A quarterly recap from our founder.
Q3 ’23 Letter // BY Cornelius MCGrath
2023 is flying by.
Fall is officially here. The Premier League and College Football are in full swing. Halloween is just around the corner. Who knows, you’ve probably already been asked what you want for Christmas this year.
Isn’t summer so elusive? I hope you had a good one nonetheless.
I certainly did, getting married to the love of my life on July 7th here in Chicago.
Wedding Ceremony. July 7. Chicago, IL.
Celebrations began a fortnight before as family and friends from around the world flew in early. The McGrath’s experienced a July 4th Lake weekend — think Cheaper By The Dozen 2 but better — with driving lessons in WWII Jeeps, more USA flags than you could count, and plenty of tubing on the water.
After the holiday, we returned to Chicago to host a pre-emptive Europe vs. USA Ryder Cup golf tournament at Ravisloe CC — my favourite course here in the city.
Team Europe & USA Captains on the first tee.
Team Europe looked primed for a clean sweep, leading in every foursome after 5 holes. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Team USA powered through to a unanimous win, leaving the European contingent to drown its sorrows by drinking the local Irish pub, the Kerryman, out of Guinness.
All I’ll say is this: I’m just glad the professionals did right by us in Rome.
Getting razor sharp at Blind Barber. Chicago, IL.
With the fun and games out of the way, it was time to start getting in the zone. Preparations started 36 hours before the ceremony with cuts and shaves at Blind Barber in the heart of the West Loop.
It’s been a safe haven for me ever since I moved to the city in 2017. English blokes just simply don’t do well when their fades aren’t on point. Herson and team have kept me fresh for 5 years without fail, and I wanted some of my closest friends to have a little taste of that magic feeling.
Vibes were immaculate. Incredibly fun and enjoyable. You really can’t beat the energy of a top barber shop, especially when natural vino’s flying around. From there, it was off to the Trump to get ready, and then onto our ensuring rehearsal dinner and welcome party at Ada St. — one of our favourite haunts here in the city.
Scott and team put on a show for us, and the speeches had me shed a few tears.
Dinner for 24 at Ada St. Chicago, IL.
I had so many preconceived notions about how I’d feel on the big day, and it’s honestly a bit of a blur as I look back.
There’s no way to prepare for all of your favourite people in the world to be with you for one night only. Regardless of how slow you try to take it, or how early you start celebrations, all goes by in a flash. It’s there, then it isn’t. Even if you managed to gather all the same people in the same room again, it wouldn’t be the same.
Wedding days are a moment in time. That’s it.
However, as we honeymooned in beautiful B.C. and then returned home to work through an apartment full of boxes, a deep, gratifying sense of peace came over me.
A function of “we did it, we did it our way, and we did it right” but also a real sense of finality and gratitude. It was a clear delineation into a new stage of life but also in our relationships. I feel like we can see and appreciate everybody for who they truly are and the role they’ve played in our lives to date. That clarity is honestly a gift.
The McGrath’s. Chicago, IL.
Although I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not been easy coming down from cloud 9.
Marriage makes you think quite deeply about life, meaning, love and work. And as you’ll read below, Q3 has been a massive transition period for me in all of those areas. There’s been lots of moving pieces. It’s often felt a bit like a game of Tetris.
The good news is all the right pieces are on the board. At least I can see them all clearly. Now, it’s just a matter of moving things into their proper places while keeping everything else in shape. So without further ado, let’s turn to business.
In between getting married in Chicago, honeymooning in British Colombia, watching my beloved Manchester United play in Vegas, getting soaked while white water rafting in Asheville and playing more pickleball than your grandparents, this is what’s been cooking in Q3.
All my energy comes from helping people form ideas and turn their dreams into reality.
Our advisory arm — Everyday Advisor — went from strength to strength in Q3.
We added a new UK client at the start of the quarter, and our H2 expansion with the growing team at Beast has been tremendous. We’ve started working with two of the new FTEs on the S-Team while curating our first quarterly retreat for the CSO, which you’ll hear more about in our travel section below.
Advisory has been the baseline of our business since its inception. In large part because all my energy comes from helping people form ideas and turn their dreams into reality. But also because in a world saturated with information, wisdom and truly personalized counsel are, ironically, just getting harder and harder to find.
In short: it’s incredibly difficult to find somebody without an agenda that buts up against your real interests. The content creator you’re listening to wants you to keep watching, that colleague or supervisor you’re leaning on wants you to make their life easier first, and friends and family, as lovely as they are, just want you to be “happy.”
I believe this is one part of our edge.
We’re truly an unbiased third party. One with enough distance from your day-to-day that we can see things objectively but enough understanding of business that we can add real, strategic value.
And since we’re not your supervisor, nor your therapist, we can put your desired life trajectory first, and use that to guide and inform your biggest everyday work and life decisions.
As one of our clients says: we have full trust and full context. That’s our secret.
Getting paid on execution is not only way more fun, but it is actually the only way to properly align incentives.
However, excellent counsel isn’t enough. After all, there’s only so much you can get from seeing or diagnosing an issue. Yet interestingly this is where 99% of people in the counsel business stop. They’re purely speculative, which doesn’t make any sense to me and maybe explains why I’m quite sceptical of most coaches and therapists.
Acting on an insight — actually making something happen — is where you get all the results and therefore value. To me, getting paid on execution is not only way more fun, but it is actually the only way to properly align incentives.
I get it: execution is hard, which is why you not only need proper guidance but also access to resources and infrastructure that get sh*t done.
Nobody in the counsel business is set up to do that. Except us.
There’s no competition for clarity or intimacy. And that’s exactly what we provide.
With the formalization of our holding company, Everyday, and the infrastructure of our capital, hospitality, content and travel subsidiaries, advisory has become the floor rather than the ceiling of the value we provide to community-driven businesses, brands, and individuals worldwide.
It’s merely a starting point for our partners, as opposed to a means to an end. Plus, every negotiation, hire, deal, job offer, contract, memo or offsite we deliver not only sharpens our counsel but also makes our infrastructure that bit stronger.
With every GLG call I take, I’m reminded of the insane value that knowledge on-demand creates and am excited to continue pairing our counsel with deeper access to our holistic infrastructure (e.g. library, expert netawork, convening, travel).
I feel we can build something quite special and differentiated here. After all, there’s no competition for clarity or intimacy.
And that’s exactly what we provide.
We’re likely going to raise some committed capital focused on investing in the most promising hospitality brands across America.
In Q1, we closed our first investment vehicle raising $250,000 to back a new hospitality concept here in Chicago.
In many ways, this raise put us on the map, and we’ve since attracted a lot of interest from other operators and LPs across the globe who either a) want to partner with us or b) put their money to work with a firm making hospitality an asset class.
The response we’ve received since we closed has really opened up a whole new frontier for us. And so we’re likely going to raise some committed capital focused on investing in the most promising hospitality brands across America.
I’ll expound more on our thesis at a later date.
But we feel there’s a real opportunity to build a diversified portfolio of holdings in hospitality businesses where the real moat is their community, and we can overlay our holding company infrastructure to diversify and expand their core revenue streams.
We’ll be coming out with a formal announcement soon. But if you’re interested in learning more as a potential LP, do send me a note in the interim.
We really do see hospitality as an asset class.
We really do see hospitality as an asset class; an industry home to some of the most beloved brands in the world and responsible for many of our fondest moments.
The kicker is most of these brands are stuck in bad business models that don’t serve their core stakeholders. What’s more unforgivable is how little has changed since the pandemic. Seems the industry’s learnt nothing from getting punched in the face.
Born out of the work we did off the back of the Chicago raise, we created an operating group — Everyday Hospitality — that is focused on turning beloved hospitality brands into antifragile businesses.
Why did we build this?
In part to de-risk our investments but more so because we see the work we’re doing and models we’re building as the future of the industry.
The problem is most hospitality owners only get paid on the sale of a commodity when consumers are buying something much, much deeper from them.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that owners need to build antifragile businesses to truly be sustainable. That involves thinking beyond being commoditised service providers and becoming more like merchants, publishers, creators, and community leaders with holistic, resilient revenue models (e.g. ARR) built on personalised experiences you can’t get anywhere else.
The problem is most hospitality owners only get paid on the sale of a commodity (e.g. food, drinks, rooms) when consumers are buying something much, much deeper from them. Often rare and valuable things like community, entertainment, education, identity and culture. Things and feelings that candidly have no price.
Everyday Hospitality enables owners to move away from selling commodities (e.g. food, information) and towards monetising their brand via holistic products (e.g. memberships, experiences) grounded in the rare and valuable things consumers are truly buying from them (e.g. entertainment, education).
We do this by providing the infrastructure — enrichment, loyalty and technology — owners need to capture the true value they create.
We learn who your real customers are, what they want from your brand and how to serve them and their worlds best over time.
Our process for making a hospitality brand anti-fragile has three stages:
Stage 1: Enrichment
We learn who your real customers are, what they want from your brand and how to serve them and their world’s best over time, physically and digitally.
How we identify your truest fans.
Stage 2: Loyalty
Incentivising and rewarding the behaviour we want to see, make customers feel like they belong and supercharging the economics of your business.
How we retain your truest fans.
Stage 3: Technology
The infrastructure required to achieve #1 and #2; how you generate high-margin revenue and develop deep relationships with your #1 fans without lifting a finger.
How we grow your truest fans.
With us, owners can scale on their terms and build great businesses in the process. If you’d like to make this a reality for business, please do reach out.
We’d love to chat.
Some ideas need more space than the internet allows.
There are two sides to Everyday Content. One is an agency. The other a publisher.
We started the agency in 2019. Hired first by the CMO of Kraft Heinz and the Provost’s Office at Notre Dame. Since then, we’ve ghostwritten for NYT bestselling authors, produced podcasts, films and built a roster of world-class creatives worldwide from which we can build seal team sixes for storytelling missions in an instant.
The publishing side is still very much in beta. We haven’t published any books or anything like that yet. But we have spent the last few years acting as biographers to some of the entrepreneurs and innovators that have most captured our attention.
I can’t say too much more on this right now. But I will point you towards the 8,000-word profile we did on Elliott Clark. It all started with him, and I believe there’s an opportunity to do deep dives like this on fascinating people over time.
In the interim, think of me as your biographer. Your personal media company.
I can help you tell deep stories that drive long-term results and build the narratives you need to create the things you wish already existed.
Monocle 2022 Year in Review.
I’m obsessed with not only being a biographer of people but also brands.
I learn so much from the study of both, and I’ve long wanted a proper place to put that learning. A place that can spark deeper inquiry, conversation and help others.
I think the library that I’ve teased in past letters is the perfect place. And while it’s still very much under construction, the Monocle 2022 Year-in-Review I just completed feels like the perfect first artefact to launch with.
The never-ending compartmentalized doom scroll that is the internet has left me yearning to know what everybody is actually saying. Like, sure your IG’s pretty, you get retweeted a lot and/or your YouTube gets views, but what’s your true POV?
It’s very difficult to ascertain that answer post-by-post. Especially when an algorithm — not your curiosity — is determining what you see next.
I’ve long asked myself: what would I learn if I took a step back and looked at something over a year-long timeline? That’s what drove me to do this annual review.
This is just a way for me to archive my learning. But fans of Monocle, annual reviews or just magazines, in general, may also really enjoy this format.
In this process, I believe I became my own algorithm. It really forced and helped me articulate why certain ads, stories and photos caught my attention more than others.
I have absolutely no idea where this goes, which excites me. All I know is I will finally have a comprehensive answer to the question, “what did you learn last year?”
Would love your feedback on this format if you do get a chance to consume.
Everyday Travel launch video.
Everyday Travel is a booking and convening platform.
The booking side is powered by Spotnana, whom we announced our partnership with last year. As someone who has long believed the best days of loyalty are behind us in travel — let’s face it, we have to spend so much more now to receive so much less — I think Spotnana plays a crucially important role.
Instead of sweating it out to get the lowest tier status on an airline, I believe everyday travellers — excuse the pun — are better off being loyal to a platform that can give them real optionality and choice. I think about this in three key ways.
First, in the rates you can get access to. Using NDC, Spotnana provides access to a much more comprehensive range of unbiased inventory than your typical travel platform. You’ll see fares and (mostly cheaper) rates you’d never find on Google Flights across hotels, rail, car rentals and airlines. Say goodbye to multiple tabs.
Second, in the way that you book travel. Fumbling for a credit card or rewards number for a loyalty program you may or may not belong to while hoping you typed in your TSA Pre-Check/DOB correctly every time you book a flight is miserable. Spotnana stores all that information — plus your preferred seats, meals and dietary restrictions — in one central place. Say goodbye to travel anxiety.
Third, in the actions you can take when things inevitably change. Loyalty to your favourite airline or travel provider is great. Until they have a technology outage or a weather problem impacting the entire system, and all flights are cancelled and unavailable to you. In these moments, when you need help most, it doesn’t pay to be top status. It’ll be hours before you get through to somebody on the phone. What pays is the ability to pivot quickly, and that’s what Spotnana’s 24/7, 365 human support provides. They’re a 30-second call or text away with access to the entire GDS. They can help you pivot and get rebooked faster than anybody else.
After all, who doesn’t want to feel like an elite flyer every time they travel?
The locale for the Q4 B2B retreat.
On the convening side, Everyday Travel is the Art of Gathering as a service.
In the last 4 years, we’ve hosted 100+ experiences worldwide in 25 cities and counting. From London to Miami to Los Angeles and Nashville. We’ve hosted 17 retreats, countless chef’s table dinners at some of the world’s best restaurants and plenty of natural wine tastings, even one at the World BBQ Championships.
In short: we know how to bring people together.
A snapshot into our Noble Rot Chef’s Table.
As your bespoke convening partners, we curate once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the VIPs in your life. This could be your customers, staff, prospects, colleagues, or just peers in the industry you want to go deeper with and get to know better.
You just give us the dates. And we handle absolutely everything else. All the:
– Content (e.g. we curate the theme, record the podcast, capture the photos/videos)
– Programming (e.g. we design an agenda that builds trust/breaks ice quickly)
– Facilitation (e.g. what conversations need to happen? Between who? And when?)
– Booking (e.g. we source, negotiate & book world-class hotels, meals, experiences)
Last year we halted consumer-facing retreats to focus on B2B. The Beast retreat is our first B2B foray. It’s been an amazing process. Location, agenda, everything is locked in and fantastic. I’ll be able to give you the full debrief in my next letter, but it’s certainly proven out the original thesis we went public with last year.
Executives are too busy to book something themselves. But their time is extremely valuable so retreats are incredibly attractive because they can achieve in a weekend what would otherwise take a year of travel and meetings.
Executives need a convening partner who can do it all for them. That’s Everyday Travel.
If you’re thinking about bringing your C-Suite, S-Team or business together in 2024, do reach out. If you’re not, you should be. Either way, we can help you bring something extraordinary to life without you lifting a finger.
Just give us the dates. We’ll do the rest.
With 1,800+ notes and 50,000+ iCloud pictures, Montaigne solves a real problem for me.
And last but certainly not least, here are some of the latest updates on the burgeoning lives, ventures and projects of members in our global community.
Anton Podviaznikov is the founder of Montaigne — a simple service used to create internet-native artefacts directly from your Apple Notes or Shared Albums. As someone with 1,800+ notes and 50,000+ pictures in iCloud, Montaigne’s products solve a real problem for me. In particular, public.photos allow us to easily share our digital assets online in a visually appealing format. If you need a website, photo album or a custom newsletter, do contact Anton.
Livyloo’s Quiet Morning
Alexia Williams recently released her first published work titled Livyloo’s Quiet Morning. Inspired by her twin sister, Livyloo’s Quiet Morning is a children’s story centred around the discovery of sound through a Cochlear Implant. The book is an excellent read for kids and beautifully made. You can purchase a copy here.
Daniel Giacopelli has spent more than a decade interviewing entrepreneurs for a living. First at Monocle, then at Courier, and now at Mailchimp. Daniel believes the most exciting founders have incredibly colourful lives and wisdom to share. So he launched a newsletter called Desire Paths to tell the stories of the fascinating small business owners, designers, shopkeepers, farmers, billionaires, and hermits he meets. It’s as simple as that. This is my favourite story so far. You can subscribe here.
Sam Viola put together the most stunning honeymoon for us in Beautiful B.C. Punctuated by phenomenal hotels, dinners, seaplanes, and plenty of natural vino, we had the most beautiful time. Sam was invaluable because we didn’t know where we wanted to go up front and were mentally taxed by everything else going on with the wedding. We loved the special benefits he was able to secure for us. Daily free breakfast and hotel credits go a long way to making you (and your budget) feel like a true VIP. We were lucky to have him. If you want to ensure your next adventure is the trip of a lifetime, look no further than Uproute. It’s what you need.
Kaitlin Larson is a teacher and member of the Redwood Schools Board who believes everybody deserves to be literate. Redwood’s partnered with Lawndale Christian Legal Center to provide structured literacy intervention to young people who’ve been incarcerated, are on house arrest/probation and have literacy skills <30th percentile. Redwood students average two grade levels of reading gains(!). At Notre Dame, I did my senior thesis on the school-to-prison pipeline and believe in the value programs like this bring to broader society. Redwood’s replicating their model within Chicago and needs donors who can help support expansion. If you’re interested in donating or engaging in a partnership, contact Grace Bird.
I’d also like to make some special shoutouts.
First, to the entire Lettuce Entertain You team at the Ivy Room, in particular Abby Carson, our rockstar coordinator. I’d also like to thank Colin Lyons and Clay Kerr, our wedding photographers, who are killer creatives in their own right. Shoutout to our wedding DJ, Evan Hoffman, who co-owns Groove is in the Heart and put together a fantastic playlist. And finally, to Blind Barber, Ravisloe CC, and our Ryder Cup commissioner, Zander Nethercutt, for creating such special experiences.
I’m looking forward to a productive Q4. There’s a lot
I still want to achieve.
Looking back, Q3 has been a transition. I’ve been in transition into a new life and world. It’s been a little crazy with how much has been in motion. But I feel like things are finally starting to settle, and I’m looking forward to a productive Q4.
There’s a lot I still want to achieve.
I’m always on the lookout for deals, clients and partners that are innovative, ambitious and can benefit from our holistic support.
Here’s to rounding out 2023 on a high — CGM.
Never Miss A Letter
A quarterly reflection from our founder.