Clarity First Newsletter, June 14, 2019

“I’m not going to knock on any closed doors. I’m going to make my own door.” – Ana DuVernay*

Clarity First

A notebook about how we work, and learn, and love and live.

Last night I gathered with hundreds of others at the Academy of Music in Northampton to honor Suzanne Beck, who is passing the torch as the head of the Northampton Chamber of Commerce after 27 years. It was a heartwarming celebration of an amazing woman and an amazing community. During her farewell address she shared this quote by George Bernard Shaw:

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.”

Thank you, Suzanne. I’ve so enjoyed working with you. I can’t wait to see what you do next.



“All you need is the compassion of the heart.”

Photo by Minette Layne

“When I was about to turn thirty, I was given an opportunity to have a private audience with His Holiness. ‘Hey kid,’ my boss said, ‘I’ve got us a meeting with the Dalai Lama at his place in India.’ I was already packed.”

Article: The Dalai Lama: Women are the Leaders of the Future


Regenerative Economy, Corporate Responsibility

Humans are part of a web of life and everything that goes into the economy comes from that web.

“It’s time for radical changes in how we live our lives and run our businesses.” Andrew Winston has identified six ways that business can do so.

Article: Business in the Age of Mass Extinction


Corporate Responsibility, Advertising

We all know that we need to cut down on our use of plastic, but sometimes we need a nudge in the right direction.

East/West Market

“One supermarket in the Canadian city of Vancouver has gone to innovative and humorous lengths to ensure their customers think long and hard about their plastic bag use.”

Article: Supermarket Uses Embarrassing Plastic Bags So Customers Will Remember Their Reusable Ones



The benefits of design thinking are quantifiable, and they’re compelling.

“Design thinking has historically enjoyed ‘blind support’ among executive leaders based on its perceived value. However, many of these same leaders now find themselves increasingly under pressure to show the return on their investments in the practice. For customer experience (CX) professionals and design thinking practitioners that have successfully introduced the methodology into their organizations, they may find that after the initial enthusiasm fades, the struggle to fund and scale begins. Forrester created a Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) model to empower design thinking practitioners with the tools and vernacular needed to quantify their efforts as well as form a compelling business case for the practice.”

Article: Design Thinking Can Deliver An ROI of 85% Or Greater


Futures Thinking, Design Process

Making the future the focus of attention

Design credit: Skylar Rain Todd, Stanford Women in Design

“At its core, human-centered design is a posture (a mindset), a process (a method), and a set of intentional practices (behaviors and skills) that support imaginative problem solving, individual agency, and creative confidence.

“Like human-centered design, futures-centered design is also a posture, process, and set of intentional practices. It empowers us to make more thoughtful choices by suggesting that the future isn’t pre-determined, but is a wider range of possible futures that we can and should explore and shape.”

Article: The Case for Futures-Centered Design


Organizational Health

Maybe you need a State of Grace Document more than you need a contract.

“A State of Grace Document has a deceptively simple structure. Its one to three pages emerge from an in-depth conversation in which the following are co-created:

“1. A statement from each party on what it is about the other party and the relationship that they find so valuable – “the ‘story’ of the individuals as they see one another while things are going smoothly.” Whenever the conditions described in these statements are present, the relationship is considered to be in the “state of grace” which inspired its birth. The purpose of the document and its related conversations is to sustain that state of grace.

“2. An agreement about the length of time the two parties will tolerate a departure from that state of grace. For a marriage or a close working relationship, that time period might be an hour or a day. For a less immediate relationship, such as between business clients, it might be a week or a month or more.

“3. A commitment by both (all) parties that if they are out of their state of grace, they will come together – before that agreed-upon time period has elapsed – to have a heart-to-heart talk about the state of their relationship. The aim of that conversation will be to either heal the relationship into its original state of grace – or to transform it into a new state of grace.”

Article: The State of Grace Document


Personal Development, Communications

Figuring out your answer to “Why you?” can help you speak authentically and build your confidence.

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“Your ‘why’ is probably not ‘So I can make more money’ or ‘So I can get promoted’ or ‘So I can look good in front of my boss.’ It’s deeper than that. Sometimes you may need to ask yourself this question repeatedly to get your underlying answer.”

Article: Want To Speak From The heart? Answer This Question First.


Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of Tiny Desk Concerts. To find the talent we should know about they conduct contests, asking artists to submit homemade videos that reflect their best selves. And then they share what the artists share.

Last week they focused on musicians from the Pacific Northwest. This band, Racoma, chose to record their pitch – a song called The Kicker – in a car while cruising their neighborhood.

As rock steady and gifted the band is, I’m not sure that I’d ever play this music again. It’s pretty standard folk rock. But I sure would play this video again.

Because it’s really fun. Come on, the drummer is the freaking driver. This is a cool idea executed really well.Video: Racoma – The Kicker (NPR Tiny Desk Contest 2019)


Image of the Week

The image in the header of this letter is from the video “VISUAL PLEASURE/JUKEBOX CINEMA -Calendar Girl” from a series of videos in which Samantha Nye remakes Scopitone films from the 1960’s using a queer and feminist lens.

The image of the week is by New York videographer and painter Samantha Nye. She named it “Attractive People Doing Attractive Things in Attractive Places- Pool Party 1”.

“My work envisions fantasy histories of age, race, and trans-inclusive lesbian spaces by reimagining ‘aspirational lifestyle imagery’ from the 1960s. To make this work I’ve assembled a cast of women, ages 55-92, including my mother, grandmother, their life-long friends, and elders of the queer community. My work has two main points of reference: the musical Scopitone films from the 1960s and Slim Aarons’s photographs from the same era.”

Article: Queer Artists in Their Own Words: Samantha Nye Is Inspired by Rock Hudson Films and LGBTQ Elders

*Thank you.
Thanks to Jocelyn K. Glei for pointing me to the quote of the week: The Mogul for This Moment: Ava DuVernay Takes on the Central Park Five, Trump and Her Own Ambition


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