The Profile: The NBA’s biggest dealmaker & the church with the $6 billion portfolio

Good morning, friends.

When Valentine’s Day rolls around, I always think about one of my favorite Wait But Why posts from 2014 titled, “How to Pick Your Life Partner.”

In the article, Tim Urban puts it all in perspective: When it comes to choosing a life partner, you’re choosing a lot of things, including your parenting partner and someone who will deeply influence your children, your eating companion for about 20,000 meals, your travel companion for about 100 vacations, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career therapist, and someone whose day you’ll hear about 18,000 times. That’s … something to think about.

He features characters such as Overly Romantic Ronald, Fear-Driven Frida, Externally-Influenced Ed, Shallow Sharon, and Selfish Stanley. The main reason most people end up in unhappy relationships, Tim says, is that they’re consumed by a motivating force that doesn’t take into account the reality of what a life partnership is and what makes it a happy thing.

So what makes a happy life partnership? Tim believes (as do I) that the key to succeeding at something so big is to break it into its tiniest pieces and focus on how to succeed at just one tiny piece.

He writes:

“From afar, a great marriage is a sweeping love story, like a marriage in a book or a movie. And that’s a nice, poetic way to look at a marriage as a whole.

But human happiness doesn’t function in sweeping strokes, because we don’t live in broad summations—we’re stuck in the tiny unglamorous folds of the fabric of life, and that’s where our happiness is determined.

So if we want to find a happy marriage, we need to think small—we need to look at marriage up close and see that it’s built not out of anything 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.”

So happy belated Valentine’s Day, friends. Thank you for spending every forgettable Sunday with me.

If you’re interested in reading more, Tim broke this topic down into two parts — Part 1 and Part 2.

Here we go:

— The teenager drowning in politics [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The NBA’s biggest dealmaker
— The most important new woman in Congress
— The warriors of Antarctica
— The church with the $6 billion portfolio
— The Instagram for prisons
The company printing cars
— The basketball coach focused on the mental game


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PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The teenager drowning in politics: This profile caused an uproar on social media. I encourage you to read it & draw your own conclusions. It’s a profile of Ryan Morgan, a high school senior living in a largely conservative area of Wisconsin. Like many teenagers, he thinks a lot about what he wants to do with his life, because everyone keeps telling him he’s supposed to have it figured out. He’d rather just talk about his girlfriend or cool sneakers or the Packers. But life in an era of social media, school shootings, toxic masculinity, and #MeToo is not that simple.

“Last year was really bad. I couldn’t say anything without pissing someone off.”

The NBA’s biggest dealmaker: As one of the best basketball players on the planet, Kevin Durant can meet anyone he thinks is interesting and invest in any company he likes. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey? He flew in for Durant's birthday party this year. Apple VP Eddy Cue? He just greenlighted a scripted show called Swagger based on Durant's experiences in AAU basketball. No one’s off limits. The challenge for Durant now isn't just in finding the time to take advantage of the exclusive opportunities in front of him but in searching for the right reasons to do so.

"My platform is hoops. Billions of people are watching, so why not leverage it to do the cool stuff that we like to do?"

The most important new woman in Congress: Although outspoken progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are getting the attention, the Democratic Party owes control of the House to moderates like Mikie Sherrill. She’s a former Navy helicopter pilot, former federal prosecutor, and mother of four. Whose agenda will prevail?

“She was not an extremist for left-wing causes or right-wing causes. The vast majority of us live in the middle. And that’s where her voice comes from.”

The warriors of Antarctica: Colin O’Brady and Louis Rudd spent almost two months racing across Antarctica, a journey that killed an explorer who attempted it in 2016. They spoke with The New York Times about the race of a lifetime. Also, their before & after photos are unbelievable.

“I think because the canvas is so blank, I could start thinking about something about my past and I would be able to access it fully. Like this lucid, waking dream.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The church with the $6 billion portfolio: While many places of worship are warding off developers, Manhattan’s historic Trinity Church has become a big-time developer itself. It has long had its own real estate arm, and now it finds itself with a newly diversified portfolio worth $6 billion. Trinity has been able to do this because it’s been a savvy manager of its resources. It is also, as a church, exempt from taxes. But some wonder — Is it ethical for a religious institution to be one of the biggest power players in the world of New York real estate?

“What is the fundamental economic issue going on that churches deserve tax exemption and can build up a lot of wealth?”

The Instagram for prisons: As the world has embraced texting, FaceTime, and social media, U.S. prisons have largely remained technological dead zones. Now, apps like Pigeonly, InmateAid, and Flikshop have hit on a model that meets inmates’ desire for a more tangible connection while serving the social media habits of their loved ones. Customers subscribe to the app for a monthly fee, ranging from $7.99 to $19.99, in order to send photos and messages. Some believe it could also help recidivism — inmates are less likely to re-offend if they see there’s a life to be lived on the outside.

“Mail call is like Christmas every day in prison. The importance of hearing your name called, of getting something from the outside—it’s a sense of validation that people care, that you still matter.”

The company printing cars: Local Motors is a startup that makes autonomous vehicles using the largest 3D printer in the world. The company has debuted a crowdsourced, 3D-printed, autonomous, AI-assisted shuttle named Olli. It can be manufactured to order, so it could end up as a clinic on wheels, a roaming soup kitchen, or a traveling classroom. Take a look at this small company’s big ambitions.

“A lot of companies make cars. That’s not us. We want to turn the rules of manufacturing upside down.”

FROM THE VAULT.

The basketball coach focused on the mental game: Villanova’s Jay Wright has been called the “anti-coach” because of his New Age-y psychological tactics. There are no championship banners or retired jerseys on the walls of the team’s practice facility -- those are all distractions. He makes players take a character test, so he knows how to push each one. And if a player hits a big shot and gestures in celebration to the crowd, Wright will go off on him. “If you're excited, you have a lot of energy; turn and give that energy to your teammates,” he’ll say. It’s all about winning in the mind before winning on the court.

“When people you trust tell you the truth about yourself? Moments like those? Man, that is where you grow.”