Wednesday Wisdom (#9)

The Cost of Consistency, Population Density, Amazon's 6-Pager, Kevin Kelly's Life Advice, Visualize Value

Hey everybody 👋,

Greetings from Chicago! I hope you’re doing well and making the best of life in quarantine. Personally, I’m very much due for a haircut!

I published a new blog post this week called The Cost of Consistency. I was proud to co-author this with my Write of Passage classmate, Adam Tank. We reflected on what we learned in a five-week online writing course.

Read it here

If you missed last week’s newsletter, you can check it out here. I wrote about General Mattis’ Books of Wisdom, Costco’s Kirkland Signature Brand, How to Make Better Content.

What I Learned This Week

Population Density

The maps of the United States below were created by Alasdair Rae, professor of Urban Studies and Planning at The University of Sheffield.

Traditional measurements of population density treat cities and rural areas the same way, simply dividing the number of people by the land area of a country. To accurately judge how people experience population density in their daily lives, Rae looked at Europe’s population count per each 1 km².

The bird’s eye view showed a high population density from north-west England to Milan, the area so-called “blue banana” which is home to more than 110 million people.

Spain is a good example of why traditional population density figures don’t work. It has a population density of 93 people/km², giving the impression of a sparsely populated country. However, only 13% of Spain’s 505,000 1 km squares are populated, which means that actual “lived density” is 737 people/km².

Rae has written several articles about population density, specifically this one highlighting Europe’s most densely populated single square kilometers. The most densely populated area in Europe is a single square kilometer in Barcelona, with more than 53,000 people.

Interactive map: World Population Density


Amazon’s 6-Page Memo

Jeff Bezos Interview with AFA President Gen. Larry Spencer, Ret ...

Amazon is known to not have any slide presentations in meetings. Brad Porter describes the beauty of Amazon’s 6-Pager.

“We have study hall at the beginning of our meetings.” - Jeff Bezos

Staff meetings at Amazon begin with 30 minutes of silent reading.

The preparation required to write a good 6-page memo does two things:

  1. It requires the team to deeply understand their space, gather their data, understand their operating tenants, and be able to communicate them clearly.

  2. A great document enables senior executives to internalize a whole new space they may not be familiar with in 30 minutes of reading.

“Outsiders sometimes look at Amazon and wonder how Amazon can possibly focus on so many different businesses at once. The answer is that Amazon has fundamentally innovated in how to scale the process of bringing groups of people deeply up to speed in new spaces and making critical decisions based on that insight quickly.”

68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice

I’m currently reading Kevin Kelly’s book, The Inevitable which I will write about in next week’s newsletter.

kevin Kelly

Kelly, the founding executive editor of WIRED Magazine recently turned 68 and offered some lessons on life. Here are a few that stood out to me:

“Always demand a deadline. A deadline weeds out the extraneous and the ordinary. It prevents you from trying to make it perfect, so you have to make it different. Different is better.”

“Treating a person to a meal never fails, and is so easy to do. It’s powerful with old friends and a great way to make new friends.”

“Being able to listen well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them “Is there more?”, until there is no more.”

“How to apologize: Quickly, specifically, sincerely.”

“To make something good, just do it. To make something great, just re-do it, re-do it, re-do it. The secret to making fine things is in remaking them.”

“Experience is overrated. When hiring, hire for aptitude, train for skills. Most really amazing or great things are done by people doing them for the first time.”

I highly recommend reading the other 62. Pure wisdom.

Visualize Value

I continue to be amazed at the internet and what talented people are doing on it.

Jack Butcher turned an idea from a tweet into a live, revenue-generating product in 11 hours.

Butcher worked in corporate advertising for years with clients like Mercedes-Benz, Michelin, Tiffany & Co., and others. He then took two years to build Visualize Value to help people build out content ecosystems that help them start/scale businesses remotely.

What people see on the surface seems to happen instantly, but it takes years of work behind the scenes. It reminds me of James Clear’s idea about The Plateau of Latent Potential:

“People will call it an overnight success. The outside world only sees the most dramatic event rather than all that preceded it. But you know that it’s the work you did long ago—when it seemed that you weren’t making any progress—that makes the jump today possible. Change can take years—before it happens all at once.”

Photos of the Week

I was going through my Google Photos library and saw that I was traveling through Japan with my family this time four years ago.

For me, travel is like a good meal for the soul. I can’t wait to travel again and I certainly can’t wait to come back to Japan again one day.

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That’s all for this week. Feel free to forward this to anyone you like. If you have any feedback, advice, or thoughts on what I shared, email me at or tweet me at @levnaginsky

Until next week,