Clarity First Newsletter,
July 16, 2021

“We live in a time when science is validating what humans have known throughout the ages: that compassion is not a luxury; it is a necessity for our well-being, resilience, and survival.” – Joan Halifax

Clarity First

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

The paradox is that while humans can act selfishly, egotistically and divisively, we can also be compassionate, creative and generous. As you know, I like to celebrate the latter.

Happy Friday.


We don’t yet have a great way to talk about a new spirit of collectivism

by phoenixdiaz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“The relationship between individuals and society has always been framed as a necessary compromise: we are told we must sacrifice our personal goals for the sake of the many. But what if it’s not a zero-sum, either/or? Humans, at our best, are capable of embracing seeming paradox. We push through the contradiction and find a dynamic sensibility on the other side.

“We can think of our newly retrieved collectivism as a way of being both figure and ground at the same time. This is the idealized artistic community envisioned by Burning Man; it’s the politics of consensus that informed Occupy; and it’s the distributed economy aspired to by the one source and blockchain movements – to name just a few.”

Article: We Went From Tribal to Individual. Something Else Must Come Next.


Build compassion and interconnection by seeing your similarities with others.

“We often focus on differences, but realizing that even people who seem very different from us in fundamental ways are just like us, can become the basis of real connection.

“This can include people we don’t know very well, people with whom we’re in conflict, or even people who we see as enemies. It’s possible to develop a sense of compassion and understanding by coming to feel our shared sense of experience as human beings. This practice can help overcome that sense of difference and distrust by opening channels of compassion.”

Article: Common Humanity Meditation

Consumer Choice, Regenerative Economy

“One of the ways that we’ve experienced the pandemic has been with an evolving relationship with how we engage with food.”

Image via Everytable. “Everytable sells fresh, grab-and-go salads, wraps, hot plates and snacks in food deserts such as South LA at prices competitive with fast food; to help make delicious, nutritious food accessible to everyone.”

My very first business was a vegetarian, natural foods cafe in Amherst, MA, a college town. The only jobs I’ve ever held (if you don’t count dishwasher and nighttime cleaning crew) were as distribution manager for a whole grain bakery, and a brand manager for a regional tofu manufacturer. So, this article resonates with me. 

“With shifting food habits, supply chains and levels of access to new information, today’s consumers recognize the urgent need to change how they eat. In order to meet the urgency of this moment, the new BBMG/GlobeScan report, ‘Radically Better Food,’ outlines four imperatives for regenerative food brands.”

Article: Consumers Are Hungry for Regenerative Food Brands

Corporate Social Responsibility

Gen Z and Millennials Speak on the Halo Effect

“Brands that champion environmental sustainability and support marginalized groups (like LGBTQ+ and people of color) are model Halo Effect recipients. But, most importantly, these brands are elevated through conversations among consumers and their friends–a strong indicator that the Halo Effect is not fleeting but instead a strong signal of burgeoning brand loyalty.”

Article: Sanctioned by Consumers

Corporate Social Responsibility

Why current environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings might be meaningless

“Had it not been for the rise of the pandemic’s second wave or the post-election mayhem, Phillip Morris’ addition to a club of companies that are supposed to be doing well on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors might have gotten a bit more attention. After all, the company sells 700 billion cigarettes a year. How could it have joined the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America, one of hundreds of recently created market indexes that track firms purporting to rate well on product safety, greenhouse gas emissions, board diversity, and other ESG factors?

“The reason is simple. The bar for what constitutes a good corporate citizen is abysmally low and may have made ESG investing, arguably the hottest trend in investing today, a greater force for destabilizing society and the planet than if it didn’t exist at all.”

Article: The World May Be Better Off Without ESG Investing


The untapped science of less

“Consider the following questions: Do your resolutions more often start with “I should do more of . . .” than with “I should do less of …”? Do you spend more time acquiring information—whether through podcasts, websites, or conversation—than you spend distilling what you already know?

“How about: Do you add new rules in your household or workplace more often than you take rules away? Have you started more organizations, initiatives, and activities than you have phased out? Do you think more about providing for the disadvantaged than about removing unearned privilege?

“And: Do you have more stuff than you used to? Are you busier today than you were three years ago?

“If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. In our striving to improve our lives, our work, and our society, we overwhelmingly add.

“In each of these situations, we’re all doing essentially the same thing—trying to change things from how they are to how we want them to be. And in this ubiquitous act of change, one option is always to add to what exists, be it objects, ideas, or social systems. Another option is to subtract from what is already there.

“Subtraction is the act of getting to less, but it is not the same as doing less. In fact, getting to less often means doing, or at least thinking, more.”

Abstract: Subtract: Why Getting to Less Can Mean Thinking More

Visual Identity

A visual identity so strong that it works without a name or logo

Speaking of subtraction, and ignoring my interest in local and organic food, regular readers are familiar with my refrain that color is one of the most powerful tools in your visual identity toolbox. MacDonald’s makes the case very succinctly with a poster campaign that doesn’t use their name or logo.

“A minimalist new campaign for McDonald’s uses no logo or brand signature and invites us to decipher which brand it refers to – and it’s not very difficult. Playing on the recognisability of the fast-food chain’s brand and products, the series of four posters teases the opening of a new McDonald’s restaurant in France by showing blown-up 70-pixel abstract images of the most famous items from its menu.

“‘Guess who’s coming to your town?’ reads the only copy in the posters, while knowing that there can be little doubt.”

Article: Can You Guess What These Brilliant Abstract Posters are Advertising?


Article: Study Reveals ‘Effectiveness Dividend’ Created by Diversity in Advertising

Article: The Plastic Problem Isn’t Your Fault, But You Can Be Part Of The Solution

Article: AI Voice Actors Sound More Human Than Ever—and They’re Ready to Hire

Article: The Job Juggle: Gen Z and Millennial Employees Embrace the Concept of ‘Polywork’


“Weaving together dance and candid conversations, Back Beat illuminates the impact of cultural appropriation and the shared experiences of professional Black dancers. Director Tajana B-Williams explores these often private conversations about the dance industry and its intersection with Black culture and mainstream media.

“’Although hip hop was birthed from Black oppression, it has evolved to be a joyous art form that inspires, moves, and motivates people worldwide,’ says the director, whose film comes with heavy servings of Black joy.

“Tajana’s directing style is heavily influenced by her professional dance career. Having worked for many years with artists such as Beyoncé and Janelle Monáe, she has a unique insight into the resilience that’s required to be a commercial dancer.”

Article/Video: Just Dance: Back Beat

Image of the Week

The image of the week is titled “Self-Portrait with Leica,” 1931 by Ilse Bing. It’s one of dozens of images curated in the show named The New Woman Behind the Camera, an inspired and inspiring exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from July 2-Oct. 3. In late October, it moves on to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Curated by Andrea Nelson, of the NGA, the show has been installed at the Met by Mia Fineman.

“The more than 200 pictures on view, taken from the 1920s through the ’50s, let us watch as women everywhere become photo pros. I guess some of their shots could have been snapped by men, but female authorship shaped what these images meant to their contemporaries. It shapes what we need to make of them now, as we grasp the challenges their makers faced.”

Article: Women Who Shaped Modern Photography

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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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