Hello beautiful human being! This issue of the Fireside has fewer links than usual because I really struggled to find great articles (the Internet seems to go on holiday in August). However, I think this issue’s articles are all amazing, in particular the one about the history of Visa.
A bit of house keeping: I'm moving this newsletter to a different email provider (Substack) and it would be really helpful if you could add the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org“ to your contacts list. If you are on Gmail, please also drag this email to the Priority tab.
And in other news, a couple of weeks ago I got down on one knee and asked the love of my life to marry me and she said yes 😊💍
On to The Fireside...
New Book: “Shoe Dog“ by Phil Knight is the memoir of Nike’s CEO and founder. I’m usually not a big fan of memoirs but this book is exceptionally well written and a reminder of what running a business *actually* looks like. Super recommended, especially if you are a Nike detractor.
➤ The links
[Manuel's best pick] Visa is one of the biggest companies in the world. Cards bearing the Visa logo are used more than 340 million times every day. Yet unlike other companies of similar size and ubiquity, few people know what Visa does, how they make money, or why they even exist. This is the fascinating story of how Visa came to be and how it has built such a huge competitive advantage that even companies like Apple or Google chose to partner with Visa rather than compete head-to-head.
When you think about Starbucks you probably don't think about a financial company. But what if I told you that Starbucks is able to raise $1.6B at 0% interest rate, every year, from their customers and make a $155M pure profit simply by offering gift cards? An amazing account of how even a small thing like a gift card, at Starbucks scale, can become a multi-billion dollar side business.
Hunter S. Thompson's letter to his friend, Hume Logan, on finding your purpose and living a meaningful life. One of the most profound advice I've ever come across.
Isaac Asimov is one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written more than 500 books (including legendary series like "Foundation" and "I, Robot"), and one of my childhood heroes. In 1959 was invited by the American secret agency ARPA to help their scientist to "think out-of-the-box". While he eventually decided to leave the agency, he wrote an essay on creativity that was never published. Until now.
★ Other things from the internet
(That may or may not make you look smart at dinner parties)
Many people don't know that copyrights for books expire 70 years after the death of their author. This means that the works of Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare (to mention few) are all available for free to anyone. Standard ebooks is a website that offers hundreds of old books in modern, high-quality free ebook format. There are lots of websites with free public domain ebooks, but this is the highest quality one I’ve ever encountered, by a looooong shot.