Clarity First Newsletter, June 1, 2018

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

When we first built our cities we saw the need for fire brigades to protect our physical surroundings from mishap. I propose that today we need love brigades to help us face our fears, and to help heal the wounds of trauma.

My family and extended family serves me as a love brigade. So, too, does my weekly meditation group, a broad network of co-supporters, a mountain bike community, a x-c ski community, and …. Where do you find love brigades in your life? 

Change and Transition

“But when she met my hate with such compassion, I couldn’t fight back.”

As a teenager Arno Michaelis found relief from a dysfunctional family with an addiction to adrenaline. “I started out bullying on the school bus,” says Michaelis. “I got thrills from other kids fearing me. I would fight in the schoolyard and on the streets.” By middle school, Michaelis was ramping up his antisocial behavior to get an even bigger rush, moving to vandalism and breaking and entering. Before long he had formed a white supremacist gang and was frontman for a white-power metal band. Yet, his ideology collapsed when those he hated met him with love.
Article: An Ex-Neo-Nazi’s Journey to Buddhism


Help your brand take a stand.

In the Fall of 2016 I was discussing a collaboration with two other consultants. During this time, when Trump was elected, I immediately took a stand in this letter. Their response was: “We can’t be political. We may alienate potential clients.” It was the first of several indications that this wasn’t the right partnership for me. We are in a new era of activism, an era where there is an increasingly clear role for brand citizenship. Clever isn’t enough anymore. Today we want substance. We want to know why a brand exists and why it is worthy of our time, money and identity. Here’s some learning from the pioneers who are getting brand activism right.
Article: 5 Tips to Future-Proof Your Brand In This Age of Activism 

Group process

What design thinking means to organizations that employ it

“Design thinking is on everyone’s lips. But what is its impact on organizations? How and where can it be applied successfully? Why and when does it fail? This is design thinking tries to answer some of these questions. It showcases what organizations are doing when they say they practice design thinking. In other words, it looks at how organizations adopted the concept to their contexts.” Amongst their findings: design thinking is not just about product or service design. 71% of their respondents report that design thinking improved their working culture on a team level.
Study: Parts Without a Whole? – The Current State of Design Thinking Practice in Organizations

Marketing Communications

Print achieves 30% more recall than digital. Direct mail outperforms digital by nearly double.

“Most of us thought print died when email took over with nearly 4 billion people worldwide using email. But we humans are a tactile species. We thrive on being able to touch things, and physically engage with the stimuli around us vs. observe from the other side of a screen.”
Article: Marketing ROI Is in Your Past

User Experience

“What looks good may not always be what customers want.”

A team at Salesforce dedicated to its Analytics product recently conducted user research to find out if color influences how quickly and accurately we make decisions. It does.
Article: How Salesforce Studied Color to Make a Better User Experience

Marketing Communications

“I won’t do something unless I can get at least two or three good laughs out of it. If I can’t, it’s not gonna make the team.”

I’ve been binging on Jerry Seinfeld’s series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The opportunity to listen in as master comics talk about their craft is a priceless gift. They worked hard to get where they are, much of it learned by swinging for the fence and missing. As Jerry says: “Being a good husband is like being a good stand-up comic – you need ten years before you can even call yourself a beginner.” So, I was primed for this article. Daniel Burstein makes a good case that marketers should follow the lead of comedians in understanding and relating with our audiences. Rule one: “Use your customer’s language, not yours.” Rule Four: “Experiment.”
Article: What Marketers Can Learn From Stand-up Comedians

Design Process

An online directory of other companies’ design principles

“Design Principles are a tool for creating a better, more consistent experience for your users. They are high level principles that guide the detailed design decisions you make as you’re working on a project.” Lucky for us, a lot of companies post theirs. Even luckier, the folks at Design Principles FTW are collecting them.
Website: The Most Comprehensive Collection of Design Principles on the Internet



His Wiki page refers to José James as “a jazz singer for the hip-hop generation”. This NYC-based vocalist cites John Coltrane, Marvin Gaye, and Billie Holiday as primary influences, and you’ll hear each of them in his music.

And you’ll hear Gil Scott Heron, Bill Withers and Frank Ocean. Most importantly, each of these artists are only influences. In the end James sounds like the original, fresh voice he is. This live performance is a great interpretation of Freestyle Fellowship’s song, Park Bench People, which in turn, is based on Red Clay by Freddie Hubbard.


Images of the Week

The smaller of the two images of the week is Purple. The larger is Because Frida Told Me So. Both are by Julio Salgado. He is one of three artists who explain the power and the impact that the artist Frida Kahlo had on them in an article entitled Frida Kahlo’s Lasting Impact on LGBTQ Artists.

“As queer artists we have definitely made her an icon. Personally, when I discovered her work, I was very confused about my sexuality… I mean, I was only 12 years old, but I knew there was something about me that was different. Her work has definitely helped many of us see ourselves reflected in her work and in the writings that she left behind.

“Her work is very relevant today because art is the way that we get to own our queer narratives. Whether it’s a painting, a film, a book, it is important that we challenge the ideas of who we are as queer people. Frida, and other queer artists of color specifically, did this a long time ago and we must continue and honor that tradition.”

The article is just one from a delightfully encyclopedic look at Kahlo’s life, art and legacy called Faces of Frida.

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony. I help mission-driven companies use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as powerful tools for transformation. Learn more.

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