things that are less important. This has not only helped me manage my own time better and decrease procrastination, but better identify what can be delegated or done away with altogether. • If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? I was a trained singer for many years; I would love to get back into music. I also love the idea of starting a sanctuary for elderly/terminal dogs one day, to live out their days getting lots of love. Not the most lucrative, but one near and dear to me. • What's your favorite off-hours activity? I'm a foodie and love to try new restaurants; I also spend as much time as possible with my husband, George, and our four rescue dogs, Theo, Sammy, Murphy, and Wilson • What's the most significant item on your life bucket list — and what's keeping you from completing it? Living part of the year in Ireland - I'm working on setting up systems in my business so that it's more self-sufficient (or managed by my practice manager) and I don't need to be as hands-on day-to-day. • What's your favorite podcast? This is a ridiculous admission, but it's called "Don't be a D*ck with Gretchen Clark." She's very funny, very ambitious and career-focused, grateful for her success, and just real. I like to think I'm those things as well. • At what percentage on your phone do you start to get Low Battery Anxiety? The second it goes red - 20%. • What are the top three apps used on your smartphone? Just three?! Google Calendar, Pandora, Instagram • What books are you reading now? I just finished Atomic Habits; I'm about to start Raving Fans! For fun, I'm in the process of finishing "Pretty Girls" • What's your go-to music genre, band or act to be inspired? I love almost all music depending on my mood. My go-to's are probably Tina Turner, Queen, and old school rap. • Who would play you in the movie of your life? Probably Kate McKinnon • Where is your happy place? Hands down, Ireland. But also, in my house with my husband and my pups. • Describe yourself in three words: Funny, smart, driven • Who is your mentor for your career and why? My mentor would have to be my father, Michael Madden. He has accomplished SO much in terms of business, and worked so hard to come up from essentially nothing and get where he is. I've always admired that and wanted to make him proud. • What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? There have been many over the course of my 38 years. Never take yourself too seriously. Always take the opportunity for a laugh. Never take what you have or what you've created for granted, because it can be gone in a second. Be grateful for life's blessings. Be patient and make the right move(s) thoughtfully. Growing up, my Dad used to say "unwrap each day like a precious gift," and my siblings and I would roll our eyes and laugh. But he was right; every day is a gift and I'm so grateful for what I have, what I've created, and what's to come.