The Profile: The world’s most powerful couple & the billionaire behind tech’s hottest IPO

Good morning, friends.

One of my favorite places on the Internet is The Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page. I love it because the stories appeal to the most raw, most honest, most human part of us.

If you’ve never heard of it, I encourage you to listen to this Tim Ferriss podcast with HONY photographer Brandon Stanton. Brandon was a bond trader, lost his job during the recession, and decided to launch a blog telling the stories of regular people through photography. A decade later, HONY has garnered more than 25 million followers on social media.

For Christmas one year, I gave my mom the HONY book, which contains thousands of mini-profiles where Stanton catches people in various moments of time — from their most vulnerable to their most philosophical. I asked her to choose one photograph that I should share with you guys. Here’s what she chose:

“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”

“Try your best to deal with life without medicating yourself.”

“You mean drugs?”

“I mean drugs, food, shopping, money, whatever. I ain’t judging anybody, either. I was hooked on heroin for years. But now I’ve learned that every feeling will pass if you give it time. And if you learn to deal with your feelings, they will pass by faster each time. So don’t rush to cover them up by medicating them. You’ve got to deal with them.”

If you’re willing to share any creative, healthy ways you use to deal with unwelcome thoughts and feelings, I’d love to hear from you. Please send them my way, and I’ll highlight some of them (anonymously) in a future issue of The Profile.


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In the meantime, I’ll keep you occupied with this week’s best reads:

The CEO running an empire of chaos [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
The billionaire behind tech’s hottest IPO
The world’s most powerful couple
Kim Kardashian’s next chapter
Facebook’s ticking time bomb
— The “no-controversy” social media platform
The dating company aiming for world domination
— The actor trying to save his own life

PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The CEO running an empire of chaos: Susan Wojcicki’s tenure as the chief of YouTube wasn’t supposed to be dominated by pedophilia and attempted mass murder. When she got the job in 2014, she was hailed straightforwardly as the most powerful woman in advertising. But somewhere along the line, her job became less about growth and more about toxic containment.

“You grew into a galaxy. That has implications beyond anything you would have ever known.”

The billionaire behind tech’s hottest IPO: Zoom was the ultra-rare tech unicorn to make its IPO debut with a profit. Behind its $331 million in revenue is its elusive CEO Eric Yuan. He set out to build video conferencing software that would work equally well if you’re in a boardroom in Manhattan or a kitchen table in China. This is a story of perseverance and execution, proving that an unexpected challenger can sweep the field even in a crowded market.

“It’s like a marathon. You’re only 5 miles ahead of me, that’s okay. I’ll run faster than you, and I’ll still catch up.”

The world’s most powerful couple: Bill and Melinda Gates need no introduction. From January 1995 through the end of 2017, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has deployed a total of $45.5 billion (billion!) to education, poverty research, vaccine development, and more. This profile delves into exactly how the world’s most powerful duo spends their money and measures its enormous impact.

“The two of them have a multiplier effect—the two of them together. They act with a unity of purpose and with a difference of style.”

Kim Kardashian’s next chapter: Just when you thought you had Kim Kardashian all figured out, she’s got another surprise: The reality TV star is studying to become a lawyer. “First year of law school,” she says, “you have to cover three subjects: criminal law, torts, and contracts. To me, torts is the most confusing, contracts the most boring, and crim law I can do in my sleep.” Here’s why Kardashian made the unlikely decision to begin a four-year law apprenticeship, with the goal of taking the bar in 2022.

“I’m sitting in the Roosevelt Room with, like, a judge who had sentenced criminals and a lot of really powerful people and I just sat there, like, Oh, shit. I need to know more.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

Facebook’s ticking time bomb: Over the last year & a half, Facebook’s has floundered, dissembled, and apologized. Even when it told the truth, people didn’t believe it. Critics appeared on all sides, demanding changes that ranged from the essential to the contradictory to the impossible. As crises multiplied and diverged, even the company’s own solutions began to cannibalize each other. This is the story of the seismic shifts going on inside the world’s most powerful tech behemoth.

“The owners of the platform giants consider themselves the masters of the universe, but in fact they are slaves to preserving their dominant position.”

The “no-controversy” social media platform: If you want to discover the next hot tech startup, just count how many times it’s profiled in the tech media. Bytedance, the company behind video sharing app TikTok, is valued at $75 billion, and it’s everywhere. It claims that it’s different from any existing social network in that it aims to be a “one-stop entertainment platform where people come to have fun rather than creating any political strife.” Will it work or is it bound to suffer Facebook’s fate?

“There are nasty people here and there. But for the most part, it’s just a fun, friendly place.”

The dating company aiming for world domination: Just how big has dating app company Bumble become? Big enough to set its sights on the world’s most wired democracy — India. But there’s one big hurdle: Ninety-four percent of marriages in India are still arranged, suggesting the audience for Indian dating apps remains small. Here’s how CEO Whitney Wolfe-Herd plans to take Bumble India off the ground.

“The dating concept here doesn’t really exist. No one knows how to do it. Our parents never dated; who do you learn dating from?”

THROWBACK.

The actor trying to save his own life: In 2017, actor Shia LaBeouf was stalked by Internet trolls, sued for $5 million after a shouting match in a bowling alley, and arrested for public intoxication. LaBeouf witnessed a traumatic event as a child that can still trigger his violent outbursts. To this day, he sleeps with a gun in his bed. It’s a raw, unfiltered story about how to tame the demons of our past that still haunt us in the present.

“I’ve always thought somebody was coming in. My whole life.”


The Profile: The celebrity whisperer & America's First Daughter

Good morning, friends.

I’ve been a fan of Jordan Harbinger’s podcast for several years, so I asked him to share the biggest lessons he’s learned from interviewing some of the world’s most interesting people. I think you’ll enjoy this one, and don’t forget to share on Twitter here.

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What I’ve Learned From Interviewing a Thousand Successful People by Jordan Harbinger

I’ve spent the last 15 years interviewing nearly 1,000 top performers—from artists to athletes, authors to entrepreneurs, intelligence operatives to academics—about the mindsets, techniques and experiences that have driven their success.

I’ve talked to legendary author Robert Greene about envy and emotional baggage, learned about suffering and hustle from singer-songwriter Mike Posner, and come to understand the world as a dog whisperer with world-renowned animal trainer Cesar Millan, just to name a few.

On The Jordan Harbinger Show, I explore the playbooks, life stories and principles of top performers. In this piece, I’ll be sharing the most important lessons I’ve learned from my most successful guests, so that you can put them into practice, too.

Control for cognitive bias.

Top performers operate with the same basic hardware that we do. One advantage they do have, however, is a grasp of their own weaknesses. They cultivate that advantage by identifying their cognitive biases—those mental quirks that lead them astray from rational thought.

The most common cognitive bias I’ve discussed with top performers is the fundamental attribution error. This common bias leads us to explain other people’s behavior in terms of their character or intent, rather than external or circumstantial factors. It’s the quirk in our brains that labels people as “bad” or “malicious” when they do something to wrong us, as opposed to appreciating any number of other variables at play.

Mitigating the fundamental attribution error helps top performers cultivate greater empathy and arrive at better judgments. It also allows them to master another superpower I’ve noticed in successful people: the ability to not take things personally.

Focus and go deep.

Cal Newport famously preaches the power of focus and the destructiveness of distraction. His simple wisdom shows up in every conversation I have with top performers, who all confirm that immersing themselves fully in one activity at a time is the secret to high-quality work.

If you’re reading, read to engage, to understand, to question, and to absorb. Resist the urge to speed-read—no matter what productivity hackers tell you—or to multitask as you learn. This simple principle is the secret to maximizing value from every opportunity, every interaction.

Mine your own life for value.

Successful people in every field understand that their most valuable assets are deeply personal, highly idiosyncratic, and sometimes uncomfortable to share with the world. Mike Posner, for example, sees his mission as sharing his suffering with the world through his music. By sharing it, he creates art that is truly meaningful to his audience, songs that come from a place of honesty and authenticity. In the process, he also resolves his own conflicts, transmuting pain into meaning, insight and joy.

This often means digging into personal material that seems unacceptable, shameful, or straight-up “ugly.” Mining your own life for material doesn’t just apply to making art. It’s the key to inspiring leadership, deep relationships and true vulnerability—qualities of every top performer.

Consciously choose what you talk and think about.

I’ve noticed over the years that successful people spend a lot of time talking about ideas, systems, and experiences. They tend to debate current models, invent new approaches and reflect on key decisions. I’ve also realized that successful people don’t talk about certain things.

For example, they tend not to talk very much about other people. They don’t indulge in gossip or speculation. They tend to avoid the impulse to complain or blame.

Read the full post here.


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LET’S MEET: The Profile has become a close community of smart and curious people with whom I’ve had some of the best conversations. So — I’d love to have another event & meet in person to exchange ideas.

This time, I’m partnering with a non-profit close to my heart called Children of Bulgaria. If you’re interested in helping co-sponsor a casual drinks meetup in NYC in mid-May, reply to this email & I’ll connect you with the organizers. :)

On to the profiles of the week:

The celebrity whisperer [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— America’s First Daughter
 The most powerful woman at Amazon
— Baseball’s recovering villain
The NBA player confronting his own privilege
The teen bride trying to grow up
The millennial making Burger King cool

PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The celebrity whisperer: Justin Bieber. Ariana Grande. Gangnam Style. Scooter Braun is the hitmaker behind all your favorite artists & catchy singles you can’t get out of your head. He’s like a puppet master who uses a “formula” to manufacture a shy 12-year-old Canadian nobody into … Justin Bieber. When dealing with agents & their celebrity clients, one thing’s for sure: The line between influence & manipulation can be real thin. And Braun has no qualms about crossing it.

“The devil works hard but Scooter Braun works harder.”

America’s First Daughter: In the White House, Ivanka Trump has projected herself as a cosmopolitan peacemaker, dedicating her efforts largely to issues such as women’s economic empowerment, workforce development, and the fight against human trafficking. She is not a conservative, she says. She is a “pragmatist.” This profile delves into Ivanka’s early life and how her parents’ public divorce forced her to realize that some things were outside of her control, but it did affirm one thing she could control — her image.

“There are very few things we can control in life, but how we project ourselves is one of them.”

The most powerful woman at Amazon: Amazon’s HR chief Beth Galetti is hiring hundreds of people a day. As the company’s workforce swells, so do her challenges. In her six years at Amazon, Galetti is the highest-ranking woman at the company & she’s quietly become one of its most influential figures. Her job is far from just hiring new employees. She’s been dealing with Amazon’s workplace practices — from investigations into its warehouse workers’ ability to take bathroom breaks to strikes at unionized facilities in Europe. Here’s a day in the life at what I imagine to be the busiest, most chaotic place on Earth.

“Beth is not short on guts, but she is a calculated risk-taker.”

Baseball’s recovering villain: Alex Rodriguez has managed to pull off a comeback for the ages. It wasn’t all that long ago that the former Yankee was one of professional sports’ biggest villains often dubbed “A-Hole” and “A-Rat.” But three years after his last game, Rodriguez is a respected baseball broadcaster, a warm presence on social media, and a deferential businessman. “I tried to build a certain image while I was playing,” Rodriguez says, “and that plan failed miserably.” Now, he explains, “I have more clarity.”

“I would have booed me, too. I felt that being the tough guy who had all the answers and being robotic was the right thing to do. I was wrong.”

The NBA player confronting his own privilege: When Kyle Korver’s Atlanta Hawks’ teammate Thabo Sefolosha was wrongfully arrested & assaulted by police in front of 1 Oak, Korver’s first reaction to the news was to blame Thabo: What was Thabo doing out at a club? “It was pure reflex — the first thing to pop into my head,” Korver writes. This led him to examine his own privilege and to consider race, humanity, and responsibility. It’s a good one.

“When it comes to racism in America, I think that guilt and responsibility tend to be seen as more or less the same thing. But I’m beginning to understand how there’s a real difference.”

The teen bride trying to grow up: You might only have a vague memory of why you recognize Courtney Stodden’s name. Here’s a reminder: In 2011, when she was just 16 years old, she married The Green Mile actor Doug Hutchison, who was 51 at the time. Whether you think she was just a young girl seduced by the chance to be famous and sold out by parents who wanted to be adjacent to that fame, or an abuse victim with no agency, or the knowing architect of her own creepy narrative, Stodden was mocked for years by a public waiting for her 15 minutes to be up. This profile is just as bizarre as it is sad.

“I knew it was controversial. I knew it would be hard to get people to accept it. But I had no reason to be prepared for what happened.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The millennial making Burger King cool: How do you make a 60-year-old ham­bur­ger chain into something cool? It was a challenge that Daniel Schwartz undertook six years ago after 3G Capital took over Burger King and named Schwartz chief executive. He was 32. Per the 3G model, Schwartz slashed overhead costs, streamlined operations, and shrank the payroll — and it worked. This profile takes you inside the unbelievable turnaround effort at Burger King.

“I worked hard and proved that I really cared. More so than anything else, I put the business and the firm ahead of myself.”


The Profile: The mobster who sent his dad to prison & the VC firm changing its identity

Good morning, friends. (If you’re a new subscriber, welcome! I’m glad you’re here :)

I recently discovered Lawrence Yeo’s blog “More to That,” and I’m a big fan of his writing. I asked him to share his latest post with you: The Right Side of Thought. I think you’ll enjoy this one, and don’t forget to share on Twitter here.

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Hello, readers of The Profile! I’m Lawrence, the writer and illustrator of More To That.

When I’m asked to explain what More To That is, I find it hard to give a straightforward answer. So instead of offering you a big block of text to read through, the below diagram does a better job of summarizing my aims for the blog:

The sweet spot of knowledge acquisition resides at the intersection of these three areas, and this is how I think of More To That. I expand on topics that have a lot to do with the seriousness of the human condition (perspectives on death, navigating fear and anxiety, our struggle with self-doubt), but in a playful manner that makes the content relatable, digestible, and approachable. And if you walk away from the post feeling like the attention you gave was well worth your time, then I know the content was helpful. Now, on to the post.

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How to Get on the Right Side of Thought by Lawrence Yeo

If a loved one were to describe you as “someone who thinks a lot,” how would that make you feel?

Would you interpret that as a compliment, feeling somewhat proud of this designation as a ponderer of the world? Or would you feel slightly insulted, interpreting it as a tendency to overthink things instead of defaulting to action?

A part of it would come down to how the loved one said it, but much of our interpretation is reflective of our ongoing relationship with thought. Growing up, I often found myself wondering why things were the way they were.

My mom takes the view that frequent thinking doesn’t lead to anything fruitful, as asking too many questions about stuff gets in the way of taking action and getting shit done. I, on the other hand, find a lot of joy in the process of thinking.

If there’s ever a universal lesson about thought, it’s that it can help us immensely, but can just as easily destroy us. Toxic ideologies such as racism, sexism, and classism are all the byproduct of misdirected thought.

The issue of choosing between enlightening ideas and toxic ones may certainly represent a struggle for us, but this battle wasn’t what my mom was referring to when she was telling me to stop thinking so much.

Rather than referring to the usage of thought, she was commenting on what she believed to be the innate character of thought. At its baseline level, what is the texture of frequent thought? Is it smooth, allowing for a steady, fluid current of evaluation, or is it rough, causing violent waves to rise and crash in the ocean of your mind? My mom tends to associate sustained thought to be more of the latter, causing it to be the source of pointless worry and fear. Whereas I like to view sustained periods of thought as the only accessible avenue of examination and contemplation.

Interestingly enough, these two perspectives act as the universal endpoints of a see-saw representing our quality of thought – with Rumination on one side, and Reflection on the other.

I call this the Thought See-Saw, and while it features two prominent sides, the truth is that we are rarely sitting at the endpoints of it. Although I’d like to think that sustained thought is a reliable pathway to profound insight, I can easily find myself on a train of thought that is taking me to a pit of anxiety and fear.

We like to believe that we are the conscious authors of our thoughts, believing that these intentions and directives come from a structured, orderly place where willpower reigns supreme. However, if you take a brief moment to sit down in silence for just a minute or two, you’ll notice that the nature of thought is anything but that.

Almost immediately, a ruthless onslaught of thought will assault you about kinds of menial shit – things you have to do later, things you’d rather not do, things that you said earlier in the day, things that you regret you didn’t say, things you did in the past, things you hope for in the future, the barrage is endless. That minute of silence will feel like an hour of incessant chatter, with each thought maniacally screaming out for some of your valuable attention.

How you think about the world fundamentally dictates the actions you take in it. If you believe that people are generally cooperative and good-natured, that will color the way you interact and build the communities you hang out with. On the other hand, if you believe that people are inherently untrustworthy and selfish, then that will shape the way you approach your relationships and work life as well. A framework of thought is the pre-requisite to any form of action, and it can only be constructed with the ideas you’ve subscribed to.

Reflection can mean many things, but at its core, I think it comes down to our ability to strip these emotional charges from our thoughts. Instead of allowing each thought’s emotional baggage to dictate our every action, what if we can strip away that energy and observe the thought itself, without any judgment? One exercise I like to do when I sit down in silence is to imagine my entire field of consciousness as if it were a green-black perspective grid.

Since I am somewhat of a normal human being, within moments, thoughts will start bombarding my shit. They will all try to make me feel something one way or another. A thought about something on my looming to-do list creates a sense of urgency. A thought about something stupid I said earlier creates an emotion of regret. But rather than getting swept away by them, I try my best to view each of these thoughts as simple appearances on my consciousness radar, blotting in and out as they appear and inevitably fade away:

One thing that I’ve noticed again and again is that each thought has a specific texture associated with it. In the same way a spiky pine cone feels unpleasant when jammed against your hand, an angry thought has this rough, coarse texture that balloons up uncomfortably when it arises fully:

A comforting thought, on the other hand, appears as a glowing ball of warmth that naturally draws you into it:

When you notice the unique texture of each thought, it becomes easier to identify it when it arises, and to view it objectively, without reacting to it. The thought is exactly where it needs to be, and there’s no need to interpret it in any way.

It’s kind of like the difference between seeing a bug in your home vs. seeing a bug in nature. In the former situation, it can freak you the fuck out because your home is not a place you expect a bug to appear, whereas in nature, its appearance is fully aligned with its innate surroundings, so you find no reason to react to its presence. Observing each thought’s texture in your mind is just like watching a bug flutter around in its natural environment — there’s no need to react to anything here.

Read the full post here.


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I guarantee this week’s profiles will put you on the right side of thought:

The mobster who sent his father to prison [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
The creator of the world’s toughest race
The hurricane hunter
The editor saving Cosmo from the jaws of Instagram
The kid who tracked down Kanye West
The venture capital firm changing its identity

PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The mobster who sent his father to prison: You don’t testify against the mob in federal court and live to tell about it. Especially when your father’s the defendant. John Franzese Jr. helped send his father — the notorious Colombo family mobster Sonny Franzese — to prison. John also used to be a gun-toting, crack-addicted gangster before he became the U.S. government’s key witness against Sonny. “Before there was John Gotti," John says, "there was my dad.” This is the story of what happens when you break the mafia’s sacred code of silence. Make sure you read this one until the end — it’s jaw-dropping.

“We lived our lives worrying about whether someone was gonna kill us or the FBI was gonna put us in jail.”

The creator of the world’s toughest race: What kind of sadist creates the hardest race in the world? Meet Lazarus Lake. His real name is Gary Cantrell, and he is the mastermind behind The Barkley Marathons, a 100-mile-long, unsupported slog through the Tennessee backcountry that thousands have attempted & only 15 have ever finished. Cantrell presents athletes with seemingly insurmountable challenges, not in the hope that it will break them but on the certainty that it will make them stronger. It doesn’t matter if you fail or succeed, he says, what matters is what you learn about yourself in the process.

“Sports are the place where you get introduced to the real world. It’s where you learn that everyone is not going to succeed, that you have to work for what you get, and that the other team is trying to win, too.”

The hurricane hunter. At 49, Josh Morgerman has survived the inner cores of nearly 50 hurricanes—by choice. He is one of a small cadre of men (they’re all men) who chase giant tropical storms around the world. Wherever residents are trying to evacuate, Morgerman is on an inbound flight. He calls it an addiction. “It’s like a hunger for food or sex,” he says. “It’s very innate, it’s hard to verbalize, and it drives you.”

“There is that pressure every year as a chaser, that you’re only as good as your last smash, your last chase, your last hit.”

The editor saving Cosmo from the jaws of Instagram: At Cosmopolitan, data is the new sex. Jessica Pels, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, has doubled down on all the un-sexy, but important, stuff, like boosting Cosmo’s online presence, growing digital subscriptions & increasing affiliate revenue — all while using Instagram as inspiration. She’s catering to women aged 18 to 34, possibly the most Instagram-obsessed demo there is. “She opens Instagram 42 times a day,” Pels of the Cosmo reader. “Anything she can do on her phone, she will.”

“I think she’s bold. I think she’s unapologetic about having fun. I think she wants to have an impact on the world around her, and that she should.”

The kid who tracked down Kanye West: I’m not exactly sure what to call this because it’s not a profile & it’s not a feature written by a news outlet. It’s just a really well-told first-person story by a kid named Harry Dry who made a dating app for Kanye West. The app took off & went viral thanks to Harry’s laser focus and relentless determination. I can assure you, you’ll love this one.

“I woke up Steve Jobs. I'm ending the day Steve Harvey. The site's properly crashed now. I’m trying to put out fires everywhere but nothing’s working.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The venture capital firm changing its identity: What’s more disruptive than a venture capital firm disrupting itself? Enter Andreessen Horowitz. It will give up its status as a VC firm and transform into a registered investment advisor so it can take “riskier bets.” You may wonder: What could possibly on God’s green earth be riskier than investing in the earliest stages of companies that have a 50/50 shot of becoming industry titans or, you know, the subject of a Netflix documentary on fraud? Well, have you heard of … crypto?

“If the firm wants to put $1 billion into cryptocurrency or tokens, or buy unlimited shares in public companies or from other investors, it can.”


The Profile: The Kardashian cash machine & the therapist who will fix your love life

Good morning, friends.

My boyfriend Anthony and I recently watched Free Solo, a documentary that features rock climber Alex Honnold in his attempt to conquer the first free solo climb of the famed El Capitan vertical rock formation. As a result, Honnold has become a paramount symbol of fearlessness.

The documentary led to a discussion about how much of fear is inherent and how much is conscious & under our control. It was especially interesting to have this conversation with Anthony, someone I’ve seen navigate a number of uncomfortable, fear-inducing situations that would make me sweat profusely. So I asked (/cajoled/threatened) him to write about it. I hope you enjoy.

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Anthony Pompliano on fear:

Fear is misunderstood.

Many of you reading this have been nervous to make a big presentation. Or you have been scared to ask someone out on a date. Or maybe you feel anxious and end up quitting before you even started on that company you wanted to build, that project you wanted to finish, or that book you wanted to write.

You don’t need to succumb to fear though. You can train yourself to not only become immune to fear, but use those situations to operate at your absolute best. In order to do this, we must first understand where fear comes from.

Humans developed a sensitivity to danger over thousands of years and it manifests in a biological response in the brain’s amygdala. As the feeling of fear becomes more prevalent, researchers describe the following physical reaction: “The brain becomes hyperalert, pupils dilate, the bronchi dilate and breathing accelerates. Heart rate and blood pressure rise. Blood flow and stream of glucose to the skeletal muscles increase. Organs not vital in survival such as the gastrointestinal system slow down.” Essentially, your body reacts to fear before you can.

But not everyone responds to danger in the same way. Take Alex Honnold, the famous rock climber who is the only person to ever free solo El Capitan, who scientists have studied because of the lack of response to threats or danger in his amygdala. He doesn’t recognize dangerous situations or threats as something to be afraid of.

Unfortunately, most of us are not blessed with this ability. So what are we left to do?

We must condition our minds to identify fear and overcome it. US Navy SEALs are a great example — their training programs subject the aspiring SEALs to frequent and severe stress, with the goal of increasing an individual’s ability to operate effectively in a fearless manner.

Each Navy SEAL leaves the training program equipped with the “Big Four”:

  1. Goal setting — Immediately identifying something or someone to look forward to in the near future. This can quickly sober your thought process while creating a goal to work towards.

  2. Mental rehearsal — This is the driving force behind the saying “Act like you have been there before.” By conditioning your mind through visualization, there are fewer surprises and less extreme reactions to fear.

  3. Self-Talk — It is powerful and imperative to have the ability to convince yourself that the dangerous situation is not nearly as bad as perceived, that you will get through the situation, or that you can triumph in this situation because you prepared well.

  4. Arousal Control — When your body and mind are triggering every physical reaction to fear, you can halt and reverse those reactions by breathing intentionally and using your mind to force your body to relax and calm down.

The idea is to minimize the time before the fear stimulus reaches the frontal cortex so that the decision can be more conscious. These four approaches to mastering fear can be used by anyone, regardless of whether they are entering combat or making a big presentation at work. In fact, fear becomes a fascinating topic for many when they realize that individuals who train themselves to overcome fear are scientifically proven to perform better in those situations.

Did you know that often Navy SEALs’ heart rates drop when they are engaged in combat? Or that athletes describe a state of tunnel vision and effortless excellence in high stress situations?

This means that fear is not a negative biological reaction, but rather an opportunity to produce some of your best work. But you must be intentional about training yourself. Here are a few things that I do regularly to ensure that I keep fear under my control:

  1. Travel extensively: Immerse yourself in different cultures, geographies, and environments. Extra points if you travel alone to less popular destinations.

  2. Endure physical pain: As the great David Goggins says, do one thing every day that sucks. Sprint a mile. Lift something heavy. Just force yourself to be physically uncomfortable.

  3. Desensitize yourself: Watching other people, whether reality or fiction, in situations where they overcome fear can make it less special when you are in a similar situation. You become those who you hang out with the most. (Polina made me add this video of Swedish people jumping off a 10-meter tower here as an example of self-talk in the midst of fear.)

  4. Practice stress avoidance: Be intentional about identifying when you are experiencing a physical change due to stress or fear. Immediately take a deep breath, relax your hands/arms/shoulders, and remind yourself that you are in control.

The ways to control fear are easily described but hard to execute. You have to continuously work at it or you lose the mental toughness necessary to always be in control.

I live my life based on one motto: “No fucking fear.” Not because I am fearless, but because I am prepared when it arrives.

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In other news, I cannot speak highly enough of this week’s profiles. See for yourself:

— The Kardashian cash machine [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The Oskar Schindler of North Korea
— The NBA player who used to beat Michael Phelps
— The Chinese actress that vanished without a trace
— The baseball star who turned down $300 million
— The companies profiting off your face
— The world’s greatest delivery empire
— The therapist who will fix your love life


If you enjoy reading profiles of the most successful people and companies, click here to tweet so others can enjoy it too.


PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The Kardashian cash machine: Even when bad things happen to the Kardashians, they still make money. The Kardashian sisters have dealt with so many scandals over the last decade, it’s hard to keep count. They include Kim’s infamous sex tape, the Jordyn cheating debacle, Kendall’s participation in Fyre Festival, and so many more. Yet all that drama has amounted to a master class in the art of monetizing influence. Here’s the formula for how they do it.

“We will be vulnerable at all points of impact no matter what presents itself.”

The Oskar Schindler of North Korea: Stephen Kim is a man whose life has been shrouded in legend. Dubbed “the Oskar Schindler of North Korea,” he has helped thousands of refugees escape the world's worst dictatorship through a secret underground network. But nothing is ever that simple. This is the story of one desperate woman named Faith who risked her life to reach freedom, and Kim, the complicated man who led the way.

“Any North Korean knows that escaping their nation is nearly impossible.”

The NBA player who used to beat Michael Phelps: It’s funny how childhood memories flood our mind in the most random moments. Before Kris Humphries was a basketball player, he was the No. 1 youth swimmer in America. “Back in the day, I used to crush Phelps. Lochte, too,” he says. And then one embarrassing mistake in the pool left him with a memory that would haunt him for the rest of his athletic career. Humphries was playing for the first time after his 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian ended & was being booed “so loud it was crazy” when that fateful day at the pool popped into his mind.

“I didn’t want to be Kris Humphries. It’s the craziest feeling in the world, not wanting to be yourself.”

The Chinese actress that vanished without a trace: Fan Bingbing is China’s highest-paid female star, with a net worth estimated at $100 million. After appearances in the Iron Man and X-Men franchises, she was slated to begin filming a thriller alongside Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, and Lupita Nyong’o. But last year, she disappeared without a trace. Here is the bizarre untold story of what happened next — the event that sent a shudder through the entire Chinese film industry.

“Fear of the system, where no matter how high you are, from one day to the next you can disappear.”

The baseball star who turned down $300 million: Bryce Harper, a free agent at 26, would demand and receive the most lucrative contract in American sports history — but not before turning down a $300 million offer from the Washington Nationals. “About $100 million of that contract was deferred 'til I was 65 years old,” he says. Still, few people can turn down a $100 million retirement fund; Bryce is one. "It's like, 'What does that do for me? What does that do for my family,'" he wonders.  

"That's the thing: Bryce Harper is different. Superstars are different. I had to tell teams, 'You don't discuss money. You discuss Bryce Harper.'"

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The companies profiting off your face: Facial recognition software is a powerful technology that poses serious threats to civil liberties. It’s also a booming business. Today, dozens of startups and tech giants are selling face recognition services to hotels, retail stores—even schools and summer camps. Chances are good that your own face is part of a “training set” used by a facial recognition firm or part of a company’s customer database.

“You need millions of images. If you don’t train the database with people with glasses or people of color, you won’t get accurate results.”

The world’s greatest delivery empire: In Beijing, it’s often cheaper to have food delivered than to get it yourself. This is because of a fight between Meituan & Alibaba. Alibaba and its various subsidiaries dominate China’s online retail market for physical goods, but Meituan is leading the way in services. It has 600,000 delivery people serving 400 million customers a year in 2,800 cities. Both companies are spending billions in an escalating war of subsidies that might persuade even Jeff Bezos to cut his losses.

“You order something online, and by the time you reach your house or apartment, your delivery is already there.”

FROM THE VAULT.

The therapist who will fix your love life: Esther Perel is a Belgian psychotherapist who is an expert at solving problems having to do with love, sex, marriage, infidelity, and just real shit we face. Her secret? She goes right for the questions people are scared to ask their partners. Her podcast features the raw recordings from her consultation sessions. They’re riveting.

“You’re right, but you’re wrong, too. Welcome to life as a couple.”


The Profile: Facebook’s forgotten founder & the world’s greatest adventurer

Good morning, friends.

There is an excellent profile this week on Rick Steves, the man who has hosted the travel series Rick Steves: Europe for nearly 20 years. In the story, he explains how even the tiniest exposure to other cultures can be enough to change your life. Travel, he says, “wallops your ethnocentricity,” “carbonates your experience” and “rearranges your cultural furniture.”

For me, travel has always been a completely immersive experience. You’re alert, your senses are engaged, and you find yourself looking at the world with fresh eyes. Steves once said that people who don’t travel often think their way of life is the norm (ie: Americans say the British drive on the "wrong" side of the road. No, they just drive on the other side of the road). That’s why leaving your home country for a few days or weeks can act as a reset, allowing you to get a broader perspective beyond the rigid mental walls you’ve built over the years.

There’s a book I love called “The Geography of Bliss,” in which a longtime foreign correspondent for NPR travels to some of the world’s happiest places. He explains how travel has the capacity to shake us up, to jostle our souls. Here’s an excerpt from the book:

“I believe, now more than ever, in the transformative promise of geography. Change your location, and you just may change yourself. It’s not that distant lands contain some special ‘energy’ or that their inhabitants possess secret knowledge (though they may) but rather something more fundamental: By relocating ourselves, reorienting ourselves, we shake loose the shackles of expectation. Adrift in a different place, we give ourselves permission to be different people.”

I want to hear from you — What is the most unforgettable place you’ve ever been & what insights/epiphanies stayed with you long after the trip?

On to this week’s profiles:

Facebook’s forgotten founder [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The world’s greatest adventurer
— The Larry King of the Intellectual Dark Web
— The billionaire who defied Amazon
— The rapper entering the limelight
— Batman’s favorite app
The pizza empire


If you enjoy reading profiles of the most successful people and companies, click here to tweet so others can enjoy it too.


PEOPLE TO KNOW.

Facebook’s forgotten founder: You might remember Eduardo Saverin as Facebook’s jilted co-founder in the film The Social Network. HIs stint with the company ended in 2005, mired in controversy and lawsuits over his reduced ownership stake in the company. By 2009, Saverin had moved to Singapore, giving up his U.S. citizenship two years later. Now, the 36-year-old is one of the world’s youngest billionaires deploying capital out of his under-the-radar venture capital firm. What a story.

“Make mistakes all the time, but learn from it immediately. Apologize if it affects anyone else. And make sure you don’t make that mistake again.”

The world’s greatest adventurer: This profile is so good, but it will give you an urgent sense to grab your passport & get on a plane. Although travel guru Rick Steves has spent nearly half his life traveling, he insists that he would never live anywhere but the United States. He built his business in America, raised his kids in America & often talks about the glories of American life. And yet: Rick Steves desperately wants you to leave America. “I think it’s loving America to look at it critically,” he says.

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”

The Larry King of the Intellectual Dark Web: If you’ve never listened to the podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, it’s an experience. Joe Rogan, who used to be the host of Fear Factor, has one of the most popular podcasts of all time. The show reached new heights when Rogan hosted Elon Musk for a 2½-hour conversation during which the two men smoked weed, played with a flamethrower, and discussed the nature of reality. As this profile notes: “Listening to The Joe Rogan Experience is sort of like crashing an intense, intimate dinner party in which the only courses are whiskey and weed.”

“Joe Rogan is fully invested in the idea that people—progressive liberals, mostly—are too quick to take offense at things that do not offend Joe Rogan.”

The billionaire who defied Amazon: Wish was the most downloaded shopping app worldwide in 2018 and is now the third-biggest e-commerce marketplace in the U.S. by sales. Globally, some 90 million people use it at least once a month. Behind the app is Peter Szulczewski, a 37-year-old Polish-born former Google engineer. Szulczewski is proving it’s possible to successfully take on behemoths like Alibaba and Amazon by building something its customers want — not what Silicon Valley thought they should want.

“Shoppers scroll through an average 600 to 700 items, hypnotized by a pixelated parade of weird and wacky products that scratches the same visual itch as an Instagram feed.”

The rapper entering the limelight: J. Cole might be a famous musician, but he tries to live life like he's not. Home is in North Carolina, where he can play basketball at a local gym for hours without being disturbed. No one knew he was married until director Ryan Coogler accidentally revealed it in an interview. In this profile, the ultra-private star opens up to reveal who he really is, why he’s stayed out of the limelight, and his plans for what’s to come.

“I've been so secluded within myself that people think I don't like anybody, that I won't work with anybody.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

Batman’s favorite app: Citizen is a mobile app that sends you real-time alerts about crimes & other emergency situations in your immediate surroundings. I open the app as I’m writing this newsletter, and I see the following alerts: “Report of trash can fire,” “Suspicious package” and “Pedestrian struck by vehicle” — all within a few blocks from my apartment. Conflicted enthusiasm is common among Citizen users: I don’t know if I want to know, but I can’t not know.

“I’m always torn between wanting to know and see everything, or to have that blind eye toward everything.”

FROM THE VAULT.

The pizza empire: This 2017 profile tells the remarkable comeback story of Domino’s Pizza. Right around 2008, sales were declining, franchisees were pissed off, and people were calling it “an imitation of pizza.” How they turned it around? Honest apologies wrapped in self-deprecating jokes. Execs told customers they agreed the pizza sucked, so they took 18 months to majorly improve the quality. And then there was mobile ordering. And self-driving delivery robots. And drones.

“We’re going to make sure people understand that we heard them, we get it. The pizza wasn’t good enough.”


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