The Profile: The man who helped evacuate people from Afghanistan & the billionaire behind New York’s most luxe hotel
This edition features Meghan Markle, Vladislav Doronin, Anna Leigh Waters, and more.
Good morning, friends!
In the summer of 2019, I had been writing Term Sheet, Fortune’s daily dealmaking newsletter for about two years. I sent it to subscribers five days a week, and I often wrote about the news in the finance/tech world with commentary or analysis on the items I found personally interesting. An example would be one edition with the headline: “I’m a Millennial and I Don’t Understand What Quibi Is Trying to Do.”
Anyway, one time during that summer of 2019, I was on a packed subway in New York when I looked over and saw that the guy next to me was reading Term Sheet on his phone. What the actual hell? It may sound insane, but that was the first time it truly hit me that there are people out there who read the words I write. And here were those words being read! In the wild!
It was crazy to me because, ultimately, all writing I have ever done is for myself. Writing helps me organize my ideas and clarify my thinking. I don’t actually think about anyone reading my writing. (The fact that you are reading this sentence right now blows my mind. Thank you!)
But there’s something here. My hypothesis is that the most beautiful and engaging writing is not done for others. It is done for yourself. I’ll never forget what author Morgan Housel said about ‘selfish writing:’
I came across this point again when I was working on a deep-dive on best-selling novelist Colleen Hoover. She, too, engages in ‘selfish writing.’
The magic of a Colleen Hoover novel is that it forces suppressed emotions to bubble up to the surface. You might find yourself crying on the subway or gasping in shock.
Hoover’s hidden genius is that she can pierce through the monotony of our lives with vivid scenes that evoke emotion. “I write what I want to read,” she says simply.
Ironically, Hoover is not a very emotional person, and she says it takes a lot to make her feel anything. “I think the reason why my books make a lot of people cry is because I'm kind of hard inside,” she says. “So I write until I kind of sort of feel something sad inside of me, which takes a lot to get there.”
To me, this is a lesson about the importance of selfish writing. If you find it interesting, it’s likely others will too. If you’re moved by it, it’s likely it will move others, too.
To echo Hoover: Write what you want to read. And you never know, the stranger on the subway may find it enjoyable too.
— The man who helped people evacuate Afghanistan [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The billionaire behind New York’s most luxe hotel
— The royal returning to Hollywood
— The chef who returned to the kitchen
— The ransomware gangs that extort hospitals
— The teen queen of professional pickleball
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The man who helped people evacuate Afghanistan: This is the story of how a 35-year-old Afghan-American musician who, after the Taliban re-takeover of Afghanistan, helped scores of strangers flee Kabul. Eight of those strangers — a group of young, prominent Afghan women — put the fates of their new lives in this American's hands. Amid the total dysfunction of the U.S. resettlement process, he soon realized that he was in way over his head. It's a story about the possibilities and limits of diasporic activism. It’s a must-read. (New York Magazine)
“When I stop giving a shit, I stop being human.”
The billionaire behind New York’s most luxe hotel: The opening of Aman New York — perhaps the most anticipated new hotel in Manhattan in the last quarter-century — has been shadowed by scandal, discord, and death. The project, led by the Soviet-born billionaire Vladislav Doronin, is the first outpost in the city of Aman Resorts. It was supposed to emphasize tranquillity, peace, and (inevitably) wellness. But Aman New York was conceived in conflict. (Curbed)
“I have nothing to hide, so why not say the truth?”
The royal returning to Hollywood: Meghan Markle is back in Los Angeles, but this time she’s not the talent, she’s the one calling the shots. In this Q&A, Markle reveals what’s next for her and Prince Harry’s production company, Archewell. “So much of how my husband and I see things is through our love story,” she says, alluding to the notion that they might focus on rom-coms reminiscent of the Julia Roberts-era kind. (Variety)
“Our definition of love is really expansive: Partner love, self-love, the love of community and family.”
The chef who returned to the kitchen: At the age of 27, Aleem Syed was holding down two cooking jobs: one at an Italian restaurant and another at a golf course. He'd already worked at Canoe, arguably one of the best restaurants in the country, and had his sights set on big things. Then, just a month before his birthday, Aleem was shot, and his life changed forever. This is a story of resilience and the unbreakable nature of the human spirit (Food & Wine)
"I think stubborn is a beautiful word, and he's extremely stubborn — in the best way.”
The ransomware gangs that extort hospitals: Ransomware is one of the most pervasive and fastest-growing cybercrimes. Typically, the attackers capitalize on a cybersecurity flaw or get an unsuspecting person to open an attachment or click on a link. Once inside a computer system, ransomware encrypts the files, rendering them inaccessible without the right decryption key. In recent years, hundreds of ransomware strains with odd names like Bad Rabbit and LockerGoga have paralyzed the computers of companies, government offices, nonprofit organizations, and millions of individuals. But what happens when patients at a hospital can’t receive lifesaving treatments because the local hospital was hit by ransomware? (New York Magazine)
“They would sign off saying, ‘Stay safe, stay healthy.’”
The teen queen of professional pickleball: Anna Leigh Waters is 15 years old, and she is one of the biggest stars in professional pickleball. Her skyrocketing prospects are aligning perfectly with the explosion of the sport. She’s locked into major endorsements with bigger deals probably on the horizon and has played with swimmer Michael Phelps, actor Jamie Foxx, boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard and golfers Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth. (The Washington Post)
“She’s in a unique place right now in terms of her dominance.”