Clarity First Newsletter, February 24, 2017

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

You’re not imagining it: The Trump media vortex has gotten even worse since the election. In January, Trump received more than $800 million worth of earned media on television, blogs, Twitter, online news websites and print—nearly five times the value of earned media coverage Barack Obama received during the same month in 2013, as he began his second presidential term.

I may be naive, but I’m placing my bets on the truth. The pressure is on. As we learn to speak for the true potential of this experiment we call humanity the stakes are ever higher. Join me in learning to speak up, to speak out, to speak more clearly, won’t you?

What does this politically and emotionally charged climate mean for marketers?

In the future, more of the hard and time-consuming work of establishing a clear brand voice and messaging platform based on end-user insights and feedback will likely be around issues and causes. First rule of thumb? Know your audience. How do you do that? Ask them.
Article: When Marketing and Politics Collide

Learning to use how we communicate to create connection and resolve conflict.

One of the hardest and most challenging elements of the polarization that the country and world is experiencing is the tendency to treat those who disagree with us as an “other”, as someone so different from us as to not be worthy of respect, let alone empathy. Ike Lasater and John Kinyon know from experience that conflict is inherent in all relationships, and that the language we use and how we use it provides a powerful means to not only resolve these conflicts, but to go even further to create true connection.
Book review: Choosing Peace. New Ways to Communicate to Reduce Stress, Create Connection and Resolve Conflict

Too bad Trump hasn’t attacked you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick a fight with him.

Nonprofits have been raising millions of dollars since Donald Trump was elected. Americans are worried, and they’ve opened their wallets to support their favorite anti-Trump charities. Joe Waters has been thinking “How do I get Trump to attack me? It’s liking hitting the lottery.”
Article: Nonprofits, Your Sole Goal in 2017: Pick a Fight with Trump!

“Efficiency in government is a matter of social justice.”

Last summer my wife (a clothing designer) spent more than three hours trying to register online to collect sales tax in NYC. Finally she just gave up, sat on hold for another two hours and insisted that a person send her a physical form. Jennifer Pahlka, the founder and Executive Director of Code for America, feels  her pain. Government drastically needs more tech talent, Pahlka urges, and a user-centered iterative approach could have a profound effect. “It’s not so much that we need new laws to govern technology,” she says. “It’s that we need better tech practices that teaches how to make better laws. The status quo isn’t worth fighting for. Fight for something better, something we haven’t seen yet, something you have to invent.”
Seminar Summary: Fixing Government: Bottom Up and Outside In

Ask those you serve who are you to them.

Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what your audience says it is. How do you find out what they say it is? Ask them.
Article: A ridiculously simple way of learning how your brand is perceived.

We all have a vested interest in getting better at decisions. 

After all, in most knowledge organizations, your product is decisions. The way to test the quality of your decisions, whether individually or organizationally, is by testing the process by which they are made. The best way to do that, according to the dean of biases and Nobel winner, Daniel Kahneman, is to use a decision journal.
Article: How a Decision Journal Changed the Way I Make Decisions (Template Included).


I think I might be the last person in the civilized world to adopt Spotify as my go-to music radio. But adopt I have, and that means I’m making playlists like the frustrated DJ I am. Here’s one I finished this week: This Must Be the Place. It’s suitable for work, meaning all the songs lean toward the quiet side with a twist of groove. Let me know what you think?

Image of the week

The smaller image in the header is of “Repellent Fence/ Valla Repelente,” an installation by the Arizona – and New Mexico-based collective Postcommodity. The group consists of Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist. They spent three years working with the local governments in Douglas, Ariz., and Agua Prieta, Mexico, to create the work. Completed in 2015 it is made of so-called scare-eye balloons — emblazoned with indigenous iconography — that crossed the U.S./Mexico border. The larger image is of an acrylic and newspaper on linen collage by Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija. She calls it “untitled (the tyranny of common sense has reached its final stage, new york times, november 9, 2016)”. It was made directly following the election last fall. She and the collective are two of six artists featured in the article Protest Art in the Era of Trump that ran last weekend in the New York Times T Magazine.

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.
If you get value from Clarity First and want to support it, please pass it on, hire me to help your organization get clear on who it serves and how you help, ask me to listen to your stakeholders with Dialog Interviews, or simply think of me when you think about sharpening your communications pencil.

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