The Profile: The NBA’s new kingmaker & the man who buys dying companies
Good morning, friends.
If you’ve got two hours this weekend, boy, do I have something for you. Naval Ravikant went on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and the product was a wide-ranging conversation filled with ideas for days. They discuss everything from universal basic income to wealth creation to attaining happiness to the meaning of life.
The beauty of the conversation is that even if you don’t agree with Naval on certain things, he almost always explains how he reached those conclusions. Here’s how he thinks about happiness:
‘Happy’ is one of those words that means a zillion different things. We can define it a little bit more tightly. Let’s go back to desire. Desire, to me, is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. And I keep that in front of mind so that when I’m unhappy about something, I look for the underlying desire I have that isn’t being fulfilled.
It’s OK to have desires. But don’t pick them up unconsciously. Don’t pick them up randomly. Don’t have a thousand of them. Pick your one overwhelming desire, and it’s OK to suffer over that one, but on all the other ones, let them go so you can be calm, peaceful, and relaxed.
A clear mind leads to better judgement, which leads to better outcome. So a happy, calm, peaceful person will make better decisions and have better outcomes. If you want to operate at peak performance, you have to learn to tame your mind.
Anyway, it’s full of ideas that will stir in your mind for days to come. Let me know what you think once you have a chance to listen.
P.S: In honor of Father’s Day, I compiled a list of seven very different stories about dads. It’s from last year, but the profiles are timeless. They explore complicated familial relationships, the sacrifices of parenthood, and the grief that comes with losing a father. I can assure you they won’t disappoint. Read them here.
Here we go with this week’s profiles:
— The original Queen of Pop [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The author who preaches vulnerability
— The NBA’s new kingmaker
— The king of weed
— The man who buys dead companies
— The master of celebrity profiles
— The capitalist kibbutz
— The football star whose life shattered
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PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The original Queen of Pop: This is the controversial profile everyone’s talking about. This story chronicles all the different evolutions of Madonna — religious Madonna, the virgin, boy-toy, material girl, dominatrix, dancing queen, mom, yoga mom, adopting mom and, now, sexagenarian claiming her space among artists two generations younger. It’s a remarkable profile, but to say Madonna hated it is an understatement (see what she said here).
“The funny thing is, the more you know, the more passionate you feel about life, and the more joy you feel, and the more inspired you feel, but then also the more disgusted you are with humanity.”
The author who preaches vulnerability: At the end of her best-selling book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about how she found love with José Nunes. What you probably don’t know is what happened after. She divorced Nunes and married her best friend, Rayya Elias. Her wife passed away last year, and Gilbert fell in love again, with an old friend of Elias. She delivered all this personal news on social media. Why? “I will always share anything personal about my life, if it could help someone else feel more normal about their life,” she says.
“Putting it out there is just smoothing my own path and not being coy. It makes my life easier to be open.”
The NBA’s new kingmaker: The most polarizing figure in the NBA is not any owner, player, exec or even LeBron James. It’s Rich Paul, LeBron’s agent, who unleashed havoc on the league when he demanded that New Orleans trade star client Anthony Davis in a seeming bid to unite him with LeBron in L.A. Paul’s next moves could reshape the entire league, but here’s the thing: He and LeBron have even bigger plans.
“When you’re young and grow up the way we grow up, you kind of feel like you’re by yourself—until you meet someone that is going through the same thing.”
The king of weed: What’s Mike Tyson up to these days? Marijuana, of course. He and his partners are running a company called Tyson Holistic, and the boxer is planning to create a sort of weed utopia in the California desert, where his master growers will cultivate custom strains for visitors. Guests can come stay on the property to immerse themselves in the lifestyle. There will be “glamping,” entertainment, and even a lazy river. What a time to be alive.
“He used to be addicted to chaos, because that's what his whole life was—chaos. And when it's too calm, some of that residue kicks back in.”
The man who buys dying companies: Your media company’s dying? There’s a good chance Bryan Goldberg, the founder of Bustle, wants to buy it. Since 2017, Goldberg, now 35, has amassed a portfolio of digital media companies, including Elite Daily and Mic—both of which had fallen on hard times. Last year, he bought Gawker.com out of bankruptcy for $1.4 million. “I like that these are tough days,” he says. Sigh.
“We’re laser-focused on building for the next decade what Condé Nast, Hearst, and Meredith had in the 1980s and 1990s during the glory years.”
The master of celebrity profiles: Taffy Brodesser-Akner is behind many of the profiles in this newsletter, including Bradley Cooper, Tom Hiddleston, Kris Jenner, Nicki Minaj, and the host of The Bachelor. But now that she’s at the center of the story, it’s been hard to cede control of the narrative. Getting profiled has given her even more empathy for her subjects. “I now really understand what a void, what an abyss, the powerlessness is,” she says.
“I always go into interviews feeling so bad for people because it must be so awful to be written about.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The capitalist kibbutz: WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has described his company as a “capitalist kibbutz,” where weakness won’t be accommodated. “On the one hand, community,” he has said. “On the other hand, you eat what you kill.” If you’re wondering how Neumann built WeWork into a $47 billion business, it certainly wasn’t by sharing. This profile is a tick-tock account of how WeWork became a “community company” with ruthless ambitions.
“You can move fast and break things. But you can’t move fast and break people.”
The football star whose life shattered: Forty-five years ago the country was gripped by the tragic story of John McClamrock, a high school football player paralyzed during a violent tackle. But after the newspapers moved on, another story was quietly unfolding — one of courage, perseverance, and a mother’s fierce love. What a story … this one will stay with you for a while.
“Acting hopeless is easy. The real challenge is to hope.”