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The Newsletter | Edition 065
In our Off-White Papers, we provide practical guidance on how to respond to our rapidly-changing world. This newsletter explores those topics in real-time, with information and action steps on how to make progress now.

It feels like we all use the same language to talk about growth. In children, it’s usually age, height or clothing sizes. In the business world, it’s all about revenue and valuation. But, in reality, progress is multi-dimensional and sometimes non-linear. What are other ways that brands can think about and talk about their own growth?
  1. Consider more growth factors, from Jess Vander
  2. Embrace the awe, from Jenny Cavaioli
  3. Transform through introspection, from Chandler Saunders
And this week, our illustrations from Ash Casper.


From Jess Vander


Talking about growth, especially my personal growth, makes me uncomfortable. It always takes me to images of evolving Pokémon, as if I have transformed into an alternate version of myself: a totally new species, with new abilities and eight new claws. Probably because “Growth” sounds forward, linear, finite: like I have new skills and talents that I once did not, and I will continue to have them because I am transformed. Woohoo, I’m a lvl 56 Charizard.

I imagine my development as a multi-directional, even erratic progression that looks like a sum of many parts. But “Growth” doesn’t distinguish between all of the variables at play. It couldn’t care less about my practice, my nature, my regression, or my luck. It oversimplifies so many fixed factors too: motivation, mental well-being, external contexts, partnerships that affect how I’m doing, how much you like working with me right now, how much I've inspired you. If “Growth” is a static snapshot of a moment, what measures how to keep it going? What certain conditions bring my highest and happiest performance?


How is a brand’s “Growth” different? The variable volume of cultural, economic, and talent-based forces are in fact maybe more complex and more easily flattened. How are we paying attention to the certain conditions that enable peak performance—celebrating internal efforts, hedging for anything worryingly lopsided, preparing to weather storms of setbacks, acknowledging where we get lucky?


Brainstorm all potential factors driving your so-called “Growth.”


It’s harder to rest on the laurels of your growth when you have a fuller picture of what’s driving it. Try brainstorming across different categories to think on the reasons behind your or your brand’s success today more holistically:
  • Conscious Efforts (i.e. “we worked intentionally for _________”)
  • Checks (i.e. “we succeeded in spite of _________”)
  • Coincidences (i.e. “we got lucky on _________”)
  • Conditionals (i.e. “we got here because of _________”)


From Jenny Cavaioli


When we talk about growth in very tangible terms, it lends well to a sense that growth can be completed or marked as done. While that can be true of some types of growth, the ephemeral and intangible growth is more of a mindset than a task or objective.


Growth is part of an essential cycle of personal fulfillment. We set a goal, meet that goal, feel a sense of achievement, acknowledge our improvement and then set a new goal to continue onwards and upwards.

But not all growth needs to be directional, pointed at one area: a skill, type of knowledge, capability. Feeling awe creates deep emotional and mental expansion, a different but equally as important type of growth for individual progress and betterment. Science writer and former neuroscientist Summer Allen says, "Awe can seem mind-bending in part because it is; it forces us to adjust our mental structures to assimilate new information”. We don’t often make plans for awe, or set aside time to wonder, but maybe we should be. Research has shown that the benefits of being awe-struck are more than momentary. Enduring happiness, reduced anxiety and overall satisfaction in life result from a fundamental shift in our perception sparked by awe.

Awe’s power extends beyond the individual. Because awe right-sizes our ego and reminds us we are a piece of a much larger puzzle, that humility drives us to not only want to connect with others but also to help those around us. It makes us more generous and cooperative, impacting the way we relate to others and rippling out to the communities, teams and organizations we are a part of.

There is great value in planning personal growth but don’t forget to carve out space to be surprised, to be humbled, to stand in awe of nature, to have your world expanded. You might just grow into a better, maybe even unexpected version of yourself.


As a member or a leader of a team, make time and space to sink into the moments when you feel awe for what’s around you.


  • Spend time in nature or on an “awe walk” around the city
  • Be more conscious of your surroundings: the sights, sounds, smells, people around you
  • Expose yourself to new experiences, places and topics of knowledge
  • Think expansively and divergently by letting yourself question everything (Why does this thing exist? What would happen if this was different? How did this come to be?)


From Chandler Saunders


Much like how a person’s values change as they mature and experience new perspectives over time, so does a business’s. Life is all about growth, and while we all grow physically, the most profound growth comes from our ever changing understanding of ourselves. Prior to the early 2000s Ecolab focused on two things: increasing shareholder profit and manufacturing the best industrial cleansers and food safety products. In the early 2000s, though, Ecolab noticed that the world around them was changing. As a result, they decided to transform their vision and business to focus on a bigger picture: one of sustainability and improving access to clean water and power.


What looked like a simple shift in mission and vision was actually a major catalyst for growth. When Ecolab fundamentally changed the way they saw themselves as a company, they were then able to strategically push their business into a higher level space that allowed them to focus on solving problems that impact the world.

By choosing to focus on internal growth and self awareness first, Ecolab was then able to grow in more traditional ways that satisfied the needs of shareholders as they asserted themselves as one of America's most valuable companies, raising their market cap from $12 billion to over $50 billion in less than 10 years. While these factors such as market caps and profits are important, when reassessing internal growth, they should be indicators or results of success, not primary goals.


Review your internal mission and vision. Do they still resonate? Can they be elevated? Have they kept up with the changing landscape in which your business sits?


Just as people occasionally need self help, so do corporations. When you reevaluate your business’s future vision and goals, you can widen the aperture on what was once thought possible to achieve, thus opening yourself up to new opportunities for growth.

After all, as Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is no nobility in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”



We're looking for summer design interns in the NYC office. If you're a natural problem-solver and a progress-oriented individual, who is excited by the prospect of narrowing the gap between delivering for brand clients and serving the public good, keep reading.

Designers should submit their portfolios via the Careers page by 3/18. Remote U.S. applicants are accepted but must be residents of NY, CA, or VA.

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