The Art of Running Downhill

Getting out of your own way

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It's messed up, I made it this way, and my feet so sore
But it's all downhill from here, I could teach snowboards

- ‘First World Problems’ by Chance the Rapper

Anyone who follows the podcast will know that myself and Pete are American football fans (both New England Patriots fans).

The first NFL game I ever went to was on my first trip to New York in 1997, when I was going over with my family for my uncle’s wedding.

My uncle had gotten us tickets to a Giants/Ravens game in the old Giants stadium and we had good seats high up behind one of the end zones. The Giants lost that day 24-23 but that was where I really developed a love for American football.

Despite being a huge Patriots fan, I have always had a soft spot for the Giants and usually tune in ever week to see how they got on in their game.

So there I was tuning in for Thursday Night Football two weeks ago to see how the Giants were getting on in their latest game against the Philadelphia Eagles.  

The Giants were down 7-10, lead by 2nd year quarterback Daniel Jones, who was having a solid game.

In the middle of the 3rd quarter on a 1st and 10 play, in a play that probably encapsulates a lot about the New York Giants season and recent history, Jones broke through a gap in the defence for an 80-yard run from his own 12 yard line.

Jones was off to the races but somehow tripped and fell at the 8-yard line without a rival defender anywhere near him. (The Giants would end up scoring on the next possession but would go on to lose the game).

When interviewed about the incident after the game, Jones said “I was just trying to run faster than I was running and got caught up

Why should you care?

I thought of this particular play, and Jones’s response, again this week when I was listening to a fascinating interview with Tim Ferris and Matthew McConaughey.

McConaughey has just released his first book ‘Green Lights’ about his life and his philosophy to life and it is a very enjoyable interview over 90 minutes. (I may have listened to this one 3-4 times in the past week!!)

One interesting section in the book, which they expand on in the interview, is titled ‘The Art of Running Downhill’.

McConaughey explains that in his career, he has had a habit of getting in his own way. Often, when things were going particularly well, he had a habit of messing things up and not appreciating the good times.

I got to thinking about startups (as usual!) and it made me think about the times that founders can’t get out of their own way.

There is a tendency to overthink every aspect and to try to rationalize and pick apart every aspect of progress.

It is completely understandable, as most of what happens in the early months and years is about learning, iterating, pivoting, etc.

It is about constant feedback and analysis.

But, what if you miss the best thing about the progress because you over-analyze it?

What if the constant iterations get in the way of the progress?

What if you keep trying to run faster than you are running?

As the old saying goes, if you’re not embarrassed about the first version of your product when you launch it, you launched it too late.

But what about V2? How much of that early customer feedback goes into V2 vs. V3? Your instincts and a great team got you this far, so don’t overthink it as you’ll lose your momentum. Get V2 back into your customer’s hands and take your lumps.

In Daniel Jones’ case, did his overthinking on that nearly-perfect play change his approach to the rest of the game? Possibly.

Did he start second-guessing himself and lose focus? Maybe.

When you’ve got a clear path to your target, keep your pace, stay focused and don’t overthink it.

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!)

She used to clean City Hall. Now she runs it.

This is the crazy story of Marina Udgodskaya, a cleaner from a tiny village 300 miles from Moscow. Maria, who worked as a cleaner in City Hall, was asked by her boss (the mayor) to run in the mayoral election in order to comply with democratic law that dictated that there must be two candidates running for the result to be deemed valid.

I’m sure you can guess what happened next…..

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 108: Alphabet | Emmett Kilduff and Eagle Alpha

  • Emmett Kilduff, founder and CEO of Eagle Alpha, talks with Pete Townsend about alternative data, launching his first startup at the same time as the Lehman collapse, pairing his conviction on the ‘problem-to-solve’ with staying power while waiting for the market….and his secret life as a Montréalais!

  • Audio version on Apple and Spotify

Podcast Recommendation: Highly recommend checking out the ‘Tim Ferris Show’ podcast. Tim Ferriss is bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek & in this show, he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.

Book Recommendation: I highly recommend the book, ‘Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice’. Two-time Olympian and sports writer and broadcaster Matthew Syed draws on the latest in neuroscience and psychology to uncover the secrets of top athletes

Article/Newsletter Recommendation: if you haven’t heard of it already, check out the weekly newsletter ‘Fintech Brain Food’ by Simon Taylor, co-founder of 11:FS. Simon writes an excellent weekly piece about all things Fintech.


This newsletter has been written by Eoin Fitzgerald and Pete Townsend

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