Clarity First Newsletter, September 8, 2017

Clarity First
A notebook about how we work and learn and love and live.

Every Tuesday evening I sit in the beautiful zendo at the Windhorse Hill Retreat Center with Fleet Maull, Ariel Pliskin, and a very sweet Sangha. This week, during his Dharma talk, Fleet spoke of the brain’s negativity bias, and of how meditation works to reprogram this bias to literally hardwire happiness. It reminded me that even in a world where millions of lives are being devastated by both human-made and natural calamity, each of us do have agency to contribute to a more positive and peaceful world. Stop. Breathe. Be present. It works. As Fleet says on his website, “…it’s is not about blame; it’s about ownership and self-empowerment, owning our circumstances and our choices.”

Rule of thumb: the person with the fewest blind spots wins

The first and biggest leverage point any of us have in improving our organizations, and getting massively better results, is improving our ability to make confident and correct decisions, all the time. Through better initial decisions we avoid problems.
Article: The Ultimate Guide to Making Smart Decisions

How to create a customer-centric venture

Design thinking and lean start-up both seek to better serve customers’ needs through a systematic, low-risk path to innovating in the face of uncertainty. In this article two faculty members from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Startup Garage discuss how the practices compliment each other.
Article: Lean Startup vs. Design Thinking: What Works?

Launch, Learn, and Course Correct

If you’re contemplating a reorg, you owe it to your shareholders and employees to follow a rigorous process rather than winging it, as so many leaders do. You’ll make better decisions, keep your people more involved and engaged, and capture more value.
Article: Getting Reorgs Right

“We’ve singled out Fox News because the client thinks that the site is controversial. We blacklisted it, along with sites like Breitbart and Infowars, for brand safety.”

Political tensions have reached a point where some brands are perceiving some news outlets as too controversial, leading media buyers to pull ads from those sites.
Article: Brands Are Now Blacklisting Mainstream News Sites, Including Fox News.

If you ignore website fundamentals you could very well see your social media efforts go down the drain.

A lot has been written about social media strategy for businesses. However, very little has been written about website fundamentals that actually turn your social media efforts into revenue and profit.
Article: Ignoring These Website Fundamentals Is Sinking Your Social Media Efforts

Free photos that are truly free

Digital Synopsis has shortlisted 10 stock image sites that let you download images under the Creative Commons Zero license, which means that all images are free for personal and commercial use, and that you can modify, copy and distribute the images, without asking for permission, or providing a link to the source. Why any creator would allow such (ab)use is beyond me, but at the very least, if you do use one of these quality images, please cite and link back to the artist, even though they didn’t ask.
Article: Top 10 Websites to Download Free Photos for Personal and Commercial Use

All things must pass

As the (British) Yellow Pages plans to cease printing in 2019, Campaign takes a look at some of the brand’s most memorable ads from the last three decades.
Article: Yellow Pages: 30 Years of Memorable Ads

Mindfulness benefits anyone who practices it.

This article was written for parents. It’s relevant for anyone who teaches, coaches, collaborates or leads. We are, after all, all kids at heart.
Article: 11 Simple But Effective Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids


I have such a sweet spot for an unadorned and clear electric guitar underneath an unadorned and clear vocal. Lera Lynn is a master of the genre. Here she is with a four piece band performing Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea at Athfest in Athens GA in 2011.

Images of the week

Tom Kiefer was a Customs and Border Protection janitor for more than 10 years at the processing center in Ajo, Arizona, less than fifty miles from the border with Mexico. Every day at work he would throw away garbage bags full of items confiscated from undocumented migrants apprehended in the desert. Then he started to document those toothbrushes, rosaries, pocket Bibles, water bottles, keys, shoelaces, razors, mix CDs, condoms, contraceptive pills, sunglasses and keys, instead. The New Yorker has the story.

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If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Clarity, the consultancy that helps mission-driven companies use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as powerful tools for transformation. Learn more.

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