Who is IT NZ: Stew Darling

We met Stew after FounderCon last year, and were fascinated with his backstory. Stew is the CEO of LINQ in Wellington, and had some really great takes on our questions this week.

Who is IT NZ is a feature of What is IT NZ that we talked about in an earlier post. We’ll meet you for coffee, ask you a version of the Proust Questionnaire and just hang out and have a nice time. Afterwards you introduce us to someone else so the chain keeps going.

What’s your business?

LINQ Ltd is a Wellington based start-up offering a software as a service (SaaS) Platform called LINQ which delivers a new way of understanding transformation across your business. Rather than focusing on technology, we focus on information through mapping information supply chains which show the value of information within your organization.  This is how we help businesses; see transition, solve problems, and share how to do it better within, and without the organisation.

What’s your role?

I’m the Chief Exec, so my role, is to protect everyone enabling them to go faster, to allow them to shine where they are best and keep all the business bureaucracy away from themallowing them to create and sell a product into a new marketplace.

What’s your two sentence elevator pitch for your business?

LINQ Ltd is a business transformation tool that allows you to see your organisation in a brand-new way because we focus on information and information flow rather than a more traditional way of looking at business. You want LINQ because it helps you see the hidden value in your organisation, allowing you to uncover unnecessary costs; there is nothing similar in the market that does that at the moment.

What’s your favourite virtue?

There is nothing more important in the world than integrity. I’ve got to be able to sit down and eyeball people and know that the conversation is based in honesty. The ability for me to come downstairs and meet you guys and have this conversation is all based in my trust in you and me understanding your integrity. As a Father, as a commander in the past, and as a leader in business, integrity is all.

What do you look for in a friend?

A friend to me is that ability to pick up and drop off a relationship, it’s not about ignoring them, but I have friends that I don’t see for years on end, and then we meet, and it’s straight back into where we left off. So it’s that deep understanding of one another that allows you to relate completely. That honesty, that humility. Whether you haven’t seen each other in years, or if you’re out for a beer at the end of the week.

What’s your dominant characteristic?

Forceful stubborness. And if you ask my colleagues in the office, my wife, my kids – I’m stubborn. Tenacious yes, when I get the bit between my teeth, I rarely let it go.

What’s your biggest flaw?

My biggest flaw is that I lack confidence in my own ability. I come from a background of high achieving, and so when I do not high achieve I kick myself for it.

What’s your favourite occupation?

I’m going to go really simplistic and say farmer. Now that’s not because I want to spend my life with my arm up a cow’s backside, but farming is all about tenacity, it’s about understanding the world round about you and fitting into that world to make it a better place, either for the animals or a better place for your customers. I say farmer as I respect them as individuals who properly understand this planet and the importance of their place on this planet knowing how they can do some good.

What’s your idea of happiness?

Happiness is walking through the door and getting an update from my family on what they’ve been up to. Happiness is looking up at the stars in the evening. Happiness is moments in time, whereas contentment is very different, it’s how you live your life. Your happiness isn’t something that is given to you, it comes from inside. But you can gain contentment from spending time with other people. So my idea of happiness, is something very internal that you project on to the world around you.

What’s your idea of misery?

Similar answer, I was walking down the road on my way here when I saw a man with sandals and ripped socks. For all I know, he might be happy that he has socks at all, rather than be sad that he has ripped socks. It’s different for everyone. My sense of misery, I suppose, is where I see something and am unable to affect change.. We were all put on this planet for a reason. It’s our job to figure out what that purpose is. I guess there are some people who are 100% miserable all day everyday, but are actually happy with that state of mind.

If you weren’t you who would you like to be?

I don’t think I can honestly answer that question. As I said, I believe we are all put on this planet for a reason,  if that’s what I believe, then I’ve no right to want to be someone else.  I should instead strive to understand my purpose and then work and learn to be the best I can in my purpose.

Where do you wish you could live?

The Wairarapa. We’ve just bought a block of land there, and I can’t wait to build a house on it. I’ve been fortunate to travel the world over the last 45 years so I am used to a peripatetic lifestyle; I am now excited to plant roots.We emigrated here 3.5 years ago and spent a couple of days in Hong Kong on the way. It was a night flight from Hong Kong and as we opened the aircraft shutters the sun was rising and I caught my first glimpse of the vibrant green landscape of New Zealand I thought “this is my new home”. And both Liz and I have found over the last three years, that we have come home. We love New Zealand, we love what it’s done for us and our two kids; standing on that piece of land Liz turned around and said to me “this is it”. And I can’t think of anything that will make me feel happier, standing with my wife with our view, knowing that we are going to build our forever home together. So there is no other place. We will always travel, but no other place will give me the same feeling as driving into the drive of our own house that we built together, for us.

What’s your favourite colour and favourite flower?

My favourite colour is cyprus green. My favourite flower is probably a yellow rose. But actually, I really had to think about that, so it could change tomorrow. There was a yellow rose in Liz’s bouquet when we got married, and so that’s why I think that, now.

Who’s your favourite character in fiction?

James Bond as written in the book (specifically, not the film) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In that book was Bond at his most vulnerable and most insecure. You really get to see the man Bond, and I can relate to an awful lot of that insecurity and fear of unknown; of having to  operate by yourself and make it work. You’ve just got to be able to get out there and do the work.  I think that Ian Fleming really brought that characteristic out in that book.

What’s your favourite swear word?

Fuck is probably my favourite and certainly one that I use most often and more than I probably should. I was told once that people who swear a lot have no grasp of the English Language; I disagree and think people who swear a lot are incredibly succinct. You can use Fuck in so many different ways. And I love to be able to say to someone, “look, don’t fuck this up” or “hey, can you go and unfuck that”.


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