Clarity First Newsletter,
January 21, 2022

“I hate writing, I love having written.” – Dorothy Parker

Love & Work

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

What’s so funny about Parker’s quip is that the good feeling of having written is so powerful that it completely negates the feelings of avoidance and dread that preceded the writing.

Perhaps because this letter is more curated than written, I enjoy both the creation and the completion. Here’s what I plucked from the firehose this week.

Happy Friday.

Creative Process

“Starting from a place of quiet reflection and the pleasure of making and experimenting is where a lot of creativity comes from.”

“For me, as a curator, for example, I’m really interested in how illustrators and artists are able to use visuals to capture something about their internal experience, to capture something invisible. Like illustration, in particular, has this incredible ability to visualise the invisible. That’s a power that artists have to be able to put into concrete, physical terms, something that’s so amorphous.

“I also think that there’s a power in transforming one’s own emotion and difficult experiences into something visual, to better understand it, and to also get some distance from it. Because thinking about our own emotions in metaphorical terms and in visual terms, is a form of healing in itself.” – Alexandra Zsigmond

Article: The New Yorker Art Director Alexandra Zsigmond on Experimenting and Finding Your Voice as a Creative


The art of relational management in a fragmented world.

Céline Schillinger

Céline Schillinger observes that “our organizations, and more generally our society, are sick – they make us sick. This is because of a noxious leadership that we continue to perpetuate, revere even, despite all the evidence that it doesn’t work. We keep putting leaders on a pedestal, attributing to them singular virtues, linked to their charisma or to the way they demonstrate a ‘natural’ authority, which places them in our minds – and in organizational charts – above others.

“This view of leadership is a toxic ideology. It hurts people, it hurts organizations, it hurts the planet. It is time to ‘un-lead’: to realize that leadership is first and foremost a collective capacity to be cultivated, whose basic constituent is the relational and emotional fluency, which is served by a very different set of behaviors, including effacing oneself in the collective rather than standing above it. This requires not less effort than the traditional conception of leadership, but more. It is worth it. Un-leadership creates sustainable economic and human value, unlike the extractive model we are used to.”

She’s finishing a book on an alternative to the top-down model. Dare to Un-Lead will be available in the spring and is available for preordering now. Stowe Boyd recently sat down with her to talk about her discoveries and insights.

Author’s Interview: Céline Schillinger, Dare to Un-Lead

Feminist Principles 

Towards a Feminist Tech Policy

“To build just and inclusive digital futures it needs a holistic view of digitalization. A Feminist Tech Policy sheds light on power structures, injustices and the environmental aspects of technology. It questions current innovation narratives and examines the value of maintenance, accessibility, openness and care for the digital societies of the future. A feminist approach helps to think and see beyond existing stories and structures.

“Together with activists, educators, writers, technologists and designers SUPERRR Lab has developed a set of Feminist Tech Principles and a Feminist Tech Card Deck. These elements are the first step towards the development of a Feminist Tech Policy that can be used by policy makers, non-profits and other actors. In the upcoming months of the year 2022 we will work on developing the Feminist Tech Policy further. Enjoy this website and stay tuned for more.”

Project Website: Feminist Tech

How We Work

Co-op Development Today: The Growing Prominence of Worker Cooperatives

“The extent of cooperative business activity varies widely across regions and business sectors. Why have cooperatives been more successful in some areas than others? What are the most important ingredients for creating new co-ops? And how does the newest generation of co-ops differ from previous ones?

“These were some of the questions that my colleagues at the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives and I sought to address in a recent report titled Collective Action in Rural Communities. In that report, we identified 945 cooperatives that were formed between 2011 and 2019, including 195 in rural communities and 750 in urban areas.

“The findings are intriguing, including rapid growth of worker cooperatives and the emergence of sector-specific development strategies. There has been considerable innovation in the field of food co-op development. Additionally, the use of cooperative land ownership has provided increased economic security for tens of thousands of families living in manufactured housing (mobile home) communities. The demographics of who creates co-ops has also shifted. Increasingly, co-ops are being used by people in communities of color—especially Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities—as tools for community wealth building and economic development.” – Courtney Berner

Article: Where Are New Co-ops Emerging? The Changing Map of Co-op Development

Writing, Communications

Recognize their intelligence, and seven others ways to respect readers

Rewrite any snarky buttons or links. Keep them simple.

“How to be a good writer: Write with respect.

“Respect for the craft. And respect for the reader. It’s obvious. But it’s also hard to do — and increasingly rare.

“Lots of companies and digital products don’t respect their audience. They load their interfaces with uninspired headlines, clunky navigation labels, and an inconsistent brand voice. Worse is the new language of ‘growth hacking.’ Deceptive, annoying, occasionally illegal phrasing that’s designed to confuse or mislead.

“Writing with respect is more than the usual digital tropes about ‘being friendly’ or ‘sounding human.’ It’s about recognizing the power of words to influence the way people feel.

“Write with respect.

“There are lots of things you can start focusing on right away. Here’s eight.” – Nick DiLallo

Article: Write With Respect

Your Story

Tips to make your case studies easier to write—and easier to read

“Many people don’t connect writing a case study with writing a story. The words sound so dry and clinical in comparison to the warm embrace of story. A case study is decidedly not cozy, and the subject matter is usually dry. It screams, ‘Take me seriously!’

“But I’m a believer in looking at a case study like a story, especially when it comes to UX disciplines. A good story needs a plot, characters, and a conflict (user pain-points, anyone?) It also requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. When the storyteller leaves these things out, it’s harder for the reader (the hiring manager) to follow along. It’s difficult to understand where the project started, why it happened in the first place, and what the outcome was.”

Article: The Art of Storytelling for Case Studies


Illiteracy is the inability to have equal rights and access.

“Illiteracy is not just the inability to read and write. It’s the inability to have equal rights and access. The campaign brings that to the front with shocking clarity.”

Case Study: Project Literacy


Article: Nobody is Listening to Climate Scientists. What if They Went on Strike?

Article: Jon Stewart to Receive the Mark Twain Prize at the Kennedy Center in April


This week two of my very favorite 90s/aughts bands announced that they are releasing new material from their vaults.

“A new album of Sonic Youth rarities has been announced. In/Out/In compiles unreleased material recorded between 2000 and 2010. The five-song collection will be released on LP, CD, and cassette on March 18. Today, the record’s “In & Out” has been released. Hear it below and scroll down for the tracklist.”

Article and Audio link: New Sonic Youth Rarities Album In/Out/InAnnounced

“Pavement have announced a deluxe reissue of their fifth and final studio album Terror Twilight, which was originally released in 1999. The extensive Terror Twilight: Farewell Horizontal arrives April 8 via Matador, and will feature 45 songs—28 of which will be previously unreleased tracks, in addition to the original album, B-sides, demos, live recordings, rehearsal tapes, and rough tracks from Pavement’s scrapped session at Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon studio. They’ve also shared the previously unreleased ‘Be the Hook.’ Check it out below.”

Article and Audio link: Pavement Announce Deluxe Terror Twilight Reissue, Share New Song: Listen

Image of the Week

The home library of Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Richard Macksey, photographed by Will Kirk, in Baltimore. Dr. Macksey, who passed away in 2019, was a book collector, polyglot and scholar of comparative literature.

“Dr. Macksey’s book collection clocked in at 51,000 titles, according to his son, Alan, excluding magazines and other ephemera. A decade ago, the most valuable pieces — including first editions of ‘Moby Dick,’ T.S. Eliot’s ‘Prufrock and Other Observations,’ and works by Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley — were moved to a ‘special collections’ room on the Hopkins campus. After Dr. Macksey’s death, a S.W.A.T. team-like group of librarians and conservators spent three weeks combing through his book-filled, 7,400-square-foot house to select 35,000 volumes to add to the university’s libraries.

“Surprise discoveries included an 18th-century Rousseau text with charred covers (found in the kitchen), a “pristine” copy of a rare 1950s exhibition catalog showing Wassily Kandinsky’s paintings, posters from the May 1968 protests when students in Paris occupied the Sorbonne, a hand-drawn Christmas card from the filmmaker John Waters, and the original recordings of theorists at a 1966 structuralism conference.”

Apparently the image makes the rounds on the internet at least annually. Early this month author @donwinslow posted it on Twitter, earning 2,210 retweets.

Article: A Library the Internet Can’t Get Enough Of


What’s Love & Work?

Love & Work is 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. For five years, 360 issues, I called this letter Clarity First. But as of this anniversary – August 20, 20121 –  I renamed this labor of love as Love & Work. It will still be a “notebook about how we work, learn, love and live”, but the new name, inspired by a statement by Freud, reflects this mission more accurately. Learn more.

If you get value from Love & Work, please pass it on.

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