Clarity First Newsletter, March 10, 2017

We’re watching a train wreck. And, by design and intention, we can’t take our eyes off of it. Yet, that’s our democratic republic being pulled of its rails. And only we can stop it.

Our biggest challenge is that we do not yet know how to act as “we”. Our always learning species is still new to the experience of inclusion, non-blame and emergent learning. But, it’s becoming painfully obvious that the tribalism that built empires cannot build the best-for-the-most cultures we need.

“What did you do to help face the great challenge Daddy, Mommy?”

“I’ve learned that most problems aren’t rocket science, but when they are rocket science, you should ask a rocket scientist.”

A year ago, astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after the longest time spent in orbit by an American. His insights reach beyond science. They’ll make you want to hold someone you love very close.
Article: What I Discovered After My Year in Space

The rich and the powerful don’t want capitalism.
They want a system in which as soon as they are in trouble they get bailed out by the taxpayer. 

The election of a plutocrat who attempts to nuke the foundations of an inclusive democracy in his first 100 days is only the latest installment. Wherever you look there is a giant elephant in the corner of the room. Until we learn to discuss and address the concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few not much else matters. The results: structural unemployment, climate change, loss of biodiversity, polluted and exploited water systems, declining soil health – are just symptoms.

Polite company doesn’t talk about where money comes from. Informed, inclusive and learning company does. Let’s learn to talk about the society we want to build together. This is not radical economics. It’s inclusive and best-for-all economics.

This prescient film was finished in 2015. It’s on Netflix now.
Film: Requiem for the American Dream: Noam Chomsky and the Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power

“Let’s together charter a new way forward where it’s about serving real needs instead of creating wants…”

I want to love this site because I, too, believe in my bones that great advertising can be used as a powerful force for good. Sigh. The site’s self-important personality is jarring. But there is great stuff here. Underneath it’s self-aggrandizing shell is a fantastic collection of smart international ad campaigns that inform about the ideas we need. I like the site. I want to love it.

In order to tell our own story, we need to listen to and embrace the stories of those we wish to reach. 

A story is a gift, not a donor-acquisition strategy. Stories bind us together by allowing us to glimpse the other. And when we glimpse the other, we can start to understand each other in all of our nuanced glory.
Article: Who Brands Your Nonprofit? Who Tells Its Story and How?

How to use digital marketing tools to find, serve and grow your audience

After taking the DIY Brand Camp workshop, many participants report that the next thing they need to understand is how to use the new and still emerging tools and processes of digital marketing. This workshop is designed to meet these beginner’s needs.
Workshop: DIY Digital Marketing Camp, the Survey Course


This is week six of my deep dive into Spotify. And this week, while reading Kim Tingley’s article Learning to Love Our Robot Co-Workers, I had an epiphany: Spotify is only as smart as I make it. It’s not a KCRW DJ with sophisticated and impeccable taste. It’s a robot. It doesn’t have any taste. If left to it’s own devices it’s going to feed me songs I already know, and because it defaults to most popular, those are going to tend toward the played out. But treat it like a co-worker and even I can start to sound like Jason Bentley.

The secret is that I need to show up and exercise my taste, which is pretty eclectic. Then, after I’ve selected songs as diverse as old gospel, new soul, desert blues, nineties indie, be-bop, trip-hop, hip-hop and doo-wop, and only then, do I hand the controls to my robo-DJ buddy. It recognizes that one outro is relying on the same beat as another intro. It recognizes that this song is in the same key as that one. It recognizes the rock songs and clusters them. These are distinctions that I could make only by listening over and over again. Working with Spotify I’m learning to make better mixes, faster. And I’m having more fun, too. Here’s a playlist I (well, my robo-DJ and I) made since I last wrote: Start Where You Are.

Images of the week

The paintings in the headers are by New York artist Al Taylor. The smaller is named “Helen” (1976).
The larger is named “Untitled” (1971). In the early seventies Taylor was also the studio assistant to Robert Rauschenberg. He’s not well known in the U.S., perhaps because of his early death in 1999 at the age of 51. It’s from a show called Early Paintings, and is hung at David Zwirner, 537 West 20th Street, 2nd Floor, Chelsea, Manhattan, through April 15. Hyperallergic has posted a good article about the artist.

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. Learn more.

If you get value from Clarity First, please pass it on. Or refer our new DIY Digital Marketing Camp. Or just think of me when your company needs to get it’s story straight.

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