Dear Reader,

Wanna hear a story about Brandon Stanton, the dude behind Humans of New York?

About a decade ago, Brandon was so convinced about Obama’s chances in the primaries that he took a $5,000 student loan and wired it to an Irish exchange that was taking bets on USA’s Presidential election. When he placed the bet, Obama was placed at 40 percent odds of beating Hillary: but this was before the days of cryptocurrency and other rapid money tech. By the time his money made it to the pot a week later, the odds had risen close to 70 percent.

Regardless, Brandon made something like $1,200 on the bet. A great return for a student who had, just years before, been disillusioned enough to flunk out of his history course, before turning it around and returning to college.

When Brandon told a bond-trader friend about his big bet, he was pushed into a job interview with the friend’s boss. Brandon read something like 20 books on trading (he wasn’t trained) before the interview, and was hired. Things went nicely before they went badly. Brandon made money, then he lost money, then he lost the firm money, and soon he was fired.

Brandon then moved to New York with a goal to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers, while simultaneously living on unemployment cheques from the government. That plan wasn’t quite thought through, but we know what came from it: his project has now reached upwards of 25 million people on the internet, kickstarting from one famous post – the legendary Green Lady.

The source of this anecdote is Brandon himself, in a vulnerable chat on Tim Ferriss’ podcast which I recommend you listen to. Or you could dig into the transcripts, if you prefer to read long things.

I bring this story up as someone who resolved to write 1,000 stories in a year as soon as I had finished listening to that podcast, despite the obvious lessons it offered. An audacious goal among many others. But now is not the time to talk about those. See me when I’ve written Virat Kohli’s biography, changed the face of Indian comedy, retired at 35 and relocated to Vietnam, where I live with my wife, Kalki Koechlin, and our eight dogs, on a beach.

Thankfully, in due time, I remembered a more realistic goal of mine, which was to send four of these newsletters without flaking.

must tell you, dear reader, that as I type this fifth edition, all I want to do is to hurtle towards you, plant an awkward hug, and wink smugly some time later as people observe me in disbelief. I believe entire political campaigns turn to gold with this method these days, so why not?

(Some of you are new. Please don’t go away.)

As promised on Friday, this is the bonus, extra happy edition. You will enjoy the fun articles lined up below, some of which had to necessarily be pushed out of last week’s edition. None of them are massive reads. Enjoy!

And, as promised on Friday, I also have a reading tool to make your life easier if you own a Kindle or use the app: it’s called Tinderizer. A browser add-on suggested to me last week, which turns articles into documents and sends them straight to your device/app. Particularly useful for the 15,000 word articles (groan) that will return to your inboxes soon enough.

And finally, AS PROMISED on Friday: news of a major upgrade.

The newsletter now has a landing page on my website – with back editions! And an explanation of what it is supposed to be, for those of you who still don’t really know. An explainer is the kind of thing my editor dreams about when I send something to his inbox, but he isn’t as lucky.

So if you feel like you’re getting any value out of this, tell your friends to check it out and sign up on: varunshetty.com/newsletter

And hit that reply button because I’m listening.

Yours,

Varun

 

Articles:

 

How Andhra is building a new capital using blockchain

I went out with a guy and he sent me an invoice

Why it’s hard to catch your own typos

Burj Khalifa: Elaborate residential towers for no one to live in

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