The Profile: The investor turned criminal mastermind & the man behind China's aggressive new voice
Here's why you should bet on your future self today.
Today marks exactly one year since Anthony and I got married in 2020. We did it in the midst of a global pandemic, a tropical storm, and a nationwide state of social unrest. We couldn't foresee those events — just like we won't be able to see what the next decade holds.
Even though I had been married for only one day at the time, I already understood that the long run would come with many surprises, both welcome and not-so-welcome. I wrote, "As someone who has been a newlywed for less than a day, I know there’s so much I have yet to learn and so many more times I’ll get blindsided by life."
When we were deciding whether to get married by ourselves or to keep postponing the wedding until it was safe to gather with family and friends, I had remembered that I once heard someone say, “Remember, your wedding is not your marriage.” A wedding can easily devolve into a celebration for everyone but the people standing at the altar, while a marriage is solely reserved for the two people in it.
When I think of a wedding, I picture several hours of celebration. When I think of a marriage, I picture navigating several decades of life events. So we just went and got married by ourselves. For us, marriage was the ultimate destination, and the path was one chosen by the two humans embarking on it.
It's no secret that we live in the age of the ephemeral. We've gotten used to the temporary, the fleeting, and the impermanent. We are so concerned about the short-term events that we forget about the long-term consequences.
It's easy to bet on the short-term, and it's much, much harder to invest in the long-term, but the long-term is where the real rewards lie. There's a bunch of rhetoric about betting on yourself, but I've been thinking about how few of us bet on our future self.
Ironically, the actions you take today determine what your future will look like. As James Clear says, habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money can multiply through compound interest, so can your good (or bad) habits.
Much of life is about the return on investment — your relationships, life, and career are reflective of what you consistently invest into them. You ultimately get what you put in. Of course, it's much easier said than done.
Morgan Housel writes:
"Saying you have a 10-year time horizon doesn’t exempt you from all the nonsense that happens during the next 10 years. Everyone has to experience the recessions, the bear markets, the meltdowns, the surprises and the memes at the same time. So rather than assuming long-term thinkers don’t have to deal with nonsense, the question becomes how can you endure a never-ending parade of nonsense."
People often assume the future is brighter than the present. They don't realize that they'll have to stomach the short-term volatility in order to reap the long-term rewards. The hard thing about long-term thinking is that it's nearly impossible to see the fruits of your labor on a day-to-day basis.
Charlie Munger says that the investors who adopt a long-term focus, stay patient, and avoid taking action impulsively are those who ultimately succeed. He says. “You need patience and discipline and an ability to take losses and adversity without going crazy. You need an ability to not be driven crazy by extreme success."
But it's not only about having a stomach for extreme volatility or extreme success. It's also about not giving up when things are boring and uneventful. In his post "How to Pick Your Life Partner," Tim Urban writes that a happy marriage is built not out of anything romantic or poetic, but out of 20,000 mundane Wednesdays.
"Marriage isn’t the honeymoon in Thailand—it’s day four of vacation #56 that you take together. Marriage is not celebrating the closing of the deal on the first house—it’s having dinner in that house for the 4,386th time. And it’s certainly not Valentine’s Day. Marriage is Forgettable Wednesday. Together."
That's precisely the crazy thing about any relationship: It’s the mundane moments that determine its health and longevity. The long game often appears boring, but the longer that you play it, the more profound the effects. And it's a double-edged sword — repeat the negative and you'll get more negative, repeat the positive and you'll get more positive.
After asking Profile readers to share their best marriage advice, the idea of compounding became crystal clear: If you stop investing in yourself, your bad habits and poor communication will chip away at your relationship — whether you’re married or not.
“If you do nothing to make things get better in your marriage but do not do anything wrong, the marriage will still tend to get worse over time,” psychologist John Gottman says. “To maintain a balanced emotional ecology, you need to make an effort—think about your spouse during the day, think about how to make a good thing even better, and act.”
If there's one thing I've learned, it's that pretty much everything in life is a skill. (Yes, even the sacred, mushy, intangible thing we call "love"). Something I noticed after speaking to couples who have been married for 5, 15, or 30 years is that they never thought they were done learning how to be a better partner. In other words, they understood that a loving partnership is a constant work in progress, and there’s always room for improvement.
The beauty of this mindset is that you can take action the second you finish reading this article. You may not be perfect, but you can improve. You may not always get it right, but you can practice until you do.
Play the long game by focusing on the current process and betting on the future outcome. Your future self will thank you.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said: "In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility."
THE PROFILE DOSSIER: On Wednesday, premium members received The Profile Dossier, a comprehensive deep-dive on a prominent individual. It featured Christina Tosi, the chef who built a dessert empire. Become a premium member, and read it here.
— The man behind China's aggressive new voice[**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The investor turned criminal mastermind
— The company investigating medical malpractice
— The influencer who perfected a digital scam
— The star coming out of hiding
— The Olympian shaking up the sport of fencing
— The gig worker trying to outfox the rideshare economy
— The rapper perfecting her craft
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The man behind China's aggressive new voice: It all started with a simple Twitter account. At first, Chinese foreign-ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian seemed to be entirely on his own, wielding Twitter as his personal cudgel while only a small number of other Chinese diplomats were even on the platform. But his influence in recent days has been immense. Zhao has managed to rapidly and completely transform how China communicates with its allies and adversaries. Here's how one bureaucrat transformed Beijing's diplomacy for a nationalistic era. (The New York Times)
"The call to be more assertive and to respond to criticism was coming from China’s top leaders."
The investor turned criminal mastermind: Arif Naqvi socialized with billionaires, royalty, and politicians. Bill Gates, Prince Charles, and John Kerry were among those he interacted with for business or philanthropy. He had signed Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, and was considered one of the world's leading "impact investors." Abraaj Group, his Dubai-based private-equity firm, managed almost $14 billion and owned stakes in a hundred companies in emerging markets. And then it turned out that Naqvi was the mastermind behind a global criminal conspiracy. This one's a doozy. (WSJ; reply to this email if you can't access the article)
“It is bizarre and frankly unintelligible."
The company investigating medical malpractice: Vidal Herrera, owner of 1-800-Autopsy, is a towering man who hands out red baseball caps that read, “Make ‘Autopsies’ Great Again.” Suspicion lies at the heart of many of the calls that come in — a feeling that loved ones don’t have all the answers and don’t trust the ones they’ve been given. Along with a steady stream of police-related inquiries and general concerns over medical malpractice, this past year has brought scores of Covid-related cases to 1-800-Autopsy. Take a look inside the crazy world of the private-autopsy market. (The New York Times)
“You’ve got a body, and you’ve got to figure out what happened.”
The influencer who perfected a digital scam: Ramon Abbas, an Instagram influencer popularly known as Ray Hushpuppi, @hushpuppi, Hush, or the Billionaire Gucci Master, perfected a simple internet scam and laundered millions of dollars. His past says a lot about digital swagger, and the kinds of stories that get told online. Fascinating story. (Bloomberg)
“These attacks are so realistic-looking, most people don’t give it a second thought."
The star coming out of hiding: Actress Megan Fox has a somewhat complicated history with the media. In the last decade, Fox has been under scrutiny after she was very publicly not hired back for the third Transformers movie, and she withstood endless sexist criticism around every role she took. Fox felt misunderstood, so she retreated away from the public eye. "I realized that I had been living in a self-imposed prison for so long because I let other people tell me who I was or what I wasn't," she says. Here's why she's ready to make her public debut once again. (InStyle)
"I hid because I was hurt."
The Olympian shaking up the sport of fencing: Curtis McDowald is a 25-year-old Olympian who is an electric presence in competition. Every trait he has cultivated may make him an Olympian. It also makes him a target. Here's how he plans on shaking up the stodgy, conservative sport of fencing. (GQ)
“(Curtis is) undaunted....He's definitely someone who we know that when you're on the strip, you've got yourself a true competitor. That's all he can do and I wish him the best.”
The gig worker trying to outfox the rideshare economy: On February 6, Jeffrey Fang became the ire of the internet when he left his kids in a van to chase a thief who stole his phone. It never would have been a story if the van — with his kids inside — hadn’t been carjacked. How could a parent leave their kids for a cell phone? It’s more complicated and tragic than you might think. (WIRED)
“The rideshare years were, in some ways, a tragedy of my own making. By all measures, I should be successful, but I’m not.”
The rapper perfecting her craft: Without audiences to fill out big venues, the pandemic made it clear which musicians can put on a good stage show and which ones can’t. After her imperfect spring performance at Triller Fight Club, rapper Saweetie saw the criticism about how the visuals didn’t connect and her movements seemed forced. Now, she's partaking in a two-week intensive training program to improve her vocals, stage presence, and body movement. Meet the artist who sees herself as a perpetual work in progress. (Vulture)
“One day, I want to say, ‘I’m the best to ever do it.’ I can’t do that without identifying my weakness."
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AUDIO TO HEAR.
William Green on the mindset of the world's greatest investors: In this podcast episode, William Green, the author of “Richer, Wiser, Happier," outlines the mental models that the best investors use to maximize long-term success while minimizing short-term pain. You'll learn about sound decision-making, how to get the odds on your side, and techniques to use in order to win in markets and in life. This is a must-listen. (Link available to premium members.)
Dominique Crenn on finding her calling: Dominique Crenn is the first and only female three-Michelin-starred chef. As she made her way through the culinary world, she understood the value of apprenticeship. Early on, she says it's important to work with someone you admire deeply and want to learn from. For her, that was legendary chef Jeremiah Tower. "Understand what you want to do and try to find your mentor," she says. "You have to have someone who can guide you and show you the way." (Link available to premium members.)
Tom Bileyu on the practical steps to reaching your goals: Entrepreneur and podcast host Tom Bileyu says progress is one of the foundational pillars for human happiness. In this conversation, he explains how we can tweak our neurochemistry to gain the skills and confidence necessary to attain the goals we’ve set for ourselves. "Your goal should be exciting and honorable," he says. "It should be something that elevates you and other people."(Link available to premium members.)
VIDEOS TO SEE.
Paris Hilton on prioritizing her business pursuits: You think you know Paris Hilton, but do you actually? In this interview, she explains how she decided to shed the character that she played on TV in the early 2000s. Today, she is fully herself and her priorities have shifted toward business. She explains why she's investing in Bitcoin and NFTs, and why she's passionate about empowering independent creators. (Link available to premium members.)
Christina Tosi on the importance of evoking emotion: The success of any restaurant or bakery is to emotionally connect with the customer through the experience of food. Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi says, "That's when you feel all the more tied to it." Milk Bar aims to evoke a feeling of nostalgia and playfulness, and Tosi does that through flavor, texture and aesthetic. This is a great conversation. (Link available to premium members.)