Clarity First Newsletter, April 19, 2019


Clarity First

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

This week the spire of one of the oldest and most iconic cathedrals in Europe fell in a blazing fire, and the President of the United States was proven by a thorough investigation to be a duplicitous, cheating liar who puts his own selfish desires before the best interests of our citizens. It’s hard not feel discouraged and frightened in such a news environment.

This letter’s subject line is a contraction of a quote by Blaise Pascal: “Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.” What would it mean for you to shift your attention and hope from grand symbols to the ordinary acts of daily life that you can affect? What small act can you do today that would lift someone else’s spirits, that would make a tangible and measurable difference in the quality of our collective lives?

As Joanna Macy has written, “It is my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up — release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast, true nature.”

Happy Friday.


Warmheartedness, compassion, and love as leadership goals

“Buddhist tradition describes three styles of compassionate leadership: the trailblazer, who leads from the front, takes risks, and sets an example; the ferryman, who accompanies those in his care and shapes the ups and downs of the crossing; and the shepherd, who sees every one of his flock into safety before himself. Three styles, three approaches, but what they have in common is an all-encompassing concern for the welfare of those they lead.”

Article: The Dalai Lama on Why Leaders Should Be Mindful, Selfless, and Compassionate


Learning, Innovation
A proven process of organizational renewal

“It turns out that the best response to constant and potentially devastating change is continuous rebalancing of an energized innovation portfolio, applied with as much creativity to older parts of your business as it is to the new.”

Article: Reinventing Reinvention: Choosing the Continuous ‘Wise Pivot’ Over One-Time Transformation


Team Building
Reid Hoffman is hiring explicit learners.

Billionaire entrepreneur and investor, Reid Hoffman notes that in Silicon Valley intelligence is both abundant and coveted. In his personal quest to discover a person’s smarts and abilities he looks first for whether or not constant improvement and continual learning is in their DNA.

He notices that truly breakout performers “place an unusually high emphasis on improving their capabilities and performance over time. They’re infinitely curious individuals who always want to read one more book on a subject, conduct one more experiment or test, and ask one more question. Coupled with this facet of their personality, they also have an extremely well-developed ability to share the knowledge they acquire with others. They’re ‘explicit learners’.”

Article: Those Who Teach, Can Do


Customer Experience, Brand Value
As Steve Jobs said, “You have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.”

Research done by Harvard Business Review shows there’s a direct link between customer experience and annual revenue. They found that customers who had the best experience were shown to spend 140% more than those who had a bad or less than great experience.

“According to Forrester, revenue potential increases and then remains relatively flat when improvements are made to poor experiences. However, when improvements are made to already good experiences the revenue potential increases exponentially.”

Article: Customers Who Have Excellent Experiences With Brands Spend 140% More


Circular Economy
Adidas is closing the loop on the production process.

From the Learning to Get it Right department, on Wednesday one of the largest shoemakers in the world announced a new shoe called the Futurecraft Loop. The shoe is designed to be the first 100% recyclable shoe ever created for the mass market.

“The sneakers, which in styling resemble Adidas’ more traditional offerings, like the UltraBoost, are made to be purchased, used, worn out, and then returned to Adidas. The company will then break down the materials, turning them not into goods like a tote bag or a water bottle, but into more high-performance footwear.”

To paraphrase Sly Stone, we can make it if we really try.

Article: Adidas is Creating the World’s First Fully Recyclable Sneaker That Anyone Can Buy.


Social Messaging
“It’s astonishing that no defenders of the Green New Deal ask their opponents how they plan to pay for climate disaster.”

“In the end, someone is going to pay. We either pay to ameliorate the problem, or we pay to cope with the horrifying costs of surviving.”

Article Series: The Politics of the New Deal: We Can’t Pay for That

(Heard through Real Clever Issues.)


Philanthropic Effectiveness, Common Good
Funding practices continue to stymie innovation, and three other things nonprofit leaders wish more people knew

“Nonprofit Finance Fund’s recent State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey captured some of the unvarnished realities that US nonprofits and the people they serve navigate daily. Nearly 3,400 nonprofit leaders, representing all 50 states, shared survey responses detailing their organizations’ financial health and what they wish funders, partners, and society at large better understood. Here, we share four observations worth keeping in mind. Some may seem all too familiar, but if we are to make sustained progress against today’s social challenges, effectively responding to what these leaders need is one of the best places to start.”

Article: What Nonprofit Leaders Wish More People Knew



Like writer Chris DeVille, I am a “self-professed Radiohead fanboy”. And, like him, the Radiohead that I love the most was produced during the 90s, culminating in the album KID A in 2000. In an article this week in Stereogum he says “to those people, I’d like to recommend the new Wand album”.

Watch the Video

Promotional materials describe Laughing Matter as “a record about love in a time of terror,” and DeVille says that the album channels Thom Yorke, “the voice of one of rock’s great doomsayers. They’ve been inching in this direction on their recent records, but somehow I didn’t notice the way Hanson’s high-range tenor was beginning to resemble Yorke’s…Yet set against songs that often resemble Radiohead at their spaced-out, guitar-slinging peak, the resemblance is uncanny.”

Watch the Video

And DeVille assures readers that “Wand are still their own entity. They’re five talented musicians who’ve developed a rare synchronicity, that locked-in state where it feels like they’ll never make a false step again”.

Watch the Video

“Their unique charms become clear in instrumental stretches like the twangy guitar pile-ups in ‘Rio Grande’ and the trio of lovely ambient tracks that dot the trackist. And on the back half of the album, they make the case that they’re nobody’s tribute band.”

Article: Album Of The Week: Wand Laughing Matter


Image of the Week

“For this year’s Milan Design Week, Alex Chinneck has unveiled another one of his impossible architectural creations …. Entitled A Sprinkle of Night and a Spoonful of Light, the new sculptural intervention that involves the front of an entire building is his most ambitious project to date. Produced in partnership with IQOS, the new seventeen meter wide piece unzips the side of the facade, leading to an illusion of the whole structure is coming apart.”

Article: Showing: Alex Chinneck – “A Sprinkle of Night and a Spoonful of Light”

Photo credit: Mark Wilmot.

Thanks to Stowe Boyd for steering me to the quote of the week.


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