Clarity First Newsletter, October 20, 2017

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

There’s a bumper sticker I notice a lot: “Don’t Believe Everything You Think.” Last week, in this letter, in a fit of believing what I thought, I mourned the passing of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Within minutes my in-box was full. “Mitch? Eddie Vedder is very much alive.”

The energy of the feelings of shame and failure and posturing that flooded my body could heat and power a cushy 3-bedroom New England home for a week, in winter. I was thinking of course of Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. But, I got so caught up in how great Petty, the Heartbreakers and Petty sounded together, that I let a wrong memory bloom into a colossal mistake. I am so sorry.

Regarding the tanking of my cred as a rock critic, I’m just going to have to start over again.

Creativity doesn’t drive good storytelling. Good storytelling drives creativity.

Pixar has made some of the most engaging and enjoyable films of the past 20 years. They’ve done it by developing and adhering to a clear process of democratic collaboration.
Article: Ten Things Pixar Can Teach Us About Creativity  

Slow down. You’ll present better.

I studied theater in school. Ever since I’ve noticed that whether you are pitching a concept, capability, or strategy, a lot of business is show business. This article was written for performing musicians. It is relevant for anyone who presents themselves and their ideas.
Article: A Simple (and Ironic) Strategy to Reduce Audition-Day Restlessness

Synchronizing a brand’s promise with the behavioral psychology of its customer

Last week University of Chicago professor Richard Thaler was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on understanding the habits people rely on when making decisions. His insight is based on “the way actual people behave as opposed to the way economists think people behave”. Just as economists assume that people are rational and logical first, so do marketing leaders. Based on Thaler’s work here’s four common mistakes we make in brand marketing.
Article: 4 Mistakes Brands Make About Human Behavior

If everything seems important in your mind, then nothing gets the attention it deserves.

David Allen wrote Getting Things Done in 2001. Google it. “GTD” has become a movement. His simple insight is that because we don’t take the time to list all of the things we want to get done, the distraction of remembering all that we want to get done keeps us from getting anything done. I keep extra copies of the book so that I can give them away whenever I notice a colleague getting frazzled.
Article: Think Less and Get More Done By Using The “Getting Things Done” Model

Branded in memory

156 Americans were given 30 minutes to draw the logos of 10 famous companies from memory. To my clients who are tired of hearing me harp about the role of color in brand identity, it’s interesting to note that while accuracy was a major struggle for most, the colors people chose were actually correct 80% of the time.
Article: People Struggle to Draw Popular Brand Logos From Memory.

Less is more.

The shorter and more succinct your emails are, the more likely people will read them.
Article: 4 Ways To Make Your Painfully Long Email Shorter

Happy birthday Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh, the founder of the Engaged Buddhism movement, turned 91 on October 11. To celebrate, Lion’s Roar created a best-of compilation.
Article: The Best of Thich Nhat Hanh: Life, Teachings, Quotes, and Books


Not only is Eddie Vedder very much alive, so are The Breeders. They’ve just released a comfortingly familiar feeling album, Stay in the Car. Kim is in great form, with a classic 2 guitars, bass, and drum line up. The official videoof the title song is great. But check out this live footage of the same song too. It was recorded just last week at a festival in Kentucky. Deal’s confident smile has always been the guiding light of this band, and it is so great to see her beaming.

Image of the week

Three weeks ago I told you about the art project at the existing border wall between Tecate, Mexico, and California, USA. It consisted of a 65’ tall photo mural of a Mexican toddler peering over a section of the wall. The headline I used was Undocumented immigrants are not mostly “bad hombres”. To celebrate the success of the project (it got a lot of great press), the artist invited friends, coworkers and locals to celebrate with a picnic.

Set right underneath the looming installation, artist JR set up a gigantic picnic table printed with his signature eye image. Celebrating unity and tolerance, guests on both sides of the border shared the same meals and drinks. The one-day installation included a live “banda,” which was also split in half, defying ongoing divisive political rhetoric with joy, happiness and a spirit of open mindedness. Juxtapoz has the very cool story.

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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.

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