Every magazine editor cringes when a plain brown envelope with an unsolicited manuscript arrives in the mail. Chances are, it contains a letter that begins: “Dear fellow truth seeker. The international conspiracy to control our minds with fluoride is revealed in the 15,000-word article enclosed. Call me immediately to discuss when you will be publishing it.”
Despite the cranks, an editor lives in the hope that one of those plain brown envelopes may lead to something great. I can tell you that once a decade or so, that hope actually materializes. My proof? Andrew Hallam.
I had never met Andrew when an envelope landed on my desk at MoneySense magazine <www.moneysense.ca/>. It contained a typewritten article about Warren Buffett. I remember reading the piece in my office and staring out over Front Street in Toronto as I debated what to do. The writer's enthusiasm jumped off the page; he also seemed unusually knowledgeable. On the other hand, who was the writer, this Andrew Hallam guy? And why did he spell Buffett's name with just one t?
I decided to phone Andrew and I will always be glad that I did. He explained to me that he was a teacher on Vancouver Island. Investing was his passion. And, sure, he would be happy to rework his piece a bit and even give Mr. Buffett his full consignment of t's.
The article turned out well, and over the next few years, Andrew became a regular contributor to our pages. He filed fascinating stories on the stock market, the art of haggling, and, ...