The Profile: The most respected ex-con on Wall Street & the world’s most valuable company

Good morning, friends.

I have a younger sister who is an absolute beast of a swimmer — all I do is cheer her on from the sidelines while I snack on goldfish. Thanks to her, I’ve developed serious respect for people who are at the top of their sport. The work to get there is excruciating.

So when I recently watched a Netflix documentary called “Touch the Wall,” I knew I had to reach out to three-time U.S. Olympic swimmer Kara Lynn Joyce. The film is a story of competition, commitment, triumph, and a whole lot of adversity. Below is Kara’s story:

Kara Lynn Joyce, three-time U.S. Olympic swimmer

I was very fortunate to live life as a professional athlete. I traveled the world for over a decade and made friends and memories to last a lifetime. I worked with the best coaches in swimming who helped me train my body and my mind.

After retiring from swimming, I worked at several companies without a clear idea of where I would end up. But there was one recurring theme through it all — my passion for working with teenage girl athletes as a mentor and coach. I noticed that most of the girls who came to work with me were less in need of “stroke work,” and more in need of “confidence work.” So I founded the Lead Sports Summit in April 2017 as a way to equip young, female swimmers with the tools they need to excel in their sport and their life.

Transitioning from an athlete to a business owner has been both challenging and incredibly rewarding. Here are the three most valuable lessons I learned from sports that I apply to business:

1. Athletes don’t achieve greatness alone — and neither do entrepreneurs: As an athlete, I was empowered by a team of coaches, family, friends, teammates, doctors and specialists who helped me compete in three Olympic games. Without the time, help, care, and support of everyone in my immediate circle, none of my success in the pool would have been possible. As a business owner, one of the things I rely on deeply on is my close circle. Creating a smart, tactful, and supportive network around me has been the lifeblood of my business. I can call on my network day or night to brainstorm ideas, get help reaching out to a potential sponsor, or to just vent to about the woes of running a business.

2. Resilience & patience are instrumental: Athletes are built to be resilient. It’s in our DNA, it’s who we are, and it’s something we learned at a very young age. Every athlete has experienced trying times, and what we all have in common is that we have picked ourselves up and tried again. The same applies to business. After many years of training, I’ve learned that you can’t expect immediate success. It takes years of practice, patience, trial and error, and relentless repetition in order to achieve anything remotely close to success.

3. Take the risks that make sense for you: From choosing which college to sign with to which coach to swim for, I’ve known risk all my life. One particularly defining moment happened in 2012. I was training in Denver with a coach and team that was not right for me. I showed up to practice every day and worked hard, but those things didn’t materialize into results. Somehow, I was actually getting slower, and the Olympic trials were right around the corner.

In my gut, I knew that staying at this program with this coach would not yield the results I was gunning for, which was to make the 2012 Olympic team. I had two options. I could retire in April — three months before the Olympics trials — and spare my friends and family the agony of having to watch me come up short of this goal. Or, I could move to a new state and train with a new coach and a new team to try and make this dream come true. It’s almost unheard of to make a move this drastic a year before the Olympic trials, let alone three months prior to it. But it didn’t matter what everyone else thought about my decision — I knew I needed a hail mary, and this was my only option. The hail mary paid off … I made the team.

When I founded Lead, I had no clue what it took to run, own, and operate a business. I hired a designer to make my logo, I put down a non-refundable deposit on a hotel for $12,000 where we would host our event, and then I went home and built my website. It was a huge risk, mostly funded by my credit card. I had many flashbacks to that day in 2012, but I just knew I would find a way to make it pay off.

And then the big moment arrived. The Lead Summit website was live, I was ready, and the tickets for the event were up for sale. And then … nothing happened. We didn’t get a single ticket sale for more than five weeks. I was discouraged and caught myself in a storm of doubt — not just about my idea but about myself.

As I’ve learned in swimming, the antidote to doubt is action. I needed to get the word out about the Summit. I traveled the country relentlessly, visited teams, attended swim meets, gave talks, and evangelized my new business. In the end, I sold out my very first Summit and even took on a waitlist. Trusting my gut and taking a risk were the most valuable skills I learned as an athlete.

Whatever phase of your career you may be in, I urge you to be fully present right now. Stop obsessing about what’s next. Stop looking left and right and around the corner. What you’re going through now is giving you all the tools you need to prepare for the next chapter.


👉 If you liked reading this column by Kara, click here to tweet so others can enjoy it too.


The articles this week were nothing short of excellent:

— The most respected ex-con on Wall Street [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The investigators lurking in the shadows
— The unlikely high school friends
— The queen of media
— The world’s most valuable company
The Uber for birth control

PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The most respected ex-con on Wall Street: The greatest innovation in the recent history of finance was the junk bond (or, its fancier title, “the high-yield bond”). And the man behind its creation is a 70-year-old ex-convict banned for life from the game he invented, and one of the greatest comeback stories Wall Street has ever seen. Meet Mike Milken.

“Mike Milken was kind of like Jim Jones with a billion dollars, a PR man, and a fancy office.”

The investigators lurking in the shadows: This profile takes you deep in the shadowy world of private investigative services — full of former cops, lawyers, and journalists. Activist investors, long-short firms and private equity firms are big clients. The field is awash in unscrupulous characters willing to secretly record targets, pay off sources, hack, and steal — all covered by what one due diligence researcher calls an attitude of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“We’re not trying to find the chairman [with] hookers. This is not a revenge business. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on.”

The unlikely high school friends: Sabika Sheikh, a Muslim exchange student from Pakistan, struck up an unlikely friendship with Jaelyn Cogburn, an evangelical Christian girl. The two met at Santa Fe High School and quickly became inseparable. But everything changed on the morning of May 18, 2018 when a Santa Fe student went on a shooting rampage and killed eight students and two teachers.

“Extremism is not the problem of any single country or region. The whole world is affected by it.”

The queen of media: What's left for Oprah, the media empress, to do? The self-made billionaire has her own studio, TV network, magazine and a mega-deal with Apple that will include a book club, documentaries & a potential series that would put her back in the interviewing chair. In this wide-ranging interview, Oprah breaks down the creative fire that continues to fuel her.

“Get what you want. Get exactly what you want because now's the time.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The world’s most valuable company: Satya Nadella’s turnaround of Microsoft has been nothing short of historic. The company had been viewed as spiraling toward obsolescence, having missed almost every significant computing trend of the 2000s—mobile phones, search engines, social networking—while letting its main source of revenue (Windows) stagnate. Under Nadella, Microsoft now has more subscribers than Netflix, more cloud computing revenue than Google, and a near-trillion-dollar market cap. This is a turnaround for the ages.

“I don’t know of any other software company in the history of technology that fell onto hard times and has recovered so well.”

The Uber for birth control: Nurx, a women’s health startup (which was not founded by women), drew attention with its pitch about female empowerment. Now, former employees are saying that the company is cutting corners on its operations and business practices. Here’s a prime example of what happens when the desire for hyper-growth comes into conflict with building products that affect people’s health.

“I guess it’s scary to think that something that has such a strong potential of hurting somebody and causing death is so easily attainable.”