Clarity First Newsletter, January 5, 2018

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

This is the first letter of the year. To paraphrase Dickens, for me 2017 was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.

It was the best because I was able to rely on deeply established relationships for assurance and support. And, I started brand new relationships that confirm my trust in the power of leaning in to trust and connection, rather than giving up to fear and separation.

It was the worst because it had never occurred to me before that I would have to fight fascism in my lifetime. I thought that, as Americans, this job was done.

But, it seems that democracy is never done. Let’s get down to work. Happy New Year.

How to be a good listener

Listening 101 is straightforward, but it’s surprising how many people don’t follow the rules of everyday conversation.
Article: How to Be an Excellent (or at Least Pretty Good) Listener

Managing your brand to achieve greater impact and tighter organizational cohesion

You’ve heard me say it before: branding is not just for marketing anymore. So, I was pleased to stumble upon this article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review that summarizes how a growing number of non-profits are developing a broader and more strategic approach to their brand. In an age when social impact is of increasing interest to consumers, this message is relevant for for-profits, too.
Article: The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector

You can tell if a leader is serious about innovation based on how much time he or she spends with innovation teams and innovation projects on a week-to-week basis.

“I’ve always struggled to understand why many companies ask fully occupied employees to do innovation in addition to their day job and expect spectacular results. Do we ask people to do accounting, marketing or operations on the side? No, because we accept them as professions. Innovation is still fighting for the right to be a serious function in most companies.”
Article: Professional Innovation Requires Time & Resources

Many fight. Sales and marketing shouldn’t.
The answers aren’t at the edges, or in the silos. They’re in the middle, where common needs converge.
Article: 5 Places Where Sales And Marketing Can Collaborate In 2018
A cool resource for people who design and build websites
The Web Field Manual is a curated list of resources focused on documenting only the best knowledge for designing experiences and interfaces on the web. It is an ever-expanding collection of knowledge and inspiration for web designers, by web designers.
Website: The Web Field Manual
How one designer and entrepreneur stays productive

At the end of the day we all discover what works best for us. Hayden Bleasel has found some good hacks that work for him. Pick and choose.
Article: A Designer’s Guide to Getting Shit Done

Bespoke DIY Brand Camp for participants in Valley Gives Day

The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts will host the 6th Annual Valley Gives Dayon May 1, 2018. Valley Gives Day is a 24-hour online giving event for the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. On the 25th of this month I will offer a half-day workshop for non-profit leaders on communicating the impact that your organization makes to the communities you serve. It is free and open to any organization that is participating in Vally Gives Day. I hope to see you there.
Workshop: Communicating Your Impact


Rick Hall, the founder and producer of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, died this week, at the age of 85. Aretha recorded some of her first sessions there, as did Percy Sledge, Otis Redding, Etta James and Solomon Burke. Wilson Picket recorded Hey Jude there, at the insistence of house guitarist Duane Allman, launching the sound that became know as southern rock. Don’t miss the film named Muscle Shoals. NPR Music posted a fitting obit, and All Things Considered aired a great interview with the artist. His story is beautiful, heartbreaking (he suffered countless losses and betrayals) and in the end, inspiring. R.I.P., Rick. Thank you for the timeless music and the indomitable spirit.

Rick Hall in his office at FAME Studios in 1968 in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Image of the week

“I was born in southern Bavaria and spent most of my life in Munich. In fall 2006, my scientific career as a cell biologist brought me to Potsdam near Berlin. Owing to my friends from the Photo Gallery Potsdam I found a great creative environment here to spend  most of my spare time for my creative talents… I found my focus of interest in landscapes, cityscapes, interior architecture and staged scenes…

“I prefer available light and clearly composed pictures with a discreetly arranged motive. I want to stimulate the imagination of the viewer and to tell a story that emotionally touches him, since sensing emotions is the prerequisite to keep pictures sticking in the viewer’s mind… I prefer working with a series concept in mind.”
Article: Route 66 Through the Eyes of Ralph Graef

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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