The Profile: The Chipotle founder reinventing lunch & the billionaire king of rolling papers
This edition of The Profile features Steve Ells, Don Levin, Naomi Osaka, and others.
Good morning friends!
I have an obsession with writing in journals, and each journal serves a different purpose. (Although I now have so many that I wonder if they’ve rendered themselves useless because I don’t know if anyone will read them all — or even read them at all.)
I have a daily journal, a question-prompted journal, a Profile-focused notebook, and a tiny “catch-all” ideas notebook. And then, of course, I also have journals for the kids — one chronicling their first year of life and another in which Anthony and I write them annual letters.
Tim Ferriss recently referred to this intense note-taking as “hypergraphia,” which is defined as a “behavioral condition characterized by the intense desire to write or draw.” Ferriss has an eight-foot stretch of shelves in his house containing notebooks he’s had since he was 16 years old.
I wouldn’t consider myself hypergraphic, but I recently reflected on the root cause of my prolific journaling.
Is it driven by the fear of forgetting or by the desire to leave something behind for the kids to know who I was?
I think it’s both.
I have kept a 20-year-old letter from my grandfather, I’ve made family and friends write me letters for my birthday, and I have a massive box of hand-written cards dating back to the 1990s.
In an age where we have rich mediums like audio, photo, and video, there is some part of me that desperately clings to the written word. There’s something about the way a person’s handwriting looks on paper. The way they sign their name. What they do when they make a mistake. What words they’ve crossed out are equally as interesting as the words they’ve chosen as a replacement.
Writing on paper humanizes in a way that the words you’re reading right now can’t. I decided to write this column on a sheet of paper first to see how it looked, but to also allow you to get to know me better.
You can learn so much about the way I think through things without the luxury of a backspace button. Do this, and you can learn a lot about yourself, too.
In a guest post for The Profile titled, Why Writing Letters to Your Kids Is the Best Gift You Can Give Them as Adults, investor Jim O’Shaugnessy wrote:
I’ve always believed in the written word. Having to put your thoughts in writing helps you understand if you clearly understand what—and how—you want to say something. And if you keep written journals, there is simply no way to let hindsight bias take over, for there, in your own hand, is what you thought about something at the time, with revisions through selective memory impossible.
Writing clarifies. It illuminates. It helps you follow your own growth (or decay) in the way you look at the world and how your ideas have changed—or remained the same—over the course of your life. As someone with boxes and boxes of old journals, if I want to know what 21-year-old me thought about something, all I must do is pull out that journal and read. Sometimes I’m amazed by how much my views have changed—often dramatically—as I have made my way through life.
So I urge you to write a handwritten letter — to a friend, to your kids, or to yourself. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.”
— The Chipotle founder reinventing lunch once again
— The class of 2024 entering the real world
— The billionaire king of rolling papers
— The tennis powerhouse entering motherhood
— The bad vegan making a comeback
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The Chipotle founder reinventing lunch once again: Steve Ells, who founded Chipotle and created its signature burrito bowls, is now obsessed with something else entirely: vegan burgers cooked by robots. For the past two years, Ells has been attempting to create the restaurant of tomorrow in a test kitchen, with an ever-growing team of chefs, industrial designers, coders, and hardware engineers. The menu will be plant-based and robot-powered; human interaction will be kept to a minimum; the food will not come in the form of an agglomerated bowl. Meet ‘Kernel.’ (New York Magazine)
“‘Lunch’ is defined by work. It’s the meal that wears the workday as its identity.”
The class of 2024 entering the real world: Freshman year of college is supposed to be a new beginning. But for the class of 2024, the experience was more of the horrible same. They started school about a half-year into the pandemic, a time of pervasive anxiety that was only heightened for teenagers about to begin one of life’s big transitions. Some weren’t even initially allowed on campus; those who were had to deal with severe Covid-19 restrictions. One student says, “Nothing about those first two years feels real. I felt like I was living in a haze.” Meet the class of 2024. (Bloomberg)
“Covid has given me trust issues. It almost doesn’t feel real that I’m allowed to go into the world without something big happening.”
The billionaire king of rolling papers: Don Levin is the man who sells the most rolling papers in the world. (Guys, I’m such a nerd that I had no idea what ‘rolling papers’ was.) Levin has hung out with Hunter S. Thompson, partied at the Playboy Mansion, lost his car while high on edibles and had his warehouse raided by the feds. While he owns iconic brands—such as E-Z Wider, Zig-Zag, OCB and JOB—he doesn’t actually smoke weed. (Forbes; Note: this was published in April 2023)
“We sell something people light on fire You can only burn it once.”
The tennis powerhouse entering motherhood: As a tennis former world number one, four-time Grand Slam winner, and one of the highest paid women in sports, Naomi Osaka has a new title: mom. Motherhood, Osaka says, has profoundly transformed her. Yes there was pain—her childbirth and postpartum was hard. But as she healed and put herself back together, the Naomi that came out the other side was more powerful and more whole than ever. (Glamour)
The bad vegan making a comeback: Just as Sarma Melngailis was finding success with her NYC restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, things started to go downhill when she met a man who was trying to woo her. You may remember her story from ‘Bad Vegan,’ Netflix show that depicted the years Melngailis, spent under the control of her con man ex-husband, Anthony Strangis. He’d promised her and her pit bull, Leon, immortality in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars, leading them to dupe investors in the restaurant, leave workers unpaid, and finally bankrupt the place. The couple were eventually arrested at a hotel outside Dollywood in 2016. Now that she’s out of prison, will she reopen her restaurant? And film the process for a follow-up documentary? (GrubStreet)
“I don’t want somebody else to control the story, the marketing, the process, the whole thing.”
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