“Doing anything less than something amazing is squandering this whole reason that you’re here.” – Brandon Stanton
Brandon Stanton (@humansofny) is the photographer behind Humans of New York. He attended the University of Georgia and worked as a bond trader in Chicago before moving to New York to pursue photography. Followed by over 25 million people on social media, Humans of New York features daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City. It has been turned into two #1 New York Times bestselling books: Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories. In recent years, Brandon has expanded the blog to include stories from over thirty different countries, and was invited in 2015 to interview Barack Obama in the oval office. In 2017, Humans of New York was turned into a television series that is now available on Facebook Watch.
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Want to hear another podcast with an innovative artist? — Listen to my conversation with Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil series, in which we discuss publishing stories, personal discipline, and remaining true to an artistic vision when money’s on the table. (Stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Brandon Stanton:
- Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton
- Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
- Little Humans by Brandon Stanton
- Humans of New York: The Series
- The Magna Carta
- Georgia State University Perimeter College
- Michael Pollan — Exploring The New Science of Psychedelics, The Tim Ferriss Show
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
- Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
- The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., Edited by Clayborne Carson
- The Years of Lyndon Johnson Set by Robert A. Caro
- Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson
- An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt by Theodore Roosevelt
- Hitler: A Biography by Ian Kershaw
- Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator by Oleg V. Khlevniuk
- Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
- Understanding 6 Point Perspective by Dick Termes, Termesphere Online Gallery
- Rule of Thirds by Darren Rowse, Digital Photography Studio
- Introduction to White Balance by Darren Rowse, Digital Photography Studio
- The Green Lady, Humans of New York
- The Green Lady of Brooklyn by Corey Kilgannon, The New York Times
- Macmillan Publishers
- Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
- A notable time in Brandon’s youth when he got in trouble. [07:54]
- What led to Brandon’s exit from college and the journey toward what would become Humans of New York? [09:25]
- Where did Brandon’s preoccupation with purpose originate? [12:25]
- What was it like growing up in Marietta, Georgia? [14:49]
- Why Brandon majored in history. [17:00]
- What catalyzed Brandon’s committment to reading 100 pages per day? [18:17]
- Why Brandon considers biographies “the best form of history.” [21:54]
- What biographies might Brandon recommend? [23:04]
- What the study of history’s most persuasive villains really teaches us. [25:50]
- How betting on Obama got Brandon into bond trading in Chicago as his first real job. [28:27]
- A history major’s philosophical take on the stock market — what Brandon learned as a trader and why he stopped after two years. [32:20]
- How having an obsessive streak can be an asset in some fields and a liability in others. [39:06]
- In spite of the fear leading up to it, Brandon found the loss of his trading job curiously liberating. [44:30]
- The real genesis of Humans of New York. [46:30]
- How did Brandon cover his expenses in the time between losing his trading job and Humans of New York becoming profitable? [48:31]
- Why did Brandon make New York his base of operations? [51:30]
- When Brandon was a newcomer to photography, what did he do to improve his craft? To him, what makes a good photograph? [56:06]
- How has Humans of New York changed over time to become what it is today? [1:01:30]
- Who is The Green Lady, and how did Brandon’s encounter with her become a turning point for Humans of New York? [1:03:37]
- Brandon isn’t used to being the subject. [1:08:50]
- How does Brandon approach and open conversation with potential subjects, and how has the process changed over the past eight years? [1:09:54]
- How did Brandon handle early days when rejection came in waves and self-confidence was low? [1:13:14]
- Humans of New York often proves therapeutic to the people on both sides of the lens. [1:18:50]
- Introductory questions as a springboard into real conversation, and how Brandon becomes 100 percent present in the presence of someone he’s just met. [1:25:09]
- One recent example of how a conversation got from that springboard to a place of depth. [1:29:05]
- How often do subjects ask that their stories not be made public? What’s the disclosure process? [1:33:16]
- Generating compensation to afford more than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches without losing integrity. [1:36:25]
- Was it easy for Brandon to find a publisher for his first book? [1:40:36]
- Reasons publishers gave for passing on Brandon’s first book. [1:43:08]
- The paradox of being derivative. [1:43:51]
- What’s next for Brandon? [1:46:17]
- My book recommendation for Brandon before he starts his next adventure. [1:50:30]
- Final thoughts. [1:51:53]
- Joe Gebbia
- Ben Franklin
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- Robert Caro
- Walter Isaacson
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Adolf Hitler
- Joseph Stalin
- Barack Obama
- Hillary Clinton
- Studs Turkel
- Elizabeth Sweetheart (The Green Lady)
- Neal Stephenson
Posted on: June 18, 2018.
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Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.