Clarity First Newsletter,
January 17, 2020

“We see with the eyes, but we see with the brain as well. And seeing with the brain is often called imagination.”—Oliver Sacks

Clarity First

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

I like Oliver Sacks’ definition of imagination. We certainly do need to learn to see with our brains. And in spite of myriad missteps and steps backward, we are clearly learning to do so.

Happy Friday, dear reader. Keep on reaching. Keep on learning.

Learning, Leadership

A five-step plan to deal with the stress of climate-change and to become part of the solution.

Evan Cohen

“As an environmental writer, I’m often asked for guidance on coping with climate change. I have thoughts. Even better, I have a five-point plan to manage the psychological toll of living with climate change and to become part of the solution.

“Step 1: Ditch the shame.
Step 2: Focus on systems, not yourself.
Step 3: Join an effective group.
Step 4: Define your role.
Step 5: Know what you are fighting for, not just what you are fighting against.”

Article: How to Stop Freaking Out and Tackle Climate Change

Learning, Sharing

“Strolling and chatting with someone you think you don’t have much in common with can help you make progress on your toughest challenges.”

Adam Kahane, a director of Reos Partners, an international consultancy that helps people move forward on their most intractable issues, says that he relies on a paired walk exercise a lot. “It’s so simple” he says, “and yet it’s one of the exercises that participants say has the biggest impact on their understanding of their situation and their relationships with others. Why is this ordinary activity so fruitful?”

He submits that the Catholic theologian Lucila Servitje offers a good explanation. “She suggests that the walk and the informal sharing of stories has impact because they involve mutual acceptance, and this feeling of being accepted is what enables us to change our thinking and actions. The sequence here — first, we’re accepted, and then we reconsider our position — is the opposite of the traditional Catholic confession, where, first, we confess, and then we’re forgiven. The walk, she says, is like God’s grace: love we receive that we don’t have to earn.”

Article: Walk Your Way to Transformation

Learning, Sharing

“Does your policy or solution work for the people it is intended to help or serve? It is remarkable how often the answer is no.”

“A new class of innovators is advancing the public good by figuring out what people actually need and then testing, improving, and scaling solutions that may already be out there. Here are the four elements of their method.”

Article: The New Practice of Public Problem Solving


Product and content marketing are like beans and cornbread. They are complimentary.

“Product marketing’s goal is to drive demand for a product through a detailed explanation of how the product solves the problem.

Content marketing uses relevant, interesting content to attract an audience. It’s centered around being informative and leading buyers to the conclusion that the brand can solve their challenges.”

Article: Why Content Marketing and Product Marketing are a Match Made in Heaven

Visual Identity

So many logos. So little time.

At the end of the year The Branding Source curated collections of TV logos of the 2010s. But they didn’t stop there. Last week they posted “a summary of the most important logo changes in other media”. In doing so they did acknowledge that the term ‘media’ is “pretty broad…This summary is mostly focused on legacy media and editorial content.”

Article: Logos of the 2010s: Media 

Creative Resources 

Happy Public Domain Day, 2020

“On January 1, 2020, works from 1924 will enter the US public domain,1 where they will be free for all to use and build upon, without permission or fee. These works include George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, silent films by Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, and books such as Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, and A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young. These works were supposed to go into the public domain in 2000, after being copyrighted for 75 years. But before this could happen, Congress hit a 20-year pause button and extended their copyright term to 95 years.”

Article: Public Domain Day 2020

Cool Tool

Cheaper than Amazon, and you might run into a neighbor.

Article: A New Browser Extension Encourages You to Choose Your Local Library Over Amazon


It’s that time of year when one asks questions like “what are my favorite musical acts that I first paid attention to in 2019?”. For me the Boston-born (they met at Berklee College of Music) and Brooklyn based band, Big Thief, is on the top of this list. Lucas Fagen agrees:

“Big Thief have invented a scary, fanciful musical world. The Brooklyn folk-rock band’s two 2019 albums — U.F.O.F., out since May, and Two Hands, out since October — invent an imagined environment with its own internal logic, a densely wooded forest with strange, benevolent creatures lurking in the shadows, hidden machinery creaking under the soil. They also rock, providing a reassuring touch of familiarity.

In December the band promoted both albums with a live concert on KEXP.

“Big Thief have been crafting fragile, noisy rock miniatures since their debut, Masterpiece (2016), on which their warm, rustic sound first emerged in a more rickety, lo-fi context. Thanks to the band’s collective confidence and increasing willingness to pursue weirdness, on the two new albums that sound becomes its own striking, fully developed sonic template. These songs flicker, keyed to the intricate chitchat between Buck Meek’s acoustic and electric guitars, which entwine with a hushed lightness accentuated and often obliterated by blasts of electric noise that eventually subside. Adrianne Lenker’s quavery, bent singing matches this aesthetic vocally. Thus they achieve a skewed balance between energy and calm, a quietly declarative introspection.”

Album: U.F.O.F.

Two Hands

Article: Big Thief’s Haunting Musical Dreamworld

Image of the Week

The image of the week is by art director and collage artist, Mohanad Shuraideh, the creator of my newest favorite Instagram account, @vertigo.artography. His art director day job earns him Cannes Lions for international clients of wealth and taste. His collages use imagery that was designed to lull us to sleep. Instead he wake us up. Yowza.

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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