Clarity First Newsletter, August 31, 2018

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

This week my computer crapped out, and Jacy, my IT savior, couldn’t resuscitate it until last evening. Because this letter typically takes a little attention every day for the whole week, and because as of 9 PM last night I had done nothing, my first thought was to bail on this week’s missive. But then I opened my Pocket account, and scanned my Evernote notebooks. Wait. The letter was already here, I just needed to gather it together. Twyla Tharp is right. If you’re prepared you can handle a lot of things not going as you planned. And I love how preparation opens you to the potential of a glorious accident.

Happy Friday. To those in the U.S., happy holiday.
Personal Development

Systems beat goals every time

Caden Parham says that setting goals by writing them down is delusional at best. “The fact is that by using goal-setting as our strategy for achieving success, we’re placing our focus on what we want to accomplish instead of how we’re going to accomplish it.” He says that the how we meet our goals is infinitely more important than the goals themselves.
Article: How To Accomplish Your Goals By Not Setting Any

Creative Process

The simple outlining technique that helped J.K. Rowling become the world’s first, and so far only, billionaire author.

The hand written “spreadsheet” that J.K. Rowling drew to plan Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

J.K. Rowling says that great writing is planned first. Yes, you can just start and see where it goes, but the results will be better if you plan first.
Article: How J.K. Rowling Used a Hand Written Spreadsheet to Map out the Plot of Harry Potter

Changing Minds, Persuasion

The vaunted human capacity for reason may have more to do with winning arguments than with thinking straight.

One of the most perplexing elements of the Trump presidency is the apparent reality that he was right when he said that he could shoot a person on the street and his base would continue to support him. Here’s some of the science behind why it’s true.
Article: Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds

Purpose, Mission, Vision/Advertising

The ‘purpose turn’ defines the positive impact you want to have in the world.

Some British ad folk found themselves wondering, what contribution should the advertising industry be making to tackling the big global issues of the day like climate change, poverty and education? How can the industry’s creative firepower be leveraged to make the world better? “What we found in the course of our research was that the critical question is not so much what advertising can do for the world, as what advertising needs to do for itself, and how the world will benefit, as and when the industry rises to the challenge. This report, which began as a critique from the outside, has become a challenge from within. A challenge for the industry, agencies and each of us as individuals to develop a clear sense of purpose about the legacy we want to leave behind. We call this process the ‘purpose turn’; it involves defining and embodying the positive impact you want to have in the world.”
Report: Reclaiming Agency. How to Save Advertising (And Create a Better World)

Design Process

“It’s a color-picker, courtesy of internet hive mind.”

“A new design tool called Picular is built around an unlikely data source: Google image search.

“Picular is a new color search tool that lets you enter any search term and presents you with a slew of options, basing all of its color choices on what pops up first in Google image search. For instance, if you type the word “desert” into Picular’s search bar, the tool scrapes the top 20 image results from Google and finds the most dominant color in each image. It presents these results in a series of tiles: A sea of sandy browns and oranges, with a few blues (presumably from the sky) thrown in.”
Article: Google Image Search is Now a Design Tool

Visual Identity, Activism

“We want to get this font out in front of more creative people before we inevitably get c&d’d by one of the 76 brands whose logos we’re using.”

“Internet experience” designers Hello Velocity have designed and released, for free, a fully functional font that they call Brand New Roman. Designer Lukas Bentel describes it as “a full alphabet — with two letter cases, ligatures, numbers, and symbols — all out of brand marks that most people can immediately name.”

He says that he did it because it’s “weirdly appropriate” right now, and more obviously, “to make fun of our inescapable hyper-commercialized environment. It’s honestly pretty nuts that you can make a full alphabet” out of well-known logos. Get it while you can.
Article: Brand New Roman: A Font that Swipes Corporate Brands

The silhouette is nothing if not an invitation for you to imagine yourself in the context of the iPod. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty


Don’t talk about the product. Talk about how the product helps users fulfill their idea of their best selves.

You’re tired of hearing me say it: your brand isn’t about you. It’s about how you help the people you serve. Here’s a good article about how this POV became best practice. In 1963, Pepsi hired a young advertising executive named Alan Pottasch. He had a giant challenge to reinvigorate a flagging brand that was competing against Coke, one of the most successful brands of all time. Worse, their products were chemically indistinguishable. So, Pottasch did something that no-one had ever done before. As he put it, “…to stop talking about the product, and start talking about the user.”
Article: People Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Better Versions of Themselves



Concha Buika is a poet, composer, singer and music producer. Born in Spain, her music draws on jazz, flamenco, soul and Afro-beats. It is perfect for the sultry days of August.

Her wiki page says that she began her musical career as a drummer but turned to singing because “in Spain nobody wanted a female drummer, and I got tired of hearing no, no, no.” She’s produced nine full length albums and collaborated with a who’s who of jazz and latin music artists. Start here, a lovely performance of the title track from her second album Mi niña Lola.

If you like that and want more, settle back and listen to this full length concert recorded at Heineken Jazzaldia 2013.


Image of the Week

The image of the week was drawn by my friend and neighbor Jesse Duquette.

I’ve told you about Jesse before. Trump’s attempt to steal our democracy from us prompted him to start creating a “drawing (or 2) a day every day until this thing ends in cuffs or calamity.” On inauguration day 2017 he launched an Instagram page he calls The Daily Don. Since then he as been exceeding his pledge. As of this morning he has made 1,067 posts to 49.3k followers.

Most are satirical observations like the one above. In spite of the fact that his topics are so distressing, the work is hilariously funny. But occasionally he stops to honor an individual who deserves mention who the mainstream media might ignore, like Black Panther Fred Hampton. Hampton and fellow Black Panther Mark Clark were killed during a raid by a tactical unit of the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office, the Chicago Police Department and the FBI in December 1969. Go, Jesse, go.

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.

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