Clarity First Newsletter, March 8, 2019


Clarity First

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

There is a rule of thumb in advertising: “Sell the benefits, not the features.”

When those of us who care about creating an economy that supports people, our planet and fair profits in balance, we tend to use words like “sustainable”, “stable”, and “healthy”. And then we wonder why our neighbors don’t share our enthusiasm. I suggest that the reason, in part, is because those are features. They’re just words. Without further explanation I don’t get, in my gut, why they matter to me.

What would it look like to sell the benefits of a circular, regenerative economy, instead?

What would it mean to promote an economy that provided meaningful jobs, congestion-free travel, happy and engaged kids, swimmable waterways and delicious, fresh foods in the heart of the city? We’ve proven adept at selling consumption to the lucky. I suggest that next we need to learn to sell an economy that supports splendor for the many. Because a regenerative economy is actually a whole lot prettier than one based on extraction and optimization of what somebody else owns. Are you in?


Learning Species
Are humans generous by nature?

“The Human Generosity Project is the first large-scale transdisciplinary research project to investigate the interrelationship between biological and cultural influences on human generosity. We use multiple methodologies to understand the nature and evolution of human generosity including fieldwork, laboratory experiments and computational modeling.”
Website: The Human Generosity Project


Next Economy
‘Distributive Capitalism’ has a nice ring.

Shoshana Zuboff suggests that “managerial capitalism has reached the limits of its adaptive range.” She notices that “People living in a complex and stressful world are seeking more control over the quality of their lives, not just the quantity of their stuff.” She’s convinced that “organizational and individual fulfillment can be reconciled — and she left Harvard to prove it.”
Article: Post-capitalism’s Drop-out Prophet


How We Learn, How We Change
Complexity science explains why non
conformists morph into conforming hipsters.

“Jonathan Touboul is a mathematician who studies the way the transmission of information through society influences the behavior of people within it. He focuses in particular on a society composed of conformists who copy the majority and anticonformists, or hipsters, who do the opposite.”

“…Hipsters are an easy target for a bit of fun, but the results have much wider applicability. For example, they could be useful for understanding financial systems in which speculators attempt to make money by taking decisions that oppose the majority in a stock exchange.”
Article: The Hipster Effect: Why Anti-Conformists Always End Up Looking the Same


Diversity, Inclusion
We have a way to go in realizing the potential, and pleasure, of listening to each other.

“Last year has been a watershed for our culture. With the #MeToo movement and the many, often painful episodes of racial friction, we are reaching a new public consciousness and consensus around the need to understand each other’s perspectives. At the same time, with high levels of engagement around the Sustainable Development Goals, we are seeing remarkable levels of consensus on the opportunity for a new level of inclusion on a global scale.

“For those of us in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) trenches, pushing for changes in the workplace that have brought us this far, there is hope that this cultural moment will help propel us further toward a fully empowered and respected generation.

“I wrote “hope” for a reason. This is not a given.”
Article: The Connection Between Diversity, Inclusion and Corporate Responsibility


Organizational Health, Organizational Productivity
Gregg Schwartz channels Marie Kondo to tidy up your business.

Of course. If changing the way you deal with your closet can change your life, it goes without saying that changing the way that you deal with your client list will do the same. Or tidying up your sales process, or – a personal favorite – achieving clarity on big picture goals. I love Schwartz’s summary learning: Find joy in your business.
Article: You Can Use Marie Kondo’s Decluttering Principles To ‘Tidy Up’ Your Business


Personal Productivity
The problem with to-do lists

“Few things can make us feel more accomplished than crushing a to-do list–and science backs up this momentary thrill. Ticking off a task releases dopamine in the brain, and we all crave this “feel-good” neurotransmitter. The more tasks we complete, the more chemical rewards we enjoy.

“But to-do lists can be a misguided productivity tool. From the moment we have daily swim practice or a history paper due, we learn that time management means prioritizing what’s on our schedule. However, as the late Stephen Covey said, we need to schedule our priorities.”
Article: Scheduling Your Priorities (And Not Your Time) Will Supercharge Your Productivity.


Graphic Design
The Bauhaus movement is 100 years old. “It’s easy to draw parallels with people’s anxiety around things like automation and artificial intelligence today.”

“’When the Bauhaus movement began, it was at a time when the world was on the brink of massive technological change,’ explains 99designs CEO Patrick Llewellyn …. ‘While many artists were worried that mainstream adoption of electricity and mass production would be the end of art as we knew it, the Bauhaus group were instead inspired by the change and progress they saw happening around them.’”

“…A group of international designers have redesigned famous logos in the style of the Bauhaus to celebrate 100 years of the influential art school. Identities for Apple, Adidas, Burger King, BBC and Netflix have each been given the Bauhaus treatment following a competition set by creative platform 99designs.

“Radical at the time, the school rejected ornamentation in favour of a pared-back approach where form was inspired by function. Colour theory, the veneration of craft, experimental image-making and typography were integral to the Bauhaus’s output.”
Article: Apple, Adidas and Netflix Logos Get Bauhaus Makeover to Celebrate the School’s Centenary



“When J.S. Ondara won the US visa lottery five years ago he swapped Nairobi for Minneapolis — ‘straight to the cold’ — because of his love for Bob Dylan.

“‘It’s a very romantic thing to do, you know, do whatever my heart calls me to do,” he said. “I think it’s one of the reasons why I felt this sort of kinship with Dylan.’

“(Dylan is from Hibbing, Minnesota, which is about 200 miles north of Minneapolis.)

“So then, 20-year-old Ondara arrived in Minneapolis, planning to pursue a career in music.

“His first goal was to start a band, but he quickly realized he didn’t know anyone. So, he did it alone. He picked up a guitar, put the poems he’d written into melodies and started to “play open mics around Minneapolis, play shows and get feedback.

“In December, Ondara opened for ex-Fleetwood Mac member Lindsey Buckingham.

“His first album, ‘Tales of America,’ was released this month and a tour is scheduled for March and April — and locations are beginning to sell out.”
Article: This Kenyan Musician Followed His Love for Dylan to a New Life and Career
Trailer: J.S. Ondara – Tales of America


Image of the Week

The image of the week is a photograph of atmospheric swirls on the surface of Jupiter. It was shot by NASA’s Juno spacecraft which is studying the planet from a polar orbit, about 3,000 miles from the cloud tops of the gas giant.
Slideshow: Juno, Meet Jupiter


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