Two years after leaving his banking job, Simon Anthony has become something of a sensation. Working from his bedroom, the former Unicredit managing director in his late 40s runs a YouTube channel with 413,000 subscribers. He's appeared in various newspaper articles and has become a kind of national treasure among people keen on Suduko. He's also making money - just not as much.
"It generates enough money to live on," says Anthony, who has two young children and lives in Surrey, a notoriously leafy county outside London. "I can't live in the same way as when I was earning money in investment banking, but I can feed the family and we can go on small holidays in the UK and maybe one day I'll make a lot more." He points out that the YouTube business is only four years old and has only really taken off in the past two years: "It's quite young."
Anthony's YouTube currency is solving puzzles. Every day, he and his colleague Mark Goodliffe solve a cryptic puzzle live on the channel and tens of thousands of people tune in to watch him to do it. "I am inundated with puzzles," says Anthony. "I get sent 20 puzzles a day by world class constructors. I have a team of testers who choose one and I try to solve the puzzle in the video, and hopefully I end up solving it correctly."
Possibly because it involves a middle-aged, middle class male overcoming setbacks to conquer a seemingly unassailable problem, Anthony says his channel has evolved into a kind of therapy for his viewers. "People enjoy watching someone have little epiphanies. A lot of people have told me they watch the videos because they calm them down and help them sleep. - They get a mental health benefit, and if I don't post I'm aware that there will be a lot of people who wonder where the video is," he says.
For this reason, Anthony also says the channel has become "a responsibility," although he denies it's a chore. As is often the case, he works more hours now than he ever did as a senior employee in a bank. "People think that running a YouTube channel is an easy life and that you only work for half an hour a day, but sometimes the videos will get thousands and thousands of comments and reading and responding to them takes time, plus there's dealing with social media and interacting with puzzle creators and testers. I usually work a 15 hour day."
Nonetheless, Anthony says he feels privileged to be doing what he genuinely enjoys. Anthony says he was "miserable" in banking, but is now doing what he loves. "When I left banking, I needed to get out," he informs us. "I was miserable and I got very stale and disenchanted with it. I was never fascinated by the whole topic of banking, although I enjoy struturing around rules quite a lot." At Unicredit, Anthony ran a structuring team: "We looked at optimizing regulatory capital or the tax features of transactions. It was interesting, but never a passion."
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