The Profile: The secretive 38-year-old billionaire & the reporter who quit The New York Times
This edition of The Profile features Josh Kushner, Bari Weiss, Laura Alber, Dr. Ruth, and more.
Good morning, friends!
Last week, I shared my interview with Laura Dekker, the youngest person to sail solo around the world. I was surprised at the number of responses I received to this interview.
I had only recently learned of Dekker, but it seemed like many of The Profile readers had followed her journey to sailing the globe in 2010.
Though I urge you to check out the full interview here, one of the most interesting parts to me was when Laura reflects on her responsibility as a parent to pay forward the gift that her own parents had given her.
When I asked her whether she would allow her own children to undertake a similar endeavor, she was candid, saying, “I would honestly sh*t my pants. I really hope they won't.”
But then, as she reflected further, she said, “In saying that, I know the gift that my parents have given me in allowing me not just to sail around the world but also in allowing me to chase my dreams always.”
She told me that her parents never shot down her ideas as being too audacious for her age. Instead, they asked her questions to help her clarify her thinking, like “What do you think are the consequences of doing it?”
As a result, she says, if her kid told her he wanted to be an astronaut, she would help entertain the idea. “Instead of saying, ‘Well, maybe that’s a bit far-fetched,’ I really would have to know that I need to say, ‘Okay, that's great. What are the steps to achieve that? And can we do that together?’”
I just thought that was a really great parenting strategy — following your kids curiosities rather than imposing your own.
Hope you’re having a great week! (We are on Day 11 of newborn life, and I’m finding that somehow going from one kid to two kids is less of a shock to the system than going from zero to one was…How is that even possible?!)
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— The secretive 38-year-old billionaire [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The reporter who quit The New York Times
— The CEO navigating an uncertain economy
— The unlikely sex therapist curing loneliness
|— The woman in charge of Amazon’s logistics business
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The secretive 38-year-old billionaire: Josh Kushner is one of the most successful under-40 entrepreneurs. The 38-year-old founder of Thrive Capital is a billionaire running his biggest-ever portfolio, thanks to early bets on Instagram, Stripe, and OpenAI. In rare interviews with FORTUNE, Kushner detailed how he built the firm, valued at $5.3 billion, and how he thinks about investing. FORTUNE also spoke to more than 40 competitors, founders, limited partners, classmates and family members for the inside story of his rise. (FORTUNE; reply to this email if you can’t access the article)
“Josh makes high-conviction bets on high-quality companies and founders, and he doesn’t care too much about what other investors think.”
The reporter who quit The New York Times: Bari Weiss, a former New York Times opinion editor, started a newsletter nearly three years ago that eventually grew into Free Press, positioning the site as a check on what she sees as the media’s “woke” orthodoxy. She drew attention for her leading role in the “Twitter Files,” a series of releases about the content moderation policies of Twitter. Now, she’s attracting a lot of attention with her coverage of the Israel-Hamas war by taking her former employer to task for a headline that said Israel had bombed a Gaza hospital, information it attributed to Palestinian authorities. Here’s how she built an independent media empire. (WSJ; complimentary link provided, but reply to this email if you can’t access the article)
“I have really come to believe that we need new institutions in this country, and I am learning how unbelievably hard it is to build one of them.”
The CEO navigating an uncertain economy: Laura Alber, CEO of Williams-Sonoma, is the longest-serving female chief executive in the Fortune 500. She first joined the company in 1995 as a senior buyer for its Pottery Barn brand. She got the top job in 2010. At 42 years old, she became only the fourth CEO of the now 67-year-old retailer. Since then, Alber has grown top-line revenue at the retailer by $5 billion. She’s capitalized on its advanced e-commerce operations and leaned in to its well-defined aspirational aesthetic. But inflation, high interest rates, and an uncertain economy are causing even Williams Sonoma’s well-heeled customers to pare their spending, forcing Alber to explore new revenue streams to maintain her hot streak. (FORTUNE; complimentary link provided)
“You can’t wait for a macro trend to improve your business. You have to make it happen and look for other opportunities to grow.”
The unlikely sex therapist curing loneliness: Remember Dr. Ruth Westheimer? In the 1980s and ‘90s, she was America’s most famous and least likely sex counselor. She recently turned 95 (!), and she’s still at it. Her new goal: to become the Loneliness Ambassador for New York State. “I don’t want to be known only as a sex therapist. I want to be known as a therapist,” she says. (The New York Times)
“I still will talk about orgasms. I still will talk about sexual dysfunction. But I have done that.”
The woman in charge of Amazon’s logistics business: In her first year at Amaon, Beryl Tomay made a software code change for Amazon’s order-confirmation page that caused it to appear blank for customers for over an hour. Later, she made a change to the database of the Kindle e-reader that prevented users from signing in or downloading anything. That error was so large that Jeff Bezos emailed to ask about the problem. Today, Tomay is in charge of a crucial part of Amazon that is in its busiest period right now: She oversees businesses and technology at the company’s ”last mile” delivery unit—the logistics business that gets packages through the final steps on their way to customers’ doorsteps. Here’s how she got here. (WSJ; complementary link provided)
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