ECI’s summer roundup: what are the team watching, reading and listening to!

Now that summer is drawing to a close (ARGH!) we have asked the ECI team to share the best of what they’ve been watching, reading and listening to over the summer months!

What have we been watching…?

Chloe James: Barbie

Amongst a sea of outrageously pink outfits, I went to go and see the Barbie movie. With all the hype, marketing budget and hysteria surrounding the film, I’ll admit that I was slightly sceptical but luckily, it didn’t disappoint! I thought it was a highly creative, funny and imaginative take on such a cultural phenomenon. The soundtrack, set and perhaps most importantly, the outfits, were very impressive, and the constant references to the impossibly perfect Barbies made it relatable. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling were amazing – witty and perfect looking, there is even Oscar buzz. All in all, it was an undeniably entertaining few hours, with some interesting themes and for the young people in the audience, likely a good and positive introduction to feminism.

Bake off the Professionals

Michael Butler: Bake Off: The Professionals

Whilst I wouldn’t see myself as much of a baker (though I have been known to make a mean Welsh Cake) this year I started watching my first ever Bake Off as I have a vested interest in this year’s show. One of the contestants, the head pastry chef at the Landmark Hotel, is a dad in our NCT Group, which means that is one birthday invite I definitely won’t be turning down! Mauro and team Landmark are currently sauntering through the competition with two star bakers in two weeks – and they’re a picture of calm, two bakers at the peak of their powers (and I’m not biased!) Not only is it a good and fun show to watch – if I try and intellectualise it is also teaches me some important lessons that in baking, it really is about strategy and execution. Your strategy must be to bake at the limits of your capability, but not beyond! And execution is key – winners stay calm under pressure and have clear responsibilities and ultimate trust in their team. In baking as in business!

Air movie

Lewis Bantin: Air

This story is all about how Nike, who were not a name at all in the 80s basketball world, managed to get Michael Jordan to promote the Air Jordan sneaker and made billions in the process; a tale of data, guts and turning the tables. There are several lessons I took from the film. Firstly, the key turning point, Sonny Vaccaro from Nike took the flight to go and meet the Jordan family around the kitchen table, while Addidas and Converse were chatting to the middlemen in New York. This shows that if you really want something, you have to get on a plane and meet the decisionmakers. Secondly, it was only through persistence, data and analysis that Vaccaro (Matt Damon) convinced the CEO of Nike Phil Knight (Ben Affleck), that they should create an entire shoe brand around one rookie, Michael Jordan. Knight and Vaccaro spent their entire budget on one player – that takes some guts! Finally, when the deal was nearly done, Jordan’s Mum turned the tables… Nike became the first brand to agree to a royalty share rather than a fixed fee for the shoe. All because they deeply believed in the product and its potential to transform their basketball business. In the first year, Air Jordan sold over $120m of shoes, smashing their forecast of $3m, and according to Forbes, earning Michael $1.3bn since 1984!

No Time to Die

Naomi Pham: No Time to Die

My friend and I were visiting Puglia this summer, and we decided to watch No Time to Die before heading to the town of Matera in Italy. Those of you who have watched the film will recognise it from the motorcycle scene and the high-speed chase, but the town is also incredibly beautiful in its own right! It’s a rocky town, with caves dug into the stone to create homes, shops and bars. The film was a good watch, even if I mainly enjoyed it so I could walk in Daniel Craig’s footsteps!

What have we been reading…?

Freezing Order

Sean Whelan: Freezing Order

So, this is technically two book recommendations as I am currently reading Freezing Order by Bill Browder, but if you haven’t already you should definitely start with his first book, Red Notice! During the summer of 1994, I spent a fascinating 3 months in Russia working for a small investment company. I learned a lot about how the assets of the state had been divided up post the collapse of the Soviet Union, and how this created a society and business community riddled with corruption and crime. Red Notice therefore intrigued me. Browder, an American financier, ran his own investment fund in Russia around the same time as I was there. Red Notice tells the story of how Bill became a whistleblower to the corruption he uncovered, and as a result he and his colleagues became enemies of the Russian oligarchs and the state. His young lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was murdered in a Moscow jail and Bill made it his life’s mission to bring the killers to justice. Freezing Order picks up the story as Bill follows the money from the proceeds of crime around the world to bring the perpetrators to justice, and in doing so exposes links to the very top of the Russian government. Both books provide a great insight into the murky world of Russian business and government and its reach far across the world. A very informative read given the current events in Ukraine!

Rebel ideas

Tsvetelina Delcheva: Rebel Ideas

Matthew Syed’s ‘Rebel Ideas’ is part of ECI history, often being quoted within the team after Matthew came to speak to us and the portfolio back in 2020. The book explores the concept of “cognitive diversity” and its importance in driving innovation, problem-solving and overall success. Each page is filled with real life examples from business, sports, tech and history, which illustrate the drawbacks of homogneous thinking on decision making and how diverse teams challenge each other’s assumptions and biases leading to more effective solutions. The importance of embracing diverse perspectives resonated with me. Through my work experience in Vienna and London I have had the opportunity to work with individuals with very different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, which has taught me to appreciate and embrace cultural differences and “rebel ideas”. It also encouraged me to re-evaluate my own behaviour, recognise my own biases, and continue to seek ways to create an environment that fosters open dialogue and collaboration, not only at work but in my day-to-day life.

What have we been listening to…?


Michelle Church: Vishal

I must admit that I worry about confessing to listening to true crime podcasts – I never know what it says about me – but I’ve really been enjoying a BBC Sounds podcast, Vishal. It’s an investigation into a child who goes missing in the crowd watching Charles and Diana’s wedding, and a call into a reporter 40 years later that opens the case back up. True crime is never an easy listen but the quality of the investigative journalism and the uncovering of the truth after such a long time is incredibly compelling.

Fiona Moore podcast

Fiona Moore: A Very British Cult

I am enjoying this BBC Sounds podcast about how a life coaching organisation, Lighthouse, has a track record of tearing apart the very lives of its members that have signed up for its help. It is very easy to imagine you would never fall victim to something which is, for lack of a better word, a cult. But the podcast does a good job of highlighting the patient and subtle ways that the leaders use to increasingly prey on its members, sucking them further in and isolating them from their friends and family. And the fact this is all happening in the Midlands, not in some mystical Californian desert, really brings that point home. An interesting lesson about the power of control and coercion and the signs you should watch for!

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