Clarity First Newsletter,
January 31, 2020

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

Clarity First

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

Here’s some of the ideas and learnings that I fished out of the data stream this week. Happy Friday.

Learning, Media Literacy, Citizenship

Another thing Finland is getting right

“Finland has faced down Kremlin-backed propaganda campaigns ever since it declared independence from Russia 101 years ago. But in 2014, after Moscow annexed Crimea and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, it became obvious that the battlefield had shifted: information warfare was moving online.”

“As the trolling ramped up in 2015, President Sauli Niinisto called on every Finn to take responsibility for the fight against false information. A year later, Finland brought in American experts to advise officials on how to recognize fake news, understand why it goes viral and develop strategies to fight it. The education system was also reformed to emphasize critical thinking.”

Students in Valentina Uitto’s social studies class research the issues at play in the upcoming EU elections as part of their critical thinking curriculum.

Today Finland ranks first out of 35 countries in a study measuring resilience to the post-truth phenomenon.

Article: Finland Is Winning the War on Fake News. What It’s Learned May Be Crucial to Western Democracy.

Personal Development, Social Connection

The science is in: social connection improves physical health and mental and emotional well-being.

“We all think we know how to take good are of ourselves: eat your veggies, work out and try to get enough sleep. But how many of us know that social connection is just as critical?

” One landmark study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.

“On the other hand, strong social connection:

– leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity
– strengthens your immune system(research by Steve Cole shows that genes impacted by loneliness also code for immune function and inflammation)
– helps you recover from disease faster
– may even lengthen your life!”

Article: Connectedness & Health: The Science of Social Connection
Tedx Talk: The Power & Science of Social Connection: Emma Seppälä TEDx

Learning, Media Design

The child psychologist who helped shape “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” 

“Nearly everyone knows about Fred Rogers, the beloved host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” who taught millions of children about love, kindness and the magic of make believe. But far fewer people are familiar with Margaret McFarland, the child psychologist who mentored him and helped shape his groundbreaking television show.”

“She and Rogers met nearly every week to discuss scripts and songs that Rogers had written. Her advice became so valuable to Rogers that he took “extensive handwritten notes” and recorded their meetings on audiocassettes, ‘which I often overheard him replaying in his office,’ recalled Arthur Greenwald, a producer and writer who worked with Rogers.”

Article: Overlooked No More: Margaret McFarland, Mentor to Mister Rogers

Purpose, Brand Promise, Advertising

Big box, big responsibility

You know those minutes (and sometimes hours) when you are just waking but you are still moving between the dream state and awake state? While tossing and turning this Tuesday morning, I noticed myself thinking about Ikea. (Really, I care about this stuff.) In mid-toss I considered Ikea’s less than stellar eco-footprint. My brain said “It’s cool. They know the power the’ve earned. They are going to use it responsibly.”

That same evening I stumbled upon this article. It seems that they do know, from the bottom-line up, that the only economy that wins is a truly circular economy, and they are acting on it. While we may still be trashing cheap furniture in a land-fill, I won’t be forever. They are designers.  They figured out how to pack it flat in a box. I know they can figure out how to make it green.

Article: Ikea Puts Purpose First in New Campaign Designed to Tell More of Its Brand Story


How should we think about our thinking and make it more accurate? The virtue of intellectual humility

“David Dunning, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, has devoted much of his career to studying the flaws in human thinking.”

About what he’s learned along the way he says: “If there is a psychological principle that I think people should know more about, it’s the principle of naive realism. [It means that] even though your belief about the way the world is just seems so compelling or so self-evident, it doesn’t mean that it really is [true].

“Whenever we reach a conclusion, it just seems like it’s the right one. In fact, a lot of what we see and conclude about the world is authored by our brains. Once you keep that in mind, hopefully, it does give you pause, to think about how you might be wrong, or to think about how another person might have a case. And you might want to hear them out.”

Article: An Expert on Human Blind Spots Gives Advice on How to Think


From the future of third-party cookies, to the dearth of digital talent, there is plenty of opportunity and challenge in digital marketing this year.

“While everything from TV to SEO has been pronounced dead, the apocalyptic marketing prediction will live forever.

“I also add the caveat that I recognize digital is not everything for marketers, however tightly marbled in the multichannel sausage it is nowadays.”

Article: This Year’s Predictions from the Digerati

Identity Design

When you rip the moral rudder from the Constitution you can accuse the Chinese of stealing IP while you steal IP.

The new Space Force logo (left) and the Star Trek logo for Starfleet Command (images via White House and Wikipedia)

Last week President Trump unveiled the new logo for the US Space force. Gee, I feel like I’ve seen this before. But our leader would never take credit for something he didn’t do, would he?

Article: New US Space Force Logo Looks a Lot Like Star Trek‘s Starfleet Logo


This week I got an email that every music-loving parent cherishes: a shout-out from one of our kids for a band he knew I would like.

Our son Devan’s subject line dropped an F-bomb, followed by the words “This is good”. His note was short: “The whole band is super tight and vibing well. And the lead singer has a funny delivery style – it’s like the music is singing her, and sometimes surprises her with what’s coming out of her mouth. And, she throws in a powerful progressive call to action for white people in the middle of it.”

He led me to Moonchild’s Tiny Desk Concert, and I was in love before the title cards were done. This is Neo-Soul, meaning that it feels really, really familiar, but you’ve never, ever heard it before. It is so brand new and comfortable at once.

Moonchild – “The Truth” (Official Music Video)

This is soothing music for jangled times. The musicians’ calm and natural grace reminds me that humans are way smarter and way cooler than our leaders. And that some of us can conjure music and groove that connects and heals.

Video: Moonchild, NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Article: Everyone from Jill Scott to 9Th Wonder is a Fan of L.A. Neo-Soul Trio Moonchild

Image of the week

The image of the week is of two snowflake crystals. The image was shot Wilson Bently.

“‘Snowflake Bentley’ was born and raised on a farm in Jericho, Vermont. At the age of 15, he received a microscope from his mother, and he soon became obsessed with the idea of illustrating snowflakes for the public. However, drawing the snowflakes was nearly impossible since they melted far too quickly. Thus, Bentley decided to photograph the snowflakes. He obtained a bellows camera, and he attached it to his microscope. Realizing that he could not look through the viewfinder and make adjustments to the focus of the microscope simultaneously, Bentley created a set of extenders that permitted him to stay behind the camera at all times, while still fine-tuning the microscope.

“On January 15, 1885, at the age of 19, Bentley successfully photographed his first snowflake. Over the course of his lifetime, he would photograph more than 5,000. While he is not officially credited with taking the first photograph of a snowflake, his life’s work is unrivaled. A pioneer in photomicrography, Bentley’s photographs were so precise that his images continued to appear in NatureNational GeographicEncyclopedia Britannica, and Popular Science for decades after his demise. His eye-opening book Snow Crystals is still in print today. His original albumen prints and negatives are owned by the Smithsonian Institute and the Buffalo Museum of Science.”

Book Review: Snow Crystals

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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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