Clarity First Newsletter, September 14, 2018

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

This week we closed our windows at night for the first time since spring. Pretty soon we’ll turn on the heat. Change is in the air. Bring it on.

New Economy

“We can transform capitalism by encouraging the ‘better angels of our nature.’ “

Credit: Flickr/CogdogblogCC BY 2.0.

“Solidarity economy practices exist in every sector of the economy: production, distribution and exchange, consumption, finance and governance/state. People often think about cooperatives and credit unions which are collectively owned and managed by their members, but they are just one example.”
Article: Seven Ways to Build the Solidarity Economy

Personal Development, Learning

To scale your expertise and accelerate your transformation readiness, follow these strategies.

It turns out that agile learners are more likely to: set challenging goals, make faster and better-informed decisions, take more calculated risks, ask more nuanced and valuable questions, read more books to stretch their thinking, network with more diverse people, and experiment with new processes and technology. Who knew?
Article: A Practical Plan to Become a More Agile Learner

Storytelling, Teaching, Learning

“If children are different from us, they are more spontaneous. Grown-up lives have become overlaid with dross.”- Maurice Sendak

Look, Look, Look…A Playful Book is a show hanging now at the Center for Book Arts in Manhattan. Reviewer Alexis Clements says: “These days, as fear, acrimony, anxiety- and anger-ridden monologues tend to dominate cultural discourse, playfulness doesn’t seem to make it into many conversations. How strange, then, it was to find myself alone in a room filled with all manner of artists’ books designed with play in mind, many of which were designed specifically for children.”
Article: Why Grown-Ups Should Play With Artists’ Books Designed for Kids

Organizational Health

When companies manage with an equal eye to performance and organizational health, they more than double the probability of outperforming their competitors.

Research suggests that the performance payoff from organizational health is unexpectedly large and that companies have four distinct “recipes” for achieving it. McKinsey has gathered them together for us.
Article: The Hidden Value of Organizational Health—and How to Capture It

Personal Development

Writing is self-help.

Matt Haig, Reasons To Stay Alive

“Look, unless you’re writing one, a self-help book is an oxymoron. You read a self-help book so someone who isn’t yourself can help you, that someone being the author. This is true of the whole self-help genre. It’s true of how-to books, for example. And it’s true of personal improvement books too.”
Article: Self-Help as Oxymoron

Marketing Organization

Structure your marketing department around your customer’s journey. 

Oops. Most marketers believe their brands need a customer-centric business model in order to succeed, yet according to new research, structuring a marketing department around the customer journey is currently the least common model of all, with the majority of departments either being product-centric or structured around marketing disciplines.
Article: The Future Marketing Organization: Building a Customer-Centric Business Model


The best marketing practitioners develop strategies based on sound theory, but they are pragmatists when it comes to driving it through.

“We hear the term ‘best practice’ a lot in marketing – certainly a lot more often than we see it. What does it actually mean? I would offer: ‘Optimum brand strategy derived from sound marketing theory, put seamlessly into practical application’.” The problem of course, is that the gap between strategy and application is “a bendy discipline”. Helen Edwards does a great job of summarizing our current understanding of what works: Innovation, Segmentation, Brand architecture, Brand personality and Digital delivery.
Article: Helen Edwards: The Best Marketers Know How to Link Theory with Practice



Bass player Chris Wood and his brother, guitarist Oliver Wood, say that they were “steeped in roots music”. Oliver went on to found a bluesy, R&B band called King Johnson, which released 6 albums in 12 years. Brother Chris was a founding member of the jazz trio Medeksi, Martin and Wood (MMW). One fateful day King Johnson opened for MMW, then Oliver sat in with the headliner. “I realized we should be playing music together,” Chris later recalled. They recruited multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix and the Wood Brothers were born.

The cool thing about roots music is that its growth shoots are completely unpredictable. This song is played on three acoustic instruments, and there are some great all-band harmonies. So the “folk” tag they’ve gathered makes some sense. But it also has the swing of a jazz song and the uplifting lyrics of a gospel song. So, forget the labels. File under soothingly groovy.
Video: Mason Jar Music & FreshGrass Present: The Wood Brothers – Sing About It

Then, if you still need convincing that the folk label is just too confining, check out this Allman like cover of a blues rock chestnut.
Video: The Wood Brothers – Get Out My Life Woman


Image of the Week

The image of the week is titled Provincetown Harbor Lights. It’s by my friend Tony Eprile, who shot it last weekend when he joined my wife Debbie Kates to swim across the same harbor to raise money for the annual Provincetown Harbor Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla. The Swim’s website says: “When people gather with passion and vision great things are accomplished. For three decades, in one of the largest natural harbors in the world, thousands of swimmers braved its unpredictable waters ? its chilly currents, surging tides, and their deep fears ? raising $5M for AIDS, women’s health and the community.

“Celebrating its 31st year, this quintessential Provincetown tradition symbolizes the heroic efforts of a community devastated by the pandemic and its unequivocal response to it. The Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla (a 1.4 mile swim) has become a catalyst for a nurturing community, offering connectedness, healthy exercise and continuity for those who return year after year.”

“The Swim” is a tradition in our house, too. This is the 15th year Debbie has made the plunge. Welcome to the community, Tony. And thanks for bringing your camera and your eye along.

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 tool of transformation. Learn more.

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