Clarity First Newsletter,
August 28, 2020

“Chance favors the connected mind.” – Steven Johnson

Clarity First

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

In this pandemic era I’ve come to appreciate small rituals, like gathering at week’s end the themes that I have inadvertently collected in my daily diary.

Here’s five from the past seven days:

Local supply chains can and should be rebuilt.
The future of work ain’t what it used to be.
How to draw on internal strengths to compensate for what’s missing in external support systems.
Higher Ed may no longer be about earning a degree.
We all have the right to live without fear.

What are you learning? What gives you a sense of hope during these seemingly dystopian times?

Look away from the fear that both the radical right and left promulgate. Look to the middle where ideas of science, openness and inclusion are being tested, where they are being celebrated.

Happy Friday.

Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communications

“At that root level of our fundamental needs, our commonalities outweigh our differences.”

Oren Jay Sofer is an author and teacher focused on mindfulness, meditation, and Nonviolent Communication (NVC). In recent years he’s been exploring the relationship between communication and meditation. Here he introduces why and how mindfulness intersects with conscious, respectful communications.

“Conversation is a dynamic interplay between each person’s choice to speak or listen. When those choices are conscious and respectful, conversations tend to be more productive and enjoyable. If those choices are unconscious or impulsive, conversations tend to be less productive and more stressful.

“I call this juncture the ‘choice point’ between speaking and listening. With presence, every moment offers a choice. Our ability to maintain presence at the choice point takes practice. Sometimes the moment of choice races by like a road sign while we are doing seventy-five miles per hour on the freeway. The impulse to speak can be so strong that it impels us to verbalize simply to release the internal pressure. If we tend toward the quieter side, it can feel as if those openings in a conversation disappear before we can muster our voice.

“This is where mindfulness comes in. In meditation, we learn how to observe unpleasant sensations (knee pain, a sore back) without immediately reacting. We develop the capacity to be aware of an impulse without acting on it.”

Article: Meet Oren Jay Sofer, and Read an Excerpt from His New Book “Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication”

Video: Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication


Introducing equityXdesign, a practice that organizations, teams, and individuals can use to mitigate the impact of racism and inequity in design practices.

“We are a country founded on the genocide of one people and the enslavement of another. We have yet to reconcile the impact of this inheritance on us all.

“The experiment of America is 240 years old. In these 240 years, systems were designed that isolate and separate us, that empower a chosen few with the privilege of invention, innovation, and creativity, that lay the groundwork for misunderstanding, fear, and ultimately hate.

“Racism and inequity are products of design. They can be redesigned.

“We believe that in community, with thoughtful and deliberate action, we can design the obsolescence of those systems. We offer equityXdesign, a practice that organizations, teams, and individuals can use to mitigate the impact of racism and inequity in design practices.”

Article: Racism and Inequity Are Products of Design. They Can be Redesigned.

Corporate Responsibility, Social Messaging

Why and how companies can better position themselves for critical social action

“Navigating the waters of social advocacy is far more difficult for brands than many want to acknowledge, and that the price of getting it wrong can be extreme. If you have any doubt about this, Google Pepsi and Kendall Jenner‘. So let’s take a step back and evaluate both why and how companies can better position themselves for critical social action.”

Article: How Brands Can Follow Through on the Values They’re Selling


Purpose as Strategy

This short article provides a bite-size summary of a new report from the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, Enacting Purpose Within The Modern CorporationThe report argues that this time when businesses are having to rebuild based on some sense of a ‘new normal’, presents an opportunity to do so on stronger foundations.

“Purpose articulates why an organization exists, the authors say. ‘It sets out the issues that an organisation seeks to solve … This sets it apart from three other important organizing principles for organizations – values, mission and vision.’ And the report provides a simple five concept framework to name company purpose.

Article: A Framework for Purpose

Audience Segmentation

How to identify what makes a great client so fulfilling to work with.

My own clients, colleagues and students know that at the beginning of the Clarity Brand Design process I conduct an exercise I call Finding Your Sally. Sally is a real-life client and friend of mine whom I’ve served and worked with for more than 12 years in three different organizations. I worked with her just this week. I hold her up as an example of what I call a “Best Fit Client”. Put simply, if all of my clients fit as well with me as she does, then I know I am making meaningful contributions, and I am a very happy camper.

Just today a colleague and I were celebrating how fondly we both feel about a client we serve together. I said to him: “One of the things that I appreciate most about my work today is that I care deeply about all of my clients”.

Benek Lisefski is thinking similar thoughts. He’s done a great job of distilling what makes a great client. If you find yourself approaching your days with a sense of dissatisfaction, this is a pretty good place to look for some of the reasons.

Article: Forget Nightmare Clients — This is What Dream Clients Look Like

Advertising, Corporate Responsibility

Brewdog has become the world’s first international beer business to become carbon negative.

Article: Try Not To Notice That Brewdog Has Become Carbon Negative

Economy, Organizational Health, Personal Development

To be better prepared for the next pandemic, we need to learn to live less ‘efficiently’ in the here and now.

Image by Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons

Barry Schwartz asks why our hospitals were not ready for the COVID-19 pandemic. “Why hadn’t we stockpiled key supplies and machines, built up hospital capacity, or ensured the robustness of our supply chains? The reason, of course, is that it would have been seen as inefficient and profit-robbing. Money spent on masks and gowns gathering dust in a warehouse could always be put to more ‘productive’ use in the marketplace. Likewise, employing more people than needed under ‘ordinary’ circumstances, or making products yourself rather than relying on international supply chains, would have been seen as inefficient. One lesson, then, is that to be better prepared next time, we need to learn to live less ‘efficiently’ in the here and now.””I think the real flaw in capitalism revealed by the 2008 financial crisis was its unbridled, single-minded pursuit of profit and efficiency. And perhaps the real flaw revealed in our lack of readiness for the 2019-20 pandemic was a manifestation of the same thing. Capitalism needn’t be either unbridled or single-minded. It isn’t in other societies with high standards of living, and it hasn’t been at all points in history in the US. So perhaps it’s time to rekindle certain social norms that serve to slow us down. For example, if people thought about their homes less as financial investments and more as places to live, full of the friction of kids, dogs, friends, neighbours and community, there might be less property speculation with an eye toward buying and selling houses merely for profit. If companies felt the friction of being caretakers of their communities, they might look differently at streamlining their operations by eliminating jobs.”

Article: Why Efficiency is Dangerous and Slowing Down Makes Life Better

Heineken Goes Plastic-Free With Their Cardboard ‘Green Grip’
Radio Listening Has Plummeted. NPR is Reaching a Bigger Audience Than Ever. What Gives?
Text This Number in the US to Find Out Which Native Land You’re Living On
Burning Man 2020 Goes Burn-From-Home, Courts Potential Global Audience



Her bio on her YouTube channel (which has 95K followers) says “I am Nandi Lily Bushnell, the British and Zulu drummer girl”.

In this video she covers the Foo Fighters’ Everlong, and positively nails it. About the song she says “My dream is to one day jam with Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins and all the @Foo Fighters! Mr Grohl, I would love to have a drum battle with you! I LOVE Everlong. It’s really hard to play as it’s so fast but so much FUN!!! “

I defy you to watch this performance without smiling your head off. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times. Nandi’s love of music is so infectious.

Please, please, please (echoes of James Brown) listen to the end. In the final chorus her screams are screams of delight. She’s made it. She did it. It was impossibly difficult, but in the performance she found ecstasy.

It is spirits like Nandy Bushnell that give me faith that we can pull off this amazing challenge called humanity. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! Nandy, you made me smile, then laugh, then cry tears of joy. Not only will rock and roll never die, it will be our salvation. Thank you for reminding us of the way.

Video: Everlong by the Foo Fighters Cover


Image of the week

The image of the week is titled “The African American Day Parade, Harlem” by Shawn Walker, 1989. “No artist has shown the unique beauty of the happenings in his own neighborhood quite like Harlem-based photographer Shawn Walker. In February 2020, the Library of Congress announced that the institution, in partnership with the Photography Collections Preservation Project, was acquiring nearly 100,000 ‘photographs, negatives, and transparencies’ from Walker’s collection.”

Article: African American Photographer’s Amazing Archive Added to the Library of Congress

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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