Clarity First Newsletter, October 27, 2017

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

This week I had breakfast with one of my mindfulness teachers, Shalini Bahl. She shared with me that many colleagues, friends and students are confiding in her of the fear, anxiety and desperation they are feeling. Indeed, the headlines from just one day’s Washington Post today equal the scariest news allotment from a six-month period just one year ago.

But then today, as I readied this week’s letter, I was stopped by the headlines gathered here. All over the world people are actively learning to build cultures of trust, find gratitude in relationships, focus on common emotional needs, and confront fanaticism with love.

I was reminded of the bumper sticker that is attributed to Gandhi: “When the people lead the leaders will follow.” Yes, I am deeply dismayed and frightened by the reckless greed and meanness that our current leaders display so blatantly. But, turn away from the calamity that results when a system built on genocide, slavery and patriarchy collapses in on itself. Instead, look around at the millions of people who are learning to create new systems that are built on peace, love and understanding.
As Tom Petty said, “Don’t stop now”.

A culture of trust yields higher engagement, happier employees, greater productivity, and higher profits. 

And it all starts in the brain.
Article: 8 Ways to Build a Culture of Trust Based on Harvard’s Neuroscience Research

Happiness is rooted in gratitude.

Don’t focus on what you don’t have, be grateful for what you do. A simple way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. There’s no wrong way to do it, but here are some general guidelines and prompts. Hint: it’s about people, not things.
Article: Gratitude Journal

Who’s purpose is it anyway?

Author Daniel Pink has a very simple exercise to learn about your organization’s understanding of it’s purpose. This video is less than 2 minutes long, and the exercise won’t take much more than that.
Video: How a Simple Index Card Can Surface Your Organization’s Purpose

Choosing sides divides. Let’s try focusing on common emotional needs instead.

Fred Dust, partner at design company Ideo, suggests that adopting a design approach to the conversation around gun violence will work better than simply defending a point of view. By encouraging people to reach toward common ground, people can connect to the fundamental issues more empathetically. He’s also made some sobering observations about how inured we’ve become to gun violence.
Article: Can We Redesign The Way We Talk About Gun Control In America?

The only way to confront fanaticism is with love.

David Brooks has some good advice for those of us who are confused about the best way to engage with fanatics of all stripes. “You don’t have to like someone to love him. All you have to do is try to imitate Martin Luther King, who thrust his love into his enemies’ hearts in a way that was aggressive, remorseless and destabilizing.”
Article: How to Engage a Fanatic

More consumers are making the connection between corporate actions, the quality of their lives and the success of their communities. 

While two-thirds (65%) of consumers want to support companies with a strong purpose, less than half (45%) can name a single company that makes “a positive difference in society through its products, services and operations.” Here are some immutable design principles for relevant and resilient brands.
Article: Brand Purpose in Divided Times: 4 Strategies for Brand Leadership

Branding is not just for marketing anymore.

Companies and organizations typically see brands primarily as identifiers and marketplace differentiators. Too often we miss the other strategic benefits that clear brands provide.
Article: Nine Benefits Of Building Strong and Admired Brands

Four lists that can keep you on track.

Regular readers know that I am a devotee of David Allen’s Getting Things Donesystem of productivity management. But, in truth, I don’t use his entire system, which if followed to the letter involves as many as 43 file folders and more lists than I can remember. Over the years I’ve reduced his system into four very simple lists that are easy to maintain and track.
Article: A Simplified Way to Use Getting Things Done


Fats Domino died this week. It is safe to say that without Fats, rock and roll as we know it would not exist. He, a man with a fourth-grade education who was the grandson of a slave, blended boogie-woogie piano with New Orleans rhythm and blues to create a sound that 70 years later is still uniquely his own. Between 1950 and 1962 he sold more records than Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Little Richard, combined. Here he is performing Smiley Lewis’s I Hear You Knocking with his trademark band of horns, drums and bass. R.I.P., Fats. Thank you. You are still on our playlists.

Images of the week

This week’s images are details of the the Most Beautiful Petals, a wall of 3,289 preserved rose petals. It’s one small part of a multi-media/multi-sensory installation called Cloud of Pedals by Sarah Meyohas that is hung in New York now, through December 7. It’s billed as a “data driven taxonomy of roses”.

She and her “workers” (her word), also gathered information from 100,000 unique rose petals to create an artificial intelligence algorithm that is capable of creating new, unique petals. She even integrated the influence of the environment in which the work was done, in this case the Bell Labs building designed by Eero Saarinen.

“Petals cannot digitize themselves. Human hands must individually open the flower, pick the petal, place it under the lens, press the shutter, and upload the image to the cloud. Then again, and again, and again. Computers document the signals generated by humans. When computers were human, they were often women.”
Designboom has the whole, rather incredible, story.

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.

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