Mark Moran is a born performer. Known as “Employee No. 1” at Litquidity — one of the premier accounts in the extended FinTwit universe — Mark has the difficult role of being the right hand man and public face of an otherwise-anonymous meme account. But the former banker and reality show contestant on Fboy Island has stepped up to the challenge, and he’s shepherded Lit towards new avenues of brilliant content output — be it through videos, the podcast Big Swinging Decks, and more.
For example, take Mark’s appearance at Bitcoin Miami alongside Serena Shahidi (aka @glamdemon2004). Obviously Litquidity himself couldn’t show face at the mobbed event, but Mark tapped in and hosted what’s arguably the best video tour of the cringe-filled conference. After a half-dozen watches, I still laugh at the scene where Serena touches up her make-up while Mark rides a mechanical bull “longer than CNN+ existed” in the background.
Mark’s work on biz development at Lit has led to some interesting results. Most recently, he ran the social media earnings call for RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc., a publicly traded strip club, which led to glowing press in Bloomberg and buzz for an otherwise-dry business rigamarole. Together, Lit and Mark make finance fun — words I never thought I’d write.
Mark is a funny guy with strong convictions, and this applies to his thoughts on cannabis. In a phone interview with Cash Only, the media personality weighs in on Wall Street employees’ evolving relationship with weed, his ongoing love of late night edibles consumption, and more. He also recounts the time he accidentally connected a coworker with a drug delivery service called Tech Support, when the kid just wanted help fixing his computer. Cheers, Mark! Stay lit with Lit.
What was your first time smoking weed like?
Mark Moran: I was around age 17 when I first smoked weed. I remember coughing for 8-minutes straight and then sweating nonstop. I had hit a gravity bong, and immediately had no idea what was going on. When it hit me, I thought the feeling was interesting. Then you do more, and you do more, and by the end of it, I was coughing less. I had never felt like that, and I was with a bunch of people who were more seasoned, so they seriously laughed at me — and then I laughed at myself, too.
Did you go through a stoner phase in high school?
I didn’t because I was playing sports the whole time. I think I only smoked once or twice in high school. And in college I was drug tested all the time because I was running track. For any division one athlete, you get tested a lot, so I couldn’t indulge. It wasn’t until grad school when I started dabbling, but even then it wasn’t regular. When I started working in banking, though, I started to smoke and eat edibles as a way to relax in the evenings because I was high-strung all the time.
Honestly, I got way more into edibles than smoking — even now. I’ll often structure my day where if I have rote tasks to do, like emails or whatever, I’ll save it for the evening so I can eat an edible and have a nice buzz going when I sit down to finally type. That’s when I’m most creative — during the evening, relaxing, staring out the window, and then being able to type and write stuff. I’m not much of a writer, but this window is when I come up with content ideas, concepts, or show ideas. That’s one of my favorite things to do.
Also, I like to tweet when I’m stoned in the evening. If you were to run the Twitter analytics of when I’m high versus when I’m not, I’m getting so many more likes when I’m high. Twitter is a big social experiment to me, where some people want to take it seriously, some people want to be insightful, but I’m the opposite of insightful (which is on brand for me). I’ll blast out 30 tweets in two hours, and they get crazier and crazier. Most of that humor I would have never thought of sober. You can see the progression of me getting stoned if you read through my tweets at night.
When you worked in finance, were you drug tested? Did your coworkers smoke?
You’d always have to take an entry drug test when you started a new job. They’d test for weed because it wasn’t legal in New York at the time. I’d read all these forums where people in finance would ask if they’d actually test for weed. They stopped drug testing across the board like two years ago, though.
What’s interesting, though, is that finance is a very buttoned-up industry, but once you get close to people, you kind of realize that a decent percentage of workers (especially workers who are very good at their jobs) are high while they’re doing it. The kids who can sit in front of a computer all day and do Microsoft Excel or financial modeling for 18 hours? They’re high for a lot of it. And that’s the way a lot of them relax or cope with stuff. Also, if you were a pothead all throughout college, you’re not going to be stopping once you start working at a big investment bank.
It’s funny because you associate finance with coke and stimulants — and people definitely do that — but a lot of people in the industry like to unwind with weed in the evenings. It’s a way to relax, and everyone is so high-strung. People do keep their weed use to themselves, though, compared to other drugs. Workers would rather have their officemate know they’re taking stimulants over smoking weed. Weed still has negative connotations associated with it in suit-and-tie workplaces.
So weed is not a social drug within the finance community? It’s a private tool.
Yeah, it’s more of a private thing. I think a lot of it has to do with finance people not being super social. Like you’re not sitting down with your colleagues and getting to know each other. There’s always this work veil of who you are, even if you’re getting drinks with your colleagues. There’s a line you never want to cross with personal intimacy. I think this got broken a bit during COVID because you’re working all the time, and there’s no boundaries between work and relaxation, and your office is feet from your bed. So I think a lot more people started smoking, or smoking more, during COVID. The downside is you can get high in the evening, get assigned more work unexpectedly, and then the next morning you’re like, “What the hell was that email I sent last night?” [laughs]. But people need a way to relax! Especially when you have a stressful job and you’re at your breaking point. I think weed helped a lot of people during the pandemic.
Where do you get your weed in NYC?
So my weed delivery service is called Tech Support. If you want edibles, you have to message them, “Hey can I get tech support for .edi files?” When I was working at Centerview Partners a few years ago, the dude who sat next to me was my boy. But one Sunday night he hit me up, and I was already high, and he goes, “Yo, can you send me tech support’s number?” I say sure and send it to him. He hits me up a little bit later and says, “They’re asking who referred me.” I tell him to say my name and they say cool. Then, they ask him, “So what type of files do you want?” He hits me back and is like, “Dude, did you just refer me to your drug dealer? I wanted tech support for my computer!” I might have peed my pants a little bit [laughs].
You said you’re an edibles guy. What sort of edibles are we talking about?
They have these Peppermint Patty ones that were my favorite. I’ve definitely taken some weird bodega shit too, and that will put you on your back. I also like Canna-Bricks. The pack has like 400mgs in it, but I take maybe 10-20mg at a time. Sometimes, I’ll take 20mg on a Sunday, but then I’m being hilarious on Twitter, and I’ll take a little more, and then I’m in outer space. That’s always hilarious to me. I like that weed is associated with humor for me.
What activity do you like to do after you’ve gotten really stoned?
I’ve experimented with taking a small edibles dose and then going for a run, and I like it but I don’t love it. My favorite thing to do when high might be going down a Wikipedia rabbit hole, literally for hours until I learn everything about the given topic. Most recently, I got really into looking at high school football stadiums in Texas. I’d look at aerial views of all of them, and it blew my mind. Another rabbit hole I got into was looking at plane graveyards in New Mexico. I’d also look at aerial photos, and you’d see thousands and thousands of planes that flew there on their last journey and are now stripped and just shells. It’s fucking wild.
Can you recommend something to watch while really high?
Reno 911. My favorite thing to watch. I’ve seen it so many times. I don’t watch a lot of TV, and I don’t like stuff unless it’s action or comedy. So there’s just something about Reno 911 that resonates with me. There’s layers to it, and it gets more funny with each watch.
Can you recommend something to listen to while smoking?
I have a real cool view from my apartment, where I can see the Empire State Building and other shit. I like to just lay in bed, listen to music, and stare out the window. I start with Usher, and then hit “Create Station” on Apple Radio and I go from there. Later on, I’ll try to find remixes of Dave Matthews Band on Soundcloud and then put those on a playlist. I grew up in Virginia, and they’re from Charlottesville where I went to school, so listening to DMB brings me back — and the remixes are pretty wild.
Can you recommend something to read once stoned?
I really like reading longform journalism in The Atlantic. There’s always something that makes you think. Recently, I read this piece that was my favorite thing from the past year, and it was about how divided we are as a society. And why the next 10 years will be so wild because there’s only a small percentage on the left and a small percentage on the right who control pretty much how everyone else processes information. Ten years ago, you could have very different opinions than your neighbor, but you had to interact with them every day. That would lead people to be more accepting of others’ opinions. Now you can live in a filter bubble where you only get, say, Fox News and the various right wing outlets — and you never have to confront people with different opinions than you, on the internet or otherwise. People don’t have to leave their comfort zone or have their views challenged, which is bad for democracy and society as a whole. I love reading shit like that. And I would never have had the time to think and sit on it during the day, so I thank weed for that.
Who’s in your dream blunt rotation?
Bill Clinton. That would just be hilarious. Martin Luther King Jr. Randy Moss the football player, for sure. He’s a huge pothead. Jose Canseco. People who you just know will say wild shit when they’re stoned. And then Paris Hilton. It would be chaotic and wild to have all these people in the same room smoking. I want us all to smoke in a random-ass airport restaurant, like the CBGB’s at Newark — or the smoking room in the TGI Friday’s at the Miami airport. I want us to be people watching while we’re chilling, and then passers-by can come and say what’s up.