Shadows

For Anna

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One of the few positives from the pandemic has been that I have been able to catch up on TV shows that I never usually would have the time to watch.

I am always playing catch up with the ‘trending’ shows but I finally got around to watching Succession in early April and was blown away by how good the show was. I binge-watched the entire 2 seasons in 3 days, occasionally sneaking in parts of episodes on my phone whilst on some boring work webinar!

In my mind, it has leapfrogged some great shows to earn a spot in my top TV shows alongside other favourites such as Billions, The Sopranos and Father Ted.

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, the series centers on the Roy family, the dysfunctional owners of Waystar RoyCo, a global media and hospitality empire, who are fighting for control of the company amid uncertainty about the health of the family's patriarch, Logan Roy (Brian Cox).

Over the course of two seasons, we are taken on a ride that takes us inside a wealthy media dynasty flouting every moral and judicial law in order to consolidate power.

It is an incredibly well-written show, with some award-winning performances, particularly from Brian Cox (Logan) and Jeremy Strong (Kendall) and a completely surprising but excellent performance by Kieran Culkin (Roman).

It also has more than a hint of real life to its storylines.

Roman and Kendall’s battle for dominance echoes that of James and Lachlan Murdoch, sons of Rupert Murdoch (CEO of NewsCorp - owner of The Sun, NY Post, Wall St Journal, Fox News and many more). Logan’s only daughter, Shiv, is loosely based on US executive Shari Redstone, who forced her aging media tycoon father’s hand to take control of his company (her family are majority owners of CBS, Comedy Central, BET, Showtime Networks and the film studio Paramount Pictures).

One of the great things about the show is that it is very funny. There is a sense of spontaneous, semi-improvised anarchy in its writing and acting.

But while it is very, very funny, what I love most about the show is its cruelty. Without giving away any spoilers, this clip here is just filled with some of the cruelest (and funniest) insults across the first two seasons. (It’s NSFW so I suggest you use headphones!!).

It is a fascinating show about family dynamics and the impact that the head of a household has on the family unit. I highly recommend you give it a try!

When I initially sat down in late March to write this particular newsletter, my thought process involved finding a way to include reference to my beloved 90-year old grandmother, Anna Fitzgerald, who had recently passed away.

It has taken me a few extra weeks to find the right words but I am sure at this stage that you are wondering what exactly my 90-year old grandmother had in common with fictional TV show character, Logan Roy.

Let me tell you…..

What springs to mind when I think of my grandmother is the well-known Abraham Lincoln quote…

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

My grandmother helped raise my three brothers and me while both my parents were working.

We went to the playschool just down from her house. We spent summers and mid-terms, sick days and any other spare time in her house.

We went everywhere with her. The local post office to collect her pension, the shop to get the newspaper, Tesco for her ‘messages’, the butchers for the fresh meat, etc.

Everywhere we went, people would stop to say hi to ‘Mrs. Fitz’.

Despite being a small, slight lady, she carried herself with certain grace and strength that made people respect her. She looked very much like Queen Elizabeth and had a similar presence.

At my wedding in 2016, she took her spot on a couch in the reception area and the line of people waiting to speak with her was far greater than the line to speak to the bride and groom.

Despite only growing downwards for all the years that I was growing up (I think I outgrew her when I was 10), she was the strongest person I knew.

I remember one morning she fell outside when putting out her bins at 6 am in the morning and broke her collarbone. She proceeded to drag herself back inside and back to bed until later in the day when she rang my Dad to bring her to the doctor, but only after she had a cup of tea!

She was tough as nails, and very opinionated, as many of that generation were, but equally open and accepting of everyone (unless you happened to be a politician from any party other than Fianna Fail!).

She was the first stop on my way home from the hospital with all my kids when they were born, most recently when my 5-year old daughter was born and my grandmother offered to mind her for a few hours so we could go off to the shops (my daughter was less than 48 hours old and my grandmother was 85 at the time!).

Anna was the head of our household. She was beloved by her 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Everyone knew her and everyone respected her. Her reputation preceded her and she was known for her grace, strength, decency and compassion.

She set the tone for our family and set a high bar for us all to live up to.

Why Should You Care?

You are the founder. You are the CEO.

You set the tone for the organisation.

Everything you do, and even the things you don’t do, will have an impact on your team.

Your team will look to you for how to act, how to treat colleagues, customers, etc.

It will be non-stop and you won’t get a break from it.

Be mindful of your role and what it means to all the members of your team, not just the senior management.

How you carry yourself and how you go about your job and leading your company will, not only go a long way towards the success of your company, but also set a great example for your staff to follow when they move on to other things.

Be the tree.

Set the right example.

Be like Anna.

Tell me why I’m wrong…

- Eoin

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Left Field

How do I describe ‘Left Field’? It’s a place to put the content (newsletters/articles, etc) that we have amassed over recent weeks or previous years that really make us think or change our thinking on a particular topic. All the content will offer an alternative view of some topic in financial services, technology or sport (or a combination of all three!)

Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications

This fascinating article was published in the New York Times this week and presents a stark picture on the impact of the declining populations in many countries. The article references maternity wards shutting down in Italy, ghost cities appearing in northeastern China, universities in South Korea struggling to find enough students, and in Germany, hundreds of thousands of properties have been razed, with the land turned into parks.

What isn’t drawn out in the article but is worth considering, as it relates to all things financial services and fintech, is what impact this will have on products and services being offered to consumers. If, as the article suggests, Nigeria could surpass China in population by the end of the century, what does that mean for global opportunities in a market where 60% of Nigerians still do not have a bank account but only 6% of the population uses mobile phones to make financial transactions?

Anyway, I won’t give away too much. Enjoy the article and feel free to get in touch to discuss more!

- Eoin


Can’t Sleep?

MoneyNeverSleeps podcast episode from this week:

  • Episode 139: Trust | Steve Ritter and Mitek

  • Steve Ritter, CTO of Mitek, joins the show this week to share his story on fueling his passion for problem-solving with technology, how he thinks about creating safe digital environments to build trust, achieving the careful balance of friction and convenience in consumer fintech, the reality of defending against deep fakes, digital infrastructure priming the pump of inclusiveness…and rebuilding a 1972 Ford Bronco!

  • Audio version on Apple and Spotify

Book Recommendation: I highly recommend the book ‘Amazon Unbound’ by Brad Stone, which is the must-read follow-up to his bestseller The Everything Store, detailing the seismic changes that have taken place at Amazon over the past decade as it became one of the most powerful and feared companies in the global economy


This newsletter has been written by Eoin Fitzgerald and Pete Townsend

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