Our Half-aversary!


Last week, we celebrated our half-aversary. It's almost surprising how quickly six months went by and it feels like it was just yesterday that we were launching Dowling Street. While there's been quite a bit that has happened in in the first half of 2014, we never got a chance to share most it with you. So, I want to take this opportunity to let you know what we've been up to, share some of our big wins with you, and fill you in on what we're excited about for the next six months.

Building the roster of Dowling Street clients

When Dowling Street started, it was literally with the belief on how we could be helpful to clients, and the confidence they would agree with us. Six months later, we're pleased to report that we've built a roster of seven clients, spread all across the US and even one in Africa. Three major business development centers have emerged in San Francisco, Chicago and New York, and we're thrilled to be working across sectors and many industries.

Our first client was a charter school network in New York, and since then we've worked with the City of Chicago, assisted sales management for a major technology firm in the San Francisco Bay Area, and advised performance leadership for the wine and spirits industry. Even with this full plate, we're committed to our pro bono efforts, most notably with the Mayor Youth Leadership Council (MYLC) here in New York, in partnership with the Coro Foundation.

The development of a robust client roster and the continued interest by a wide variety of organizations are testaments that both encourage us and fuel our efforts to continue pursuing our work.

Swinging for the fences

Even in the early weeks of Dowling Street, we knew that we wanted to build a company that took risks, stretched our understanding, and pushed us to keep growing and learning. We got a chance to put this into action when we were approached to submit a proposal to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in support of their organization-wide business process redesign efforts. We knew that the odds were long being such a young firm, but we were up to the challenge and we like to swing for the fences.

When we submitted our proposal, all of us agreed that simply being part of the process had been tremendously valuable and we were very proud of the work product that we produced. It was our first major proposal, not to mention a demanding timeline with a team spread across the country. We were literally beside ourselves when we were notified that the selection committee had chosen us to advance in their process. Over the coming months, we were given the opportunity to present our unique value offering to the Kellogg Foundation's selection committee and have rich conversations on how we could work together. While we were ultimately not selected to win the contract, it was difficult for us to be disappointed at the result. Out of twenty proposals submitted, including some by the biggest names in professional services, Dowling Street was named to the top five of their candidate firms.

Our first experience in swinging for the fences only reinforced these ideals and have prompted us to keep this value at our core while we continue to build Dowling Street. While it would be foolish for every effort to be a moonshot, there is a special energy that can be felt when the odds are long; an energy that spurs creativity, injects excitement and sheds stagnancy.  

Returning to our roots

It's been said that you can never go home again, but our experience was different when Dowling Street was invited to present a session at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in April. Many of us attended Kellogg as business school students just a few years ago, so we jumped at the chance to return to Chicago to speak to the current class on exercising leadership in situations with limited or no authority. We were pleased to see that the Business Leadership Club had marketed the event far and wide, resulting in a packed house to hear our perspective and experiences from clients on navigating these tricky situations. As always, the Kellogg students were a shrewd and insightful group, asking nuanced questions and signaling a real desire to learn and understand. We're looking forward to keeping our relationship with Kellogg alive in the upcoming years and giving us a chance to return to our roots that continues to help shape the work that we are currently doing.

On a final note, there is one other very important thing worth mentioning. While we're incredibly proud of what we've accomplished in such a short time, we are equally humbled by the outpouring of support and assistance we've received. We never anticipated the sheer amount of goodwill that has been showered on us, simply in the spirit of others' belief in our mission. From our relationships at both Kellogg and Harvard Kennedy School, to friends connecting us with potential business opportunities, to those of you who have provided your expertise and perspective, we thank you.

Now, on to the second half of 2014. There is still much to be done.

Kellogg Students listening on how to exercise leadership without authority

Kellogg Students listening on how to exercise leadership without authority