Clarity First Newsletter, August 11, 2017

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

Today is this letter’s first birthday, issue number 52. Gathering and curating the ideas shared here meets my need to make a contribution to the larger cultural conversation about how we learn and how we change. Tell me how I can better meet your needs? The request line is always open. Happy anniversary, dear reader. I’m really glad you’re here.

How’s your attitude?

Woody Allen famously said that 70% of success in life comes from just showing up. Here’s nine more truths that inspire doing what needs doing.
List: 10 Things That Require Zero Talent

Just because there’s a clear need doesn’t mean there’s demand.

You can bring a horse to water… 70% of nonprofit organizations report shortfalls in program participation, and half say that matters have gotten worse over the past five years. The answer? Design, segmentation, sales, and marketing.
Article: Selling Social Change

People don’t read your direct mail copy. They skim it. 

Don’t write as if your reader is reading every word. Write to be understood at a glance.
Article: How to Write Copy for Those Who Only Skim

Crossing the great divide. The gentle art of persuasion vs. winning

Aristotle said that there are three primary means of persuasion: argument by character, by emotion, and by logic. The world’s best persuaders use all three, in harmony. The centerpiece of this film is a master class in how its done by Fred Rogers, as he defends PBS’s funding to the Senate in 1969. In less than six minutes Rogers turns an openly cynical and hostile senator into PBS’s biggest fan.

This crucially important film also elucidates the difference between fighting and arguing. The American discourse today is dominated by fighting: one side attacks another’s position – and sense of self – while defending their own. The tragedy is, the science of persuasion suggests that fighting, and it’s twin brother logic, never actually change minds. Fights only inspire retreat and revenge.

The same science shows that argument is a very effective alternative. The goal of an argument isn’t to prove that the other is irrelevant, it is to solve problems and work out differences with a shared faith in the outcome. An argument assumes that you want to come together. The reason you are engaging is to meet each other’s needs, not abandon your own.

We are all in the business of getting to ‘yes’. This film, then, is required viewing for anyone with a point of view to share. Idea: view it and discuss it together in groups.
Film: Mr. Rogers and the Power of Persuasion

Companies can keep pace with change by building a collaborative learning culture.

Hello lifelong learning. According to Deloitte, organizations with a strong learning culture are 46 percent more likely to be first to market, enjoy 37 percent greater employee productivity and are 58 percent more prepared to meet future demand.
Article: Analysis: Culture the Key to Digital Skills Disruption

The ultimate strategy for building your brand

Your company’s core values and its purpose are the fundamental building blocks of your culture. When you shape your company purpose around your values, you’re really defining the culture for your business, and its brand.
Article: Organizational Culture Is Strategy

Office buzz

I was thrilled to get an email from a graduate of the very first DIY Brand Camp last week. He’s a timber framer, and is a member of the Timber Framer’s Guild. He told me they want to both understand their voice in the “bigger housing conversation about high performance buildings”, and to “focus on what we are calling ‘the craft of business’. So we thought of you.” He referred me upstairs and a couple of days later we had designed three, two-day Bespoke Brand Camps. The first is in Portland, OR, in November, so I get to visit my son andattend a conference that was on my radar: Preparing People for Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest.


There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love the Grateful Dead, and those who can’t understand why so many people swoon at such endless noodling. If you’re one of the former, A Long Strange Trip is a must see film. Your only regret will be that that at six 50 minute episodes it’s too short. If you’re one of the latter, this just might shine a light on what all the excitement is about. “It’s the philosophy of leaving yourself open to possibility and leaving yourself open to magic.” – Dennis McNally, longtime Grateful Dead publicist. It’s streaming on Amazon now.
Trailer: A Long Strange Trip

Images of the week

Conceptual artist Nina Katchadourian combs bookstores, libraries and flea markets for books. Her interest isn’t the content of the books, but what is written on their spines. She groups them so that their words can be read as a poem. She’s published some of the results as a book, Sorted Books, and posted a lot of them on her website.

What’s Clarity First?

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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