The Profile: The pioneer of ‘trauma studies’ & the mayor who became homeless
This week's edition of The Profile features Geoffrey Hinton, Craig Coyner, Judith Herman, and more.
Good morning friends,
The biggest thing I took away from Mumm’s story is that in order to produce a masterpiece, you must be prepared to embrace the unexpected. Mumm’s show was originally supposed to be a compelling look inside the lives of professional golfers — until a curveball came his way.
Suddenly, the world of golf had a new entrant: LIV Golf, a pro golf tournament financed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. It was heavily criticized for being a money and talent grab.
When Mumm saw what was happening, his first reaction was, “This is going to ruin our show.” He was worried about losing access to players, navigating a web of lawsuits, and getting players to honestly speak about what was going on in their sport.
But actually, this last-minute surprise was electric from a storytelling perspective. He was able to tell a more nuanced story filled with complicated characters, tangled incentives, and surprise twists.
This reminded me of a GQ profile on Nicki Minaj in which the rapper falls asleep during the interview with the reporter. It’s obviously not an ideal situation, but the writer used it to humanize Minaj saying, “It is not her job to tell you who the eff she is. And she’s exhausted. She is only made of carbon after all, just like you and me.”
It just serves as a reminder that every obstacle is an opportunity if channeled the right way — in storytelling and in life.
🎉 WELCOME ALEXIS: I’m excited to announce that we have our first Profile summer intern! Alexis Derickson is a University of Georgia student, a stellar writer, and overall wonderful human. She will be joining us at the end of May! Please help me extend a warm welcome to Alexis for joining the Profile crew 🎉🎉🎉 You can find her on Twitter here.
— The kids caught in the crosshairs of war [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The godfather of A.I
— The mayor who became homeless
— The pioneer of ‘trauma studies’
— The bookselling startup thriving in an Amazon world
— The VC firms feeling the effects of an Elon-run Twitter
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The kids caught in the crosshairs of war: This profile follows several kids who attended a Ukrainian kindergarten located only an hour from the Russian border. On a sunny day last August, a Russian artillery attack hit the school building, shattering nearly every window in the classroom. The school remains empty. "It's not the damage to the school that I mourn,” says Yana Tsyhanenko, the head of the school. “It's the destruction of childhood.” It’s a heart-wrenching story about the psychological effects of war on an entire generation of kids. (NPR)
"Bohdan grew up in an instant. We didn't have time for filtering things. He saw everything.”
The godfather of A.I: Geoffrey Hinton was an artificial intelligence pioneer. In 2012, Hinton and two of his graduate students at the University of Toronto created technology that became the intellectual foundation for the A.I. systems that the tech industry’s biggest companies believe is a key to their future. Hinton has quit his job at Google, where he has worked for more than a decade and became one of the most respected voices in the field, so he can freely speak out about the risks of A.I. A part of him, he said, now regrets his life’s work. (The New York Times; reply to this email if you can’t access the article)
“It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things.”
The mayor who became homeless: Craig Coyner hailed from one of the most prominent families in Bend, Ore., and rose through an acclaimed career — as a prosecutor, a defense lawyer and then a mayor who helped turn the town into one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities. Now, at age 75, Coyner found himself occupying a bed at a homeless shelter, his house lost to foreclosure, his toes gnarled by frostbite, and his belongings limited to a tub of tattered clothing and books. After a life spent as a pillar of Bend’s civic life, Coyner had somehow reached a point of near total destitution, surrounded by the prosperity he had helped create. How did his life take such a drastic turn? (The New York Times; reply to this email if you can’t access the article)
“If he had been a dog, she said, somebody would have rescued him long ago.”
The pioneer of ‘trauma studies:’ In the fall of 1994, the psychiatrist Dr. Judith Herman was at the height of her influence. Her book “Trauma and Recovery” had been hailed as “one of the most important psychiatric works to be published since Freud.” She laid out a thesis that was, at the time, radical: that trauma can occur not only in the blind terror of combat, but quietly, within the four walls of a house, at the hands of a trusted person. And then she suffered a fall that left her with years of excruciating pain, forcing her to undergo surgeries and fall back on painkillers. As Herman tried to manager her pain, the trauma researchers around her moved on with their work steering trauma studies forward — without her. (The New York Times)
“She is a brilliant woman who lost 25 years of her career. “If you talk about tragedy, that is a tragedy.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The bookselling startup thriving in an Amazon world: In its first few years of existence, bookselling startup Bookshop.org defied even its founder’s expectations and demonstrated how helpful its model could be for small businesses. Say you’re a small bookstore owner. It takes only a few minutes to set up a digital storefront on Bookshop’s website, list what books you want to sell, and, if you want, curate collections of titles to reflect your store’s worldview. Now, its founder Andy Hunter has a new plot twist in mind: He wants to show business owners how to scale up without selling out—without needing to kill the competition. (WIRED)
“Bookshop doesn’t have a pitch tailored for traditional venture capital. If anything, it has the opposite.”
The VC firms feeling the effects of an Elon-run Twitter: Before Elon Musk took Twitter private, the company promised to invest about $20 million to venture capital firms led by Black, Latinx or women partners. In January, the leaders of several venture capital firms that had taken money from Twitter received a note from their last remaining contact at the social media company. Sent from a personal account, the email informed them that the team that stewarded those investments had been obliterated as part of Elon Musk's. What will happen next? (Forbes)
“Our diversity goals weren’t about being woke, they were about how people used our service.”
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