Simply put, a polymath is a person who is devoted to learning a lot about a broad range of subjects. In other words, a person of great and varied learning. For readers of this letter, the curated and editorialized subjects have been both broad and useful.
This project kicked off with letter No. 1 to polymaths (2PM). It was delivered in the afternoon of March 22, 2016. Nearly two and a half years and 300 letters later (278 Issues, 22 Member Briefs), this publication has amassed a readership of operators across a host of trades: publishing, eCommerce, branding, software development, manufacturing, data science, commercial real estate, advertising, logistics, creation, and retail. They look for actionable information and 2PM is often their source.
2PM is my go-to source every day for the most relevant and timely developments in brand side eCommerce along with understanding adjacent industries and how they all interact. Whether it is unique insight into DNVB’s, analysis on the latest moves by industry giants, or the latest changes in traditional or digital advertising, 2PM covers it.
Kevin Lavelle, Founder and CEO of Mizzen + Main
Over the last 300 letters, 2PM tracked momentum and deceleration across several industries. The goal: collect enough data to formulate worthwhile and actionable insights.
One common thread that 2PM’s loyal subscribers share: understanding that there is much to gain by learning from others. By studying a group of industries, you’ll begin to recognize previously unseen interconnectedness. It was Tim Ferriss who once quipped, “it’s the big-picture generalists who will predict, innovate, and rise to power.”
Modern capitalism has historically rewarded specialists. Our economy does not run without some degree of specialization. But when you consider the developments of late, it’s easy to understand the value of learning from adjacent industries. As industries interact and converge, being able to understand the big picture is table stakes. Being able to execute on a cross-section of knowledge is a pre-requisite for thriving in today’s digital economy.
It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I think you can be a jack-of-all-trades and a mistress-of-all-trades. If you study it, and you put reasonable intelligence and reasonable energy, reasonable electricity to it, you can do that. You may not become Max Roach on the drums. But you can learn the drums.
In every letter, eCommerce is the primary focus. And there is tremendous amount of care placed into every letter that we publish. Every article is vetted to assure objectivity or reasonable opinion. Articles written by self-promoters or network contributors are often set aside for reads that have greater value. They’re collected by way of our own search processes and from sources that are both free and paid. From start to finish, you’re on the receiving end of about ten hours of work per letter.
And for good reason. These industries are affecting most every aspect of our global economy. Nearly every industry is being impacted by principles of traditional online retail adoption. Here are a handful of events, trends, or industry shifts that have occurred in the last two years:
- Publishing. Many digital publishers are hiring a director of eCommerce and staffing up to grow direct-to consumer retail as a core competency.
- eCommerce brands. Traditional eCommerce companies set aside traditional advertising to seek partnerships with highly visible creators or influencers. These two groups often mimic the demand generation effects of organic press mentions.
- Retail real estate. Urban commercial real estate vacancies continue to rise as eCommerce brands and marketplaces gain influence.
- Retail real estate. WeWork move has begun to experiment with physical retail. And dozens of startups have begun building businesses by subleasing short-term spaces to emerging vertical brands.
- Media. The most viable major publishers have the highest commerce influence (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Economist). It’s no longer “eyes” that publishers want, it’s the ability to influence the sale that moves the needle for them. Look no further than the NYT’s acquisition of Wirecutter.
- Media. Subscription-driven publishers spend as much time as traditional retailers focusing on conversion rate optimization (CRO), customer acquisition cost (CAC), and lifetime value (LTV).
- eCommerce. For better or for worse, the most talked about car company in America does the majority of its business online.
- Media. Facebook and Google advertising efficacy continues to drop for brands, as CAC continues to rise. Logistics companies step in to develop new forms of advertising (data-driven direct mail).
- Media. Youtube Creators drive business to platforms like Patreon (eCommerce) or develop merchandising operations that can often amass eight figures in top line revenue.
- eCommerce. Heritage retail brands like Nike have forgone traditional, physical retail to focus on data-driven direct to consumer retail.
- Retail real estate. As eCommerce has gained footing in American cities, middle class malls have begun to shutter, negatively affecting housing prices in nearby areas.
- eCommerce. Amazon has become more than an eCommerce marketplace, it’s an entire economy affecting everything from: logistics, entertainment, healthcare, grocery shopping, fashion, brick and mortar retail, and data center expansion.
- eCommerce. Walmart has continued to move up market after several acquisitions and a refocused effort on millennial moms.
- logistics. Urban apartment and condominiums are leaning on Amazon to address the influx shipments.
We encourage you to search the archives by clicking the most mentioned companies (right side of the screen). You’ll be taken to a page that has the link to the archived email at the bottom of the page. There you’ll find the story that pertains to the company that you’re studying. Or search the editorial library with the search bar, over 300,000 words have been written across several industries. And in the near future, we are looking at smart ways for the industry leaders who read 2PM to connect in meaningful ways. Until then, we’ll keep rising above the noise.
Read the rest of the issue here.
By Web Smith and Meghan Terwilliger | About 2PM