Andrew Dowling is the CEO of Stitch. Andrew Dowling is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Andrew provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Stitch. Andrew Dowling joins other leading CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has recently awarded Stitch with our Impact Company of 2019 award. We are delighted to have Andrew join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview and our popular “speed round” as well.
Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview about your company, leadership, and entrepreneurship.
1. What is the “elevator pitch” for Stitch?
Stitch is a community which addresses loneliness & isolation for anyone over 50, through activities, events, interest groups, and one-on-one companionship.
2. What is the key to your company’s success?
The overwhelming support we receive from our members.
3. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
Figure out what you care about the most, and then never, ever, ever give up.
4. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Remember that every business goes through difficult times. When that happens, take a step back from your day-to-day issues and remind yourself why you started your business in the first place. Talk to someone whose life is being changed by what you do. If what you’re doing is worthwhile, that will be enough to recharge you and give you the motivation to get through the challenges you face.
5. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at Stitch, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
There is nothing more important to us than what our members say about the community. Very few people trust advertising these days, and it’s impossible for people to tell how authentic a company is like just by looking at its web site. That’s why we rely almost solely on word-of-mouth for new memberships, with our existing members doing incredible things to spread the word about Stitch. We’ve learned that it’s really important for us to communicate to our members about not just what Stitch is, but why it exists in the first place, and their role in making the community a success. We haven’t always been great at doing this, but we’ve come to realize that doing a great job at communications is the most important thing we can be doing as a company.
6. In today’s fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
We are bombarded with so much “news” these days, as well as a constant stream of updates on social media, that you could spend 24 hours a day trying to keep up and still fail. So it’s important to eliminate what’s not important, and focus only on what matters. Some founders obsess over what other companies are doing, who raised money from investors, and so on. Unless it’s directly relevant to the success of your business, forget it. Once you stop measuring yourself by what other people are doing, it becomes a lot easier to tune out all the unimportant stuff and focus on staying across what matters.
7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead Stitch?
One of our company T-shirts says “I’m saving lives. Ask me how.” This isn’t just a slogan, it’s the “Why” behind everything we do at Stitch.
We now know that being lonely as we age is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and someone who is isolated is 64% more likely to develop dementia than someone with good social connections.
These all may sound like abstract statistics, but we see it in person every day. Some of our members have told me they were in very dark places before they found Stitch, and in the last few days alone I’ve had dozens of members thank me personally for what we’re doing. Two of those broke into tears when they told me their stories.
From a purely financial perspective, creating a successful social enterprise like Stitch can be really challenging. But whenever I’m wondering if I have the energy to get out of bed and face another 70 hour week, I just think of all the people I’ve met through Stitch who have enriched my life.
8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?
It’s probably not the most up-to-date example, but I can remember reading “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki, and pretty much immediately deciding it was time to quit my job and start a business that I cared about.
9. When communicating with your staff, can you tell us the most important thing you do so that they are able to carry out the objectives that you set forth at Stitch?
One of my biggest frustrations at the moment is being so stretched personally that I don’t have as much time as I would like to be able to communicate with my team about our goals and objectives. But the great thing about the Stitch team is how independent they are, and how much they all have a passion for doing what we are doing. So I often find the most important thing I can do is to share the stories I get from Stitch members with them, to remind them what an important job they are doing.
10. Can you explain what leadership means to you?
I’m not a big fan of top-down, autocratic, hierarchical leadership. To me a leader is someone who can inspire me to do something because I care about it, not because they tell me what to do.
We would like to have some fun and do a “speed round” with you! We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only.
Here you go!
1. In three words or less, what makes a successful CEO?
Vision, compassion, communication.
2. Describe your business in one word?
3. Describe your customers in one word?
4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee?
5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about your company?
6. In three words or less, describe your passion?
Making a difference
7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Never give up
8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at Stitch?
Lots of mistakes!
9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
I worry more
10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English language?
Andrew Dowling, thank you so much for sitting down with us for our DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping our readers learn more about what it takes to be a leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Stitch, nothing but the best.
Andrew Dowling, CEO of Stitch, The Leader Roundtable Interview Series