Clarity First Newsletter,
January 22, 2021

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Clarity First

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

This week it was an elegant coincidence that Americans celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., and the inauguration of a competent, caring, informed, empathetic, and honest federal leadership team.

Hallelujah. Happy Friday.


“Violence solves no social problems; it merely creates new and more complicated ones.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in D.C. in January 2018. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

In January of 1957 Martin Luther King Jr. was awaiting the imminent publication of an essay he had contributed to Christian Century, a weekly magazine. The “pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., had spent the previous year helping to lead a boycott of the city’s buses to force an end to racially segregated seating. As he told the editor of the magazine, successful completion of the boycott had given King ‘a little time off to do some much needed writing.’

“’The basic question which confronts the world’s oppressed is: How is the struggle against the forces of injustice to be waged? There are two possible answers,’ the young minister wrote. ‘One is resort to the all too prevalent method of physical violence and corroding hatred. The danger of this method is its futility. Violence solves no social problems; it merely creates new and more complicated ones.’

“King offered an alternative he called ‘nonviolent resistance,’and the rest of the essay laid the framework he would use in subsequent books and speeches to explain the deceptively complex idea. As practiced by Mohandas Gandhi in pursuit of India’s independence, nonviolence ‘is not a method for cowards; it does resist,’ King wrote. ‘The nonviolent resister is just as strongly opposed to the evil against which he protests as is the person who uses violence.'”

Article: After the Capitol Riot, Remembering the Power of Nonviolence

Corporate Social Responsibility

Reflecting on a chaotic 2020, Gen Z is perfectly clear about one thing: today’s brands must stand up for what is right.

Image of the 14/6/09 protest at the London Iranian Embassy, against the electoral fraud committed by re-elected President Ahmadinejad against challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi by Jason, via CC.

“You may not recognize the name Peter Kuli, at first blush, but you definitely know his impact on pop culture. In October 2019, Kuli (a college sophomore) remixed a friend’s audio clips into a music track that he then uploaded to TikTok. The name of the song? ‘OK boomer.’ His tweet about the song ignited a new trend and within a few weeks, tens of thousands of ‘OK boomer’-themed TikTok videos flooded the Gen Z-dominated platform.

“Not long after, New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz published an article that catapulted ‘OK boomer’ to the mainstream, codifying the point-of-view of a new generation. Gen Z has reached a boiling point over issues like racism, gender inequality, college debt, climate change and gun violence. ‘OK boomer’ became, as Kuli called it, a ‘digital middle finger’—not against baby boomers en masse but against a perceived mindset of ignorance and inaction.

“Enter 2020. Gen Zers now have their digital middle fingers armed and ready to flip off brands who hold that same ‘Boomer’ mindset. The events of the past year have deeply impacted Gen Z, a group that is coming of age at the intersection of a global pandemic, a reinvigorated Black Lives Matter movement, and a not-so-peaceful transition of presidential power.”

Article: From ‘Ok Boomer’ to ‘Ok Brand’—How to Align with Gen Z’s Social Conscience


“Our communities feel a sense of power when politicians listen more to our experiences than they do to their fear of antagonizing the white nationalists who attacked our democracy both on January 6 and countless times before.”

Photo Credit: Nina Montenegro for Opportunity Agenda via

“The coup attempt that culminated in a white power riot must face swift, severe consequences and the inauguration must proceed. But the change we need in 2021 is about far more than just changing leaders at the White House. There’s another transfer of power that has begun—from the elites to the communities, and this deeper power shift must be fully realized to achieve a just transformation of our society.

“Sounds like a big task, and it is. If we want to know how, we ought to listen to Black women. They know how because they’re doing it already.”

Article: Transfer of Power: The Deeper Shift We Need

Personal Development, Collective Vision

Imagining a better future whether it includes gigantic house parties or just more hugs, helps humans cope with difficult times.

“Teddy Johnson has a very clear fantasy for what he’s going to do the day the pandemic is ‘over’ — whatever that day might look like, and whenever it may be.

“He’s banking on the day being sunny, perhaps the temperature of early summer. ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)’ by Whitney Houston will be playing everywhere — on the streets of New York City, where he lives; on the subway; and definitely in the club where Mr. Johnson will gather with all his friends. He will wear a cropped white tank top with speckles of paint all over it with his favorite pair of tight bell-bottoms and stunner sunglasses.

“’I can’t wait to dance with my friends,’ said Mr. Johnson, 28, over the phone from his apartment in Manhattan. It won’t erase the pain of last year, which was compounded for Mr. Johnson by the loss of his job, but the dance floor fantasy is soothing — something to look forward to. ‘Dancing is as important to me as water,’ he said. ‘Thinking about getting on a dance floor with the people I love is getting me through this stay-at-home life.’

“Mr. Johnson’s fantasy may seem premature — most of us won’t be rushing back to a crowded dance floor, no matter how much we miss it — but experts say that fantasizing, forward thinking and using one’s imagination are powerful tools for getting people through difficult times.”

This, btw, is why I fantasize about a world in which we all support and benefit from an economy that works for everyone. This is why I help clients envision: “Where do you want to be in five years?”.

Article: Go Ahead. Fantasize.

Communications, Graphic Design

What the communications environment will look like this year

Adobe just released their 2021 Visual & Creative Trends Report. “The look into the very near future highlights the key themes that the firm predicts will drive this year’s design throughout the world of all things visual, motion, and even audio.

“’Design always evolves as a response to the cultural climate and what people are experiencing, so as COVID-19 continues to impact aspects of human interaction, we’ll see its long-term ripple effects on the technology, themes, and aesthetics of design,” says Brenda Milis, principle of creative and consumer insights at Adobe. ‘The acceleration of virtual communication and connections during this time is not only leading to a social media-first mentality but also wider adoption of innovative design mediums and tools’.”

Posting in Dieline, Rudy Sanchez did a really good job of summarizing the findings.

Article: Adobe Releases 2021 Visual & Creative Trends Report


The pharmacy was an old, calcified institution when Eric Kinariwala developed a digital, delivery-based business model. Then he needed to give it a personality.

Illustration by Grey Thornberry

“Your mom.

“That’s whom Eric Kinariwala wants his online pharmacy, Capsule, to feel like.

“‘Everybody needs some looking after sometimes,’ Kinariwala says on Inc.’s What I Knowpodcast. ‘That’s what we’ve really built the whole business around.’

“He says if your mother were a pharmacist, and you were her only patient, she would make sure you knew how to take your medication. You could text her with questions. She’d make sure you got the best price. She’d make sure you never ran out. And of course, she’d bring it right to your door. ‘Digitizing that idea has always been the driving force of the consumer experience and the brand and what we set out to do in the early days,’ Kinariwala says.”

Article: Capsule CEO: Make the Friendliest, Most Human Brand Possible

Personal and Collective Development

Focus on what you can control, instead of what you cannot. You cannot control goals. But you can work on your systems to achieve those goals.

“Take care of the inputs, and the outputs will take care of themselves. This is an ingeniously simple and, at the same time, a profound statement.”

Article: Why Goals Don’t Work as We Expect

Neuroplasticity and Mindfulness

Now Climate Change Needs a Warp Speed.

A Continually Updated List of How Marketers and Media Players are Responding to Recent Events

Privacy-Friendly Alternatives to Facebook That Don’t Track You

Of Hemp’s Many Uses, One of the Most Promising Could be in Construction



Video: Luminous Voices – The Road Home by Stephen Paulus

“For members of Luminous Voices, a professional choir ensemble in Alberta, Canada, rehearsing and performing safely during the pandemic has meant getting into their cars, driving to an empty parking lot and singing with each other’s voices broadcast through their car radios.

“This ‘car choir’ solution is one that college music professor David Newman — an accomplished baritone himself in Virginia — came up with so that ensembles could sing and ‘be’ together.

“‘I saw on my Facebook feed was friends either bemoaning the fact that we couldn’t sing together at all, or saying “Singing together is too important and we just have to do it no matter what,”‘ Newman tells NPR. ‘And I thought, neither of those is a good answer.’

“Newman’s method uses a few simple tools — microphones, a mixer and an FM transmitter.

“He started by getting some friends together in the spring to experiment with singing, isolated in their cars, their voices connected by wireless microphones attached to a mixer.

“After some thinking, a lightbulb went off: attach an FM transmitter to the mixer. That allowed the singers’ voices to be broadcast back into their cars through the radio, without a discernable delay.

His YouTube videos about the process caught the attention of many singers and choir leaders. Newman figures about 20 choirs are using their cars and car radios for rehearsals — including Luminous Voices. The ensemble’s founder and conductor, Tim Shantz, says this new way of singing together filled a void.”

Article: Car Concerts Offer Choirs A Way To Rehearse And Perform


Image of the Week

“Lake Nukabira, located in central Hokkaido, has become a fantastical canvas for one of nature’s most artistic phenomenons. Gas and other substances at the bottom of the lake freeze as they rise to the surface, becoming trapped in multiple layers and creating a multi-dimensional installation of ‘ice bubbles’.

“The region itself gets heavy snowfall so the ice bubbles typically remain hidden to everyone. But this year the phenomenon has shown itself and photographers have been flocking to the lake to capture the rare sight.”

Some of Spoon & Tomago’s favorites are curated in this article.

Article: Magical Ice Bubbles Appear on the Surface of Lake Nukabira in Hokkaido

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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