Polina Marinova Pays Attention to the Little Things

How the creator of The Profile learned to read people — and used it to create a popular newsletter

If you really pay attention to the little details, you can learn a surprising amount about people. And if you learn about people, you’ll learn how the world works. 

That’s what Polina Marinova thinks, and paying attention to little details is her job.

She’s a journalist who writes the newsletter, The Profile, where she features the best long-form profiles about people and companies, every week.

To Polina’s expert eye, the profiles that teach us the most are full of these small details — they show the way a subject folds their hands, or the way they speak when they’re uncomfortable. These are the kinds of stories that teach us the most about the world — by examining people, they show us how things really work.

And when you dig into Polina’s life, you’ll understand why she thinks this way. She moved from Bulgaria to the US as a child. Suddenly, she found herself in a completely new country, with a new school, and new classmates — but she didn’t speak the language at all. Then her parents got divorced.

In the aftermath of so much change, she had to pick up new tools to understand and work with the world around her. So she started to pay attention to people. She began to notice nonverbal cues and gestures that told her what people were thinking, even if she didn’t quite understand the words they were saying. It was those small details that made the difference for her. 

“I learned to pay attention to tiny things a long time ago,” she said to me in our interview. This made her really good at first impressions. “When I meet somebody I can pretty quickly understand what type of person they are based on small cues that they give away.” 

Polina has taken that obsession with the details of people and turned it into her job. She left a great job at Fortune to write The Profile full-time in March — at the height of the pandemic. Now she gets to learn and write about people 24/7 — and share the best of what she finds with her audience.

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