Meet Sid Jha

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Sid Jha is the author of Sunday Snapshots, a weekly newsletter about the best books, academic papers, and news. He started the newsletter in May 2019 and recently crossed the 1,000 subscriber mark. Sid grew up in India and the Phillippines and recently graduated from Northwestern University. Here’s his story…


On building an email newsletter:

  • Started writing Sunday Snapshots in May 2019 as a way to exercise his writing muscle and he hasn’t missed a single week
  • Recently hit 1,000 subscribers
  • Thinks people need to understand that growth doesn’t happen overnight
    • There was a nine-month period where he only added 70 new subscribers, now he adds a new subscriber every day
  • Have to remember the magic of compound interest – not just a finance principle, it applies in lots of areas
  • Decided to start a weekly email newsletter, partially in order to hold himself accountable and provide a more direct feedback mechanism
  • Have to be careful in how you compare yourself to others and understand the restraints that you are working under

On working with David Perell:

  • Saw David tweet that he was coming to Chicago for some podcast interviews and wanted to do a reader meetup
    • Emailed David saying that he couldn’t make the meetup, but would love to help to transcribe his podcast for free
    • Received an email back from David saying that it sounded like a good idea, he wasn’t going to let him work for free, and that they should grab a coffee on Saturday and chat
  • Spent some time helping David with transcripts and the podcast and eventually started helping with David’s course: Write of Passage
  • Instead of reaching out and asking for something, he provided value upfront
    • Keep the emails short (around 5 sentences)
    • Offer helpful feedback and to help
  • Respect the shadow powers
    • Consider the people that support incredibly famous people and whether you can learn the same thing from them as you would from their more famous colleague
      • May also be more applicable to you, as their story may be more relatable
    • Don’t be transactional about it, be genuine
    • Inspired by a great blog post by Ben Casnocha

On reading:

  • Always reads a book for an hour before bed – non-negotiable
    • Uses Pocket to save articles to avoid getting sucked into articles at the wrong time
  • Consider your place in life and the opportunity cost for reading something you may not love and weigh it out
  • Thinks that it is often worth it to push through less interesting parts of books and that has resulted in him finding some of his favorite books, including The Years of Lyndon Johnson Book Series by Robert Caro
  • Reads with a pen or highlighter, which allows him to engage with a book in a physical way
    • Encourages you to try to have a conversation with the author
  • Thinks young students shouldn’t be forced to read specific books, but instead should choose books within a specific theme or from a specific author

On growing up in India and Southeast Asia:

  • Grew up in Lucknow, India and around the age of 12, he moved to the Phillippines when his dad got a job there
  • Had the opportunity to attend the international school in the Phillipines and really enjoyed the diversity
  • Moved back to India and attended a boarding school with an international environment
  • Received a scholarship from Northwestern University, which had one of the most flexible engineering programs he could find

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