The Profile: The doctor caring for Boston’s homeless & the novelist who faked her own death
This week's edition of The Profile features James Joseph O’Connell, Markus Dohle, Susan Meachen, and more.
Good morning, friends!
I’ve interviewed many successful people in my career as a reporter at FORTUNE magazine and author of The Profile. And the question I love to ask at the end of each interview is: "How do you define success?"
That single question gives you a brief glimpse into their world — it explains why they do what they do, what motivates them, and how they measure the outcome of their efforts. Do they see success as a measure of status, money, and achievement? Or do they equate success with personal fulfillment?
Here’s how 11 exceptional people, from CEOs to professional athletes, answer the question: “How do you define success?”
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— The doctor caring for Boston’s homeless [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The most powerful man in publishing
— The romance novelist who faked her own death
— The journalist trying to contextualize Donald Trump
— The TV stylist entering her fifth act
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The doctor caring for Boston’s homeless: Homelessness had been a major problem in Boston and all across the country since the 1980s. Over three decades, Dr. Jim — James Joseph O’Connell — had built, with many friends and colleagues, a large medical organization, which he called the Program, short for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. It had roughly 400 employees and looked after about 11,000 homeless people a year. O’Connell was its president, and also captain of the Street Team, a small piece of the Program, with seven members serving several hundred homeless people who shunned the city’s many shelters and, even in Boston’s winters, lived outside or in makeshift quarters. Meet the man who’s on a crusade to treat the city’s “rough sleepers.” (The New York Times)
“If you come in with your doctor questions, you won’t learn anything. You have to learn to listen to these patients.”
The most powerful man in publishing: Markus Dohle, the CEO of Penguin Random House, had for 14 years been the most powerful and successful publishing warlord in the industry. PRH had become the biggest publisher in the game after a 2013 merger, led by Dohle, that saw Random House gobble up Penguin. The combined company had cast a long shadow over its four smaller rivals — Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster — but Dohle wanted more and had spent much of the past two years fighting to buy S&S in order to create a world-spanning leviathan. Here’s how his grand ambitions flopped. (New York Magazine)
“This is a 30-year-long story that we’re watching end.”
The romance novelist who faked her own death: Susan Meachen is a romance novelist whose writing became “an addiction.” In the fall of 2020, a post announcing she had died had appeared on her Facebook page. The post, apparently written by her daughter, led many to assume she had died by suicide. But she wasn’t dead. Two weeks ago, to the shock of her online community, Meachen returned to her page to say she was back and now “in a good place,” and ready to resume writing under her own name. She playfully concluded: “Let the fun begin.” What a bizarre story. (The New York Times)
“Dead people don’t post on social media.”
The journalist trying to contextualize Donald Trump: Since 2015, Maggie Haberman’s career has revolved around the most controversial man in national politics. The New York Times hired her to cover the 2016 election five months before Donald Trump declared his first Presidential campaign. As his star climbed, she served as one of his most diligent chroniclers.
”People wanted her to provide a normative framing for what was going on.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The TV stylist entering her fifth act: Stylist-turned-TV star Stacy London says that her greatest mistake “was resisting change and staying at the party too long.” In this first-person article, London explains how easy it is to fall into the false illusion of “comfort” — the paycheck, the benefits, the 401(k). “I have learned, now that I’m 53, is that words like success or failure are loaded, value-judgment words for what is all just experience.” she says. (Fast Company)
“Getting fired was one of the greatest gifts that was ever given to me.”
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