Ellis Watson on the search for his Mum, success from crisis and how to spot a bad billionaire
January 28, 2022. Series 5. Episode 39
For our first outdoor episode media business leader and one of a kind motivational speaker Ellis Watson joins me for a walk in the Scottish Highlands.
Ellis has worked at the sharp end of corporate crisis – heading a national newspaper business, turning around The Greyhound bus operation in the US and as Global CEO of Simon Cowell’s Syco Corporation, before taking charge of UK media group DC Thomson.
But behind his professional success is a personal story of resilience and hope. Ellis was given up for adoption as a baby and his teenage search for his birth parents ended with a truly astonishing revelation.
This is a story told with humour and passion but without a scintilla of self-pity. He speaks with incredible candour about the extreme ups and downs of a career spent in the company of billionaires, one of whom was Rupert Murdoch – the boss he walked out on in a scene worthy of Succession. Ellis also reflects on the mountain top drama that almost cost him his life.
Known as one of the most inspiring and entertaining keynote speakers in the country, Ellis is one of the few people to have been invited back to deliver a second TEDx talk. In this conversation he provides brilliant insights for anyone interested in how crisis can fuel and drive growth and deliver life-changing perspective.
Ellis’ Crisis Cures:
1. Exercise – I hate the thought of doing it but afterwards it gives a sense of calm and perspective. In crisis it makes you feel like you’ve achieved something, no matter how modest. It makes you feel like you can take control and overcome adversity and difficulty.
2. Sleep – Crisis causes you to have interrupted or poor sleep and of course when you have poor sleep you’re much, much worse at handling crisis. As vicious circles go, it’s about as destructive a thing as you can get.
3. Dogs – I get excellent counsel and feedback from a chat with my dogs. Mine think I’m pretty clever and agree with me – especially just before they’re about to get fed.
Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm
Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
Host – Andy Coulson
Producer – Louise Difford
00:00:00.00 Intro music
00:00:18.17 Andy Coulson:
I’m Andy Coulson, a former newspaper editor, Downing Street Director of Communications and one time inmate of HMP Belmarsh. Over the last six years I’ve put all of my experience, the good and the bad, to use as a strategic advisor to business leaders and I can tell you that the bad has been just as useful as the good. And that got me thinking that there are plenty of great podcasts out there where you can hear stories of success, but there are far fewer where you can benefit from the experiences of those whose lives have unravelled.
00:00:44.08 Andy Coulson:
So on this podcast you’ll hear from the embattled and stoic, the shamed, courageous, ruined, damaged, unlucky and lucky survivors of crisis. All talking in the hope that they might serve as a useful guide to anyone facing down their own demons and challenges.
00:00:59.05 Andy Coulson:
Crisis What Crisis? is generously supported by Myndstream, a brilliant company who harness the power of music for personal wellbeing and improving human performance. Just search for Myndstream, that’s mind with a Y, on Spotify and you’ll find some great and useful playlists.
00:01:17.05 Andy Coulson:
In a radical move for this episode Crisis What Crisis? stepped away from the screen and into the great outdoors. I took a stroll in the Scottish Highlands with media business leader and one of a kind motivational speaker, Ellis Watson. Ellis has worked at the sharp end of corporate crisis heading a national newspaper business, turning around the Greyhound Bus operation in the US and as global CEO of Simon Cowell’s Syco Corporation before taking charge of the UK media group DC Thompson.
00:01:47.10 Andy Coulson:
But behind his success is a remarkable story of resilience and hope. Given up for adoption as a baby, Ellis’ teenage search for his birth parents ended with a truly astonishing revelation. This is a story told with humour and passion but without a scintilla of self-pity. And it’s also talked with incredible candour, I think, about the extreme ups and downs of a career in the close company of billionaires, including Rupert Murdoch, the boss he walked on a scene truly worthy of Succession.
00:02:17.24 Andy Coulson:
Known as one of the most inspiring and entertaining keynote speakers in the country, Ellis is also one of the few people to be invited to deliver a second Ted Talk. In this podcast though, he provides brilliant insights for anyone interested in how crisis can fuel and drive growth and deliver life-changing perspective. I should declare an interest and explain that Ellis has been a great friend of mine for three decades. We’ve counselled each other through some of the dramas in our lives, though it’s fair to say I’ve been the major beneficiary.
00:02:48.04 Andy Coulson:
So a crisis conversation between pals and with apologies by the way, for some of the language. But one I hope you’ll agree that gives a useful take on how to approach those personal and professional challenges that life can throw at us. There are some tips on what and indeed who to avoid along the way. I hope you enjoy it.
00:03:08.17 Andy Coulson:
Ellis Watson, welcome to Crisis Walk Crisis? Our very first outdoor episode.
00:03:13.08 Ellis Watson:
Thank you and your very first gag!
00:03:15.20 Andy Coulson:
And what a place to do it. We’re walking in the hills overlooking Loch Tay and it’s a cold, but absolutely beautiful, January day. Ellis you’ve lived here for over twenty years. You grew up though, in Sussex with your adopted parents. Tell us, if you don’t mind, how you came to be here and what you discovered about yourself after you’d arrived.
00:03:42.16 Ellis Watson:
Ah, so I came up here twenty-two, twenty-three years ago. A relationship introduced me to Scotland, fell in love with them and the place and settled here. And then having found out that a bit more about my parentage, having just moved up here, I found out that I was as Scottish as anyone who lived here, bizarrely.
00:04:05.24 Andy Coulson:
How did that come about? Because I think before you came to Scotland, you as a considerably younger man, you went in search of your birth parents.
00:04:18.21 Ellis Watson:
Yeah, so I searched for my mum at sixteen. So I was sixteen, I didn’t know any of the circumstance but I did have her name and date of birth. So slightly pre-internet and with a girlfriend at the time who had a healthy curiosity to find my lineage and a Toyota Corolla, both of which were pretty useful, we literally were knocking on doors, using the family records office and we’d found out this woman called Kate, a lot about her past. And we basically over a five month period, condensed her life and got to know that she’d got married and had two kids and she moved to, I think, somewhere in Surrey, Andy.
00:04:55.05 Ellis Watson:
And we knocked on the door, neighbour came round, ‘Who are you looking for?’ ‘We’re looking for Kate.’ ‘Oh why?’ We had a cover story. And she’d died. We found out she’d died in a car accident just a couple of months beforehand. So that’s when I thought ‘Oh well, my mum’s dead.’ Didn’t think anything more of it. Came to Scotland, through totally different reasons, as I say a few decades later. I might be thirty-five years old, traced my natural dad, this time a lot more effortlessly through Jane, our friend Jane Moore. She found my natural dad. Does he want to meet up? ‘Yeah, I’d love that.’ Met my natural dad and that first night we met, just after I’d moved to Scotland, twenty-two, twenty-three years ago, we were into this amazing night where I’m meeting my first blood relative for the first time in my life, ‘Oh did you know the woman that you had me with has died?’ And he said, ‘Oh no, when was that?’ And I said, ‘Well a long time ago now, would have been like twenty years ago.’
00:05:44.18 Ellis Watson:
And he started to ask the circumstances of me asking. And I said, ‘Yeah I had a name and date of birth and found her.’ And he started to giggle. And he explained to me that when I was eighteen and I think twenty-one, and I think thirty, only a few years beforehand, he’d actually reached out to this woman called Kate, found out that she was alive and well each time to see if I’d got in contact, because he always wanted to trace me. And it transpired that I had the right name and the right date of birth but traced the wrong person. So I then find out that having spent the interim fifteen or sixteen thinking my natural mum had died, not only was she alive and well but she was also, by complete happenstance, because I’d just moved to Scotland, living sixteen miles from where I’d moved to in Edinburgh.
00:06:28.19 Andy Coulson:
00:06:30.00 Ellis Watson:
She’s very much amazing and obviously still quite young because she is only whatever she is, sixteen, seventeen older than me, and she’s an awesome person. So yeah, I’d moved to Scotland having moved up five hundred miles from Sussex to find out, not only I was very, very Scottish, but my natural mum was living only a few miles from me. I didn’t marry my sister or anything like that, that’s as exciting as the anecdote goes.
00:06:51.07 Andy Coulson:
Thanks for that clarification. In that astonishing story there are several moments of actual, and I suppose potential, crisis. The adoption itself not that you, I’m sure, having been adopted as a baby, were aware of it. But the upbringing was not straightforward from that point on was it? I mean, your adopted parents separated and life got a little bit more complicated as a young lad. The search for your real parents. Discovering that your birth mother, you believe to be dead. I mean, you summarised it for me very quickly there, but that alone must have been a pretty significant moment of crisis, or not?
00:07:41.11 Ellis Watson:
I don’t think I would say it was a crisis because as the time I think children are incredibly resilient and they normalise things. Secondly I think that I was adopted into a perfectly lovely family who fed me, watered me, cuddled me, cared for me and gave me a good chance in life which I pretty much squandered. I think you are right, the parents splitting up at eight I probably allowed myself to go, oh this is what normal is, this is all sub-conscious not a conscious. And then they split up and even that was slightly weird because they kind of swapped partners.
00:08:17.05 Andy Coulson:
00:08:18.18 Ellis Watson:
Yeah. And then when I was sixteen I went to find my way in the world. But I think I did normalise it. So perhaps it was a good training for later crises or later stress, because when you roll with those punches and, not that it’s particularly adverse circumstance, then maybe it’s a good training to then roll with the unknown as it happens to you going forwards, so it becomes a positive thing.
00:08:41.21 Andy Coulson:
But that moment then later when you are told that your birth mother is no longer alive, do you remember how you felt in that moment? How you dealt with that?
00:08:54.04 Ellis Watson:
It was kind of, I didn’t feel like I’d lost someone because I didn’t know the individual. I felt sad for their own circumstance because they’d died and they’d left some kids. And for a quite a while I thought well that’s weird because I’ve got half kid sister and brother, I think it would have been, and I’ll not meet them. I didn’t feel sad, it was the way I’d describe it is you’re watching a really good movie and, oh, someone’s turned it off or the rental period’s expired. You know you’re like watching a storyline where you’re about to feature into it, your script’s about to come and then the movie stops.
00:09:24.05 Andy Coulson:
So you were interested and it was obviously significant to you, but you didn’t feel a huge emotional investment in it?
00:09:32.23 Ellis Watson:
No because by then, of course, I had the dad that adopted me, the mum that adopted me. I had a new mum that my dad married, the new dad that my mum married, none of which were related to me by blood but between… from a small kid to eight I had two parents. From eight to sixteen I had four parents. The knowledge that a potential fifth had passed, that I hadn’t even met, didn’t frankly make me feel sad. Which might make me sound mercenary in hindsight but I was only sixteen years old and you’re so self-interested. I was probably like oh look there’s a new Madness album, I’ll go and listen to that.
00:10:07.01 Andy Coulson:
Nicky Campbell, we had on the podcast…
00:10:09.03 Ellis Watson:
Oh that’s an amazing story.
00:10:10.23 Andy Coulson:
Who is, you’ll know, is so eloquent and powerful on the subject of adoption. And you know the story of his search for his birth mother which was similar and very different to yours. But he described growing up in a very loving home but that there was an absolute kind of gap in him, in his life that he couldn’t put his finger, he couldn’t identify until much, much later in his life. I mean, does that resonate for you in any way at all?
00:10:47.00 Ellis Watson:
No, and I didn’t I recognise so much of his story in mine and I think he had it a lot harder than I did. I didn’t really have it hard at all. Because I didn’t know any different I hesitate, without disagreeing with him, his circumstances are different, I don’t understand how, if what you see is all you know, and I always knew I was adopted and so that wasn’t an issue, how you can say that there was a gap. Because you knew no different.
00:11:13.01 Ellis Watson:
I had two natural kids in the family that I was adopted into and they had room in their hearts and their homes for one more, and the lucky sausages in the lottery of life got me. And I knew what having a brother was like and having a sister was like. And I knew what behaving and misbehaving was like and going to school was like. And I don’t see why I could have known I was… I always knew I was adopted but not made to feel more or less special. In hindsight, I actually now know the difference between a sibling relationship with blood and a sibling relationship without blood. It’s not better with blood but it is very, very different.
00:11:48.18 Andy Coulson:
00:11:49.00 Ellis Watson:
So I think in hindsight I can say, hey I didn’t have maybe what that natural brother and sister had between each other, that I didn’t have what I now have with my blood siblings. But did I feel like there was a hole? No, not at all. I had a perfectly happy, albeit entirely wasted, childhood.
00:12:06.07 Andy Coulson:
Tell me about that day when you met your mum for the first time.
00:12:09.12 Ellis Watson:
Oh it was beautiful and bonkers. So we met, we pre-agreed to meet on a beach. We hadn’t spoken on the phone. I can’t remember if the amazing Jane had, was the intermediate I can’t remember. But anyway, we agreed to meet on a beach. She was there with her husband of some thirty years, an incredible man called Brian, who’s passed away. But he was a soldier and an amazing daddy and husband and they were so much in love. And he was very protective of my mum. She’d told him, when they first met, that she’d recently given away a child. So he was the only person, I think, that knew in her life. And she’d harboured this massive, massive guilt…
00:12:53.06 Andy Coulson:
But Ellis, to be clear, her other children did not know?
00:12:55.22 Ellis Watson:
No, absolutely not, no. she then had two boys, Jamie and Pete with the amazing Brian. Anyway, so I always knew I was alive and well and fine and adopted and had been adopted into a lovely family that had helped bring me up. She didn’t know that. She didn’t know if I’d been adopted to Jimmy Saville or what the hell was created, you know. So she was so nervous, she knew a few basic details. I had had an accident, I don’t remember what it was, but my leg was in a full plaster cast and on crutches and for whatever reason I failed to pass this on.
00:13:28.03 Ellis Watson:
So we agreed to meet on a beach, she was already there with Brian and I get out and meet her on crutches. Completely forgetting of course, I’m probably conveying the wrong impression. Like, my mission son of thirty years has come to see me, oh it’s because he’s dying, oh, he’s only got months to live or something like that. So we hug, I drop the crutch, I think, you know, I’m not thinking about this. And it’s like the plaster cast elephant in the room, you go, oh that? Oh no, I fell off a motorbike or done whatever stupid thing I’d done in the previous weeks or months. So yeah, it was a bit strange. But it was incredible she was…
00:14:02.23 Andy Coulson:
Was there an immediate connection?
00:14:05.02 Ellis Watson:
Oh yeah. I mean, we look very similar. And Piper, my beautiful daughter, looks so much like my mum, it’s just bonkers stupid. They are the absolute spit of each other. My mum and I look a bit alike. She found it really hard. Because when you think about it, not only has she got this profound moment where she met the son that she’d worried about, I suspect every day or in some cases every hour of her life, with doubt and worry and guilt, this utterly needless guilt, although I understand why. She did the bravest thing ever, as far as I’m concerned, she gave me a gift.
00:14:39.09 Ellis Watson:
But also I think she, without question, was extremely thrown back by the fact that I look a lot like my dad. So this man that she, I know she loved and they had a relationship with and they accidentally had a child, his face was suddenly put in her face but of a different generation. So I think she found that a bit off-putting and she used to stare at me so much. She also used to call me by the given name that she gave me when I was born because Ellis was a moniker given to me, I don’t know when, in the foster home or… I think Len and Jean gave it to me the lovely parents that adopted me, so yeah, it was an incredible day, Andy. It was lovely and she’s and angel.
00:15:18.19 Andy Coulson:
What is your given name?
00:15:20.09 Ellis Watson:
I think it was Adam, I can’t remember, because she obviously calls me Ellis now and has done for donkey’s years. But I think it was Adam.
00:15:27.06 Andy Coulson:
Right, and how long were you in foster care for before you were adopted?
00:15:34.02 Ellis Watson:
I don’t know, I don’t think very long at all. Like months, I suspect. And I’m not particularly curious about it. It doesn’t, you know, I can’t change anything about it. I remember when I first traced, when Jane first traced my dad I remember that there was, however I got down south I don’t know, but I think I was put in a reed basket by Moses and put down the river! But I did end up in like a professional foster home down in Portsmouth or something.
00:16:06.21 Ellis Watson:
And the only thing I’d really remember is I reached out to them when I was like thirty, when I first me dad, just to say ‘oh by the way, thanks for doing what you did’. And this perfectly non-plussed, very woman went, ‘Oh you’re welcome. You know a lot of people turn up and say that.’ I was thinking this profound appreciation. ‘Oh’ she said, ‘…you’re welcome we had dozens of you, it’s what we did’. It was fine. She was lovely but not quite as profound for them as it was for me.
00:16:29.14 Andy Coulson:
So the obvious question I suppose that will come into most people’s minds, when they meet their birth mother for the first time, would be a version of so what happened? Why did you give me up?
00:16:45.10 Ellis Watson:
Not at all. I wanted my mum to know that I was fine.
00:16:50.13 Andy Coulson:
I don’t necessarily mean in a judgemental way, but in a factual way, what happened?
00:16:55.14 Ellis Watson:
Honestly, I don’t even know much about what happened. And it’s not like I don’t want to know, I do know I think, or I did know and I’ve maybe forgotten about it. I wasn’t a one night stand, they were going out, I think they were in love. And they either did or didn’t try to keep… I think they did try to keep. But look, let’s be really clear, for a woman to gestate their own child and to have that utterly unique bonding experience and to go through the pain and the ecstasy of giving birth and to give that child away, you can’t imagine the psychological damage that’s done.
00:17:37.05 Ellis Watson:
If it happened today it would be awful. To happen fifty-four years ago with all the judgement, lack of counselling and clumsiness that I know went on at the time, is horrific. What she did is increase the chance of me having a successful adult outcome. Because she was unable to give me the sort of love and care and still have a life for herself, because she had to make the ultimate sacrifice. But she went through all of the trauma of that. I had none of it, I was given to nice parents who gave me a great upbringing. She went through crap. But the crap was of her own imagination, he own demons, her own guilt, her own insecurity and her own doubt as to whether I was alive. And for every person that she looked in the street, does that look a little bit… I mean, can you imagine it? It’s just awful.
00:18:29.23 Ellis Watson:
So all I wanted to do was go, oh thanks so much. I’m so sorry that you went through that crap and that judgement and all that horrible stuff but honestly, I owe you the biggest debt of gratitude to have given me away. Because, I’m not saying I would have had a crap life, I’m sure she would have been fine because she’s a pretty awesome woman with lots and lots of resources and you know staying power. But wow, what a sacrifice, Andy.
00:19:00.03 Andy Coulson:
Let’s talk about the journey to work then, quickly. Because you began work early.
00:19:09.00 Ellis Watson:
Seventeen, I think, sixteen.
00:19:10.16 Andy Coulson:
At seventeen because education was not for you. Just talk me through those years and then let’s pick it up when we meet which was thirty years ago in Wapping. But those years between late teens and when we met.
00:19:27.11 Ellis Watson:
Well I had quite a studious brother and sister. My brother was a really successful sportsman, academic, went into Lloyds of London like my dad did and he’s been in the same employer for the last forty years, very successfully. My sister, equally studious. And I had the same opportunities as them. So there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have turned out the same and immodestly I didn’t fail a single exam, which I can be quite boastful of, until as you know, I didn’t also take one either which is a pretty good way of getting a good track record. But I did hee-haw at school, I had a terrible work ethic and an absence of one. I wasn’t like naughty or disruptive particularly, I just enjoyed school for the wrong reasons.
00:20:05.09 Ellis Watson:
And I went to work at sixteen just because I wanted to literally buy a motorbike and meet girls and that sort of stuff. And I bloomin’ loved work. So that journey, from there to meeting you, was nothing more than going in every day and I started off doing like the most ultimate boring menial thing. You know working in office filing and that sort of stuff but it was a hoot. You know you go into work on a Monday, people were nice to you, they wanted to make you better. You got to learn things off different people. I love the idea of being teams and being around talent and on Friday they said, ‘Here’s some money, it’s called wages’, you come back on a Monday. What’s not to like about work?
00:20:42.08 Ellis Watson:
So then I just did, I found my way into marketing and ad agencies and then I was introduced to The Sun advertising account for the agency I was working for at a preposterously early age, I think I was probably twenty years old. And by then this agency had won The Sun account and they were chewing up account managers pretty quickly because the editor at the time, Kelvin MacKenzie was a tyrannical, bombastic kind of client and he was chewing and spitting out account managers. And I moved in as the next one in the barrel and he went, ‘Oh you’re alright’ and in the Victor Kiam razor method he went, ‘Well I’ll keep this account manager as my marketing manager’.
00:21:25.19 Andy Coulson:
So twenty, twenty-one year old Ellis, what is it about you at that age, then? Describe the what is Ellis Watson’s skill at that age? Is it the gift of the gab? Is it already, a kind of sure touch on what is popular and what an audience like The Sun readership is attracted to and wants in their life? What is it, what’s the thing that you’ve got then, that Kelvin recognised?
00:21:57.05 Ellis Watson:
I think you’re right about the gift of the gab and I think it was a massive passion and enthusiasm to discover things and contribute. I know what sits behind that was a deep led insecurity and the wanting to feel part of a tribe. And any psychologist would and one particular skilled one has, looked at me and said, ‘well it’s obvious why you’re positive and you’re chatty and you’re nice to people, it’s because you want to be liked’. And you can on one had go well everyone wants to be liked but I really wanted to be liked.
00:22:26.09 Ellis Watson:
So I think the twenty-one year old Ellis was fairly empathetic, I suspect, because my radar of knowing what people wanted, I knew, was developed for emotional survival reasons, if that doesn’t sound too deep and knobby. And Kelvin would have recognised someone that wanted to work hard. But also, and I’m not embarrassed to say this in front of you although others might find it weird to believe, we were like Ackroyd and Belushi from the Blues Brothers in those days. Anyone that worked, on The Sun especially, but in Fleet Street, they were on a mission from god, you know, we were like absolutely desperate to save the orphanage and we went in there believing that we could all make a difference and needed to make a difference. So I suspect that Kelvin just recognised another one to add their shoulder to the wheel, which was to make the majority of sixty million people in the UK want to read The Sun and know what was going in it every morning.
00:23:19.09 Andy Coulson:
Yeah. So that’s a very good description of Wapping and The Sun at that stage. It was a mad environment in lots of ways. It was also a deeply professional environment. Real incredible work ethic. You couldn’t survive without it there. It’s also like a kind of rollercoaster of crisis as well though, wasn’t it? I mean, do you some of the promotions that you… you ended up running all the marketing for both The Sun and The News of the World. And some really kind of seismic promotions that given those papers’ influence at the time, had a real effect and were properly kind of central to the media world and way beyond. Some of which you created, they came out of your head. But massive sense of responsibility attached to them. And if they went wrong, as I know they did on occasion, proper, proper crisis.
00:24:18.04 Ellis Watson:
Don’t know what you’re talking about. Yeah.
00:24:20.15 Andy Coulson:
A proper professional crisis. Could have ended a lot quicker than… your career could have ended quite quickly off the back of one of those failures.
00:24:29.12 Ellis Watson:
Oh, I had some career car crashes that were near fatal. Some of which I nearly didn’t come back from, you’re absolutely right. The whole culture at the time there was barely organised chaos, where we all sort of desperately believed in wanting to be better than the opposition. The competitive spirit of it was extraordinary and you can sit here thirty years later and go it was unhealthy but at the time we didn’t see it as unhealthy, we just saw it as wanting to be the best we could and wanting to absolutely obliterate the opposition just by being better and faster and braver.
00:25:05.11 Ellis Watson:
And I think probably today’s generation could look back at it hubristically and say, well you were arrogant or you thought you were elitist. And whilst we did think we were pretty important, it wasn’t because we thought ourselves were, we thought what we did was important and what we did had value and merit to expose wrongdoings and corruption and everything that we wanted to do in Fleet Street.
00:25:27.22 Ellis Watson:
I know that one that you’re hinting at was the Ryan Air one, which you were pretty close to. And in summary, I went to go and see Michael O’Leary, the now quite famous, charismatic and equally brave and equally pioneering and equally risk-taking businessmen, these are the sort of role models I have in life, he was awesome. And he wanted to make his airline as big in Europe as I wanted to make my newspaper in the UK. So we came up with, at the time, a very pioneering thing which was to fly anywhere in the UK for £10 return.
00:25:59.22 Ellis Watson:
And let’s be clear, The Sun at the time, was read by ten million people every single day. And the sales went through the roof. It was the single highest selling newspaper promotion of all time since, and before. And as we were going two thirds of the way through the sale period I quickly worked out that we had something like a tenth of the flights that we ultimately needed, totally undercooking it. And whilst we probably did, well we did have terms and conditions to absolve ourselves, you’re still actually risking a tad of disappointment for a lot of people which we took pretty seriously at the time.
00:26:33.21 Ellis Watson:
And I remember doing the maths on it and having a CFO pointing out, quite how bleak it was going to be, and I was telling the chief exec of news at the time of my mistake and starting to hint at the fact that I may well have broken Rupert’s biggest newspapers. And I had a resignation letter in my pocket. I was called in by some of your colleagues, into The Sun’s newsroom, and I didn’t want to walk through there and I didn’t want to look people in the eye that I thought might be made redundant and couldn’t pay their mortgages, because I had this terrible burning secret that I had…
00:27:04.03 Andy Coulson:
Literally broken the paper.
00:27:06.17 Ellis Watson:
Yeah, I’d broken the newspapers. Something that they believed in as much as I did. And there were three hundred journalists, you remember this, with glasses of champagne, there was that massive cake made for me and I was the toast of the newsrooms, not five minutes before I was then going to go through the next door to go ‘I’m really sorry but I think I’ve broken the newspaper’. And that is stressful, that is a crisis.
00:27:29.17 Andy Coulson:
So your marketing role morphs into something considerably more significant really. Because without wanting to blow smoke, the truth is Ellis, and I can say this with a straight face because I was there, you were a visionary in the business. You spotted what was happening with the internet, in its first burst of activity, that came as a result of its invention long before anyone else did. You moved from that job into, effectively, a sort of leadership role, reporting to Rupert, devising and executing the strategy for a digital future. You saw stuff that people just, certainly in the newspaper world, just weren’t seeing at that stage and you did an amazing job. But for quite a short period of time.
00:28:16.19 Ellis Watson:
00:28:17.15 Andy Coulson:
Because that is a, in a professional context, that’s quite an intensive period of time for you that ends in crisis in a way. Just tell us the story.
00:28:33.14 Ellis Watson:
Well you’re right in that we were aware that the newspapers were, I remember coining a phrase, that we were about to become old media, which seemed very yobbish at the time ,but it certainly got Rupert and Les and other people’s attention. And I was called in to make a presentation to Rupert on the 28th December one year and I remember because it was my birthday, and I’d made it to Les and a few other bosses two weeks before and they were really quite taken with it. And we were fully empowered to give things a go. And the good thing about Fleet Street generally, but certainly all of Rupert’s businesses, is he really did allow people to try things. And as long as you failed well when you did fail that was okay and I didn’t sense at the time a blame culture, you just needed to be responsible but try and be brave.
00:29:19.11 Ellis Watson:
So we did launch some pretty cool businesses and we did grow them really quickly. Bun.com wasn’t designed initially to be a content business, it was an ISP, because our threat was actually intermediaries like Dixons and others found a clever way of bypassing media owners and talking directly to their users by giving them a means of getting on the internet, which everybody wanted. So I thought we ought to have some of this. And it was a big thing, you know. I recruited big brands like Comet and Asda who were also frightened of their competitors piling in, like Dixons and Tesco.
00:29:50.11 Ellis Watson:
So we performed this stuff and we quickly created what the Lex column was describing as the next hundred million pound business in, you’re right, less than a year. It was nuts. But we believed in what we did, we were inordinately successful because we weren’t bleeding the edge but we had sort of fully first mover advantage but let’s face it, we also had the power of Rupert’s money, management that backed us, massive, massive audiences that rightfully believed and trusted the power of our brands and surrounded, you and I were surrounded, by disgustingly talented people that loved exciting journeys like this. I mean, I had queues of people wanting to join and be part of this sort of band of enthusiastic bodgers.
00:30:37.14 Andy Coulson:
00:30:38.01 Ellis Watson:
So yeah, it was a short period of time, created massive success, it gave me a profile in the company that I didn’t seek, but I definitely got, that was having me flown out to see James and Lachlan and talk about you know, I remember meeting with people like Jerry Yang from Yahoo. And there was a few weekends where, Rupert had got married to Wendy, and he’d moved, it’s worryingly close to Succession, if anyone’s watching it. But he’d rented like a Tuscan castle and based himself out there for like an extended honeymoon.
00:31:14.07 Ellis Watson:
And I was flown out quite a few weekends, and I was walking the Tuscan hillside with people like Michael Milken and Dell and others and proper grown up authentic people. And I think I was like a nineteen stone, thirty or twenty-nine year old bodger. Just not making stuff up that I didn’t believe, but just saying what I saw and thinking it was what was going to happen. And a lot of it was right, a lot of it was spectacularly wrong. I mean, you are in the company of someone that made Rupert realise that his about to be done, or walked away from, deal with buying Myspace, greatest deal ever with all the vision of Stevie Wonder. You plough into that, Rupert, great. I cocked up massively on the way but we also got some things right and that got me very much, yeah, at the grownup table and I was forever grateful for the opportunity and forever regretful that I totally wasted that opportunity, I mean, I was a dick.
00:32:14.04 Andy Coulson:
You blew it up and you blew it up because Rupert had decided that this business that you were building, that he needed to have his son-in-law, a very nice man who we both know, in the business. And you didn’t like that idea?
00:32:30.14 Ellis Watson:
I didn’t, I think my…
00:32:32.04 Andy Coulson:
And you were told that whilst sitting in, with Rupert, in his swimming pool?
00:32:38.07 Ellis Watson:
Yeah, it was in Tuscany and I was asked to have a chat with him in the morning, I had a cracking hangover. I remember having, or being told that I needed to have a swim and I remember it quite well because I was in my actual pants, because I didn’t have a swimming costume. I was massively sunburned. And this elegant, clever, I mean clever, gifted, genius man, who’d supported me, paid my mortgage sort of over-promoted me, encouraged me, accepted my failings, did try to sell into me that this thing I was creating was going very well but perhaps it could do with a bit more help and a bit more stewardship. And yeah, his son-in-law was going to be the chief exec or whatever it was going be called and I was therefore going to be the MD and it was still going to be marvellous.
00:33:18.09 Ellis Watson:
And I lost it. I called him words that shouldn’t be said on a podcast or said to any other human being, especially a pretty decent one. I was accusing him of flagrant nepotism. I mean, bear in mind in hindsight, I was really ill, alright. I was actually ill because I’d had a diagnosis that was worrying me. I had met my natural dad only two weeks beforehand. My relationship was, long term relationship was, probably because I had dedicated too much time from work, in the crapper. So I probably wasn’t the most stable of individuals but that was a breaking point and I bawled at him, I mean really aggressively bawled at him.
00:33:58.04 Ellis Watson:
And then with as much dignity as you can when you’re sunburned and in your pants and in a Tuscan castle, got out the pool and marched off, walking down the hillside to all the world developing Tourette’s for the first time, with security people sort of being gently encouraged to look after me as I was, I remember, walking like this across the stones trying to have dignity with bare feet on. It was a terrible mess. And I was flown home and Les tried to talk me down. I was offered different Jobs in New York but I just said no, shove it. And I walked away from everything, you know, share options…
00:34:31.24 Andy Coulson:
And you did it, can you remember the sort of logic, as it was, that was in your mind at that moment?
00:34:38.15 Ellis Watson:
In the logic of my mind at that moment, I genuinely believed that I felt wronged. And I felt actually that you’re putting barriers in my way from creating the very thing you want me to create. I honestly believed that at the time. Actually in hindsight, I didn’t at all… I probably did believe that but in hindsight I probably used it as an escape hatch because the stakes were so high, Andy. I remember Les, when we were first in Lex, right, which as you know is The Financial Times definitive comment piece on anything, I didn’t know what Lex was. And Les was pointing out my story and our journey, and that’s how stupid it was. I was preposterously over promoted in hindsight but at the time, I think therefore subconsciously I probably used it as an escape hatch.
00:35:29.02 Andy Coulson:
You were inside the newspaper bubble for many, many years, Ellis, with a primary responsibility that was of course, commercial but you know that had a very good view of the editorial as well. Quite an important, privileged position, right, for many, many, many years. How do you now, look back, reflect back on the unwinding of the newspaper industry?
00:35:54.14 Ellis Watson:
The business model should have embraced the opportunities of the digital revolution, rather than being daunted by the threats of it in the early part of the millennium. That’s when we went wrong, when we were all flown out to Idaho with Rupert and talked about ‘we will still be preeminent in a digital age and we understand what the reader wants’. No we don’t we were too arrogant and we were too comfortable to know that our parents were still going to get out of bed and spend 50p in a newsagents and keep brands like…
00:36:26.22 Ellis Watson:
I mean, news used to earn a billion pounds, generate double digit net margins year after year and it was a cashpoint machine. And I’m not being anti-Rupert or anti-news, it was the same for other companies that I worked in and ran like Mirror Group. We were preeminent and we had the opportunity to invest wisely, test wisely and boldly pioneer in the digital revolution. But in fact there were well meaning enthusiastic new world idiots in bedrooms going ‘well I wanna start a networking site’ or a ‘I wanna start a news site’ or ‘I think it’s about specialism with football’. And even someone called Zuckerberg could probably make it in business and look how the powerful fell apart. And I’m sure a lot of the world are going ‘yeah, good for them because the media moguls suck’ and they all watch Succession and think that there’s hubris going on. But actually, no, there was a missed opportunity.
00:37:19.19 Andy Coulson:
So Rupert of course, is just one of the extremely wealthy, extremely influential individuals that you’ve been very close to during your working life. What have you learned, being so close to the very wealthy and the very successful and the very influential, about crisis? How they handle it in some cases of course create it, how they manage it, what have you learned about crisis from those jobs that you’ve had?
00:37:56.03 Ellis Watson:
I think to be as successful as the people that you cite you’ve got to have a combination of things that stands them out from the crowd. But it’s not because they’re necessarily geniuses. I think I probably met two geniuses in my life. But those, the billionaires that you cite, the things that they have in common are to have more self-belief than others and they just sort of press the sod it button a bit more to go for it. They have rampant egos but they’re not prepared, they’re not against having those exposed to potential ridicule. So you need to have a pretty thick skin but also a desire to be appreciated which feels like a contradiction but at that highest, highest of ends, actually, you need to have both, it’s really, really weird but fascinating dynamic.
00:38:41.08 Ellis Watson:
And then of course you need to have a fair bit of luck because for every billionaire there’s a few thousand attempted billionaires. And the way that I think they handle crisis is quite unique to all of them. I would characterise most billionaire as some of the more unhappy people I know and some of the more unbalanced people I know. And either you need to be unbalanced to become a billionaire to have that much drive or in hindsight they’re slightly unbalanced in the first place and those unique spectrum dwelling traits are the things that make them very successful.
00:39:11.06 Ellis Watson:
But I think the way most of them handle crisis is in direct proportion to their ego. And it’s not in proportion to money, it’s not necessarily in proportion to the thing that’s got in crisis. It’s about how much they care about how people see them as opposed to how much they care about how they actually behave. And it’s down to their own sense of integrity whether they cause the crisis, which most of them do, or not. It’s about what they then do to learn from it.
00:39:41.03 Ellis Watson:
And I know this isn’t about you but you’re a great example of you know, you can use crisis as an opportunity to reset yourself and behave in a certain way that says, well I can’t change what’s happened but I can change how I deal with it. So that, I think, for me is the differentiator on those über rich and successful people. They handle crisis well if they act with that sense of humility and integrity. Or they really cock it up if they try to front it out and throw lawyers at it or throw PR people at it or use bullying tactics or bribes or I’ve got stuff on you.
00:40:15.17 Ellis Watson:
And we’ve been part of that, I’ve certainly be part of people that have messed up, been ridiculed in the press and handle it appallingly or some have gone, ‘yup, I arsed up and this has been a learning point for me’. I think it’s harder to do that today because with social media and wokeism and cancel culture unfortunately the truth is so ridiculously hidden in the smokescreen of self-interest and sort of faux offence that people have, it’s very hard to understand the truth of a story. And again, without being too philosophical, it’s another great tragedy of the loss of true independent journalism or the massive reduction of it. Because you don’t get to see the truth quite so readily anymore.
00:40:58.18 Andy Coulson:
How did you handle yourself around those kind of individuals though? In the context of the backstory that we’ve heard and your personality, what was your approach to your employers, if you like? Because you are, essentially, as you touched on earlier, a people pleaser.
00:41:19.03 Ellis Watson:
00:41:19.19 Andy Coulson:
Are you also someone who can tell the hard truths to those kind of people?
00:41:23.24 Ellis Watson:
Yeah, I think so and I suspect our friendship has demonstrated that in the way that you can be an incredibly challenging friend to me and tell me the inconvenient truth. I think I handle it best and the reason I was probably worked well with those people, apart from the obvious stuff is you’ve got to be quite good, you’ve got to work quite hard and you’ve got to be trustworthy and confidential and all the rest of it, is I was never impressed by the superficial and never jealous. Those people are surrounded, the very nature of what they do, is to impress with their brands, with their wealth, with their super-yachts, with their planes, with their share prices, with their net worth, with their glamorous wives or boyfriends or whatever it might be. The very nature of those trappings is impressive. If you fall for that, you totally miss the point of why you might be useful to them.
00:42:12.00 Andy Coulson:
So you’ve seen good leaders and you’ve been around bad leaders, what is the difference, Ellis?
00:42:21.18 Ellis Watson:
Empathy and directness. I think that directness has gone backwards in commercial cultures, in the last five years, because the fear of offence and of course in a post-Weinstein enlightened world, and frankly way before that, common sense should have explained what’s decent behaviour or what’s not decent behaviour. But in the eggshell walking of that, people have lost the ability to be direct and candid. And I think people are okay to have bad news if they probably think it’s going to be coming anyway well let’s get it out and talk about what needs fixing, talk about people’s fat bits and work out how to get them more toned.
00:43:00.17 Ellis Watson:
So I think an absolute efficient use of langue, directness, spade calling, come on, this is crap we need to better, is absolutely essential. But true empathy to make sure that somebody’s going to understand your motivation is to make things better, not to make someone feel derided or useless, quite the opposite, you’re just trying to improve performance. And empathy’s not something that everybody has, I don’t think. And I think the worst leaders that I’ve come across, and there have been some extraordinary successful but utterly bell-end of leaders that I have worked with, it is normally the empathy which is the differentiator because they have absolutely none. And that’s because some of the more successful entrepreneurs are true sociopaths anyway, it’s the only way to amass that amount of money that quickly, is to feel so driven you don’t care about the consequence or the cost to other people’s feelings to get to that place.
00:43:56.23 Andy Coulson:
Really? You believe that the overlap between success and sociopathic behaviour is real?
00:44:04.13 Ellis Watson:
In some cases, yeah, absolutely. There was one particular individual that I worked with. He was an absolute tyrannical, power obsessed, egotistical, self-deluded, bigoted, misogynistic, aggressive, land grabbing, absolute cock-womble of a human being who did not give a flying arse knob about who he ate, shat on or spat on along the way, despite first meeting you and making you feel great because he was charming and charismatic and was able to feign empathy. Those are the dangerous ones. Those are the people that let you know that they’re a nice person and it feels really warm under their spotlight but when they take it away, and turn it into a searchlight, and they just want to ruin you because you’re getting in the way of them turning four billion into five billion, well that is true sociopathic behaviour that has no place in a boardroom or even in society.
00:45:12.07 Ellis Watson:
And I think there aren’t so many of those left anymore but they still exist in a few dictatorships around the world and a few dictatorships in the boardroom but they are the Pol Pots of society and they have absolutely no place in it. It’s weird, you know, because I’ve effectively just retired. I’ve got a perspective now about how, where I failed well and where I failed quite badly, and in the long and short of it, although this might be interpreted as sheer arrogance and inappropriate self-belief, I’m not sure, even with the amount of hindsight that we’re describing now, I would have behaved that much differently in the end because it is a bit of a life lived. Let’s face it, my race fuel in my first forty years of life, was Ginsters and Marlboro Lights. And now I wanna go, ‘Right well I think I should be ready for a full Iron Man in a few months’ time’.
00:46:10.22 Andy Coulson:
We should explain to the listeners, as this is an audio medium, we’re not able to demonstrate it with photographs but you are a, at fifty-four years old, you’re a lithe and fit man, Ellis Watson. Not what you, have at certain stages of your life, necessarily been.
00:46:27.21 Ellis Watson:
I am a lesser man, Andy, I am a lesser man. Yeah, I got to nineteen stone, sported it, I think, quite flamboyantly with tweed and bow ties and you know, sort of hid behind a confidence and in most cases I actually had a confidence and said, ‘well so what, I’m fat, I’m not going to die’. And then I got to about forty-five and went, ‘oh no, I might actually die though, actually yeah, yeah’. And I, the great thing about being hugely fat for a lot of your life is you get to realise if you stop doing it quite how fantastic it is being normal. And I to people like you and others of course, I look dramatically different but to me it’s just nice not thinking about this stuff anymore because you can just run a marathon with the dogs up a mountain and not worry about it and get up the next day and do the same. Or you can just dive in a loch every morning and just feel healthy.
00:47:15.02 Andy Coulson:
I mean, the weight did get to a crisis point though. I mean you weren’t at that point, to be fair, when you and I decided with a friend of ours, Chris, to attempt to climb Mont Blanc. We didn’t make it because the weather was a shocker. So we moved across to another mountain that sounds more like a nightclub called Gran Paradiso, in Italy. And we were sort of two thirds of the way up…
00:47:40.08 Ellis Watson:
Further, 700 altimeters I think.
00:47:41.07 Andy Coulson:
Yeah, well we were on the final, we were on summit day and you collapsed. And were taken off that mountain on a helicopter. And you were coughing up into your lungs and had you stayed there for an hour longer you would have died. What happened?
00:48:02.24 Ellis Watson:
Well I was probably mentally not aware of what was happening to me to be frank. I was coughing up blood.
00:48:11.20 Andy Coulson:
I should say that we didn’t leave you alone.
00:48:13.18 Ellis Watson:
No, there was a guy thank goodness. A really quite impressive German who was very resourceful and saved my life along with some aviators. But yeah, look, I, from what I remember, was blacking out, I had a very strange blood composition that some people suffer from at altitude, that I or the guide hadn’t spotted. But more troublingly one of my lungs was filling with fluid because I had this embolism that was caused from the exertion at altitude and my body was failing me. So yeah, I know we giggle about it, but that was, I guess, the medical side of what had happened. And I was just very fortunate that it is almost transformative, as soon as one oxygenates and they drain the lungs of the fluid, it’s hey nonny no, you’re feeling a fair bit better again.
00:49:04.05 Andy Coulson:
Did it cause you to adjust your thinking?
00:49:07.14 Ellis Watson:
I’d like to say yes but it clearly hasn’t because since then I must have been hospitalised a dozen times. Again, you’re laughing at my misfortune, but the truth of it is no. And I don’t willingly hurl my body at walls and things but I have hurled my body at walls or fallen off bikes with you. And five miles from there, I, within your company, was cocking about and crashed into you and ended up with a ripped shoulder, broken collar bone, three broken fingers, a couple of dislocations.
00:49:38.24 Andy Coulson:
Okay, so the obvious question is what on earth is going on there?
00:49:43.06 Ellis Watson:
Just the sense of tigger-like exuberance at the time, is the honest truth of it. We saw that mountain, we couldn’t because we were in a snowstorm, but we were 700 altimeters from the top. Okay it was another three hours’ climb but I felt like I could do it. Okay, I thought I could ride that mountain bike that fast and I will enjoy the thrill of it. Okay, I thought I could run another twenty miles, when I’m out in the middle of the night, and yeah, I didn’t have enough energy bars on me so you fall asleep at the mountain and cuddle up with your dog. I don’t actively court danger knowing that I’m taking a calculated risk that will go to go wrong but I’ll go, oh I should be alright. Because it is, you know, don’t die on your knees, die on your feet, you know?
00:50:27.15 Andy Coulson:
What do you think the chance is that your end will come at a very old age in a comfortable bed, in the way that we all hope and wish that we might go.
00:50:41.15 Ellis Watson:
I would put it at small single digit, possibly a percentile within that single digit. Yeah, I think it’s fairly unlikely but I tell you what thought, I do know that when you break things now it takes a lot longer to heal. So I think I might be a little bit more respectful of not hurting my body. I’m not hurting my body now by what I put into it quite so much. You know, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I try to avoid the carcinogens that we are all actively sold all of the time. But I know that what I do with my body is probably actually becoming more risky because it’s able to do a few more things, I do think, oh I will do an ultra this summer and I am going to do the full Iron Man and I will try to still sail across and ocean in October. So I’m doing more with it and I think the chances of me dying in bed are fairly small. Unless it’s as a result of a cardio incident because I’ve been exercising in company in a way that makes me the sexual athlete that my deluded imagination thinks that I actually am.
00:51:47.05 Andy Coulson:
So what would the fifty-four year old Ellis Watson say to that twenty-one year old Ellis Watson as he arrives in Wapping for the first time? You’ve got five minutes with him. What would you say?
00:52:02.09 Ellis Watson:
Okay, what would I say to him? Well obviously the first thing is to say you’re about to meet Andy Coulson and Piers Morgan and Jane Moore and the likes of these amazing people, stay well away from them, that’ll save yourself a lot of craziness for the next sixty years.
00:52:14.13 Andy Coulson:
00:52:15.11 Ellis Watson:
I think I would probably say it’s an obvious one but it’s a bit of an epiphany to me later in life, youth is wasted on the young, you know, look after your body, it transpires that actually ramming Ginsters and Marlboro Lights into your body for thirty years of your life you’re going to pay it back in later life. I wish I’d learned that a bit earlier. I think I would probably would have said you’re gonna be blessed with extraordinary family, value them more with your time. That’s a lesson that you can’t undo. You know there’s no time like the present but there’s no present like the time. And that’s the thing that I probably did waste that you can’t change but I’d love to have done so.
00:52:53.22 Ellis Watson:
But I also think the other advice I’d give, although I’ve listened to it most, is just enjoy it. You know of course there’s crap bits of life, people die and you get ill and there’s misfortune and you get true crisis but you can’t change a lot of those things and you can’t control it. What you can change is how you feel about it. What you can control is how other people affect you.
00:53:18.11 Andy Coulson:
So what’s the Ellis Watson crisis formula? You go into one of these businesses that’s facing issues of one kind or another, how do you approach it? What’s the formula?
00:53:29.06 Ellis Watson:
Separate fact from fiction and get emotion out the room and get ego out the room. So just deal with the dispassionate facts. Play out the scenarios with a team of really challenging people that aren’t thinking about their own role in this, they’re just thinking about how the better solutions could be found. So work with the right people to give really, really challenging scenario planning. And war game everything, if we did this, if we did this, if we did this, just try and work out the different things. And then make sure that you have a plan that everyone agrees to and signs up to. Of course, no decent plan stands up in the face of battle but at least have a plan that you can then go back to.
00:54:09.02 Ellis Watson:
And I think the most important thing is just to stay calm. The whole idea that people are expending energy into things that don’t make a difference when at the very time they need to put all of their energy into the things that do is just nuts. You can’t change what you can’t change but you can change bits of it. So just concentrate on those and concentrate on how you feel about it. That’s your formula. Use the facts, make sure you work as a team to try absolutely everything out and then have a plan and stick to it. And most importantly do the right thing, do the transparent thing, do the honest thing.
00:54:48.01 Andy Coulson:
Very good. Ellis Watson, thank you very much for this walk and your wisdom. I think it’s time for a cup of tea.
00:54:56.06 Ellis Watson:
00:54:57.05 Andy Coulson:
Before we go though, I’m going to ask you for three things as we have at the end of every podcast. Your crisis cures, these are three things, can’t be another person, three things that you kind of rely on, lean on during the more difficult days, challenging times. Like I say can be anything other than another person.
00:55:21.07 Ellis Watson:
Learned late in life, but nothing for me beats exercise. I hate the thought of doing it, I don’t enjoy the doing it but after it it gives a sense of calm and perspective and in crisis it makes you feel like you’ve achieved something no matter how modest, even if it’s a fast walk or you’ve run a marathon up a mountain. You actually feel like you can take control of something and overcome adversity and difficulty. So number one is exercise, that’s a big crisis cure for me.
00:55:48.06 Ellis Watson:
I think the second one, and I’m appalling at this, is sleep. Crisis causes you to have interrupted or poor sleep. And then of course when you get interrupted or poor sleep you are much, much worse at handling crisis and as vicious circles go it’s about as destructive a thing as you can get. My average sleep, thanks to tech, and my obsession with it, is four hours and nine minutes in the last nine months. That’s pants! And it’s not because I’m in crisis it’s because I’ve got a busy head and I like, you know, doing stuff. But crisis you need sleep.
00:56:17.02 Ellis Watson:
And my primary crisis cure of late is the really good feedback and excellent counsel you get from a chat with your dog. And my dogs think I’m pretty clever and they agree with me mostly, especially if you talk to them just before they need to be fed. They’re an amazingly attentive audience. Speaking of which I think I’ve lost one. Woof, woof come here sweetie!
00:56:41.19 Andy Coulson:
Ellis, you are of course the man who gave me one of the lines that I A, deploy and B, have kind of tried to, without wishing to sound too grand about it, live by. And that is simply to be the man that your dog thinks you are. So I’m going to finish with a thank you for that line.
00:57:01.23 Ellis Watson:
00:57:02.16 Andy Coulson:
And thank you very much for this conversation, it’s been fantastic.
00:57:29.12 End of transcription