Ep10 – The Better Than Yesterday Edition with Steven Dowd
James chats with Steve Dowd, who in June 2016 was riding his bike to work in the City of London when he collided with a traffic barrier jutting into the road. Steven was immediately paralysed from the neck down having suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury.
After experimental surgery, and an enormous amount of hard work and determination, Steven walked again for the first time after 90 days!
3 years on, this remarkable man is about to launch his new business Gigl, has completed Ride London on a stationary bike (in under 6 hours!), learned to ski and taken part in the World Run.
In his words: “Better than Yesterday…”
Learning to ski – March 2019, never been skiing linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li…526487946302930945
Wings for Life World Run fall – May 2019, first run since injury bit.ly/2JgErdB
James Nathan: 00:00 Hello and welcome to The Only One Business show with me, your host James Nathan, and I’ve got a fascinating guest for you today. A really interesting guy and I hope you’re going to enjoy not only the story, but also some learning from it and what this gentleman has managed to do in his life recently. In June, 2016 he was commuting to work in the City of London where his job was as head of recruitment for a large financial services business he had next to on his pushbike, he hit a barrier and landed on his head crushing his neck and changing his life forever. I’m not going to go too much into the story cause I think he tells it a hell of a lot better than I can. But please welcome Steven Dowd. Steven, hi, how are you?
Steven Dowd: 01:38 Hi James. I’m well, thank you very well.
James Nathan: 01:40 It’s great to have you on. I know you’re super busy man. So thank you so much for taking the time out and I appreciate your at Google Campus today. Is that right?
Steven Dowd: 01:48 I am indeed. Yeah. I’m a very lucky that my new startup we’re about to launch has been drafted into Google Campus, so I’m able to spend lots of time here. So yeah, found a little a sound proofed booth to speak to you from although do forgive me if there’s any background noise,
James Nathan: 02:04 No one will care, I’m sure. I’d say it’s one of those things, but if you’re going to have a soundproof booth at somebody’s company, I bet Google is probably a decent one to start. And so look, Steven so much, I want to ask you in so much, I’d love to learn from you, but can you take us back in time? June, 2016
Steven Dowd: 02:26 Yes certainly. So June 2016 that fateful day, I was…. The backstory to it really was that I was co-opted into an event known as Ride London, which was effectively a hundred mile cycle around London into the Surrey Hills. And so I’d never really been a cyclist before. It was relatively new to me, but I did what every self-respecting boys should do and went out and bought the most expensive carbon fibre bike I could find, far too much lycra and then started training and I was doing 10 mile commute to and from work, with a friend of mine. And this one particular day I headed down to his place, in Woolwich around the corner from where I live. And unfortunately, I never got there. It was a barrier that I didn’t see. And unfortunately by the time I did see it, I broke, it was just too late. I collided with that barrier went over the top and landed on my head. And in doing so, I sustained a spinal cord injury in the middle of my neck, which left me totally paralyzed from the neck down immediately.
James Nathan: 03:32 So you’re lying on the ground and you’re looking up and thinking what the hell happened to me?
Steven Dowd: 03:37 Yeah. And other words. So which probably should be avoided. Yeah, there was that, that kind of moment of, oh my God, what’s happened here? I thought I’d hurt my face actually because obviously I had sensation above my neck and I didn’t realize I didn’t have sensation elsewhere at that time. So I went to reach out to my face and say, bloody hell, that hurt. And as I went to do that, nothing happened.
James Nathan: 04:00 And you were taken to hospital fairly quickly, I presume. How long were you in hospital for?
Steven Dowd: 04:08 I was, I was taken to initially Kings. And then whilst I was at Kings that I was put through the MRIs and the various tests that they do, to realize that I did obviously sustained a spinal cord injury at the level of C3/4, which is, if you think of there being seven bones in your neck, mines between three and four. So from there down I had no sensation whatsoever. And so they said the injury that you have is so devastating that we just don’t know if you’re ever going to get any sensation back again. So that was a pretty stark reality for us. I sustained…. as we were speaking before this cast, the world of spinal cord injury actually is broken down into two very distinct camps. So you have severed spinal cords which fall into the complete injury category.
James Nathan: 05:00 So that’s where it’s completely broken, right across?
Steven Dowd: 05:01 Exactly where it’s either snapped or cut to or either way it’s severed and unfortunately those people, or people with that injury, they’re in a position whereby their injury is very severe and the chances of getting anything back is slim to none.
Steven Dowd: 05:19 I mean there’s a lot of work being done in and around that space and as a category of people, they are being looked at from a, from a research perspective to see what can be helped. But it is a very serious situation for them. The other group and the group that I fall into is known as the incomplete injury and the incomplete injury is a spinal cord which has been damaged in some way. So in my instance, I snapped the ligament on the back of my neck, which dislocated my neck, and that allowed my spinal cord to be crushed and bent. So there was a lot of pressure put into that area of injury, and then a lot of inflammation that happens around it as well, which, which can cause a lot of problems, but it wasn’t severed. And that was, that was crucial. I tend to refer to it after a conversation with another guy, actually they had a very similar injury to me as my spinal cord is like being in a bust up, like a punch up rather than a knife fight.
James Nathan: 06:10 Right. Okay. So if you’re going to be in one of those, you’d rather be punched. But I guess you’d rather not. None of them are a good thing. So we met about a year ago didn’t we ? Initially anyway at The Rugby Business Network and you were speaking there as an ambassador for Wings For Life, which is a Red Bull charity, is that correct?
Steven Dowd: 06:33 Yeah, so Wings For Life are a spinal cord injury foundation. They have the rather ambitious goal of aiming to cure spinal cord injury paralysis. So ultimately they raise funds to fund research right across the world. There are over a hundred trials being funded right now of different sizes and in different fields, whether that be stem cells or electro stimulation. Or in my case, it was a pressure study that was done. But yeah, ultimately they were initially funded, or sorry, they were initially set up by Red Bull and a hundred percent of the money that they raise, and this is crucially important to their message. 100% of the money that they raise is directly put into spinal cord injury research. And the only reason that they can do that is because Red Bull very generously fund their operation costs so that all the money that they raise, every pound raised becomes a pound of research.
James Nathan: 07:26 That’s fantastic. It’s lovely when corporates do things like that and it’s, you know, obviously Red Bull have got a big wallet, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a fabulous thing. I’m going to put a link at the bottom of this, if you happy for me to in the text just of your donation page or a donation page, because I think it’s a really wonderful charity and or foundation should I say, and the work they’re doing is remarkable. But you’re kind of, you’re now walking evidence.
Steven Dowd: 07:58 Yeah. I think that’s the thing that’s most noticeable about my journey is that I’m very unusual. I would say, very lucky in as much as when I had my injury, as I say, I was totally paralysed. However, I was drafted into an experimental intervention at St George’s and that experiment intervention gave me an opportunity or platform to be able to build from there. As a little side kind of anecdote, I remember I was lying in ICU and I was on day two after my surgery, which actually my surgery happened within 24 hours, which for me was very important because of a whole host of reasons, but one was around cell death and making sure you could preserve as much of the spinal nervous tissue as possible. And so I was in surgery after 24 hours and then 24 hours later I was laying in ICU and I turned to my wife and I said, what’s two hundred days from now?
Steven Dowd: 08:56 And she said to me, it’s December the 22nd whys that? I said, give me Christmas Day and I’ll be back on my feet. And I used that promise to my wife as my daily motivation to just take a little footstep every day, whether or not, whether that be figuratively or literally, I wanted to just make a little improvement every day to get towards this bold, ambitious goal of being back to normal when 200 days. And that was where it began. So I had the foundation to be able to move forward from a surgical perspective, but I had the luck and timing, I had the love of my family and friends and colleagues and a fair amount of bloody minded determination to get back and fulfil on this promise to Helen.
James Nathan: 09:41 Oh look, you know, for an outside looking in, you mentioned your the self motivation there. You know, you had incredible help, which is wonderful, but you must be the most bloody minded man in the world, aren’t you?
Steven Dowd: 09:59 I have been accused. Yeah. And to be fair, I think a lot of it for me is that you just don’t know how strong you are until strong is your only option. And I was facing a situation whereby, not I may never walk again necessarily, but if I hadn’t have improved, which I’m very mindful that a lot of people that do suffer spinal cord injuries, it would be disingenuous to say you have this surgery and then suddenly you can get up again. Cause that’s just not the case for most people. There’s a lot of work being done to try and help people in that situation, but unfortunately we’re just not there yet in the majority of cases. But, yeah, I think it gave me an opportunity to say, what do I really want from my life if I’m going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair driving with my mouth. Is that really what I want?
Steven Dowd: 10:43 And my wife and I had a very honest conversation and this was early on. We both agreed that if that wasn’t going to get any better then that wasn’t what I wanted for my life. It isn’t what I wanted for Helen’s life. And certainly not what she wanted for me. Neither of us had signed up to that really. And if that was the case, then very almost dramatically, what didn’t seem melodramatic at the time was to maybe put that single ticket to Switzerland and call it a day, or alternatively do something different. And with this experiment, and intervention that did give me the platform to then say, right, okay, I now owe myself and everyone around me every moment of every day to find an improvement on my life, whether that be physically or emotionally, and take those steps forward
James Nathan: 11:33 And I don’t want to be morbid about things. Cause I think your story is remarkable in many ways, but I think the most…. The bit that I take from that is the positivity of and the possibility of what could be from something that’s very, very, very difficult. You know, you mentioned Switzerland there, and I even know how you have that conversation. I guess you have to when you have to, but was that a real choice? Was that something you talked about? You know, if this doesn’t work or was that a really serious, you know, Helen, we may have to go to Switzerland.
Steven Dowd: 12:07 Oh, I was deadly serious. From that conversation, I remember it vividly now, and it was only over the space of about five, 10 minutes. And we said, what have we got? What do we need, in order for that not to be the outcome? And so if anything, it wasn’t as hard to make that decision as you think. Because we knew what we didn’t want. And I just want to take, in parentheses an opportunity to say that there are many people out there with spinal cord injuries that knew very full lives as in exactly that situation where they are in wheelchairs and have huge dependability or dependence rather on other people, and they live fantastic lives. That wasn’t what I wanted for my life, and that wasn’t what Helen wanted for me or I want it for her.
Steven Dowd: 12:53 So I think that was a very personal choice, but it wasn’t a hard one actually to kind of put on the table as the outcome. And as I say, even though it’s very kind of topical to speak about and it’s kind of shocking almost. But in reality that was a 10 minute conversation over the space of the last three years. And actually we’ve had many more positive conversations around how we use that as a backstop and then push forward from there. As a kind of a little side note to that as well, the conversation that Helen and I had was very much along the lines of how do we get better? It wasn’t about where are we now? I never looked at it as I’m…. it would’ve been very easy for me to have said, how much have I lost and how much can I get back?
Steven Dowd: 13:43 And if we put some, not just anecdotal numbers, I suppose to that I could’ve said I’ve lost 95% of my function and if I get anything back, I might get 30% back or whatever it may be. You know, all have always lost a significant amount. And I said to myself, that can’t really be how I live the rest of my life, feeling like I’ve lost stuff. So I had a very honest conversation with myself at four o’clock in the morning. There’s a lot of those. Where I said to myself, actually just to say we died that day. Yeah. If we died that day, then now I’m at zero. So every, every step forward I make from here, it was a positive move forward. So if I’m 1% better, if I’m 2% better, I’m not just better versus where I was, I’m now almost 1% further along, I’m 2% further along. And it was constantly looking at the kind of dot, dot, dot. Moving forwards as opposed to being the end of the sentence. Now let’s try and get back what we’ve lost. So proactive rather than reactive.
James Nathan: 14:39 It’s a very, very positive mindset that can do that. I’m sure that, uh, many people who have those sorts of injuries don’t manage to get any better because they just can’t, I mean, for their own reasons. I just on your, on your email Steven, your auto signature says better than yesterday. Dot. Dot. Dot. I love it. I’ve, you know, read people talk about marginal improvement. You are absolutely the embodiment of that, aren’t you?
Steven Dowd: 15:06 Well, I really do genuinely believe in margin improvement. I’ve, I’ve always set bold goals for myself even before my injury, through my professional career. I’ve always had bold goals, but I’ve always been very mindful that nobody achieves 100% improvement. And no one achieves a huge, ambitious goal over night. You know that you’re only ever going to be incrementally better than you were before unless you’re vastly lucky at which point that’s nothing to do with you. So if, if that’s the case, then those are the hard yards where you’re able to just make those tiny moves evaluate those tiny moves. In a very honest way and celebrate those tiny moves as well. I mean, talking of tiny moves I suppose reminds me of when I actually did move for the first time I was lying in again in ICU and I twitched my thumb on my left hand.Tiny little movement. It was the smallest movements I’d actually thought I’d had a mini spasm cause that happens to me quite a lot, kind of uncontrolled moves. And then I tried to do it again and it worked again in the same way. And I thought, you know what, I’ve done that. That’s, that’s me.
James Nathan: 16:17 That must’ve been a hell of a milestone.
Steven Dowd: 16:19 Oh my God. It was amazing. It was absolutely amazing. I can’t even can put into words. No one can live a valuable life, twitching their thumb. That’s not how you do it.
James Nathan: 16:31 It’s a good starting point….
Steven Dowd: 16:31 Exactly. But it was exactly that. It was a starting point and I’d gone from nothing to a thumb twitch. So that was my incremental move. And that was my tiny win. And that tiny win was my being better than yesterday. And that being better than yesterday needed celebration. So people come running for literally, I was calling out to people going, jeez, come check this out, watch me twitch my thumb.
James Nathan: 16:52 There might’ve been a few tears in that room that day.
Steven Dowd: 16:54 There were, there were quite a few, actually, not for me that day actually. But I know from my nurses and, and from my wife, certainly. That was a monumental moment.
James Nathan: 17:04 You mentioned setting yourself huge goals and I want to talk about your new business, but as we get to that, there’s been a couple of other things. So you did do Ride London, didn’t you?
Steven Dowd: 17:14 Well, technically, yeah, I did my version of it. So I promised Helen, I would walk again within 200 days and I took the turkey to the Christmas Table 200 days later, and I’ve missed out all the blood and guts in the middle there. Lots of determination and strife and fails and falling on your face and all that sort of stuff. But, I got there, you know, those incremental wins took me from day zero to day 200, which allowed me to take turkey from kitchen to table. And it was amazing. It was a, it was again, another monumental win. It was an incremental win because I couldn’t walk at that point. I was actually working badly. I was up all feet after 90 days, which is just crazy.
James Nathan: 17:53 That’s incredible.
Steven Dowd: 17:54 Absolutely amazing. There’s a short video actually I might have to send across to you though. That was amazing. And then there was also the video of me taking the turkey to the table, which you might want to link too, which again, you can see the look on people’s faces is just, it should never have happened. Yeah, that was amazing. So that was that. And then I had a day off cause I’d been working bloody hard for six months and decided I was going to just drink Baileys and watch boxing day TV
James Nathan: 18:26 Sounds like a pretty good Christmas.
Steven Dowd: 18:29 Absolutely. Baileys on my cornflakes that day.
James Nathan: 18:34 If you do start doing that, could I suggest you go and talk to some.
Steven Dowd: 18:39 Absolutely. That might be not considered a real improvement. Got It. So yeah I had a day off. And then I told the internet, before I told my wife, which is not a good idea. Never do it in that order… That I was going to get back on the very same bike that I fell from and I was going to cycle the a hundred miles that I never got to cycle and I was going to do it in six hours, which turned out and again, a bit of hubris here really because my wife came downstairs and went, ah, what the hell is this?
James Nathan: 19:05 I’ve been on the Internet, Steve, explain yourself….
Steven Dowd: 19:08 Exactly. Facebook. Not a good way to find out what your husband’s going to do next. She came down and showed me the phone. I said, no, don’t worry, I’ve got a plan. Cause she basically thought I was going to get back on the bike and cycle Ride London the next year. Bearing in mind I hadn’t even done it once at that point. And I say no, don’t worry. I’ve got a plan. I’m going to do it on a static bike. So I’m going to get a turbo trainer where they take the back wheel off and they hook you up to a rolling road effectively, so you don’t go anywhere, but it mimics the pressures and stuff through the wheels that you would otherwise get riding a normal bike. And I’m gonna cycle a hundred miles and I want to do it in six hours and I will do it at Red Bull, on a static bike. And so, and again, I don’t want to miss out all the blood and guts, but, there was a hell of a lot of training that then went into the next six months and 200 days later as the promise to the Internet was, I was at Red Bull a year on from the Ride London on the same day as ride London a year later. And I cycled the 200 mile, sorry, the 100 miles that I never got to cycle previously. And I did it in five hours, 59 minutes and 40 seconds.
James Nathan: 20:15 Okay. So for people who don’t cycle, that’s a good speed.
Steven Dowd: 20:19 It’s just over 17 miles an hour as an average, which is a fairly good clip. I mean, certainly. And because it’s a turbo train, you don’t have the benefit of downhills and you don’t have the benefit of wind in your face cooling you down. You know, I was in a Red Bull studio. It was in a room basically with a bunch of friends. Yeah. I wasn’t allowed to do it on my own. I ended up with a bunch of people also bringing their bikes in and what became known as Hashtag 200 days challenge. If people wanted to Google that, you’ll see a bunch of photos. There’s a Facebook page and stuff and it was an incredible event. We raised 37,000 pounds or something for Wings For Life through that event, it was amazing. And I mean for me it was a no brainer to raise money for those guys cause they give me the opportunity to get back on the bike in the first place.
Steven Dowd: 21:02 To be able to stand again was in no small part down to the work that they had funded through Professor Papadopoulos and his team at St George’s and a trial known as the Iscope trial, which is still ongoing today. There was only 50 people that had that surgery when I was, I was like number 45 or something. And then the results were good enough to re-fund it for another 50 people, which is still ongoing today. And I’ve been, I’m honoured actually to have been drafted into their team as like a lay person for future trials as well. So I’m now not only benefiting from Professor Papadopoulos and his team’s work, I’m also now hoping to advise on future trials that they might be running.
James Nathan: 21:46 A very nice way to give back as well. And so you, so you did, you’ve written a a hundred mile ride, you’ve done a run and think you’re going to do that.
Steven Dowd: 21:55 Well, yeah, that’s slightly about face. I did the hundred mile cycle and that was Steve’s event, Steve’s recovery, everybody getting behind Steve and making the most of it. It was amazing. I then wanting to do something a little different? And, I wanted to probably still do the cycle again, but make it more than just one person’s journey, make it more about other people. And we did and we turned it into what became known as the hundred percent challenge. So we got back on a bike and we went back to Red Bull studios the next year. And we also had some people who were in wheelchairs. We had a quadriplegic guy who I think, you know, actually Andy Barrow, he’s an ex-Paralympian, he used to play wheelchair rugby. He was on a rolling road, sat next to me.
Steven Dowd: 22:39 He pushed for four hours. We had a four year olds tetraplegia kid whose paralysed chest down because of a subarachnoid cyst called Emerson Grant. And Emerson, like I say he’s four, he got on the rolling road, he pushed himself for 15 minutes in his day chair, which was his 100%. Everybody was giving a hundred percent effort so that they could make money and that money, 100% of their money to be given directly to Wing For Life and the trials that are funded by Wings For Life. So yeah, we basically are turning that into like an annual event now, which is, which is awesome. But no, I just, before the run… the run was an interesting one because I was away on holiday with my best friend, a guy called Neil Dixon and his family and my family. He has a small little ski apartment out in Les Arcs in France and I’d always wanted to go skiing, always since I was a kid.
Steven Dowd: 23:32 It was a real dream of mine. But when I grew up, we didn’t really have loads of money, so skiing was expensive, so it wasn’t an option. And then I got myself a job in the city, so I became very time poor and skiing wasn’t an option because we just couldn’t find a way into the diary. And then I broke my neck and I had no arms and legs. So skiing was not an option, until it became a challenge. And then I said to my best friend, you’ve got this place out in France, and I really want go skiing. Can we go skiing? And he said, well, yeah, we can. If you want to try, you can give it a go. And, so earlier this year I learned to ski. We went to the top of the mountain, I strapped on some skis and threw myself off the top, basically.
Steven Dowd: 24:21 And there’s another short video that actually, it was on linked in and that was quite popular. That showed me skiing for the first time ever. And by the end of that one minute video, it’s got a picture, which is the equivalent of a week of being on ski lessons and just just by him, he just told me it didn’t have any professional lessons but just by Neil kind of telling me what I should and shouldn’t do and by the end of it, I’m like tucked into a squat and flying past this little eight year old girl. That was beautiful, she’d been getting my way all day. I was really pleased to be able to pass her.
James Nathan: 24:58 So then you did this run that was, when was that?
Steven Dowd: 25:01 Yes. And then while I was away in France, I got a phone call from Red Bull and said we have this event called the World Run, the Wings For Life World Run. And the whole concept of the World Run is that it’s the only event in the world where the finish line chases you. So there’s over 120,000 people took part right across the world, lots of different cities. Everybody runs at exactly the same time though. So you all set off from the start line and then after half an hour, the catcher car, which represents the finishing line starts behind you and it gradually increases in speed, like a sweep, in a cycle race. And as that car passes you, then that’s the end of your race, which is amazing because what it means is that everybody, no matter what their ability is, can run in that race or wheel in that race if they’re in a chair and they can get as far as they can get.
Steven Dowd: 25:53 And that’s their effort. And that really, really spoke to me because that’s so in line with my a hundred percent challenge idea. The idea that as long as you challenge yourself 100%, I don’t care if you travel a hundred miles or 10 meters, if you give your absolute effort, hundred percent effort, then you, for those people who don’t have spinal cord injuries, you might get a bit of a flavour of what it’s like for somebody with a spinal cord injury just to do the things, the basics to you. And that is their 100% effort quite often. So it just really spoke to me as an incredible event that, I had an opportunity to get involved in and they said, well, would you like to come and run the, the world run this year? And I said, well, you’re having a laugh and you know I’ve not run for three years. I have no idea if I can. I don’t know if I can run five meters and fall on my face. And that said, they phrased it as a challenge.
James Nathan: 26:42 I’m getting a theme here. I know I’m a bit slow with these things Steven. I can feel the theme coming through. There’s a really great video if people would have a look at it on your LinkedIn profile and probably elsewhere as well, of you running and falling and getting back up. And I think if you ever… for any people listening, if you want to see what determination looks like, watch Steven run fall and get back up again. I think it’s a super metaphor for life. It’s a really impressive thing to watch.
Steven Dowd: 27:16 That went a little bit viral actually, I think it’s over 226,000 views or something.
James Nathan: 27:23 Is that all? So, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve gone viral there and now, I mean this is the thing that I think is really interesting, that’s come sort of next if we sort of step forward is Gigl. Which is part of the reason you where you are today at Google Campus. But sort of ties together a lot of your story and also your previous experience doesn’t it, into a business.
Steven Dowd: 27:51 It does. So my background, professionally and work wise, but also just my general interest is I’ve always been a bit of a serial entrepreneur as well as a kind of corporate player. So from a recruitment standpoint, I’ve set up my own headhunting companies in the past I’ve worked for other companies and for the last few years until relatively recently, the end of last year, I was working for the Bank of New York Mellon as the head of their asset management recruitment business across Europe, Middle East and Africa. And I had taken on some of that Asia Pacific business as well. So I’d always been in and around that sort of professional space. I’ve also, going right back into time, I used to be a sports injuries therapist and a masseur. I set up a local school where I used to teach people how to play Texas Hold ‘Em in a private members club in London.
Steven Dowd: 28:36 I’ve had a few different interesting little side businesses, quite varied and always, I suppose the incremental, fun element of my businesses have always been, what do I enjoy doing? How can I tell work into life? Rather than have this kind of work life balance, which for me feels like a false partition. Your work should be your life and your life should be your work. And if you’re in that environment, then you can enjoy yourself. So my life was put on hold dramatically as we mentioned in June, 2016 and that made me look up from my corporate world where I was doing the 14 hour days and phoning my wife from the office to say good night to her, all the kind of craziness that people find themselves in, in the city, particularly but and mindfulness, not just that environment. I mean, a lot of corporate environments are similar.
Steven Dowd: 29:23 And, it made me stop and say, you know, what, what the hell am I doing? I can’t introduce myself to my kids on the weekend. You know, that’s not, that’s what life’s about. So I had all of the challenges of getting back on my feet, which weren’t work related, but it was very much using a lot of the skills I developed through my working career. A lot of the resilience, a lot of the ability to analyze situations and really take the best from those situations. A lot of the skills that I’d used previously whereby I’d focus on the things that I could change, but just not waste time on things that I couldn’t change, but be smart enough to know the difference because a lot of people fool themselves, either way. So I was well positioned. I remember one of the girls on my team actually said to me after my injury, I’m really, really sorry this has happened to you, Steve. It’s awful. But of all the people they should happen to, she kinda had a belief that I had the where with all to be able to get through something like this because of some of those experiences that I had in the business world. So yeah, so that put me in a good position I suppose. And then after I started to get some recovery, I spent a lot of time at home. I was doing four months while after four months in hospital, and then a whole bunch of times spending five hours a day in intense neurophysio for another four, five months. I found myself at my dining room table, the same friend that I’m been doing Ride London with me originally. And we’ve sat around the table eating pizzas and beers. And said, right let’s change the world.
Steven Dowd: 30:59 Let’s do something fun. Let’s do something that is fun for everyone where everyone can benefit. And we looked at the world of recruitment because both of us had a background in that space and said, you know, this, this is just broken, this is nameless job descriptions put together through various layers of bureaucracy meeting faceless curriculum vitaes and anything in latin is disrupting as far as we were concerned. So we had an opportunity to say, let’s change how this works. Not just incrementally change it necessarily, but let’s look at a new framework and how we could organize what we do and through a few pivots and a few additional people, we now have a, fantastic technologist that works with us who I’ve known for 10 years. We have a great lawyer in Rotterdam. We have a great head of marketing in Sydney.
Steven Dowd: 31:48 We also have a new marketing exec that just joined us recently here in London. And one of my family connections as well, helping us. We put together a platform which effectively is aimed at changing the future of the gig economy. So if I were to put it in one sentence, I suppose Gigl is a digital platform where people who hire people in the gig economy, those short term flexible workers, can meet people who operate in that space and need those flexible jobs. But that can do that directly and they can do that through the use of video as opposed to paper-based, traditional methods. So no recruiters, no expense, or no unnecessary expense and a nice process whereby one can meet the other on a person to person basis rather than paper to paper.
James Nathan: 32:39 Okay. Do you know….. as you know, my background is recruitment as well. And I remember very clearly when we got email at our desks, which is going to show you how old I am. And we were looking at that thnking, you know what, we can have videos of people talking to each other, you know, 1997. And finally, finally we’re getting there. But a very different idea because the gig economy is an area where there’s opportunity to rip people off, isn’t there? There’s a lot of unethical behaviour goes on in the GIG economy or from my perspective or my understanding how does this, how does this remove that?
Steven Dowd: 33:21 Well, I mean, one of the things that we were really keen to do initially is to make it ethical. Yeah. To make it fair, because you’re totally right. There’s a lot of opportunity out there for unscrupulous employers, to treat people unfairly, to downright abuse a lot of people that are in that market space and we wanted to do away with that. It doesn’t need to exist. There are a lot of people out there that work in the gig economy and do so very happily. They enjoy the flexibility that, that offers. They enjoy the ability to build different portfolio careers and have different experiences. However, there were many things that came about from our conversations that became quite clear, but one of them was the trust level, you know, who am I working with or for, both sides. But from a job seeker perspective or Giglers we’re calling them, the ability to get paid and know when you’re going to get paid was crucial. So that became one of the big selling points for us. So for anybody working through the Gigl platform, we’ve organized it in such a way that they get paid the next day. They’re self employed individuals, but they’re not waiting on invoices to be paid 30 days later, maybe 60 days, if at all. We’ve organized it in such a way that the clients, are dropping the money to people who have, who, sorry, not clients. The platform is dropping the money for the people who have successfully completed those gigs next day.
James Nathan: 34:45 That’s amazing. So it really is a very instantaneous and very controllable process. Is it through an app or is it through a website? How do people get Gigl?
Steven Dowd: 34:55 Okay. Gigl’s an app. So we have a website which is getgigl.com. We have an opportunity to download the app from the app store. Initially it’ll be on android and then shortly after it will be on iOS. So yeah, that’d be the best place to come check us out and see what we do. But also, I mean, I’m very visible and as a co-founder of the business and as new business, I’m very keen to engage with our audience, whether they be Giglers and job seekers or whether they be the employers. So feel free to reach out to us directly.
James Nathan: 35:27 Sounds like an absolutely fantastic thing and I wish you all the very best with that. I can’t wait to see, a better float than Uber, I hope. Steven, I’m very conscious of your time and I’ve loved chatting with you. Thank you so, so much for taking your time out. And it sounds like quite a busy environment they’re behind you at Google as well. But before we go, I’d love to just ask you that one thing, the big question, the one thing you’d like to leave people with that can help them be better in business today and in the years to come. What would that be?
Steven Dowd: 36:03 I think, I think the one thing that probably ties together both of these stories around my personal situation and what’s happening now with Gigl and how we’re changing the future of work, is that change doesn’t happen in an overnight moment. Major change, significant change, meaningful change, that change happens incrementally. So I think that my story and just being better than yesterday being my mantra for my personal growth. But also from a business perspective, understanding where you are, where you want to be, and how to take those little baby steps towards that, but celebrating each and every one of those steps on the way. I think those are the areas that are crucially important and making sure that you don’t overlook those celebratory moments, it’s very easy to scan past the small wins as just small wins, but actually in reality, the world is only ever made up of small wins.
James Nathan: 37:02 Steven, that’s fabulous. Thank you so, so much. It’s been great chatting with you and I look forward to hopefully seeing you soon.
Steven Dowd: 37:09 My absolute pleasure, thank you James