Clarity First Newsletter, April 6, 2018

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

This week I start the letter with a request, in three parts:

1. If you get value from this letter, will you share what you value with me?
2. If you get value from this letter, will you share it with a friend or colleague who you think would, too?
3. If you are on the fence about the value you get from this letter, will you share with me how you think I can make it better?

Thank you. I write this letter to serve you and I am always eager to learn how I can serve you better.

Happy Friday. As always, there is a lot to share.

How to stabilize our unstable economy

New research suggests that a post-growth economy could actually be more stable and even bring higher wages. It begins with an acceptance that capitalism is unstable and prone to crisis even during a period of strong and stable growth – as the great financial crash of 2007-08 demonstrated.
Article: How Capitalism Without Growth Could Build a More Stable Economy

What if, instead of hiding their weaknesses, people were comfortable acknowledging and learning from them? 

“Most people at work, even in high-performing organizations, divert considerable energy every day to a second job that no one has hired them to do: preserving their reputations, putting their best selves forward, and hiding their inadequacies from others and themselves. We believe this is the single biggest cause of wasted resources in nearly every company today.

“What would happen if people felt no need to do this second job? What if, instead of hiding their weaknesses, they were comfortable acknowledging and learning from them? What if companies made this possible by creating a culture in which people could see their mistakes not as vulnerabilities but as prime opportunities for personal growth?” Welcome to the deliberately developmental organization.
Article: Making Business Personal

Making a better to-do list

Not every task on your to-do list takes the same amount of time. You’ll get more done and enjoy the process more if you order the list accordingly.
Article: Use the 1-2-3 List to Get More Done and Have More Fun Doing It.

How purpose-driven employees impact your organization’s branding and marketing

“When employees are simply happy and excited to be where they are, they can become one of your most powerful marketing weapons — brand ambassadors.”
Article: Purpose-Driven Employees Are Your Strongest Brand Ambassadors

How a typeface influences our choice of what to bingewatch next

Just as color has profound influence on how we perceive a story or offer, so too does the typeface used to tell that story. Here’s a deep dive into how film studios use type as an integral part of their promotional strategy.
Article: Font Psychology: What The Marketing Posters For Netflix’s Top 50 Shows Can Teach Us

It’s time to embrace and enable the benefits of working from home.

A nearly two-year study of China’s largest travel agency “showed an astounding productivity boost among the telecommuters equivalent to a full day’s work. Turns out work-from-home employees work a true full-shift (or more) versus being late to the office or leaving early multiple times a week and found it less distracting and easier to concentrate at home.”

If that’s not enough to convince worried managers, employee attrition decreased by 50 percent, telecommuters took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off. In addition the data shows that the travel company saved almost $2,000 per employee on rent by reducing the amount of HQ office space. Factor in reduced carbon admissions and it would seem a no-brainer.
Article: A 2-Year Stanford Study Shows the Astonishing Productivity Boost of Working From Home

A systems thinking primer

Yes, there are far more than six fundamental concepts of systems thinking, but these ideas provide a serviceable foundation from which to change perspectives.
Article: Tools for Systems Thinkers: The 6 Fundamental Concepts of Systems Thinking

Learn how to get meaningful feedback and strengthen existing customer relationships.

Getting insight from your users isn’t as easy as blasting out a Survey Monkey form. Regular readers won’t be surprised to hear that quality insight starts with a statement of purpose, a focus on your ideal reader, and a conversational tone.
Article: Make Your Next Market Survey Count With These 9 Tips.


In the summer of 2016 Patti Smith played Stockholm Music and Arts. At one point she welcomed guitarist Gerry Leonard to the stage and they launched into People Have the Power, a song that she had written with her late husband and longtime collaborator Fred “Sonic” Smith.

She sang the timeless lyrics with newfound meaning and energy:

The people have the power
The power to dream, to rule
to wrestle the world from fools
it’s decreed the people rule
it’s decreed the people rule
I believe everything we dream
can come to pass through our union
we can turn the world around
we can turn the earth’s revolution
we have the power.

The song, sung in a year of political fracturing, was made even more poignant when Joan Baez joined her to sing the final choruses. Toward the end Patti shouts “Use your voice!” like it was 1968 all over again. Call me an aging hippie, because I am, and I do hope that it is 1968 again.
Video: Patti Smith and Joan Baez People Have The Power Stockholm Music and Arts 

Images of the week

The images of the week are selfies taken by conceptual artist David Peterman. He took a year to pose with every publicly accessible blue mailbox in Seattle, one-by-one, 357 in all. He posted his efforts on Tumblr, where he said “This is easily the most meaningless thing I have ever done.” Each image is accompanied by a careful description. If this endeavor is so meaningless, why is it so compelling?
Tumblr page: The Mailboxes of Seattle

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony, and 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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