|Nov 18||Public post|| 2|
Thanksgiving is around the corner, and there’s nothing I’m more thankful for this year than this community of ridiculously smart people. So thank you for opening this email every weekend and taking time to send feedback.
If you’re in need of holiday reading, make sure you browse through the Profile archives or check out these timeless business biographies of the world’s most successful people.
Also, if you’ve been with me for a while, please reply to this email with one thing you’ve learned from a person (or company) that you’ve read in The Profile. It can be a quote, a random tidbit, or something that just stuck with you for a while after reading about it. I’ll feature the best responses in an upcoming newsletter.
One of the stories that stuck with me this year was the profile on Franklin Chang Díaz. He immigrated to the U.S. at age 18 with a single goal: Become an astronaut. The only English he knew was, “Hello, my name is Franklin” and “Where is the school?” Yet Díaz clawed his way to NASA, tied the record for most space flights & now holds the key to deep space travel. His improbable journey to the top reminds us that limitations can’t hold us back if we stay laser-focused on the end goal and stubbornly make small daily decisions that bring us closer to that final destination. Persistence truly is the No. 1 indicator of success.
Here we go:
— Wall Street’s master of knowledge [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The capitalist tennis champion
— The domestic stalker
— The most important neuroscientist in the world
— The company deporting its workers
— The company selling meatless turkeys
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.
Wall Street’s master of knowledge: Shane Parrish was a cybersecurity expert at Canada’s top intelligence agency and an occasional blogger when he noticed that 80% of his readers worked on Wall Street. His site, Farnam Street, caters to a high-achieving audience by featuring strategies of rigorous self-betterment as opposed to cheesy self-help. He subscribes to the idea that reading, reflection, and lifelong learning are the keys to true personal development. (Check out his interview with Naval Ravikant in one of the most thoughtful conversations I’ve heard.)
“Reading is a way to consume people’s experiences, to learn something timeless and then apply it to your life.”
The capitalist tennis champion: This profile gives us a glimpse inside the mind of a champion. Tennis sensation Serena Williams’ long-time goal has been 25 Grand Slam victories, but motherhood, marriage, and a new business seem to have widened her measure of success. Williams opens up about that wild evening at the U.S. Open, how she thinks about winning, and her transition from athlete to businesswoman.
“Everyone has to work on something. I’m still learning to embrace being, for lack of a better word, great.”
The domestic stalker: A family in New Jersey bought a dream home for $1.3 million — and then things took a sinister turn. They began receiving anonymous letters from someone calling themselves “The Watcher.” The letters targeted the couple’s children saying, “Will the young blood play in the basement? Or are they too afraid to go down there alone?” The couple became obsessed with figuring out the identity of the mysterious sender, but several years later, the bizarre case remains unsolved. Don’t read this one at night.
“All of the windows and doors in 657 Boulevard allow me to watch you and track you as you move through the house. Who am I? I am the Watcher.”
The most important neuroscientist in the world: Karl Friston is one of the most influential scholars in the field of artificial intelligence. He is 59 years old, works every night and weekend, and has published more than 1,000 academic papers since the turn of the millennium. For the past decade, he has spent his time developing an idea he calls the “free energy principle,” which could alter our understanding of what it means to be alive.
“There must be a way of understanding everything by starting from nothing.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The company deporting its workers: In a twisted effort to oust "underperforming" store owners, 7-Eleven has taken to reporting its own franchisees to immigration authorities. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has raided nearly 100 franchises, and corporate investigators have tailed them in unmarked vehicles and planted hidden cameras and listening devices. The feud is getting ugly, and it’s turning into a giant public relations nightmare for 7-Eleven & its executive team.
“All I hear is 7-Eleven being raided. It seems to be we are the only ones being targeted by ICE. Why?”
The company selling meatless turkeys: For decades, Tofurky has helped give vegetarians a seat at the Thanksgiving table. A punchline practically since its founding, the company has ridden out 40 years of ridicule to become one of the world’s leading meat-alternative makers. This Thanksgiving, it will sell its 5 millionth roast — a number that proves Tofurky is no joke. As the company’s head of marketing said, “That’s five million times somebody took a personal risk to show up to a Thanksgiving meal with something that was weird.”
“A lot of people, strangely enough, they’ll not blink at eating an animal. But they’ll look at something that has ingredients like tofu and gluten and say ‘Ew, gross.'”