The Profile: The entrepreneur who built an empire of odor & the NBA exec who stole $13M

Good morning, friends!

I arrived in Bulgaria yesterday, and I’m still severely jet-lagged but determined to get this newsletter out on time. I decided to stop at a bookstore today, and I bought a book that contains mini-profiles of 40 of the most interesting and trailblazing women in Bulgarian history.

One such story is about the life of Anastasia Golovina (1850-1933). She was one of 16 children and was constantly sick. Someone advised her parents to give her cold baths, which was wildly frowned upon at the time because there was widespread belief that showering in cold water would make you prone to catching a cold and cause an early death. Despite the fear, they continued, and she grew up to be healthy and strong.

She went through a ridiculous number of challenges after she declared she wanted to study to be a doctor. At the time, there were no professional, licensed female doctors because it was believed their brains weren’t as developed as those of men. (Sigh.) She went on to become the first Bulgarian woman to graduate from a university and went on to fulfill her dream of working as a medical doctor.

Later, she dedicated her life to working with mentally ill patients and became the first female psychiatrist in Bulgaria. Her tactics were seen as radical at the time: she believed that people with mental disorders shouldn’t be kept indoors but rather that being outside and taking baths in the sea could be therapeutic. Thanks to her, it helped change an entire country’s relationship with water and bathing (thank God).

There are many stories just as inspiring as this one. I’ll see you next week, and in the meantime, here are this week’s reads:

— The entrepreneur who built an empire of odor[**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The NBA executive who stole $13 million
— China’s private equity champion
— The man encouraging you to take the dirt road
— The godfathers of Hollywood
— The star who refuses to get political
The couples counselor healing your work relationships
— The Warby Parker of contacts

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The entrepreneur who built an empire of odor: Suzy Batiz has done many things in pursuit of a successful venture including: opening a tanning salon, starting a clothing line; and selling cheap lingerie at a markup to strippers. And then came the product that made her one of America’s richest self-made women: Poo-Pourri. Yep, the before-you-go toilet spray catapulted her net worth to more than $240 million. I’m not exaggerating when I say her entrepreneurial journey is a fascinating one. (The New Yorker)

“Business, for me, isn’t just something I do. It’s a purpose. This is not a rags-to-riches story. It’s a spiritual-evolution story.”

The NBA executive who stole $13 million: What a wild story. It’s the fascinating tale of how NBA executive Jeff David stole $13.4 million from the Sacramento Kings and their top corporate partners for years. And even though he was earning $360,000 per year plus bonuses, just about everyone around him made more than he did. As the story notes, “Jeff David's NBA was awash in wealth, yet in this rarefied air, he was the pauper.” (ESPN)

“I knew how the Kings operated. I knew how these other companies operated. We had an arrangement and we agreed upon it, then everyone moved on."

China’s private equity champion: Weijian Shan is the leader of Asia’s largest private equity firm. “The trade war is yesterday’s conflict,” Shan says. “The prize is winning the Chinese consumer.” He’s a successful dealmaker, managing $35 billion in assets. He’s also a U.S.-trained Ph.D. economist and former business-school professor. Here’s how Shan was able to win so big. (Fortune)

“China has gone from the factory of the world to the market for the world.”

The man encouraging you to take the dirt road: For 40 years, Sam Correro has been riding a motorcycle through a continuous pathway of dirt roads. His trail is not straightforward, avoiding pavement, cities and highways. No algorithm would advise you to take Carrero’s route through dirt road America yet he has sold thousands of self-made paper maps and road charts containing his directions. Here’s what America actually looks like when you manage to escape the pavement. (The New Yorker)

“There’s more to traveling than being on the interstate going seventy miles an hour.”

The godfathers of Hollywood: Actors Al Pacino and Robert de Niro have been friends for over 50 years. In this wide-ranging Q&A, the two legendary actors discuss everything from their new film The Irishman to the evolution of Hollywood to the first time Al Pacino went broke. You’ll enjoy this one. (GQ) 

“It’s just such a different world now. Celebrity is different. And fame is, I think, sought-after more than it ever was in my lifetime. It’s sort of a cart-before-a-horse kind of thing.”

The star who refuses to get political: Singer-songwriter Dolly Parton has been a constant presence in pop culture for half a century. And while her songs touch on female empowerment and give voice to working people, she refuses to take part in the political mess that is 2019. “I have my own thoughts, my own opinions, of course,” Parton says, “but I don’t believe that I should offend people that don’t have that same opinion by voicing my own opinion.” (LA Times)

“I’m an entertainer; I can live it, I can write about it, I can joke, lift people up in my own way. But I don’t see no reason for me to get involved in political fights.”

The couples counselor healing your work relationships: You know Esther Perel as one of the world’s best-known psychotherapists who specializes in couples therapy. But now, she’s carving out a new niche as an executive coach. Startup founders are calling her in for help working with their co-founders about relationships … inside their companies. (Wall Street Journal)

“We treat it more like a marriage than a transactional partnership.”


The Warby Parker of contacts: Warby Parker started with direct-to-consumer, and it’s now moving on to “direct-to-cornea.” The company that made tortoiseshell frames cool wants to do the same with contact lenses. At $440 for a year’s supply, the lenses will be slightly cheaper than many daily contacts but will be sold with what Warby says will be “a much improved ordering process.” Can the company replicate its success? (Bloomberg)

“Whether or not Warby turns into a hugely transformational business remains to be seen.” 

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