Clarity First Newsletter,
February 12, 2021

“Once you do away with the idea of people as fixed, static entities, then you see that people can change, and there is hope.”

– bell hooks

Clarity First

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

Here in the U.S. it’s tough to feel hopeful during a week in which a majority of the Senate denied an obvious act of brutal and bald-faced sedition.

It’s easier when you observe that life moves in waves. As one wave inevitably collapses, there is a new wave that is being formed under it. I find hope when I frame what is occurring now in America as the inevitable collapse of patriarchy and imperialism. I find hope when I notice and hold up the many-faceted lights of discovery, learning and self-awareness that are flickering world wide.

We can do this. We are doing this. After all, life is a terrible thing to waste.

Happy Friday.

Personal Development

Resilience can’t be taught. Hope can.

“What we are seeking when we tell someone to be resilient (is that) we want them to realize that things will be better in the future if they only follow these techniques. The trouble is resilience doesn’t really provide a framework for how to develop measurable techniques.

“Hope, on the other hand, does provide a framework.

“Hope is a ‘cognitive-based motivational theory in which [people] learn to create strategies as a means to attain their desired goals. Hope theory has two fundamental cognitive processes termed ‘pathways’ and ‘agency'”.

Dr. Chan Hellman, a leading researcher in the science of hope, names six principles of Hope:

  1. Hope is a way of thinking, not an emotion.
  2. Imagination is the instrument of Hope.
  3. Hope is not wishful thinking.
  4. Hope begets Hope.
  5. Hope is a social gift.
  6. Hope can be taught.

To learn more about Dr. Hellman’s work, visit his website.

Article: Why I Promote the Science of Hope Over Resilience


Changing our minds is hard, even in the most favorable conditions.

“Changing your mind, more often than not, requires you to grapple with your own identity. Admitting that you were wrong feels personal. We have to face the fact that we’ve been walking around the world all this time believing in something that isn’t true. Even worse, we have to admit that we’re the type of person who walks around being wrong. We know what we think of other people who do that—ugh, how embarrassing!

“And yet, how freeing it is to admit we were wrong or that we don’t know something. A weight suddenly lifted from our minds, like telling the truth after holding in a lie. But not only freeing, valuable too. No longer burdened by the need to be right, we have the chance to learn something new, and to better understand the world.

“Psychologist Adam Grant wants to make that freeing feeling easier to come by and the rewards easier to reap. In his latest book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, Grant investigates why we struggle to update our ideas and opinions and how we can get better at it. The book, he writes, ‘is an invitation to let go of knowledge and opinions that are no longer serving you well, and to anchor your sense of self in flexibility, rather than consistency.’”

Book Review: “Your Ideas Are Not Your Identity”: Adam Grant on How to Get Better at Changing Your Mind

Teaching, Diversity

It’s important that Black children feel seen, valued, and loved in their reading lives.

Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul is an author, consultant, and Director of Diversity and Equity at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. She is also the co-founder and co-facilitator of the Institute for Racial Equity in Literacy.

Writing in Chalkbeat, a website that describes itself as providing ‘essential education reporting across America’, she observes that “in this moment in the nation, when anti-Blackness is so widespread, it is especially important for Black children to know that they are precious and brilliant. And one powerful way to affirm Blackness and Black identities is through reading.

“Educator and multicultural scholar Rudine Sims Bishop provides a powerful metaphor for reading. She says that, sometimes, books can serve as mirrors, windows, and sliding-glass doors. Books can help us to see ourselves, look out into the world and learn about the experiences of others, and use our imaginations to become part of the world an author captures or creates.

“An essential part of that metaphor is the way books can serve as mirrors that reflect the racial and cultural identities of the reader. Yet historically and presently, there have been too few books that mirror Black identities — too few books that center Black joy. This was a particular frustration for me, as a Black parent, when seeking out books for my daughter that were a reflection of her lived-experiences and a celebration of Blackness.”

Article: We Need Books That Center Black Joy

Personal Development

Nothing changes until you change it.

Image via Yabangee

Madeline Ashby is a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker and teacher who lives in Toronto. She tweeted this advice on December 31st, 2017. Because it is about the future, it is perennially timely.

“There are lot of lists, this time of year, about what shocked you, or what you should be worrying about. Sometimes there are lists of things you should be excited about, or things to anticipate (usually movies). But they’re always lists, not a single over-arching piece of advice you can follow, like the North Star, from one moment to another.

“So, here it is: talk about the future you want.

“I know this sounds absurdly, comically simple. But it’s also the same advice you’d hear if you were looking for a new job, a new partner, a new place to live, any change you wanted to make: tell people what you want. Tell people what you’re looking for. Tell them you’re on the hunt. Your network can’t help you make it happen unless they know you want it to happen. Nothing changes until you change it.”

Article: This Year, Talk About the Future You Want.

Communication, Writing

“There are very few opportunities in life to have it both ways; semicolons are the rare instance in which you can; there is absolutely no downside.”

Article: The Case for Semicolons

Design, Visual Identity

How to get 4,200 hipster artists to push your brand to their  networks for just $15,000

I’m sorry to be cynical, but Pabst Blue Ribbon isn’t even a brewery. It’s a holding company of ghosts. Owned by an entrepreneur and a SF-based private equity firm, they contract the brewing of over two dozen brands of beer and malt liquor from now defunct breweries including Ballantine, Lone Star, Piels, Schaefer, Schlitz and Stroh.

In spite of their monied pedigree, they’ve become a favorite of hipster bars. To support this affiliation, every year since 2012 they’ve sponsored an annual Art Can Contest. “2020’s submissions saw another outpouring of creativity with over 4,200 entries spanning illustration, graphic design, cartoons and more. With 13 states and 18 cities represented in the Top 25, fans across the country have every reason to get involved and lend their voice to the decision making process by picking their favorite designs online.

“This year’s grand-prize winner will be announced on February 26 and awarded $10,000, and see their art covering over 30 million cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the Fall. Second and third place will receive prizes of $3,500 and $1,500.”

Ahem. If I were the agent for these kids I’d never let them sell a 30 million international run of an original idea for $10,000. Let alone allow all promotional rights for the same measly fee. That is usury.

This week they announced the Top 25. The ideas are great. The exploitation in the name of cool is hard to take.

Article: Pabst Blue Ribbon Reveals Top 25 Finalists for Annual Art Can Contest

Design, Visual Identity

File under: Ouch

Image credit: Catholic Church Archdiocesan Youth Commission

“Bad design can serve a purpose, which is to exist as a lesson on what not to do. Here, we round up 12 ginormous design fails, covering packaging, UI and logo design, which offer us all something to learn from.”

Article: 12 Design Fails That We Can Learn From


Private–Public Infrastructure Partnerships Can Spur a Green Recovery

The Most Gutsy Ad Run During the Super Bowl Might Be Reddit’s 5-Second Spot

We Design Cities and Cities Design Us

Welcome to the Post-Pandemic Dream Home

Shell Says Its Oil Production Has Peaked and Will Fall Every Year



Sina is a drummer who is good enough to have attracted 1.14 million subscribers to her YouTube channel.

Her dad is a musician who, amongst many other accomplishments, has played in a Beatles tribute band, The Silver Beatles, for years. Sina knows The Beatles, and she knows the drums.

In this enthralling video she breaks down song by song what makes Ringo such a great drummer. She plays with the music of The Silver Beatles (who sure sound like The Beatles), so she can replace Ringo’s drumming with her own. She aptly demonstrates how unique Ringo’s style is, and what an integral part his drumming is of the songs we know so well.

“Very few drummers have created so many completely unique sounds and rhythms as Ringo has for so many songs.”

After watching this video you’ll never hear Ringo again without noticing how he integrated the tom-toms into almost every song. And you’ll never think of him again as the least talented Beatle.

Video: What Makes Ringo a Great Drummer


Image of the Week

Pelle Cass is a photographer from Brookline, Massachusetts. A show of his series Crowded Fields opened yesterday at the Abigail Ogilvy Gallery ( in Boston and runs through March 21, 2021.

“In the reshuffled time of this series of composite photographs called Crowded Fields, play prevails over competition, the stands are empty and the fields are full, and whole games are shown out of sequence. Most of the pictures were taken at lightly attended events at pools, fields, stadiums, and arenas around Boston, where I live.

“To make the compositions, I put my camera on a tripod, take up to a thousand pictures, and compile selected figures into a final photograph that is kind of a still time-lapse. I change nothing—not a pixel. I simply select what to keep and what to omit. It all happened precisely as you see it, just not at the same time. Beyond matters of technique and subject matter, I hope to convey the eeriness of time, a feeling of Dionysian chaos, and a sense of play.”

Article: Pelle Cass

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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