Clarity First Newsletter,
November 22, 2019

“We are all dreamers creating the next world, the next beautiful world for ourselves and for our children.” – Yoko Ono

Clarity First

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

Trump and his henchmen, like Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan, scare me. They are attacking the very foundations of our democracy with lies and division. And they piss me off. Because while our eyes are glued to what John Oliver aptly named the “Clowntown Fuck-the-World Shitshow”, we are looking away from the amazing new worlds that we, the miracle species with self-awareness, are creating.

This letter, then, is my modest contribution to the latter. Look away from the dumpster fires that the wanna-be Reich start every day. If only for a few minutes, look toward the ways in which we are learning to live together on a tiny blue orb.

Happy Friday.

Learning, Data Display

“Amazing things are happening in the world, thanks to human ingenuity, endeavor and collaboration.”

Beautiful News Daily is “a collection of good news, positive trends, uplifting statistics and facts — all beautifully visualized by Information is Beautiful.

“We’ll be releasing a chart every day for a year to move our attention beyond dramatic news headlines to the slow developments and quiet trends that go unseen, uncelebrated.”

Website: informationisbeautiful.net

Regenerative Economy

How to unite the most powerful organizations in the world — governments, corporations, and civil society — behind a single agenda to save humanity and the planet from suffering and devastation.

Four years into the UN’s 15-year timeline for 17 sustainable development goals, the question is whether companies are advancing serious solutions or are simply embarking on a massive global public relations charade. “Unfortunately, our internal research points to the latter. A dramatic and immediate change in direction by both companies and the UN will be essential if there is to be any chance of avoiding an embarrassing failure. The plan we describe in this article offers the necessary steps to reverse course and deliver urgently needed progress.”

Article: Business as Usual Will Not Save the Planet

Organizational Development

The strategies behind successful social change initiatives are teachable. The problem is, we aren’t teaching them.

“People get so obsessed with the idea of ‘helping’ that they often fail to stand back and consider if what they’re doing is effective.

“In my years of research on what makes a social startup successful, I poured over thousands of survey results and conducted hundreds of interviews with some of the top changemakers of our time. I kept expecting people to tell me that a truly remarkable idea or the charisma of the founder is what drives success, but no one did. Not one. This isn’t to say that factors like charisma and grit, along with a brilliant idea, don’t contribute significantly to success. Of course they do. But, I found that the strategies behind successful social change initiatives—things like innovation, fundraising, effective leadership, and measuring impact—are teachable. The problem is, we aren’t teaching them.”

Article: From Feel Good to Real Good

Diversity, Data Display

Half of the millennials entering the workforce seek to work within diverse teams, but an analysis of employee diversity data shows Big Tech consistently failing to meet that demand.

“The makeup of employees at the tech giants, particularly at the management level, remains predominantly white and male. The failure to significantly improve triggered the ire of the Congressional Black Caucus in a visit to Silicon Valley last year.

“Asian Americans are often well represented in engineering roles, but not as frequently in management. African Americans are woefully underrepresented, except at Amazon, the company offering warehouse jobs and paying the lowest of all the companies compared here.”

Article: See Big Tech’s Terrible Diversity Record, Visualized Using its Logos

Listening, Learning

A set of questions to ask creative people

Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of Austin Kleon. His philosophy about self-promotion—”write something that you would want to read”—is the guiding principle of this letter. And regulars know that my favorite process for learning about how people perceive is listening by interview. So last week I got warm inside when Austin posited the question ‘Is there a set of interview questions for creative people that are always interesting?’.

Article: Questions for The Producer

Customer Experience

Customer experience has fast become a top priority for businesses and 2020 will be no different.

“When Econsultancy and Adobe conducted their Annual Digital Trends report, they asked B2B companies to state the single most exciting opportunity for 2020. The results? Customer experience (or CX) came in first (beating content marketing, video marketing and social!).”

Article: 37 Customer Experience Statistics You Need to Know for 2020

Typography

Voice of the Wall typeface is based on letterforms that were graffitied on the Berlin Wall.

Heimat Berlin: Voice of the Wall for The Cultural Heirs

“Heimat Berlin has developed the Voice of the Wall typeface for non-profit art association The Cultural Heirs, based on letterforms graffitied on the Berlin Wall. It marks the 30th anniversary of the Wall’s fall back in November 1989 and uses the occasion to warn world leaders of the ‘threat walls of all kinds can pose to society and freedoms’.

“The typeface is free to use in an online tool, developed by visualtech, wherein you can type your text and download the graphic for use on social media. The project aims to encourage people to use it to make their own “statements of freedom,” which will be collected and turned into a book to be sent to world leaders. ‘The starting point was the question: if walls could talk, what would the Berlin Wall say today?’ says a statement from Heimat. ‘In this way, the typeset allows the Wall a voice and the ability to make a statement about freedom in our world today.’”

Article: Berlin Wall Graffiti is Made Into a Typeface to Warn How “Division is Freedom’s Biggest Threat”

Playlist

Born in nearby Waitsfield, VT, I like to think of Grace Potter as a hometown hero. Her band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, was formed as a jazz-influenced trio in 2003 while she was still in college. Her distinctive voice is complimented by her use of a Hammond B3, a soulful organ that has been all but abandoned by most keyboard players due to its massive size and weight. Their first album, Original Soul, earned comparisons to Norah Jones and Bonnie Raitt. Since then, refusing to be limited by any musical category, she has established musical partnerships with artist’s as distinct as Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and the Flaming Lips. In 2011 she and Kenny Chesney earned a place on the country charts with their song ‘You and Tequila’.

After a four year hiatus the band released their third album, Daylight, late last month. They are touring and promoting the album now. Last Saturday they performed a mini concert on CBS Saturday Sessions. Here they are performing a new song, Back to Me. Is it soul? Is it rock? Is it country? This band proves definitively that labels do not matter. What matters is that this is a tight band that makes a sound much larger than their parts. What’s for sure is that their sound is very funky, in a sweet, Vermont kind of way.

Image of the week

The image of the week is Branded Head, 2003, by Hank Willis Thomas from the series Branded. It is a Chromogenic print, courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (© Hank Willis Thomas).

14,719 (2018) “Suspended in a double circle rising thirty feet above the floor, sixteen banners contain 14,719 strs. Each star represents a person shot and killed by someone in the United States in 2018.”

“Throughout his career, Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976) has addressed the visual systems that perpetuate inequality and bias in bold, skillfully crafted works.

After 61 Years of Service, I Ben, Promoted, 2007

“Through photographs, sculpture, video, and collaborative public art projects, he invites us to consider the role of popular culture in instituting discrimination and how art can raise critical awareness in the ongoing struggle for social justice and civil rights.”

Hank Willis Thomas, ALL LI ES MATTER, 2017, from the series My New York, 50 New York Covers: A Public Art Project; from Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal (Aperture/Portland Art Museum, 2018). Text graphic

The first ever retrospective of his work is hung now at the Portland Art Museum. I saw this show last weekend. The craft, in fabric, bronze, photography, graphics, wood, video and…is stunning in its own right. His conceptual framing is mind opening and reference-setting.

Museum show: Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…

What’s Clarity First?

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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