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.”