Leda Writes for Fintech Futures: tell it cos it's a good story
Each week, Leda Glyptis, CEO of 11:FS Foundry, creates #LedaWrites. This week she delves into her wardrobe to talk about t-shirts as a metaphor for life, love and work.
This article first appeared on Fintech Futures.
This could be entitled “a blog in three t-shirts”, but I can’t prove that the t-shirts are real and I own and proudly wear them, unless you inspect my extensive t-shirt collection. You will have to take my word for it for now.
Each subheading is a t-shirt I proudly wear.
But the inspiration is not a shirt.
It is a friend.
Who loves hard. Who hopes. And doesn’t know how to be any other way, be it in his personal life or the way he works. And he works in our industry. Seeking to transform the way we make, move, distribute and manage money, a little bit every day.
It is hard.
It gets messy.
It is full of heart and no corners are cut.
Yes I mean life. And love. And work.
Sometimes I don’t need to find the business metaphor, Tanya. Sometimes people bring their whole self to work and all I need to do is describe it. Fancy that.
Tell it cos it’s a good story
T-shirt in implausible lime green. Script in neon pink cursive. Bought in a night market in Chiangmai because I couldn’t not.
Why do we do what we do, seriously?
The wolf of Wall Street and Gordon Gecko have been the face of banking way too long.
Why do all these dreamers and makers and poets work in banking transformation? What the hell are we all doing in what is offhandedly perceived as the domain of bloodthirsty cynics?
We do the work that needs doing.
We do the work that we believe needs us to do it.
But we don’t tell the story anywhere near enough, and we should.
Because it is a good story.
There are villains and mishaps galore. There are false starts and trials but also there are mysteries to be debunked and misunderstood ogres to be redeemed. Ours is a good story that needs telling.
The wolf of Wall Street and Gordon Gecko have been the face of banking way too long. The bank teller and the depositary receipts clerk have better stories to tell. About the universality of our experiences and anxieties with money. About the interdependence of one‘s meagre savings book and financing a damn project in a country so far away as to seem made up.
And yet the resulting crops that will feed people you will never meet are real as anything.
Tell that. That is a good story.
As is the imperative to change the way we do what we do so we can do more of it, better.
That is a good story too.
Cool story bro, needs more dragons
White with black gothic script, a birthday gift from Wendy. She’s good like that.
But does it? Need more dragons?
Money is not the stuff of dreams perhaps. But many a dream died before it lived because money ran out.
If you think about what we do all day I would say no, we have dragons galore.
The ones we fear (the regulator, the market, the analysts, the Street, the customers voting with their feet, the competition, the challengers, big tech, The Thing We Missed) and the ones we tame (legacy, habit, comfort, the way things used to be, a very profitable past, the unknown, an ever-accelerating world). The story has dragons.
Why don’t we talk about them?
Why are we embarrassed, almost apologetic of the work we do and the passion we bring to it?
Money is not the stuff of dreams perhaps. But many a dream died before it lived because money ran out. Money wasn’t there in the first place. Education. Art supplies. Train tickets.
Roads. Irrigation. Vaccines.
From living long enough to dream.
To turning dreams into plans.
To walking the path towards endeavour of whatever kind, it takes work and courage and grit.
Healthcare. Education. Plumbing.
That’s the world we live in.
The universal, contentious, scary and complex world of money.
None of us will be rich doing this. That’s not why we do it.
That’s where we are. Battling the dragons of old. Trying to simplify it. Streamline it. Keep it honest.
That’s what we do. We try to make it fairer, easier, a little more accessible.
The days are not glamorous but the years add up to something that is bigger than the sum of its parts even if there are more reversal than triumphs, more false starts than magic wands.
We work. We strive. We occasionally succeed. Progress is made.
Slowly. Painfully. Relentlessly.
We should be telling the story. With all its dragons.
It’s scary enough as it is.
In fact, it may not be more dragons that it needs, but its unsung heroes. It needs more of them.
I am the booty
Black, white sans serif script, print of skull wearing a pirate hat and gratuitous crossbones, bought in a bookstore in New Orleans because it spoke the truth.
Money is unglamorous. And although none of us starve, this industry doesn’t pay what people think it does. None of us will be rich doing this. That’s not why we do it.
And sure, fintech is sexy. For now. And although some of us are “fintech famous”, that is neither a thing that lasts nor a thing that scales and it doesn’t mean much anyway other than: we really freaking care. Deeply and truly and intensely.
And that’s the story I want to tell.
A story of community.
Of dragon-slayers who will remain unsung.
Because the work we do is seriously unglamorous. The most gifted minstrel would be stumped if asked to sing the praises of why changing treasury services matters to my grandmother.
The days are not glamorous but the years add up to something that is bigger than the sum of its parts
But it does. Because money is connected in a large cycle of interdependence and helping the movement be seamless, transparent, cheap and dependable makes everything easier and fairer.
Just you watch.
And sure, nobody will ever make a movie about the CTO who swapped out their COBOL-based infrastructure for a lithe, event-based distributed architecture that allows them to service their communities faster and cheaper. You will never know who they are. But your pension will still get cheaper. Your mortgage more flexible. Your personal banking more intuitive. The bank’s ability (if not appetite) to underwrite student loans of SME bridging finance will get smarter because their available data sources and behavioural finance inputs exploded. In a good way.
Isn’t that a wonderful story?
Does it need any more dragons?
I think not.
Do you need more booty, higher treasure, than people sitting inside the world of money trying to make it fairer, more accessible, less opaque and predatory and uneven?
Loving the obscure and unglamorous cause they serve?
That is all.
And for that I don’t have a t-shirt. Yet.
But I have a lifetime of commitment, a tribe of fighters and enough time ahead of us to keep on keeping on.
The work we do won’t end.
This story is only just beginning.
And it should be told.
Because it affects us all. And if we do this right, it will be a damn good story.