The Profile: The world’s best investor & Manhattan’s most powerful billionaire

Good morning, friends

Vanessa Van Edwards is the founder of Science of People, a human behavior research lab. I came across Vanessa through her TEDx Talk on the power of hand gestures and facial micro-expressions. She’s written an entire book on the topic (CAPTIVATE: The Science of Succeeding With People), so I asked her to write a guest post for The Profile on some of the little-known ways we can build long-lasting confidence.

I’ll let Vanessa take it from here.

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Vanessa Van Edwards, founder of Science of People:

“Just be more confident!”

I used to hear this all the time because confidence didn’t always come easy to me. It seemed like a trait only certain people were born with or lucky enough to possess. Many of us grow up thinking that confidence is elusive, mysterious and challenging to obtain.

Until now. Here’s my big idea: Confidence is not a personality trait, it’s a skill. And skills can be taught, learned, honed, and mastered. I want to show you how to be the master of your own confidence, so it’s something you feel and embody on a regular and consistent basis — not something that only exists on your best days.

Here are 5 (little-known ways) to build your inner confidence.

#1 Recognize Impostor Syndrome

Do you doubt your accomplishments? Do you tell yourself a success was pure luck? Are you afraid people will find out you aren’t worthy? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be suffering from the psychological phenomenon known as Impostor Syndrome.

It’s a vicious cycle. You do something great, you showcase your talents, yet you’re left feeling like a fraud. Impostor Syndrome makes us question our own abilities and successes by playing a trick on the mind. The next time you hear your inner voice acting as a harsh critic, take a moment to pause and recognize the thoughts.

Action Step: Don’t run away from Impostor Syndrome, stop it in its tracks. Create a success folder on your phone or computer. These can be emails from colleagues, friends and family. They can be letters you have received or testimonials. They can be pictures of times you were proud. If you don’t have a success folder yet, call a friend who is a great cheerleader. When you remind yourself you’re worthy, your thoughts can positively reset.

#2 Project vocal power

Your first impression can happen on the phone. What does your “hello” sound like?

We conducted a fascinating experiment on vocal power by asking participants to record six different version of a “hello”. The hellos included: Normal (control), Happy (happiness expression), Sad (sadness expression), Angry (angry expression), Power Pose (holding an expansive posture) and Normal (additional control). We then asked our blog readers to listen to the various clips and tell us how much they liked or didn’t like the person they were listening to. Options included:

  • I like this person a lot.

  • I like this person a little.

  • I do not like this person.

Any guesses as to which hello performed best? The Happy Hello scored highest in likability. This research shows us that we can hear someone’s mood.

Action Step: Don’t answer the phone when you’re in a bad mood or call clients while stuck in traffic. Set aside reserved time for your phone calls, ideally when you are in a calm and content state.

#3 Find dream builders

You know those people in your life who leave you feeling drained? Doubtful? Anxious? You might be bleeding confidence without even realizing it. I believe there are two types of people:

  • Dream killers: These are people who are constantly second-guessing you, questioning you and doubting or undermining your success.

  • Dream builders: These are people who endlessly support you and cheer you on. You love being around them because they celebrate you for who you truly are.

Action Step: Find more dream builders in your life. Put them on speed dial. Set up a text thread with them. Reach out more often. And start saying ‘no’ to more dream killers. Saying no is a skill every confident person should master.

#4 Stop social media over-consumption

As you’re scrolling through Instagram or checking-in on Twitter, how do you typically feel? Do you feel capable and confident or jealous and defeated?

Social media is designed for us to compare ourselves to others and growing research reveals its harmful effects on self-esteem and relationship satisfaction.

Action Step: Replace your morning social media habit with a more productive activity like a walk, a meditation exercise or reading. Bonus if you start a learning bucket list.

#5 Your posture matters

In a study called “Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses? A randomized trial,” researchers asked participants to adopt different postures during a mock interview. Some participants sat with a straight posture, while others sat in a slouched position. After the interview, participants rated how they felt in certain areas. The results?

“Upright participants reported higher self-esteem, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear, compared to slumped participants. Linguistic analysis showed slumped participants used more negative emotion words, first-person singular pronouns, affective process words, sadness words, and fewer positive emotion words and total words during the speech.”

Action Step: Sit and stand with good posture. And tell your parents you took their advice.

You deserve to feel confident each and every day. With intentional practice, your confidence will arrive and present itself more naturally and more often.


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


Here we go with the profiles this week:

The best investor you’ve never heard of [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
Manhattan’s most powerful billionaire
The referee who corrupted the NBA
— The investigative journalist changing perceptions
— The company dealing with customer fatalities
The Tinder for clothes
— The investment firm undergoing a meltdown
— The VC living in the future

PEOPLE TO KNOW.

The best investor you’ve never heard of: Herbert Wertheim is a 79-year-old self-made billionaire worth $2.3 billion — not including the $100 million he has donated to Florida’s public universities. His fortune comes from a lifetime of prudent do-it-yourself buy-and-hold investing. Wertheim might be one of the greatest individual investors in the world, holding hundreds of millions of dollars in stocks like Apple and Microsoft, purchased decades ago during their IPOs. Read this profile to see the power of compounding in action.

“You take what you earn with the sweat of your brow, then you take a percentage of that and you invest it in other people’s labor.”

Manhattan’s most powerful billionaire: Real estate mogul Stephen Ross is bankrolling Hudson Yards, a new neighborhood in New York City. It is the largest and most expensive real-estate project in America — 28 acres, at almost a billion dollars an acre. Ross has created a development machine unlike any the city has ever seen: highly competitive, vertically integrated, and international. This story delves into how he outmaneuvered, outspent, out-leveraged, and out-sweet-talked his way into the Hudson Yards deal.

“Stephen Ross is a Robert Moses for our age of concierge mega-urbanism.”

The referee who corrupted the NBA: In 2007, NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleaded guilty to betting on games he officiated. But it was never proven that he fixed them — until now. In this deeply reported investigative article, ESPN recounts the definitive account of how Donaghy conspired to fix NBA games — and how, in so doing, he unwittingly enriched an array of gamblers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Featuring characters like James "Bah-Bah" "Sheep" Battista, Peter “Rhino” Ruggieri, Tony "Tiger" Rufo, Spiros "The Greek" Athanas, and Taylor "Popeye" Breton, this one is fascinating.

"Did I assume he was fixing the games? Yeah, I did. But I didn't give a s---, because it was great information. From 2003 to 2007, we didn't miss a game. Any game that he reffed we had a wager on."

The investigative journalist changing perceptions: Nikole Hannah-Jones is an investigative reporter at the New York Times Magazine where she covers racial injustice and segregation in the U.S. In this thoughtful, wide-ranging interview about her life and career, she discusses the importance of diversifying newsrooms and the hard realities of reporting on race while black.

"What I hope for the longer-term future of journalism is that we rip the keys out of the hands of the gatekeepers and that our newsrooms finally start to actually look like the communities that we cover.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The company dealing with customer fatalities: Tide Pods, the colorful laundry pods, are arguably one of the most successful innovations in the history of ­consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble. But the design factors that have made laundry pods so successful — their compactness, easy accessibility, and aesthetically pleasing look — are also potentially fatal flaws. Too often, young children and sceniors with dementia mistake them for candy and try to eat them. This feature explores the dangerous, tragic side of the seemingly innocent household product.

“We can design this problem out of existence.”

The Tinder for clothes: Stitch Fix, the subscription clothing box startup, is using its data prowess across every aspect of its business to reinvent the $334 billion U.S. apparel industry. Seriously — it’s hiring people with PhDs in astrophysics to help it develop algorithms and offer personal styling at scale. (Honestly, it does take an astrophysicist to help me shop.) Whether it’s the humans or the robots, it’s doing something right — StitchFix raised only $43 million before going public & it now boasts $1.2 billion in revenue.

“We did what we said we were going to do for [2018]: We committed to growth rates, revenue, and profitability, and we delivered on all of that.”

The investment firm undergoing a meltdown: Mithril Capital, a late-stage investment firm co-founded by Ajay Royan and Peter Thiel, is embroiled in drama and disarray. The firm’s troubles have disappointed Thiel, Silicon Valley’s highest-profile investor, who has lent his brand name to the firm but is not operationally involved. And it has left a long list of scorned parties, slowly shrinking the firm’s headcount of investors — despite having more than $1.3 billion in assets under management.

“A lot of things that were really transparent suddenly became not transparent at all.”

FROM THE VAULT.

The VC living in the future: Marc Andreessen is one of the most legendary venture capitalists of our time. This profile delves into his peculiar life, detailing his crisp sense of humor and non-consensus thinking. Andreessen is more interested in the future than the present & routinely lays out “what will happen in the next ten, twenty, thirty years.” It’s fine to have a lousy record of predicting the future, he says, as long as when you’re right, you’re really right.

“Mediocre V.C.s want to see that your company has traction. The top V.C.s want you to show them you can invent the future.”