Where interesting people say interesting things. Today, it’s Jimmy McLoughlin, former No 10 advisor and now podcast host.
Cause or correlation? Either way, a charity worth supporting
Nick Hungerford, the well-liked and respected entrepreneur behind Nutmeg, passed away last month aged just 42.
Before he died, he and his wife set up a charity – Elizabeth’s Smile – named after his young daughter to help children remember they can smile through the grieving process.
It reminded me of a startling fact about our politics. Almost half of prime ministers have lost a father before the age of 21; a third have lost a mother before the age of 22. It’s not just here. In the US, a third of US presidents have lost a parent before the age of 30.
Is it correlation or coincidence? I’d posit the former.
Losing a parent forces you to grow up quickly – maturing at an accelerated rate. It also leaves you with an early impression that time is finite, and you need to get on with making an impact in your life.
And surely it does something to build resilience, too. One of life’s most challenging moments happening so early on can only toughen the ‘rhino skin’ you need to get on in politics.
And finally, perhaps it makes you more compassionate and empathetic with other people – the ones you are trying to win votes from. Becoming the leader of a country is, after all, largely a coalition-building exercise.
You have to get people to support you that wouldn’t naturally bend your way – and you need them to believe you’d be there for them when it really matters.
The loss of a parent not only means the loss of a supporter and adviser, it can also mean you lose access to a huge network, which can be particularly impactful in your formative years before you have an opportunity to build a professional one of your own.
This is why the charity Elizabeth’s Smile is looking to build on its early work – and what a legacy that would be for Nick to leave behind in far more than just the tech and business world.
Rishi Sunak has taken a lot of social media stick for directing £500,000 of taxpayers’ cash to the Chess Federation. Don’t discount the importance of such a small amount, though.
In a focus group I once sat in, one of the starkest things I remember someone saying was ‘what can i do for free on a Saturday afternoon? Nothing’.
Small changes from the government can have a bigger impact than people think.
Calendar hole to fill
Last week, the CBI announced an events programme for the rest of the year: the big shock being that the annual conference has been pulled from the back-from-the-dead business group’s schedule.
It’s not the only big day out to now be missing in action: the IoD’s Annual Convention used to be held at the Royal Albert Hall in front of 3,000 delegates, with speakers ranging from Uber founder Travis Kalanick to former US President Ronald Reagan. That, too, has gone by the wayside.
There is now not likely to be a premier business gathering event before the next UK general election – a striking thought. In a time when it’s never been easier to organise events, it seems to be getting more challenging to pull off the truly momentous.
That’s a shame – for all the online content, nothing can replace the atmosphere of an electrifying speech that can change or inspire minds. It’s a big gap to fill: who will take the opportunity?
A man on the move
Speaking of events, I was at the Tony Blair Future of Britain conference last week (another prime minister who lost a parent all too early).
The conference had some stellar names lined up from the world of tech including Poppy Gustafsson from Darktrace.
A name that has not received as much prominent coverage yet though is Alex Kendall (pictured), the 20-something founder of Wayve who recently took Bill Gates out for a ride in an autonomous car around London.
We recorded an episode of Jimmy’s Jobs of the Future talking about how he built his prototype from his student bedroom, and how he and his flatmates took it for an early spin around the block.
It’s out today on Youtube or wherever you get your podcasts.
Can I quote you on that?
Boredom has effectively been abolishedColumnist James Marriott
on the rise of podcasts and entertainment more generally