The Profile: The entrepreneur taking on Elon Musk & the Theranos founder adopting a new persona
This edition of The Profile features Elizabeth Holmes,
Good morning friends!
For those who have been reading this newsletter, you’ve gotten to know me from a singular perspective: my own. But today, I want to share the perspective of one person who’s known me for as long as I’ve been alive: my wonderful mom.
In honor of Mother’s Day, she wrote me a letter about the four big lessons she’s learned in motherhood. It’s filled with wildly embarrassing stories and details that I had myself forgotten. Send me your thoughts, and I’ll make sure to forward them to her. I hope you enjoy.
I recently came across this letter from a little boy to his mom:
I just wanted to tell you that Mother’s Day wouldn’t be possible without me. I will be waiting for my present in the living room.
It made me laugh, but it also made me realize the truth behind this statement. Thanks to you, I’ve been a mom for a long time now, so happy Mother’s Day to you! I couldn’t have asked for a better child, and I am very proud of the young, beautiful, smart woman you are today!
You might be wondering, "Where is my gift?" Well, you are a mother yourself now, so I decided that the best gift would be to share a few lessons I’ve learned from being your mom. Here we go:
No. 1: Ask for help even when you don’t want to
You can learn a lot from the women who have navigated the ups and downs of motherhood before you and listen to them (even when you’d rather not). It’s a humbling experience, but it’s also invaluable.
I was very young when you were born, an age where I believed I was an adult, and anything was possible. It wasn’t until I was holding a baby in my arms that I truly felt the weight of the responsibility. I realized I had to raise a human being! Babies weren’t just these sweet little things to hug and kiss! They are tiny humans to take care of and guide and teach for the rest of your life. That scared me, but there was no going back — only forward.
Luckily, I had a huge support system — my mom, my grandparents, and my sister happily (and sometimes not-so-happily) stepped in whenever I needed them. They also gladly shared their opinions on how to raise you even when they weren't asked. Of course, it was annoying at times, and I had to uphold a boundary more than once, but looking back now, I realize how lucky I was to have them. They spoiled you rotten any chance they had and loved you more than anything else. I hate to tell you this, but the cliché, “It does take a village to raise a child,” really is true.
No. 2: Give your child the freedom to learn from trial and error
I learned this lesson early on in my career as a mom, and I never forgot it.
When you were five years old, I took you to get a haircut. You sat in the chair, and told the stylist to cut all your hair off. When she stared at you with a puzzled look on her face, you told her you wanted it short — really short.
Two adults spent an hour trying to convince you that longer hair would look so much better on you when you matter-of-factly said to me, "If you like it so much, you keep your hair long. I want mine short, please." This was the end of the argument and you left the salon with short hair.
Only after the fact did you realize that you didn’t like it, and I've never seen you with short hair since.
But we both learned a lesson that day, and mine was: “Let her try everything she feels passionately about.”
Over the years, I rarely said ‘no’ to the things you wanted to try — whether it was drama classes, soccer practices, acting school, and even … roller-skating. You name it, we tried it, and we had fun doing it — even when you weren't the best at something.
You recently wrote about the audition for your high school’s drama program. I remember how much you prepared that summer, and I also remember your disappointment in the car on the way home. Although I never, ever wanted to see you feeling down, I also knew that I could never discourage you from taking risks.
If you had stopped trying things you were passionate about, you would’ve never discovered the school newspaper and taken a chance on the passion of your life: writing.
No. 3: The best thing you can teach your child is to know the difference between right and wrong and learn to make good decisions
There’s a fine line between encouraging your kids to take risks and letting them operate life with no rules.
You can be their best friend when they need one, but you have to be able to recognize when they need discipline.
Your heart breaks every time you have to be strict and uphold a boundary, but this is how you can teach them right from wrong and hope that they will learn to make good decisions on their own.
I am pretty sure you can write an entire book about all the times you thought I was mean or unreasonable, but if you look back now you'd agree that you needed it and I was right.
I struggled a lot with discipline. I didn’t like making you upset or seeing you unhappy every time I had to put my foot down (what parent does?). I questioned myself for years: "Is this right? Am I too strict with her? What if she hates me for the rest of her life?"
And then, there was a moment I will never forget.
You came home from school and said, “Mom, you have no idea how many girls hide in the bathroom to smoke. Today, I walked in and thought, ‘What would happen if I try this?’ But then, I pictured your look of disappointment, and I knew I’d never do it.”
You probably don't even remember this conversation, but for me, that was the moment when I was able to take the deepest breath in years and said to myself: “She will be alright. She is already making smart decisions on her own.”
No. 4: Don’t just tell your kids you love them — show them, too
The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a mom is to appreciate the challenges of every age — from "I can walk on my own now. Don't hold my hand," to "You did my hair wrong. That’s not how I like it,” to "I can't wait to go to college and get out of here," to "I am a mom now, and what the hell is ‘swaddling?’”
I read an article you wrote when you became a mom titled, “10 Practical Pieces of Advice for First-Time Parents.” The final piece of advice was, “Remember there is no substitute for unconditional love.” And what I’ve learned is that parents don’t always get it right — perfection is a myth. But as long as your child feels loved and supported through the good, the bad, and the ugly, you‘ve done a wonderful job.
Time does go by fast, and you can miss a lot if you don't make it a point to pay attention. On the bright side, “mom” is a title you have for life and no matter how old you are, where you go, or what you do, you can be sure I’ll be right there next to you.
THE PROFILE DOSSIER: On Wednesday, premium members received The Profile Dossier, a comprehensive deep-dive on a prominent individual. It featured Martha Cooper, the legendary graffiti photographer who captured a cultural movement. Read it below.
— The founder taking on Elon Musk in the space race [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The Theranos founder adopting a new persona
— The billion-dollar man
— The world’s oldest ultramarathon runner
— The ugly shoe company that built an obsession
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The founder taking on Elon Musk in the space race: The industrialization of space has tended to concentrate on Elon Musk and his peers Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and the late Paul Allen—billionaires with big personalities who set forth to fire up space tourism businesses or, like Musk, to colonize the moon or Mars. The public has paid less attention to the frenzy among hundreds of other companies scattered around the world building new types of rockets and satellites. They’re trying to establish an economy in low Earth orbit, the stretch of space from 100 to 1,200 miles above ground. Meet Peter Beck, the founder behind Rocket Lab. (Bloomberg; reply to this email if you can’t access the article)
The Theranos founder adopting a new persona: You’ll read this profile, and I guarantee you’ll have an extreme reaction. Depending on what you believe, you’ll either think you’re reading about the real Elizabeth Holmes or you’ll be even more certain that she’s manipulated the reporter just how she manipulated investors into pouring $9 billion into her blood testing startup Theranos. Either way, it’s an absolutely fascinating profile of a founder who is facing 11 years in prison after the fallout and spectacular implosion of her company. (The New York Times; reply to this email if you can’t access the article)
“Liz is not a natural born leader; she is more of a zealot than a showman.”
The billion-dollar man: What do you do when you suddenly have $1 billion? Well, if you’re Italy’s newest billionaire Danilo Iervolino, you purchase everything from a soccer team and a cybersecurity firm to real estate and a media company that owns one of the country’s most storied magazines. Iervolino sold his company for $1.3 billion. With the stroke of a pen, he gave up the business he had spent 15 years of his life building and found himself flush with cash—and effectively without a day job. (Forbes; reply to this email if you can’t access this article)
"I really see the world split in two. There's positive people, who have passion and fury in their blood, those who make it. And then there are the pessimists, the techno-skeptics.”
The world’s oldest ultramarathon runner: Dag Aabye is 81 years old, lives in an old school bus on a mountain, and is pushing his body to its absolute limits. Though he is always the oldest person on the trail, he is inspired by runners even older than him who continued to compete in more traditional marathons around the world. Here’s the story of someone who pushes the very limits of what it means to get older. (The Walrus)
“Look down. It does not matter where your feet were yesterday or where they are going to be tomorrow. It matters where your feet are at this moment.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The ugly shoe company that built an obsession: Hokas have been on a rocket ship to the upper echelons of sneaker brands, buffeted by the trend winds of “ugly shoes” during the pandemic, word-of-mouth among older and injured people and the brand’s utility to serious runners. Its hiking models (Anacapa), everyday shoes (Clifton) and trail runners (Speedgoat) are instantly recognizable, with a bulbous sole that looks to be made of insulation foam and dreamy colorways that favor creamy orange and turquoise blue. The brand was founded in 2009 and acquired in 2013 by Deckers. Hoka now makes up 36% of its parent company’s revenue, up from 21% two years ago. In 2022, it broke the billion-dollar mark in sales. (The New York Times)
“It’s not just ugly. There is actual considered design that results in something surprising and genius.”
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