Clarity First Newsletter, August 3, 2018

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

This week my wife and I shared a beach house with family. It was delightful, maybe because, not in spite of, the occasional tensions. Few concurrences fire more emotional triggers than defining a vacation together. But, because we are family, a common understanding that we will work it out, no matter how trivial or solemn the conflict, undergirded our behavior. Yesterday, while cleaning the house to leave, my peer-age niece said to me “In the end we are all willing to show up and listen to each other.” Joan, this is a superbly simple metaphor for how we need to learn to live as a society, too. Maybe I’m just feeling rested, but I think we can. Happy Friday.

Civil society peer exchange workshop. Photo by Tim Hughes via Creative Commons.

Civil Society

Amid growing social isolation in the United States, a new set of values is emerging around community, healing, and belonging, and they will likely define an era.

Journalist David Brooks thinks he sees a light in the darkness of social isolation, loneliness, and the fraying of our communal bonds. The light is cast not by the government, nor by private business. It is cast, instead, by civil society, people coming together to take private action performed in service of the public good. “Now, especially in the social sector, I see a new ethos forming. I don’t pretend to understand it yet. Somehow this new ethos is more communitarian. It is suspicious of big institutions but trusting toward small ones. It is about commitment and service and redistributing power in new ways.”
Article: Looking to Civil Society for the Values that Shape a Culture

Media/Communications Process

It’s reinvention time.

The vanishing press is a problem for society. It’s also a massive business challenge for the entire media industry, which includes advertising and PR. Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, is freaked out. “This is a shocking development for those of us in PR who have relied on the mainstream media as our primary means of distribution of information.

“PR people must evolve their approach and bring credible information directly to people. Mainstream PR firms must go beyond pitching stories to developing our own audiences, providing them with substantive information that is useful and shareable…We are in the business of building relationships that yield consumer insights and active discussions.

“We must go faster. All of our PR teams must think like journalists, find stories and get them out quickly. This is my big project for the next six months. This is ‘do or die’ for the PR business.”
Article: The Disrupted and Disappearing Press Also Diminishes Advertising and PR

Group Process

The five-year plan as a strategic framework may have reached its sell-by date.

“A study from Deloitte Center for the Edge that tracked the performance of all U.S. public companies for the past half-century found that performance on average — measured in terms of return on assets — has declined by more than 75 percent since 1965. If the goal of strategic planning is to at least maintain financial performance over time, the findings suggest current methods may not be working. It may be time to adopt a new model, one that keeps one eye on the long term and another on the present: the zoom out, zoom in approach.

“This strategy, which has been used by many successful digital companies, focuses on two timelines working in parallel. The first timeline looks ahead 10 to 20 years, eyeing market changes and potential disruptions. The other targets a six- to 12-month period, seeking to build areas that could support the longer-term view and shed those that do not. Executives alternate their focus between the two.”
Article: Take a Zoom Out, Zoom In Approach to Business Strategy.

Personal Development

Act on your principles, not your moods. How the ancient philosophy of Stoicism can help us smash creative blocks and do our best work.

“Not only does philosophy teach us how to live well and become better humans, but it can also aid in overcoming life’s trials and tribulations. Some schools of thought are for more abstract thinking and debate, whereas others are tools that are immediately practical to our current endeavors.

“The principles within Stoicism are, perhaps, the most relevant and practical sets of rules for entrepreneurs, writers, and artists of all kinds. The Stoics focus on two things:
“How can we lead a fulfilling, happy life?
How can we become better human beings?”
Article: The Stoic: 9 Principles to Help You Keep Calm in Chaos


Visual Identity

Reducing a big idea to an icon

“The very best logos use intelligence, wit and unconventional thinking to find that hidden gem that makes them special. Sometimes the solution seems so perfect, it should be obvious – the trick, of course, is making sure you thought of it first.”
Article: 6 Great Logo Ideas That Break the Mould


When the brand itself is the brief

Andrii Mishenko is an adverting copywriter based in the Ukraine. Last year he gave himself a creative challenge to create a print ad for a well-known brand every day, an effort he called “365 Days of Copy”. As he had no brief, he used the ads to reflect his understanding of the brands’ core promises.
Article: Copywriter Challenges Himself to Create an Every Day for a Year, and They’re Pretty Clever


Visual Identity

New logo, page design, and online presence for Rolling Stone

“Welcome to the new Rolling Stone. As of today, we’ve given both our magazine and our website complete makeovers. Starting with our current issue, featuring Cardi B and Offset on the cover, the magazine appears in a big, bold, glossy format, with more pages and richer photography. Each issue will feature more new music, more political coverage, more of the best and brightest in pop culture. Our logo has also undergone a subtle but significant update […].”
Article: Drop the Shadow


Let’s connect

Meet me there?

Next Thursday, on August 9th, I’m going to be a guest on Nation1099’s weekly live stream, Next Level Freelancing. Host Robert McGuire will interview me about branding for solopreneurs and freelancers. He’s already got a nice group registered, but there’s plenty of room for you. It’s free, quick and easy. Meet me there?



Cowboy Junkies by Joseph Llanes

Oh boy, Cowboy Junkies have released a new album. “All That Reckoning is an album that more than lives up to its title, for here Cowboy Junkies take stock of the political, social and personal situations that add up to that great big thing called life in the 21st century. It’s all here as relationships within the context of love are juxtaposed against the result of hate and anger aimed at those we’ve never met, while nation states go through a form of deep, existential analysis and examination…That Cowboy Junkies are still making music this far down the line is to be applauded. That it ranks with the very best of their material deserves nothing less than an ovation.” Here’s the title cut: All That Reckoning (Part 1). Here’s another cut from the same album:The Things We Do to Each Other. Here’s the album itself on Spotify.
Review: Cowboy Junkies All That Reckoning



Image of the Week

The image of the week is Dorothea Lange in Texas on the Plains, by Paul S. Taylor, ca. 1935.

Dorothea Lange, San Francisco, California. Flag of allegiance pledge at Raphael Weill Public School, Geary and Buchanan Streets, 1942

“Born in New Jersey in 1895, Lange is today widely acknowledged as one of the most influential image-makers of her century, having relentlessly documented some of the most turbulent political and cultural times in American history: from the tired, hungry and desperate Dust Bowl refugees of the Great Depression, to the Japanese-American internees she felt were being unjustly incarcerated post-Pearl Harbor, through to the thousands of women who made up the workforce in the shipyards of Richmond during the Second World War.”

Dorothea Lange, Family walking on highway – five children. Started from Idabel, Oklahoma, bound for Krebs, Oklahoma, June 1938

Her work is even more relevant today. (Thanks to the always inspiring Twitter feed @womensart.)
Article: Why Photographer Dorothea Lange’s Political Legacy Continues to Endure

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony. I help people use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as a tool of transformation. Learn more.

If you get value from Clarity First, please pass it on.

Not a subscriber? Sign up here.You can also read Clarity-First on the web.

Leave a Comment