The Art of Doing

These Two Hormones Divide Winners from Losers

What our biology primes us for.

Sometimes winning can be as dangerous as losing. Take James Altucher, blogger, podcaster, provocateur and occasional Observer contributor. Rewind to 1998 when Altucher had just sold Reset, his web-design business, for $10 million. With his windfall he set out on a mission to teach the stock market a lesson. His first trade? As he told us, he “poured all of his money” into a software company, the name of which he no longer remembers. But he does remember this: In one hour he made a cool million. That jackpot was proof of Altucher’s genius. And he was primed to keep at it, going mano a mano against the market to make another million dollars every day for the rest of his life.

Continue reading “These Two Hormones Divide Winners from Losers”

The Comeback: How One Entrepreneur Reversed His Fortunes

Pediatrician Michel Cohen founder of Tribeca Pediatrics had a booming business, a best-selling book and downtown NYC celebrity baby cred until the bottom dropped out. How did he get back on top?

NY Observer Pediatrician Michel Cohen Photos by Francesco Sapienza/For New York Observer
Pediatrician Michel Cohen Founder of Tribeca Pediatrics photo by Francesco Sapienza

From the outside, fit and photogenic French-born physician Michel Cohen was on his way to becoming the 21st century’s answer to Dr. Spock. In the early 2000s he ran Tribeca Pediatrics, a smart, hip, high-quality New York City practice that catered to the neighborhood’s smart, hip parents, whose children he saw in his signature quirky medical office — think Pee-wee’s Playhouse meets a Wes Anderson film set. The media loved him and parents appreciated his common sense, low-intervention medical approach to children’s health.

Things were going so well that he opened up another office in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the healthcare industry was in flux with expanding regulations, upheavals in technology, rising pharmaceutical prices and dramatic cuts in insurance reimbursements. As a result, many doctors were abandoning their private practices to join corporate healthcare clinics and hospitals. (A report from Accenture shows that the percentage of U.S. independent physicians plummeted from 57 percent in 2000 to 33 percent in 2016.) But Cohen, who spent his days biking back and forth across the Brooklyn Bridge, managing his growing practice, seemed to be bucking the trend.

Or so he thought. One morning in 2008, he received a very disturbing call from his bank. “They told me I was $400,000 in debt,” Cohen says. “I was in complete shock.” To make payroll that month he had to borrow $30,000 from a friend.

Our story in Entrepreneur’s Startups Magazine here

To Change Someone’s Mind, Stop Fighting

What if everything you thought about being
right was wrong? What if the urge to win arguments turned out to be life’s No. 1 killer of dreams? 

But…but…but, isn’t arguing our national pastime?  Continue reading “To Change Someone’s Mind, Stop Fighting”

How to Deal with Us and Them?

One biologist, two prairie voles, some hormones and an explanation. Why we love and hate and what we can do about it.


Why do we always see the world as Us versus Them when it only leads to cronyism and prejudice and, at its worst, bigotry, war and genocide?

This may sound strange, but it starts with love.

But what is love?

Biologists have some theories. You can read plenty of articles about the neuropeptide oxytocin dubbed with some super-cute nicknames, including “the love molecule” and “the cuddle chemical.” These simplistic, feel-good labels do a disservice to oxytocin, which along with its partner peptide, vasopressin, serve as the hormonal glue that keeps humans and other animals sticking together in couples, families, packs and even nation states.

Continue reading “How to Deal with Us and Them?”

Is Donald Trump the New Hickory?

What can the reign of the 7th U.S. President tell us about the 45th’s?

Andrew Jackson, 7th US President, nickname Old Hickory; Donald J. Trump, 45th US President-elect

A real-estate-rich, thin-skinned, temperamental, yet charismatic celebrity who runs a tell-it-like-it-is political campaign attacking corrupt elites and promising a better life for the common man is accused of being unfit to serve, but after slogging through a mud-slinging campaign, complicated by sex scandals and an electoral college kerfuffle, he shocks the establishment and thrills his supporters by thrashing his more-experienced opponent and winning the ultimate prize—the highest office in the land.

Introducing the President of the United States. . . Andrew Jackson? Continue reading “Is Donald Trump the New Hickory?”

What We Can Learn About Politics from the High School Lunchroom

o-aolcdnMany of us non-Trump voters now feel like victims—underdogs, isolated, helpless, hopeless, anxious and angry, afraid for tomorrow. Our political power seems to have shrunken to the size of a confetti flake never deployed from the rafters of the glass ceiling at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on election night.

So, now that “the mean girl” is heading for the White House, and we’re heading for…we don’t know where—who can we turn to show us a way forward?

Actually, we learned an amazing lesson about how to handle mean girls from 16-year-old Natalie Hampton. Continue reading “What We Can Learn About Politics from the High School Lunchroom”

One Designer Fights Destruction with Creativity, Hate with Love

How to respond to tragedy?

Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal. He was 22 years old. I can't stop crying. —J.K. Rowling
[Victim of Orlando nightclub shooting] Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal. He was 22 years old. I can’t stop crying. —J.K. Rowling
In the wake of a mass murder, the images of the victims flicker and fade while the images of the killer fix, as if in some chemical bath, leaving a permanent stain on society. We watch helplessly as the killer’s self-propaganda videos and fire-arm poses outpace and eventually obscure the images of the victims in gentler moments of beauty, joy and love.

Visual artist and designer Rafael Esquer and his studio mates at Alfalfa Studio, want to invert this equation. Continue reading “One Designer Fights Destruction with Creativity, Hate with Love”

On the Vertical Frontier

What do high-rise construction workers, laboring on the vertical frontier, tell themselves about their work, the risk and the reward?

Scott Small, Laborer, 3 World Trade Center May 2016 Photo Jack Davison for The New York Times Magazine
Scott Small, Laborer, 3 World Trade Center May 2016 Photo Jack Davison for The New York Times Magazine

At last count, in a single year, over 800 workers died on U.S. job sites according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What does it mean to be part of a highly ambitious man-made endeavor that rises tall enough to kiss the clouds? Recently, we had the opportunity to find out, interviewing dozens of high-rise construction workers (whose jobs include battling shredding winds, freezing cold and the scorching hot summer sun) on two of the tallest new construction buildings in New York City—3 World Trade Center and 10 Hudson Yards. We asked them about their work, the risk and the reward. And alongside the images of highly talented young photographer, Jack Davison, who captures the grit and the glory of these highest of high-rise workers, a collection of their thought-provoking responses are in an article for The New York Times Magazine called

Continue reading “On the Vertical Frontier”

They’re Not Throwin’ Away Their Shot

Sticking to a dream can be as hard as founding a country, but someone’s gotta do it. Find out how 3 fifth graders are working to make their dream come true. And consider joining them!

Outside the theater where Hamilton is playing, three girls meet their hero. Find out more here.
Outside the theater where Hamilton is playing, three girls meet their hero, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Find out more here.

The Broadway show Hamilton began to seep into our lives through our ten-year-old daughter, one staccato rap couplet at a time. Pretty soon she had a whole song. Then another and another. She was Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Lafayette and George Washington, famous sisters Angelica and Eliza Schuyler, Hamilton’s wife. Choreography followed and then of course, the pulsing red desire to PLEEEEEEEASE SEE THE SHOW.

Problem is the tickets are so in demand that they’ve been scooped up by third party vendors who sell at top prices. (We’re talking 4 digit prices.) Continue reading “They’re Not Throwin’ Away Their Shot”

What Stephen Curry, Amazon and Wormholes Have in Common

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry

When Amazon drops off a package at your home, it’s as if you are at one end of a wormhole in the space-time continuum. Amazon has mastered the art and science of moving packages from point A to point B. Like Amazon, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry owes his success to his ability to move an object from point A to point B with great speed, accuracy and frequency. Continue reading “What Stephen Curry, Amazon and Wormholes Have in Common”