Clarity First Newsletter, May 4, 2018

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

“Active Hope is a readiness to discover the strengths
in ourselves and in others;
a readiness to discover the reasons for hope
and the occasions for love.

A readiness to discover the size and strength of our hearts,
our quickness of mind, our steadiness of purpose,
our own authority, our love for life,
the liveliness of our curiosity,
the unsuspected deep well of patience and diligence,
the keenness of our senses, and our capacity to lead.
None of these can be discovered in an armchair or without risk.”  ? Joanna Macy, Chris Johnstone

Organizational Culture

The kinds of organizations the 21st century (really) needs

Umair Hague is at it again. This time he’s preaching that we need to learn to build organizations that are governed and ruled by love, not fear. “Our challenge today is building systems that liberate people. Really free them to realize their truest, noblest, highest selves, their timeless and enduring qualities. Unless we can build such systems, we have little hope of solving the world’s great problems.” He’s right, of course. But I wonder if he’d sound any less cranky if more people were listening to him.
Article: Why We Need to Build Organizations Governed by Love, Not Fear

Purpose, Mission, Vision

The Courage of their Convictions: How purposeful companies can prosper in an uncertain world

A new report from the UK highlights the importance of having a defined company purpose that marries commercial success with social progress. “Being a purpose-led company not only supports business growth, but is also increasingly important to attract and retain talent in the ever-changing and competitive commercial landscape.”
Article: Purpose Is Becoming More Critical to Attract, Retain Employees

Group Process

If we want a change in culture, the work is to change the conversation.

The right conversations can embody and nurture alternative futures. This immensely rewarding task is made much easier if we focus on the structure of our gatherings, work to get the questions right, and listen deeply. Peter Block has written a simple but powerful book on how to facilitate conversations that lead to lasting change. (Image via
Book review: Community, the Structure of Belonging


Why most advertising sucks

Andrew Hovell is that delightful ad planner who loves good advertising, and the deep process it requires. But he bemoans that the vast majority of advertising follows the same “follow the others” playbook. Being a planner, he made a list of some of the various ways well meaning people f up the art, craft and science of advertising. His short answer about the whole discipline is that there are no shortcuts. “There are three ways to deliver additional payback for a marketing budget; innovation, deals to get the media for less, and then the stuff in between, such as knowing what you’re doing, working to the right objective, finding the right audience, employing creative assets that build on what people already recognize about the brand, etc., etc., etc.”
Article: How to Fail at Advertising 2

Creative Process/Personal Productivity

How Liana Finck approaches work when her ideas constantly change

Liana Finck studied fine art and graphic design at Cooper Union College. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Forward and Tablet. Fortunately for us she also writes well, and is open and honest about what it’s like for her as a free agent creative who lives in NYC.
Article: The Daily Rituals of a New Yorker Cartoonist (Freelance Edition)

Communications Process

Overcoming the curse of knowledge in our own writing and speaking

Polymath and all around bright guy, Steven Pinker, says that the number one phenomena that keeps us from communicating clearly is the “curse of knowledge.” It’s a common cognitive bias. It means that “when you know something, it’s extraordinarily difficult to know what it’s like not to know it. Your own knowledge seems so obvious that you’re apt to think that everyone else knows it, too.”
He’s identified four strategies to help overcome this widespread condition.  (Thanks Paul.)
Article: Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker: The No. 1 Communication Mistake That Even Smart People Make   

Personal Productivity

A one hundred year old productivity hack

In 1918 Charles M. Schwab was the president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, a company he had built into the largest shipbuilder and the second-largest steel producer in America. As part of a perpetual quest to discover better ways to get things done, he invited the input of a productivity consultant named Ivy Lee. Lee had a simple recipe for achieving peak productivity:

1. At the end of each work day, write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow. Do not write down more than six tasks.

2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.

3. When you arrive tomorrow, concentrate only on the first task. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task.

4. Approach the rest of your list in the same fashion. At the end of the day, move any unfinished items to a new list of six tasks for the following day.

5. Repeat this process every working day.
There’s a great story about how well it worked in this article.
Article: The Ivy Lee Method: The Daily Routine Experts Recommend for Peak Productivity



It is fitting that Rhye’s debut at Tiny Desk was shot at night, lit only by candlelight. Their music is soft, sexy and really, really quiet. Singer Mike Milosh sings in a lovely contralto voice that reminds me of Sade and Anohni. For his new album, his second, he’s gathered a band that responds to his slightest groan with sensitive, tight groove. He’s got a monster guitar player on one side, a freaking string section on the other, with drums, bass and keyboard in between. Can I get a hallelujah?

In direct response, I suspect, to the noise that is coming out of Washington, I notice lately that I’m drawn to music that is both quiet and smart. Rhye, a soul singer with a tight chamber orchestra behind him, fits this bill so nicely.
Here’s a really quiet playlist inspired by them: Easy Listening for Moderns, Number 2.


Images of the Week

The images of the week are aerial photographs of a sea salt evaporation facility. They’re from a body of work titled the Salt Series, by Munich-based photographer Tom Hegen. The beautifully evocative colors are caused by the varying salinity levels of the water as it evaporates. You can see more at his Behance page. While there don’t miss his other collections of art he found from the sky. I got lost in the Coal Mine Series and the Toxic Water Series, then the Icepattern Series caught my eye…

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.

If you get value from Clarity First, please pass it on.

Get this from a friend? Sign up here.

You can also read Clarity-First on the web.

Leave a Comment