The Profile: The man who never forgets a face & the most embattled company in America

Good morning!

I was talking with my friend Laura about potentially starting a virtual book club. As we were chatting, we put together a Google Doc with some great books we’ve read recently. The last one I read was “A House in The Sky,” which I honestly couldn’t recommend highly enough. And I’m currently reading “Red Notice,” which is also a captivating read.

A few more suggestions from our spreadsheet:

— Random Family (by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc)
— Who is Michael Ovitz? (by Michael Ovitz)
— Weapons of Math Destruction (by Cathy O’Neil)
— An American Sickness (by Elisabeth Rosenthal)
— Atomic Habits (by James Clear)
— Billion Dollar Whale (by Tom Wright & Bradley Hope)

Reply to this email, and let me know what you are reading.

Here we go with this week’s profiles:

— The ex-NBA star living in an alternate reality [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The man who never forgets a face
— The football star crushed by depression
— The former first lady optimistic about the future
— The most embattled company in America
— The retailer buttering up to Amazon
— The dog hiking service for the rich


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 ex-NBA star living in an alternate reality: Kobe Bryant is now a full-time storyteller, with cartoons, novels and Hollywood films in the works. But the story that will never be good enough and the one he cannot fully control is his own. More than 15 years ago, the former NBA star was accused of sexual assault. To this day, he’s still trying to re-invent himself and edit the narrative of his shady past. Real life is not that easy to revise though.

“I’m just chasing a perfect story, whatever the hell that means.”

The man who never forgets a face: If you’re like me, remembering faces & names is a major struggle. But there are some people among us who never forget. Take Andy Pope, for example. By some cognitive quirk, he is able to memorize thousands of faces, often having glimpsed each only once. He works with police to help identify thousands of criminal suspects because his mind is an enormous, automatic image library. Now, some police departments are ditching facial recognition software in favor of employing these “super-recognizers.” This is a wild one.

“It doesn’t matter how many years pass, if I’ve seen your face before I will be able to recall it.”

The football star crushed by depression: Maybe you have never heard of Isaiah Renfro — he did not start at the University of Washington, nor did he play in the NFL. But he is yet another promising student-athlete caught in the midst of a serious crisis sweeping the nation. Recent studies place suicide as the third leading cause of death for college athletes, behind motor vehicle accidents & medical issues. Renfro is the latest player to speak out about the relentless struggle of someone trapped in his own head, quietly drowning in the depths of depression.

“I had no confidence in myself. I was just shattered. No self-belief to start moving forward.”

The former first lady optimistic about the future: In this Q&A with former first lady Michelle Obama, we get an up-close view of her marriage, her life after the White House, and her views on president Donald Trump. She even delves into the intricacies of couples counseling and relationship insecurities with husband Barack. This interview reveals what it’s like to balance a family, a career, and a country — all while remaining optimistic about the future.

“I always thought love was up close. Love is the dinner table, love is consistency, it is presence. So I had to share my vulnerability and also learn to love differently.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The most embattled company in America: Juul Labs was founded with good intentions — give the world’s billion smokers an alternative to combustible cigarettes. But then, things took a turn and the vaping company found itself at the center of a federal investigation for deceptive marketing that helped hook teens on nicotine. Will the $16-billion startup be able to innovate its way out of the crisis it helped create?

“I think the biggest mistake was not believing enough that the core product proposition would be the most powerful marketing tool that we would have.”

The retailer buttering up to Amazon: Under the leadership of a new CEO, department store Kohl’s is competing with Amazon using a controversial new strategy — play nice with the fear-inducing e-commerce giant. As part of a daring experiment, Kohl’s handles returns of Amazon online orders and sells Amazon’s smart-home products at branded kiosks. The idea is that when an Amazon shopper comes in to return a product, she’ll also make a purchase at Kohl’s. As the saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

“How do you evolve? How do you keep your core—your coffee credentials—but then innovate?”

The dog hiking service for the rich: In the latest edition of “Dogs Have Better Lives Than Humans,” I present you with a company called My Dog Hikes. For $85 to $130 a day, it will take dogs on three-hour hikes in the woods while their owners sit in their dreary Manhattan cubicles. One dog hiking client said, “He’s so much more fit. He has that sexy waist now.” Nothing surprises me anymore.

“It’s good physically, but it’s even better psychologically for them to be off leash in nature, having a sensory experience.”