Clarity First Newsletter, August 17, 2018

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

Here’s this week’s attempt to sip from the firehose. If you haven’t noticed, there are a whole lot of people experimenting with some crazy good ideas. Happy Friday.

Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood via Midnight Pulp


Mr. Rogers was right.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor, the documentary about Fred Rogers is finishing it’s first theatrical run. It’s a hit, earning a 99 percent rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. In this context NPR’s Mind/Shift newsletter talks about how prescient the pre-schooler’s favorite show was. “Research tells us social and emotional skills, including self-regulation, and being able to recognize emotions, are as important to success as academic achievement.”
Article: How Learning Science Is Catching Up To Mr. Rogers

Image via  Boccalatte 

Communications Process

It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.

Our choice of words matters, a lot. I know you’ve heard me say it as regularly as the meditation bell, but this time I’ve got Mr. Rogers and a cognitive scientist with me.

“Think about it this way: Something that has a “95% effective rate” will sell better than something with a “5% failure rate… “A frame is a mental structure that is represented in the brain by neural circuitry. Frames shape the way people see the world, and consequently, the goals we seek and the choices that we make.” That’s George Lakoff, a professor in cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, writing in his book Don’t Think of an Elephant!

And, he backs up my way-too familiar assertion that conservatives understand and use mental frames far better than progressives do. 

Donald Trump is a master framer. If for no other reason, we need to learn to do the same.
Article: This is How Tiny Changes in Words You Hear Impacts Your Thinking


Short-term thinking threatens key disciplines such as design and strategy.

Trevor Cairns is “starting to despair”. He despairs that every brief he sees seems to mention “disruption”, yet few mention brand building. He despairs that he hears statements like “I don’t care about the idea as long as we’re the first brand to use the technology’.”

Trevor, you’re right about defending the sanctity of the idea, My only question is why are you just starting to despair? When it comes to branding, most senior leaders have always skipped over the meticulous prep that will make the job easier and longer-lasting. Most have always just started rolling new paint onto the walls.
Article: It’s Time to Challenge Brands’ Short-Term Thinking

Personal Development

Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.

How to develop a bias toward action and stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Article: Challenge Your Comfort Zone: 4 Behaviors to Master Effortless Execution 


The old gray lady is staying ahead quite nicely, thank you.

One could argue that no industry has been disrupted by digital more than periodical publishing. While many legacy companies have struggled to adapt to the new paradigm, The New York Times has managed to re-organize itself to see it’s reach and influence expand.

And they are not resting. “Over the next few weeks, The New York Times will be rolling out a refreshed website redesign…The main aim of the redesign is to match the desktop experience with its mobile apps.”
Article: The New York Times’ Website Redesign Makes For More Seamless Reading Experiences

The Strand Book Store by Eunice via Creative Commons


Why books are the only form of physical media whose sales are growing.

“The oldest form of physical media is actually holding up quite well. According to PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2018–2022, the consumer market for physical, printed books is holding its own in an increasingly digital world. Between 2018 and 2022, sales of physical video games, home video, and music are expected to decline each year, in some instances by double-digit percentages. By contrast, sales of physical books are expected to grow modestly, by about 1 percent annually, every year.” The reasons include screen fatigue and a yearning for something tactile that doesn’t shine blue light in your eyes.
Article: Gutenberg’s Revenge


A picture is worth a thousand words.

Typically an ad gets gets only a glance from the reader. This ad tells its whole story in that glance. The very, very short copy reads “Hunger kills 2.5 million children every year. Your donation nourishes:” It was created by the Zurich office of Saatchi & Saatchi.
Article: Unicef World Food Day


Aretha Franklin, Facebook profile image


Rest in peace, Aretha.

This week all of us are saying a really big prayer for you. Your voice lifts our hearts. Your spirit stirs our souls together. Your body has passed, but your songs and energy will continue to inspire us for as long as we live. Thank you, Aretha. Rest in peace. 
Spotify Playlist: This is Aretha Franklin
“Her most essential tracks, all in one playlist.”
Music List: Aretha Franklin: The Deep Cuts
“NPR staffers recall their favorite Aretha Franklin deep cuts, from the lesser-known B-sides of the 1960s to the unexpected dance music collaborations of the ’80s.”
Interview: Aretha Franklin: The ‘Fresh Air’ Interview


Image of the Week

The image of the week was shot in New York in the late 40s by a 17-year-ol Stanley Kubrick. He shot it while working as a photojournalist for Look Magazine.

In 1948, the magazine wrote of the young artist “In his spare time, Stanley experiments with cinematography and dreams of the day when he can make documentary films”. The director later credited his five years with the magazine as showing him “how things worked in the world.”

Taschen has collected many of the images he shot into a book: Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs.

“You get a strong sense of New York City in the late 1940s from Kubrick’s photos: rowdy, threadbare, optimistic, opinionated, moody, theatrical, democratic,” writes Luc Sante, in an essay in the book. “You can see the beginnings of Kubrick’s chiaroscuro moods, his deep-space compositions, his restless toggling between the micro and the macro.”
Article: Teenage Stanley Kubrick’s Images of New York Life

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony. I help people use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as a tool of transformation. Learn more.

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