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Andrew Woods of Duckpin: “Take some time to yourself”

Take some time to yourself. Think things through. Remember, an emergency is your office building collapsing. Everything else is just another email. Prioritize your work as you see fit. There’s only one you. As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Woods. Andrew Woods […]

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Take some time to yourself. Think things through. Remember, an emergency is your office building collapsing. Everything else is just another email. Prioritize your work as you see fit. There’s only one you.


As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Woods.

Andrew Woods is CEO and co-founder of Duckpin, a rapidly growing web and marketing agency headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. When not spending his time building a new breed of “big agency”, Andrew can be found watching Jeopardy with his wife Christina, exploring the great outdoors with his boys Branson and Hendrix, backpacking with friends, or sailing the Chesapeake.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been a tinkerer and a builder. As a child, I disassembled and reassembled electronics for fun. I loved building things out of junk I found in the garage. In my teens, my tinkering took some shape. I built a home automation system with voice recognition and web-based controls in the early 2000s, well before we had smartphones in our pocket. Then it was cars and sound systems, renovating my home, restoring a sailboat, building a 5,000 gallon koi pond with smart filtration. I like to get my hands dirty, whether it be with building materials or code.

It’s this instinct to build and tinker that brought me to web development, marketing and advertising. This field is a tinkerer’s buffet, so it’s no surprise I ended up here. There is always more to do, more to learn, and the results are never quite the same. It just never gets boring.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

It was a scary day when my partners and I left our old jobs and started our first day as owners of Duckpin. I remember going to a local restaurant while we all sat quietly together thinking “what the hell did we just do?” not realizing at the time the answer to that question was “make the best decision of our lives”!

But it wasn’t easy and it still isn’t. At the end of the day, there’s a heavy responsibility to owning a business. It starts with supporting yourself and your family. It grows to supporting your employees and their families too. Daily decisions matter. But that’s what makes it so rewarding too.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

While it didn’t hit shelves until a few years after Duckpin was founded, the book “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John perfectly summed up where that drive comes from. In his book, he describes how feeling like you’re backed into a corner is actually a really resourceful and powerful position to be in.

On day 1, we’re completely broke. Just 3 talented people looking for work, but nobody knows we exist. Success wasn’t going to just land in our laps, we had to figure it out and we had to do it quick.

That’s where the drive came from when we started. I do my best not to ever get too comfortable with our success so that the innovation and resourcefulness doesn’t die off as we grow.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Things are going great. We’ve consistently grown the company year over year as well as the size and capabilities of our team. We have ambitious goals for continued growth this year as we forge ahead in our mission to be a bigger, better agency.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

One of our core values, and a recurring topic here in this interview, is “We Roll Up Our Sleeves.” Duckpin work is unique and hand crafted. It’s not outsourced, ordinary, cheap, regurgitated, or one-size-fits-all. As time goes on, I feel this industry become more of those things, but we roll up our sleeves and we build, we tinker, and we tackle unique and complex challenges on behalf of our customers. We don’t say “well, we haven’t ever done that before.” If it’s within our skillset, we do it.

A great project we finished recently was for a large regional residential construction product distributor that has warehouses all over the Mid-Atlantic. We worked with them to build a custom, real-time TV dashboard that displayed rankings of all the technicians in the company, based on the number of positive reviews the technicians were receiving from customers. The technicians could see recent reviews, who they were “competing” with, and what prize the monthly winner would take home. This project encouraged the technicians to work hard for their customers every day and it put their hard work on display throughout the TVs installed in every warehouse in the region. When the project was done, I thought to myself “how many companies would have turned that down because it wasn’t in their narrow niche of profitability?” Not Duckpin!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not burn out”?

I’ve worked in this industry now for over 10 years now and I’ve yet to see a true emergency. It’s something I tell myself frequently, and I’ve been known to say to employees and other colleagues in the industry.

And it’s true. Everyone operates today with instant gratification. They feel that their problems are the most pressing in the universe. Guess what… they aren’t. (neither are yours or mine)

Take some time to yourself. Think things through. Remember, an emergency is your office building collapsing. Everything else is just another email. Prioritize your work as you see fit. There’s only one you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My dad is my mentor and a constant source of helpful information in business. Most importantly, he leads by example as a fair, honest and hard-working individual. I strive to mimic that in business and in my personal relationships.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Absolutely, that is one of the best parts of success! Years ago, inspired by reading Richard Branson’s “Screw It, Let’s Do It”, I suggested we roll out a program for our employees to give back to our community or to causes they were passionate about. Soon after, Duckpin announced its Volunteer Time Off Program that allows each employee 2 paid days per year to volunteer however they’d like.

This program has enabled employees to clean local parks, get pets adopted, build homeless shelters, and more.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Every huge problem you face today will feel small in a year.
  2. Don’t write off your success as luck, you earned it.
  3. Set business goals around what you want out of life. Hint: it’s probably not money.
  4. Define core values, then hire against them.
  5. Don’t forget to have fun.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think every person should try to live with 100 items or less for 30 days. It’s astonishing how burdened we are, especially as Americans, by our own possessions.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-woods-duckpin/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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