Clarity First Newsletter,
April 9, 2021

“Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Clarity First

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

I am very happy to report that I have had my second shot. Debbie will have her’s next week. Last weekend we gathered with a friend, who had also been vaccinated, to hike outdoors and then share a meal, indoors. It was so much fun to gather around a table to talk and laugh together again.

Happy Spring. Happy Friday.


How to be together, again

Grace Heejung Kim for NPR

“Zoom meetings. Virtual happy hours. Facetime dates. We’ve been living in a pandemic world for over a year now, and for better or worse, many of us are used to our new social routines.

“But as vaccinations ramp up and restrictions begin to loosen across the country, the new question is: Are we ready? After so much time apart, do we even know how to socialize in person anymore?

“We haven’t returned to ‘normal’ yet, but it feels like things are beginning to shift: We can almost hear the backyard barbecues; the cubicle-to-cubicle chatter; those awkward, horrible, adorable first date conversations over candlelit dinner. For many, just the thought is anxiety-inducing.

Celeste Headlee, journalist, author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter, and all-around conversational wiz, says those feelings of trepidation are only natural.”

Article: Do We Even Know How To Socialize Anymore?

Article: The Coming Nostalgia for Hyper-Nesting

How we work

A new medium is never a medium we knew in a new form. It is always a completely new form. Remote is a new medium. 

“The classic story is that when a new medium like television comes along, the first thing we do is recreate its predecessor in the new channel. That’s why the first shows on TV were essentially radio broadcasts in front of a camera. Eventually the new medium is recognized as its own unique thing and we create specifically for the channel.”

Debut of Today in 1952

“Remote (and the technology that exists around it like Zoom and Slack) are a new medium.Those companies who recognize this are finding ways to more drastically adapt their work approach, and those who don’t are left doing the equivalent of radio broadcasts on television.”

“But even just using the tools we already have available to us in better ways can make a huge difference. In the early days of fully remote working.”

Article: Remote is a New Medium


“To influence the people who can turn your idea into a reality, you need to deliver your pitch in an exciting and straightforward way. All this starts with the logline — an art that screenwriters have mastered.”

“Hollywood screenwriters typically get three to five minutes to pitch their movie ideas, but it takes only around 45 seconds for producers to know if they want to invest. Specifically, producers are listening for a logline: one or two sentences that explain what the movie is about. If there is no logline, more often than not, there is no sale.

“This is a valuable lesson for innovators in any field. Business leaders are often asked: What does your startup or product do? What’s your idea? If they can answer in one compelling sentence, they can hook their audience and influence people to invest in their work.

“Though mastering the art of the logline is challenging, there are steps leaders can take to do so:
(1) Keep it short.
(2) Identify the one thing you want your audience to remember.
(3) Make sure your team is on the same page.”

Article: The Art of the Elevator Pitch


News is critical to a democracy. Commercial news outlets are collapsing. Can new non-profit models fill the void?

“The future of local news remains decidedly uncertain. The choices philanthropy makes in response to a rapidly changing local news market could greatly influence its future form.”

Article: Two Philanthropic Strategies Aim to Boost Faltering Local News


“I’m conscious of the economy of words, never saying more than what’s necessary.”

“I went into journalism with wide-eyed idealism, wanting to tell stories that held the powerful accountable and gave a voice to everyday folks. What I didn’t count on were the storytelling and writing lessons I’d pick up as a television reporter that would serve me well years later as a novelist.”

“1. Seeking truth
2. Building empathy
3. Paying attention to detail
4. Focusing on the individual to explore large, complex issues
5. Writing for the ear”

Article: On the Valuable Writing Lessons I Learned as a Television Reporter


Refining the All-Time Marketing Bullshit Top 10

Mark Ritson is a columnist at the UK magazine Marketing Week. He’s known for his wit and his wisdom. His pedagogy seems to be that it’s easier to learn if you’re laughing. He’s also the founder of Mini MBA, an online offering that promises that you can “Take your skills to the next level with the Mini MBA in Marketing and Brand Management”.

Late last year he was outraged by the snack giant Mondelez’s plan to “stop marketing and start humaning”, calling it “utter bollocks”. He used his fury as an excuse to survey other examples of “marketing bullshit” and to establish the “all-time marketing bullshit top 10”, which the magazine published last November.

The column received a lot of feedback, which ranged from “There is no way that Seth Godin should be on this list”, to “You completely missed Sinek’s Golden Circle”.

“Following many suggestions and much discussion, Ritson admits he was forced to do something he rarely does – change his opinion.” Last week he published his “ultimate” marketing bullshit top 10.

“Based on his very scientific calculation of nonsense multiplied by damage, ‘humaning’ has dropped out the top 10, making way for five new entries.”

The video embedded in this article amounts to a master class in branding. It makes me believe that he really does offer “a Mini MBA in Marketing and Brand Management”.

Article: Mark Ritson’s Ultimate Marketing Bullshit Top 10

Nonprofit Helps People With Differing Views Find Common Ground

The 1 Question the Most Interesting People Will Ask to Start Great Conversations

Spring Cannot be Cancelled is David Hockney’s Manifesto for How Art and Nature Will Get Us Through


Let’s celebrate humans


Molly Venter has been writing songs since high school. My friend and client, Sally Mixsell, has known her since she was a kid, and she says that Molly has always been “smart and philosophical and creative”. Molly and her husband, Eben Pariser, work both together and apart. Molly has her own material, and she also sings with Red Molly. Molly and Eben have a label together called Goodnight Moon Shine, and Eben has a band called Roosevelt Dime.

In August of last year they had fraternal twins, their second and third kids. Last week they recorded this song for the babies. It is beautiful. I love how it bends the lines between jazz, folk and country. And I especially love how the song captures the amazing feelings we get when bringing new beings into the world.

Here’s Eben talking about recording this video:

“This video was the result of back-to-back live takes in front of a still-cam. Molly and I are communicating across time with our phrasing.

“We wrote this for our new twins. Molly sent me a voice-note of the rough melody and words and I wrote an arrangement to accompany them.

“It is altogether miraculous how these arrivals drop into the world, with seemingly fully formed temperaments, attitudes, preferences, and expressiveness.

“On another note – it strikes me how important video has become to the release of music. It’s similar to how important record covers once were.

“This year has had its miseries and has also been a great teacher – We have grown as performers and a producers. We were able to perform, mix, edit and upload this video all in the space of a normal Tuesday morning!”

Video: Already Who You Are

(Thank you, Sally. It seems that whenever we get together you share a great idea with me.)


Image of the Week

“Deep in the woods of southern France, artist Spencer Byles transformed the forest into a mysterious wonderland through a series of spectacular, organic sculptures. Byles spent a year immersed in the woodlands of La Colle sur Loup, Villeneuve-Loubet, and Mougins for this ambitious project. Surrounded by flora and fauna, the sculptor used only cables and natural, found materials to create his stunning, large-scale works of art.”

“The ephemeral nature of Byles’ creations is integral to his work, as each piece exists in its completed state for only as long as the elements permit. The sculptor says, ‘The temporary nature of my sculptures is an important aspect of my experiences and understanding. I feel my sculptures are only really completed when nature begins to take hold again and gradually weave its way back into the materials. At this point it slowly becomes part of nature again and less a part of me.’”

Article: Artist Spent a Year in the Woods Creating Mysterious Sculptures

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 pedagogy and toolbox for transformation. Learn more.

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