Clarity First Newsletter, June 21, 2019

“This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath.”
– Margaret Atwood

Clarity First

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

Today is the summer solstice, one of two days when night and day are equal in the Northern Hemisphere. Our ancestors ritualized this occasion to celebrate our connection to the Sun. Tonight Debbie and I are gathering with friends around a bonfire. We’re going to tell stories and sing together. We’re going to honor the point in time when the past lets go of and becomes the future.

I hope that you too, dear reader, will celebrate today. Light a candle as the sun sets. Recognize the passing of the seasons. Happy solstice.


Learning, Design Process

“The job of any mentor is to guide students to master new behaviors with a series of incremental challenges until the frightening becomes the familiar.”

“After a meeting of the minds with renown psychologist Albert Bandura, David Kelley sketched out his philosophy of design thinking education. He outlines the details in depth in his book Creative Confidence and in his 2012 TED talk.

“This poster presents a summary of that philosophy. Prepared for a talk and painted by hand in David’s home studio, it is a map of the pedagogy and a high-level treatise on how to unlock creative confidence in his students.

“David describes it like this: ‘The core trait that holds people back is fear: fear of failure, fear of being judged. Something about Design Thinking –– that it is human-centered and focused on helping others, or that it thrives on experimentation and small steps –– gives students permission students to try on new behaviors despite the fear.’”

Article: Creative Confidence Map


Design Thinking

Human-centered and systems-thinking methods can work in conjunction to address social challenges.

A design approach emphasizes discovering the right problem to solve, and investing in both problem-finding and problem-solving. For both human- and systems-level challenges, we need to identify the problems worth addressing if we are to create meaningful change. Understanding the right problem, we can better create effective solutions. A very simple characterization of a design approach is that we move from working to understand a challenge, to working on creating solutions in response to the challenge.”

Article: Human-Centered, Systems-Minded Design


Social Messaging

Somebody’s been stenciling this message on sidewalks all over Central Square in Cambridge.

Blog Post: Things Change, Stenciler Tells Central Square Pedestrians


Organizational Health

“Professionals will need to distinguish themselves by providing interdisciplinary and integrated business solutions. The only way to do that in a dynamic, complex environment is in a team, and it better be a resilient one.”

“Resilience is the capacity for stress-related growth, and it exists at the individual and group level. In today’s work climate, we need teams that can respond to challenges quickly and efficiently.”

Article: 5 Things That Resilient Teams Do Differently


Branding, Corporate Responsibility

Loyalty takes years to build, seconds, to break, and forever to repair.

Remember last year when Wells Fargo was outed for aggressive cross-selling efforts, where bank employees created millions of new accounts without customers’ consent? And remember how they tried to paper it over with an ad campaign? Surprise, the campaign didn’t work.

“The ad line for the campaign read, ‘Established 1852. Re-established 2018.’ As a result, loyalty metrics for Wells Fargo moved from a grim 65% to 63%.

“Nobody believed the brand was sincere in its efforts to rehabilitate in any meaningful way,” is the way that Robert Passikoff, president of research firm Brand Keys, explained it to Marketing Daily. “The ad campaign was a fiasco. It could have been named, ‘Even though we’ve betrayed your trust, you can really trust us now because we’re really sorry and have bought double-page spreads in newspapers and time on TV so you know we’re serious this time.’”

What did work? “They put CEO and president Tim Sloan in front of a Congressional firing squad, and he very publicly relinquished his position.” Their approval rating moved from 58% to 73%.

This reminds me of another adage, beside the head for this story: “Tell the truth. If you can’t, fix it so you can.”

 Article: Wells Fargo Improves Brand Image, But Not With Advertising


Typography, Toolbox

Guide to only the best open-source typefaces

“There are over 800 typefaces in the Google web fonts directory. Many of them are awful. But there are also high-quality typefaces that deserve a closer look.” So, Chad Mazola  an independent designer, developer and writer based in Stockholm is doing just that. He’s built a site where he employs simple graphic design to showcase some of those faces that deserve a closer look. File this under “inspiration”.



Personal Productivity

You’re being productive when your work is entirely satisfying and fulfilling.

“Although the specific things that are satisfying and fulfilling to you are, of course, a matter of individual tastes and preferences, here are a few qualities most people would consider important:
– You grow as a person.
– You enjoy the company of others.
– You are proud of what you’ve completed.
– You feel confident about your abilities.
– You look forward to undertaking the same or similar projects in the future.
– You help others.
– You receive the acclaim of your peers.

Article: There’s More to Productivity Than Time Management





In the Fall of 1975 Bob Dylan was feeling restless. Writing in the June issue of Mojo Magazine, Michael Simmons reports that “after virtually retiring from performance in 1966 at the height of his first wave of success and becoming ‘the Howard Hughes of rock’ for eight years, he returned to live concerts in 1974 with a tour of stadiums with the Band. Yet he didn’t enjoy rock star touring, deriding it as ‘jets and limos’.”

So, inspired by the memories of carnival side-show acts he had seen in mid-century Minnesota, he conceived of the Rolling Thunder Review. He invited artists like Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, T Bone Burnett, Joan Baez, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot to join him. Allan Ginsburg was the tour poet. They hit the road in the fall of ’75, and then again the following spring. They played smaller, out of the way venues like UMass Dartmouth, and the Springfield, MA Civic Center. About the venues Dylan said “the atmosphere in small halls is more conducive to what we do”. T Bone says that the tour captured Dylan “at the height of his powers.” Joan Baez said “The charisma that he had, I had never seen before, or since.”

During the fall tour he played four new songs that would appear on Desire, an album that was released in January, 1976, between the tours. Here he is premiering One More Cup of Coffee.

Martin Scorsese was there too. And he made a film of the amazing experience.

Trailer: Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese | Trailer 
Film on Netflix: Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story By Martin Scorsese


Image of the Week

The image in the header of this letter is of Hanks Coffee Shop sign, 4th Street, Benson, Arizona from the Library of Congress by photographer John Margolies.

This image of the week is an unattributed photo of The Donut Hole in La Puente, CA. It’s from the Library of Congress’s “Roadside America” set on Flickr. Check it out. There are more than 1,400 more copyright-free images there.

Say no to stock. Say yes to interesting.


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

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