An Interview With The One And Only Ian Scaife
A couple of months ago, I put out the call for anyone that read my blog to be interviewed… if they wanted. And right away I got two individuals with their hands stretched high for opportunity. The first random interview was with Kenny Martin – and we had a ton of fun with it. But today I am bringing to you the second conversation I have been having – and that is with Ian Scaife. There are a couple things that I absolutely love about Ian. The first, is that he is British. I lived in England for a year, and absolutely am dying to move back. So basically? He’s living my desired life. Yes. I am jealous. The second thing that I adore about Ian, is that he took my lame interview questions very very seriously. He literally spent weeks answering them. ?!Everything ok Ian?!? Yup yup… having the time of my life. Making good progress!! Oh… ok Ian! hahah. Which was something I’ve never seen before, even from super important famous people… it’s just never happened. So good on ya mate! Alright, enough of my ramblings, let’s jump into the conversation we had…
THinc. – “Where are you from? Locations, cities, countries? Significant moves? Changes?
Ian – “I was born in the south of England in 1970, and I have lived in the south west of England (near the city of Bristol) for most of my life. I live with my beautiful wife, Vanessa. We have no children, which was not a conscious decision; more a case of us meeting at a time in lives when having children was not really an option. That explanation makes us sound old, but, if anything, it keeps us young (and wealthier!).
I work in Financial Services within risk management, and have recently been promoted to the position of ‘Group Head of Compliance’ within a firm whom I have been employed by for 16 years. This promotion was not achieved through career ambition, but through simple hard work and commitment. So good honest hard work does pay after all!!!
By the way, I had nothing to do with garbage sub-prime mortgages that brought the world economy to its knees!!!”
THinc. – “THE BIG SHORT!! YOU WERE THOSE GUYS!?!? hahaha. Just kidding. Schooling? Locations? Degrees?”
Ian – “I was a classic under-achiever at school, and not naturally academic. As such, I achieved very little during my school years. However, when I reached my mid-thirties, I embarked upon a new academic journey to better myself within my profession (financial service compliance / regulation). I have achieved a qualification close to degree level which was all achieved in my own time whilst in full time work. It was, of course, hard work, but an enjoyable process nevertheless.”
THinc. – “What would your friends say about you, what do you think they enjoy about you?”
Ian – “Honest and humble I would like to think.
“Because I am passionate about film, music, TV, etc (rather than having become jaded, bored and tired like many people of my age!), younger people seems to be drawn towards my enthusiasm for things who are looking to compare notes on the latest films or TV shows, or seeking a good recommendation.”
THinc. – “We definitely have that in common. I am only a couple years younger than you, but I too find myself interacting with lots of younger folks and discussing movies and games and what not. That’s interesting. Hadn’t thought about that before. What is your favorite experience you’ve ever had? Travel? Win?”
Ian – “I don’t think I will ever experience anything as powerful as seeing Niagara Falls for the first time. It is practically impossible to articulate that experience…so I won’t try!!! Getting married in Italy a few years back was absolutely amazing. Learning how to study again and gaining professional qualifications was a thrill.
“Went to Las Vegas for the first time in the summer. That was pretty amazing.
“I am a huge sports fan. Whilst more of a spectator now (apart from playing lots of tennis), I won many trophies playing for and managing amateur soccer teams, including some quite prestigious tournament wins.
“I have to single out my all-time favourite sporting win as a spectator, and this may surprise you a little. I have been a huge fan of NFL (and Denver Broncos) for around 30 years. Seeing John Elway and the Broncos finally win a Superbowl on my birthday in 1998 was amazing. I cried!!! Hope to see Denver win another one in February, but can that amazing Denver defence stop Cam Newton? Can that average Denver offence put enough points on the board? I’m not so sure on either count!
“John Elway is my ultimate sporting hero. While the back-to-back Superbowl rings are his ultimate achievements, who can forget ‘The Drive’!
“We get great NFL TV coverage over here, and we’re going to see the Giants vs Rams next year as part of the regular season London series. The London NFL games sell out really fast as the game has become so popular. There is a lot of chatter about London having its own NFL franchise. Not sure about the practicalities, but we’ll see…”
THinc. – “You just went up in my estimation by a mere factorial by going on and on about the Broncos. So kudos to you. What about books that you love? Favorite book of all time? Movies? Favorite movie of all time? Hobbies?”
Ian – “I learned the power of literature at an early age through the works of Stephen King, which I am sure is a common entry point for many. I remember being profoundly moved by ‘The Shining’, ‘The Stand’, and ‘It’. The latter was a particularly powerful experience. These days, I am drawn towards the sense of wonder that can be achieved through Science Fiction. The Mars Trilogy (future science fact maybe?) by Kim Stanley Robinson was a pretty profound experience. ‘Perdido Street Station’ by China Mieville was…well…difficult to put that experience into words!
“The most unforgettable book I have read is probably ‘Forge of God’ by Greg Bear. Whilst being a work of science fiction, I would recommend this book to everyone as it does force you to consider our own mortality. The ending of the book made such an impact and haunted me for a long time. I recommended it to my sister, who does not read science fiction at all, and it affected her in exactly the same way. Very powerful stuff.
“The original Star Wars was my first introduction to the wonder of cinema, but I think it was probably Oliver Stone’s ‘Platoon’ that introduced me to the true power of cinema. Since then, I have been in relentless pursuit of emotional cinematic experiences. I will go to the cinema to see everything from blockbusters to small independent films, and everything else in between. In recent years, the most profound cinematic experiences for me have been those unexpected gems that come along and hit it out of the park. A few fairly recent examples would be ‘The Secret in their Eyes’ (not the soon to be released, and probably horrible, English language remake), ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, ‘Martyrs’ (French horror – very disturbing), ‘Mud’ , ‘Blue Ruin’, ‘Whiplash’, and, of course, the hauntingly beautiful ‘Upstream Color’ by Shane Carruth.
“The only recent big budget spectaculars that really worked for me were ‘Inception’ and ‘Gravity’. I recall leaving the IMAX cinema after seeing Gravity as an emotional wreck. The wife asked me what I thought of it. I simply said I can’t speak right now. When I had finally recovered enough to speak, I explained that it was a cinematic experience like no other, but, more importantly, it was an incredible story about the triumph of the human spirit and how, in the face of adversity, someone can re-connect with their own mortality and fight to survive. The wife thought it was stupid film about two people floating around in space! She also walked out of ‘Upstream Color’ and still describes it as that horrible film about pigs!
“For pure cinematic emotion, you can’t beat ‘Shawshank Redemption’ or ‘Field of Dreams’.
“I was a little disappointed with ‘Star Wars – The Force Awakens’. I felt I did not get the Star Wars film I wanted, i.e. something completely fresh and new. Episode 7 seemed to be for the purpose of fan service, which I get completely when you consider the prequels, but Episode 7 didn’t work for me. That said, I still intend to re-watch it in IMAX, and I’m sure I will enjoy it much more on second viewing. Still can’t wait for Episode 8 though. That’s when the new era of Star Wars really kicks off, with Rian Johnson at the helm.”
THinc. – “Hahaha, absolutely love your comments about Gravity… which I can totally relate too. No wonder you enjoy hanging out here at the blog – we see movies similarly. Your comments about Upstream are classic. Yeah, I was over the moon about that movie, but totally knew better than to force it on my wife. There was no way that was going to fly. I mean… really? Worms under the skin, pig proxy love ties? Craziness.
“Do you have any sort of a spiritual background? (I love talking to people of various religions, I’m just curious that way.)”
Ian – “Tough question! I guess I should set the scene by stating that I am an atheist, but does that exclude me from true spirituality? No, I don’t think so as I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive. I have not really explored what spirituality means to others, so I did some quick research to see how my idea of spirituality aligns with the text book idea of spirituality. The following seems to be a reasonable place to start…
“Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all.”
“I can understand why many people would relate to that, but I don’t.
“To be fulfilled, do we need to connect with something that is bigger than ourselves? Some people do, and I fully respect that, but I am a ‘man of science’ as opposed to a ‘man of faith’. Furthermore, is the search for the meaning of life achievable? It reasonable to say quite objectively that this is an impossible goal; therefore, an ultimately unfulfilling objective?
“I thought the following interpretation of spirituality described it succinctly, but perfectly…
“‘Spirituality is the science of the heart’
“This resonated with me as my spirituality is a very personal and internal thing.
“However, when I am watching something that does address religion / spirituality / the supernatural, I am always drawn towards the non-scientific element. For example, there was quite a lot of debate around faith / science during ‘The Leftovers’ TV show (season 2 has been one of greatest seasons of TV I have ever seen – up there with Breaking Bad Season 4 and True Detective Season 1 – The Leftovers is amazingly written, acted, shot, etc…practically perfect TV…I will continue to recommend it to anyone who will listen!!!) and when watching things such as this, I always side with the non-scientific argument…I think it appeals to my imagination, but I have to admit that I am always drawn towards it.”
THinc. – “Perspective on the meaning of life? In general. Why are you here? Why am I here… you get the idea.”
Ian – “I have touched on this within my previous answer. I am perfectly happy with the notion that there is no specific meaning to life. Why am I here? I don’t know! It doesn’t matter to me. Trust me, I have asked myself these questions, but have never been inspired to explore possible answers. I have even asked myself why I am not inspired to explore this! Maybe I’m quite happy with the notion of simply being an accident of science (if that is the case of course!!!).
“What does inspire me, however, is to keep in touch with, and to continually remind myself of, my own humanity. Putting it another way, what do I fell and how do I feel? In fact, much of my time is spent in pursuit of feeling something powerful inside. This will typically come from emotional responses from travel, films, music, TV, a great meal, etc. I would say I go further than most in pursuit of finding things that move me.”
THinc. – “When meeting new people, do you have a go to funny story that you seem to drop on everyone to make people laugh?”
Ian – “Not really. I won’t drop in a funny story early on as I don’t want to be seen as being someone who strives to be the centre of attention. I will typically start with basic conversations to test the water or, if amongst a group, observe and listen initially. When a connection is made on a mutual interest or view, that’s when I will shine a little, and maybe drop in a funny story or two.
THinc. – “Why is it that British people are ok with not owning a car? How did this come to be – and do you own one? I went to school in England for a year, and this was the thing that blue my mind more than anything. Car ownership seemed to be more the exception than the rule. But then again, when gas comes out to be something like 12 or 13 bucks a gallon, which is what in pounds?!? Regardless, I would love to hear you wax eloquent on the differences between America and British perspectives on cars and freedom… and feel free to go ahead and put us Yanks in our place! hahah.”
Ian – “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! Us Brits are obsessed with cars. Did you go to a school in London? Not so many people have cars in London as parking is difficult and there is a good travel network. I drive an Audi A3 convertible. Cool car. Hawkeye drives one in one scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron (rubbish film!!!)…must be a cool car then??? The wife drives an Audi A1. No car sharing going on here!!! The price of petrol (i.e. ‘gasoline’) is around £4.5 / $7 a gallon currently.”
“Although, I’m without car at the moment after an incident with an escaped horse on a unlit road at night!!!
THinc. – “Wait, WHAT?! I have to hear more about that another time.”
Ian – “The biggest difference between American and British drivers is that we reverse into parking spaces, which, of course, means we are more skilful drivers!
THinc. –“Hahaha. Fair enough. One of my dreams has been to move back to England and live out the rest of my life there. And the dream location for me would be Haye-on-Wye – WHICH is right near you in Bristol. I’m curious why you haven’t lived out my dream and moved there and opened up a book shop yourself??! No seriously, have you ever been. I’ve tried on numerous occasions to England to get there, but have failed every time. Seriously a massive massive shortcoming in my life morally. There is a question in there somewhere, just not sure where.”
Ian – – “Hay-on-Wye, near the Brecon Beacons, Wales. Known as Y Gelli Gandryll in the Welsh Language. Beautiful area, but full of Welsh people who, like the Scottish, don’t like the English very much. It’s complicated!!!” Ross-on-Wye is in England and closer to Bristol. You may be mixing up the various …-on-Wye’s!
THinc. – – “Hrm. Interesting. Anyone want to take a crack and explaining ANY of what Ian just said to me? Hahah. So confused. Can you walk us through what a Financial Services Compliance Guru does on any given day? Like today? What did you do? And please assume we know NOTHING about finances and services and compliance or even guru-ness.”
Ian – – “Started planning a data protection audit…commenced a due diligence review on our range of investment products and services…commenced a risk assessment on systems and controls within various departments…reviewed the capital adequacy requirements for the business to meet the requirements of our regulator…reviewed a human resources initia………….I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can say to make it sound remotely interesting (well, I find it interesting) and I don’t want to drag this interview down (any further?)!”
THinc. – “I once had the idea (I mean, what if I theoretically had this idea???) to take a friend’s car and to carry it out onto the bowling green of my British school’s bowling green… which fronted to the huge dining room we all ate at each morning. I say to you, IAN!!! This is going to be brilliant. Will you join me? What do you say? Gunter the gardner was seriously pissed – that is for sure. I mean, dangit, the imaginary gardner would have been sseriously pissed, but are you up for it?! hahah.
Ian – “Bowling greens, tennis courts, cricket pitches, etc, are all sacred and part of our green and pleasant land! My British colleagues would undoubtedly put your antics down to you being…well…American, but we will forgive you for being…well…American! We’ll then go and have a game of rugby or cricket instead…..then to the pub after!!!”
And with that I’m going to call the ball on this interview. We had a ton of fun chatting and getting to know each other over the course of the past couple months. Tons of fun. The world is such a wildly diverse place.