Clarity First Newsletter, October 5, 2018

Clarity First

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

Finding optimism is difficult when a wanna-be despot is in the White House, and a spineless Congress only fuels his fires of hate, division and greed. This week I conducted a Core Sample workshop with a client group. As we were packing to leave, one woman said, “people who believe in the true teachings of Christ get labeled ‘the resistance’. We’re not. People who resist natural tendencies to cooperate, and resist healthy desires to nurture diversity are the resistance. They resist the inevitable”. She’s right, of course. And because she is, I do believe in a brighter future. Speaking of which, what are you doing to get out the vote next month? The checks and balances that are built into our system of government have never been more necessary.

New Economy 

Reducing human suffering and caring for the earth is good for the economy.

I believe her. UC Berkeley labor economist and professor, Clair Brown, says the tenets of Buddhism can serve as a guide toward an economy that works best for the most. A Buddhist economy assumes kindness as an operating principle, and it recognizes growth as just one phase of a healthy system. When you stop and think, what else could possibly work?
Article: Meet the Buddhist Economist


Organizational Health

You may have brilliant people working for you, but if your organization’s culture is not a good fit for the way they work, their brilliance won’t shine through.

“The Congruence Model was developed in the early 1980s by organizational theorists David A. Nadler and Michael L. Tushman. It’s a powerful tool for identifying the root causes of performance issues. It can also be used as a starting point for identifying how you might fix them.

“It’s based on the principle that a team or organization can only succeed when the work, the people who do it, the organizational structure, and the culture all “fit” together – or, in other words, when they are ‘congruent’ “.
Article: The Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model


Advertising, Social Progress

“Advertising should not only be used to sell a product, influence a choice, or build loyalty to a brand. It can and should also be a force for good.”

This week the U.N.’s Unstereotype Alliance announced the results of a new global study. Oops. A majority of people worldwide don’t see themselves, their families or their communities accurately represented in the ads they see.
Article: There Are Still Way Too Many Women Doing Laundry in Advertisements



Print may be dying, but the magazine cover still plays an essential role in defining—and sustaining—a media brand. Can the cover outlive the magazine?

“In a world of digital journalism, YouTube, Instagram, Netflix documentaries, Tumblr, and WordPress, magazines no longer have a monopoly on the concept they invented…

“One very public-facing fragment of the medium remains: the cover. A magazine cover is all at once a cultural statement, a conversation starter, a negotiating asset, a digital selling point, a mood.

“Covers now function as advertisements for something far beyond a single magazine issue: merchandise, collector’s items, spinoff publications, books, recommended products, behind-the-scenes YouTube videos, television shows, and in-person events or conferences….”
Article: Judging by the Cover: How the Magazine Industry’s Identity Crisis Is Playing Out on Its Front Page


Learning, Personal Development, Leadership Development

We’re in a mess in lots of ways. “We need all of us to be a little more awake.” 

I’ve been really busy of late, and my meditation practice is helping me to meet the challenge. With practice I can learn to turn from the distractions and triggers of patterned behaviors. I can start to see what I actually want and need more clearly. There’s a reason that mindfulness is an au courant trend in the C-suite. This relaxed and informative three-way dialog between Sharon Salzberg, Janice Marturano, and Barry Boyce, explores how mindfulness supports us at work and at home.
Article: The Key to a Mindful Work Life



Knowing how their brains learn helps students meet increasing school demands.

“Understanding the neuroscience of how their brains learn, and what influences its most successful acquisition and application of learning, is a powerful tool for helping students confront the increasing demands of school…Some recognized practices used by their best teachers that made their learning particularly successful and correlated with the neuroscience of learning research they were learning about. Others found connections from the research to strategies they believe can be applied to improve their own future studying and learning habits. Most also found implications from the research they believe would be valuable strategies for educators and parents to try.”
Article: Awesome Insights About Learning from Brain-Savvy Teens


Learning, Personal Development

People struggle to develop and maintain new habits because they make their efforts unsustainable.

When it comes to developing and maintaining a new habit, frequency matters more than intensity. If you do something frequently, a compounding effect will start to take place.
Article: Habits are the Compound Interest of Self Improvement




Born in 1984, Andra Day grew up in San Diego. Like the royalty of soul before her, she learned to sing in the church. She cites Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington as influences. For high school she steered herself toward and graduated from San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. She launched a YouTube channel where she performs killer covers and mash-ups. She gigged wherever and whenever she could. Then, one day in 2010 she got an unsolicited call from Stevie Wonder. He told her that his wife had seen her performing in a strip mall and was blown away.

Stevie introduced her to producer Adrian Gurvitz who would, with Wonder, help her make her debut album, Cheers to the Fall, in 2015. Other producers on the same album include Raphael Saadiq, Questlove, James Poyser, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and The Dap-Kings.

Her relaxedly unplugged mashups, like this one of Amy Winehouse’s He Can Only Hold Her and Lauryn Hill’s Doo-Wop, showcase her ability to make a song her own.

To get a sense of her respect for those who came before, check out this homage to Ray Charles, Drown in My Own Tears.

To experience her ability to groove with a small combo, check out how she aces the Tiny Desk challenge.

Billie, Ella, Dinah, Amy, Sharon, Aretha, et al, rest assured. Andra has picked up the torch. She is channeling your energy and learning from your brilliance. She is creating a new catalog of old classics. And like you before her, she is making something brand new. Her music feels really familiar, and it feels fresh and modern at the same time.



Images of the Week

The images of the week are both titled Freedom of Speech. One was painted by Norman Rockwell, the other by Pops Peterson. They both tell the same story, at different times.

Early in 1941 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a communications challenge. War was tearing Europe apart and without our help the Nazis may well reign. But many Americans weren’t keen to go to war. Some were disconnected from the reality that Hitler represented, and others professed an isolationistic attitude. So he wrote and delivered a speech, a national speech that people gathered around their radios to listen to together. His strategy was to hold up the freedoms of the American promise that are worth fighting for: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

But nobody understood it, and the speech bombed. Then Norman Rockwell saw a repackaging opportunity. He realized that people needed to see the benefits of freedom in order to truly understand how they contributed to our quality of life. So, he made four paintings, each named after one of Roosevelt’s freedoms worth fighting for. He sold them to the Saturday Evening Post, where they were published in 1943, and seen by millions.

The paintings went on tour, and helped raise $133 million for the war effort. The same paintings are on tour now: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms.

Of course, that was then. Recently Painter Pops Peterson noticed that there are a whole lot of people who are not pictured enjoying any of the four freedoms in any of those paintings. “Norman Rockwell was the quintessential, all-American painter,” he says. “He showed you the American landscape – everyone being loved, everyone safe, everyone fed, a beautiful American world, except not if you’re Mexican, not if maybe you’re Hindu, not if you’re black.” So, he painted his own series that represent the four freedoms circa today.

In Peterson’s “Freedom of Speech,” an African American woman replaces a young white man. In ”Freedom from Want” he paints himself standing beside his husband.

His “Freedom of Worship” puts a Baptist minister in the center, surrounded by people of varying faiths. His “Freedom From Fear,” is titled “Freedom From What?”

His paintings are on tour now, along with new works by other artists who have reinterpreted Rockwell’s masterworks: Re-imagining the Four Freedoms.

Article: Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms,” Then and Now

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