I Studied Hundreds of Successful People —And Wrote a Book About What I Learned
Introducing my first book, 'Hidden Genius'
There’s an old saying that claims every person should do the following three things in their lifetime: Plant a tree, have a child, and write a book. The idea is that all three will live on long after we’re gone.
Several years ago, I planted a tree in my grandmother’s backyard.
Last year, I gave birth to my daughter.
And this year, I wrote a book.
I am excited to finally share that after many sleepless nights, chaos-filled days with a newborn, and months of writing (and re-writing), I have finished my first book.
It’s called Hidden Genius: The secret ways of thinking that power the world's most successful people (Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ThriftBooks). It will be published by Harriman House on June 20, 2023, but you can pre-order your copy today.
Why did I write a book?
I’ve been writing my weekly newsletter The Profile for more than 5 years, and I was completely fulfilled. Or so I thought.
Everything changed after my daughter was born in November 2021. I had been thinking about writing a book for years but never got around to it. When she came along, everything changed. I had no time yet I wanted to do more.
And then when she was three months old, I received a message from Harriman House editor Christopher Parker. He reached out on Twitter with a simple, “If your thoughts ever turn to writing a book, we’d love to chat with you.”
At first, I dismissed it. There was no time. I had a baby that refused to sleep. The very thought of writing something longer than a newsletter post made me nauseous. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t even know what I would write an entire book about.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I decided to do a call with Chris just out of curiosity. I told him about how I had once thought about writing a children’s book and another time a biography of a tech entrepreneur. I wasn’t really pitching him anything. I was talking about a book the way a little kid talks about unicorns and dragons. It was the stuff of fantasy.
After we hung up, I chatted with Morgan Housel, the author of The Psychology of Money. He told me that his book grew out of the existing blog posts that he had written for years. He was rejected by nearly every publisher in New York until Harriman House agreed to publish his book. It has now sold more than 2 million copies.
Not only did his non-traditional model of a “blog-style book” work, but people found great value in it. I wondered if I, like Morgan, could synthesize all the lessons I had learned after years of writing my newsletter.
So on February 22 at 11:34 p.m, I emailed my editor Chris, and I said, “After speaking with Morgan, I decided to start with a book that compiles all the lessons I've learned as a result of studying and writing about so many individuals in the last five years.”
Harriman House accepted my book proposal, and here we are seven months later. This book was written in the edges of time—often found in between diaper changes, 20-minute naps, and games of peek-a-boo with my daughter.
And, of course, I would send Chris emails like this late into the night:
I kept it a secret for so long because I wasn’t sure I’d finish it. But I did, and I’m really proud that I can offer even more value to my readers who have been with me since Day 1.
What is the book about?
After years of profiling hundreds of fascinating people, I asked myself: What distinguishes the great from the truly exceptional?
I realized that the highest performers don't use "tricks" or "hacks" to achieve greatness. They use mental frameworks that fundamentally change the way they see the world.
This book will help you do the same. Inside, you’ll find practical techniques around augmenting your creativity, mastering mental toughness, telling better stories, cultivating healthy relationships, clarifying your thinking, and unlocking your own hidden genius.
But I want to be clear about what this book is not: It is not a compilation of traditionally successful people who are portrayed as unblemished ‘heroes’ worthy of worship. There are plenty of books that do that. This is not one of them.
This was important to me because I wanted to write a book about learning, not idolizing. Keep in mind this important distinction: Idolizing traps you into imitating ‘perfect’ versions of imperfect people. Learning, on the other hand, allows you to observe, synthesize, and pave your own path.
This book will expose you to the hidden genius of a wide variety of people whose journeys have taught them practical lessons you can apply to your own life if you so choose. There is no perfect human being, but I believe that we can all learn from each other’s most fulfilling successes—as well as our most devastating failures.
I hope you choose to join me on this journey over the next year. Pre-order your copy of Hidden Genius today.
How can you help?
If you want to support me in this endeavor, here’s how you can help:
Pre-order the book: If you are curious and love to learn, you can pre-order the book ahead of its June release, and I will be eternally thankful. You can do that here: (Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ThriftBooks).
Share the news on social media: If you want to help me spread the word, you can share the book with family and friends. Tweet it here.
Introductions: If you or someone you know has a platform (newsletter, podcast, YouTube, etc) with a large audience (100,000+ people), and you’d like to make an introduction, please fill out this form.
Sign up for my newsletter The Profile where I will be sharing more updates as we get closer to launch day. Sign up here.
And finally, I want to say thank you to you, dear reader. I am acutely aware that your time is precious, and you don’t have to spend it with me. It means the world that you choose to be here, and I’m really excited to start this next chapter with you!
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Phenomenal. Congratulations Polina!
I've been reading The Profile for years and could not be more excited to read this book.