Dogtopia CEO on why he would get rid of Facebook

“I'd love to never have to sleep. I love sleeping, but I don't like the time it takes.” — Neil Gill, CEO, Dogtopia

Who would play you in the biopic about your life?

I’d say Jeremy Irons, that’s who would play me. He’s one of my favorite actors and he’s so versatile. He’s one of the few actors who’s won an Academy Award, an Emmy and a Tony Award.

What’s your favorite franchise brand that’s not your own?

This is my third stint in the U.S. running brands and I think Neighborly, I really love their values, the code of ethics that they live by.

If you weren’t in franchising, what would you be doing?

Well, I’ve already done this when I tried to retire. My wife and I kayaked every morning, we lived right by Sydney Harbor. We’d go bike riding in the late afternoon and then during the day I’d do a lot of home renovations. I love home projects.

What’s your favorite travel destination?

Italy is our favorite. Last year we did two weeks in Tuscany, we rented a villa, spent time in the vineyards—it was wonderful. I’m not fluent in Italian but I should be. I love it, I’m so enthusiastic, but I’m not patient enough.

What’s something you are freakishly bad at (or good at)?

I’m really bad at having patience. My wife tells me my middle name is ‘impatient.’ She constantly checks me on it. One of my key skills, though, is being able to cut through all the noise. People in business tend to overcomplicate things … so putting simple, practical solutions around something that seems complex. I think it’s an Australian thing. There’s this saying I tell my team about a storm in a teacup. It means don’t make a fuss about something that’s not really important. Sometimes you’ve gotta tap the teacup over so you can look around and see what’s really important.

What’s something not many people know about you?

I used to collect fake fruit. When we’d go to Italy, I’d find all these beautiful wooden and ceramic fake fruits and I’d always bring some home. Then I learned it would drive my wife crazy. One day I came home and said, ‘where’s all my fake fruit?’ She said, it’s in the garage. And it’s still in the garage.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

In Asia, there’s some crazy things that go on there, so probably sheep’s brain. I wouldn’t recommend it. It doesn’t make you smarter.

Dogtopia CEO on why he would get rid of Facebook

Editor Laura Michaels asks the tough questions—What superhero power would you most like to have? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?—to show a side of franchising execs you don’t normally see. To suggest an industry professional, email lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.

If you could dis-invent one thing, what would it be?

Right now, with the situation that we’re in with COVID, I’d say Facebook. Just because of the disinformation, all the misinformation. And it’s not just Facebook, it’s these social platforms … we’ve been able to sort of toss aside and just unfriend what we don’t agree with. I don’t think it’s healthy. It’s actually become a dangerous source of information. As humans, we need as much diversity in our lives as possible, just to keep our minds open.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Fresh oysters and mussels. Australia has some amazing seafood.

What superhero power would you most like to have?

I’d love to never have to sleep. I love sleeping, but I don’t like the time it takes. I guess that goes back to the impatient thing … there’s just so much else I’d rather be doing. I wear a Fitbit and I average between five and six hours a night.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Never endure life, always enjoy life. That was Norman Brinker from Brinker International, he was always saying that.

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