Clarity First Newsletter,
June 11, 2021

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”                                  – Joseph Cambell

Clarity First

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

Here in New England our flower gardens are in full bloom. Bellflowers, sundrops, roses, catmint, dianthus, peonies, foxglove, and spiderwort carpet the land. Flowering trees make the air smell spicy sweet. There are a pair of nesting robins directly outside of our bedroom window, and as of two weeks ago today, we have our first grandchild. Welcome to the world Evelyn Wing-Som Anthony, beautiful daughter of Esther Yan and Devan Anthony. 

Happy Friday. 

Work Culture, Organizational Health

It’s time for feminism to become the leading organizing principle within companies.

The Worker Wellbeing Lab members and guests during an open house gathering.

“Chastened by the realities laid bare by the pandemic, a lot of companies are embracing fresh-start affirmations and promising newly enlightened, gentler, more equitable workplaces.

“Let’s imagine we can take these pledges at face value. Perhaps leaders are finally tired of the dominant workplace model, what sociologists call masculinity contest culture,” which rewards extreme confidence, the stamina to work long hours, dog-eat-dog competition, and the prioritization of work above all else, including family and friends. Or perhaps that they at least see that this type of culture is tiring other people out, even driving them to quit at record numbers.

“If so, this could be an opening for a move in the exact opposite direction, toward a more relational culture. That’s how M. Gloria González-Morales, an organizational psychologist at Claremont Graduate University, describes her preferred framework when she is speaking to an audience of corporate executives. What she actually means, and often feels she can’t say in such environments, is that it’s time for feminism to become the leading organizing principle within companies.”

Article: How to Run a Feminist Company

Circular Economy, Sustainability

Big companies are behind the Business Alliance for Scaling Climate Solutions (BASCS), to increase the scale and impact of business investment in climate solutions.

“While significant momentum exists and many organizations are already working with funding from businesses to deploy climate solutions, BASCS offers an opportunity to help connect and support these initiatives and the surrounding community of practice by providing a central, neutral platform for businesses and experts to meet, learn, discuss and act together.”

Article: More Corporate Giants Join Forces to Improve, Scale Business Investments in Climate Solutions

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Thank Sophia Thoreau, Henry David Thoreau’s sister, for finishing much of his work.

Sophia Thoreau via Wikimedia Commons

“The early editions of Henry David Thoreau’s posthumous publications listed no editors. Later, early Thoreau biographers credited Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ellery Channing with putting these editions together and seeing them through publication. But actually, as literature scholar Kathy Fedorko tells us, this work was accomplished by Thoreau’s executor: his sister, Sophia Thoreau.”

“…During his life, Henry published two books, Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. This makes the great majority of his work posthumous. It wasn’t until the definitive edition of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, a project inaugurated in 1966 and still ongoing (seventeen of a projected twenty-eight volumes have been published by Princeton University Press), that credit started to be given to Sophia Thoreau in earnest rather than to Emerson or Channing.”

Article: Sophia Thoreau to the Rescue!

Branding, Creative Process

Why most marketing is a money Pit and a failure

Donald Miller had me at the word “clarify”. If you sell anything, whether it is an idea, a service or a product, you will return to this easy to use how-to book again and again.

“In his book, Building a StoryBrand, Donald Miller is on a mission to help you clarify your message, develop quality websites, incredible keynotes, emails that get opened and sales letters people respond to. He does this because he knows that business, through the solutions they serve their customers, can change the world for the better. However, he knows that quality products and services on their own are not enough. As entrepreneurs, we’re not just in a race to get our products to market; we’re also in a race to communicate why our customers need our products in their lives. The clarity of our offer is what separates the winners from the losers in business.

“The reason most marketing collateral is a waste of money and doesn’t work is that the marketing is too complicated. Our brains don’t process the information. The more simple and predictable the communication format, the easier it is to digest. Story is so effective as a communication framework because it is a sense-making mechanism. It makes music out of the noise.

“All stories have essentially the same flow…and we’ve been hearing them since we were babies and our moms our dads read us storybooks. Hence, this communication conveyed in a story format puts everything in order for us so our brains don’t have to work to understand what’s going on. Now, don’t you want to develop that sort of enjoyable communication experience that delights and engages your customers?”

Book Review: Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

Social Messaging

Group to spend millions on “I Love Working Downtown” campaign

Workers build an outdoor patio at a restaurant in downtown Montreal, Quebec, on June 5. 
Photographer: Christinne Muschi/Bloomberg

“Even as the city reopens after months under curfew, Montrealers have grown fond of working remotely: 76% said in an April survey they want to continue to spend at least half their workweek at home. At the same time, employers are rethinking the raison d’etre of the office and considering new perks.”

“’…This really is a major charm offensive,” Chamber President Michel Leblanc said in an interview. ‘The goal is to get people to say ‘I want to go downtown, I’m going to work and discover all that’s going on, all that’s new.’”

Article: Montreal Plots ‘Charm Offensive’ to Lure Workers Downtown

Related Article: The Future of Downtowns Still Hangs in the Balance

Circular Economy, Design Thinking

“By harnessing design thinking, it’s possible to make human-centered recycling systems a reality.”

Matrix 4 Artist In Residence Eric Heubsch Turns ‘Waste’ Into Art | Matrix 4/Instagram

“Recycling is complicated. A complex web of value chains, local governments, and informal and formal economy players often makes recycling a confusing system for many people.

“Yet, people are the cornerstone of making the recycling system work. Consumers are the catalysts for driving the increased demand for recycled goods, as well as ensuring there is enough recyclable material in the supply chain by properly sorting and disposing of their waste at home.

“Ensuring recyclability starts with putting people at the forefront to develop new systems and materials to create a continuous lifecycle for plastics. We need to design systems for humanity.”

Article: Designing for Humanity: New Possibilities for Plastic


“My brand strategy is to survive freelancing.”

“Overall, a personal brand must arise from and distill your authentic self. Check! I can honestly say I am terrified.”

Article: My Personal Brand Is I Don’t Want To Die



Article: Queers Leading the Way to Tourism Recovery

Article: In Honor of the New York Public Library’s 125 Anniversary, the Institution Calculated the 10 Most Borrowed Books of All Time

Article: You Won’t Find the Hardcover of Dave Eggers’s Next Novel on Amazon



On July 30 the Prince Estate will release Welcome 2 America, the first complete album from his vaults since his death. Last week they released a single from the work that was completed in 2010, titled Born 2 Die.

The song has a cool backstory. Prince reportedly had an intensively competitive spirit. He was triggered when Dr. Cornell West said during a lecture: “I love my brother Prince, but he’s no Curtis Mayfield.”

“Oh yeah?” he said with this song. “I’ll show you.”

This might be why you hear Curtis’ spirit in this beautiful song. Curtis, Prince, we miss you. You both continue to inspire us.

Video: Prince: Born 2 Die.


Image of the Week

The image of the week is titled In England (Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight). It was painted by Berthe Morisot in 1875, while on a seaside honeymoon.

Berthe Morisot: Self-Portrait, 1885. Courtesy The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, and Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris. Photo Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, and Bridgeman Images.

“Widespread recognition is arriving over a century late for Berthe Morisot, a true innovator who died at the height of her promise. She was a founding member of Impressionism, whose marquee names counted themselves as both admirers and friends. But, unlike her peers, whose more experimental inclinations were tempered by a need to please patrons, her canvases bear vivacious brushstrokes and unusual figuration which nearly leapfrogged Impressionism to abstraction. She featured prominently in every annual Impressionist exhibitions, except one that she missed because she was recovering after the birth of her daughter.

“These shows were generally met with acclaim. Critic Paul Mantz wrote in his review of the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877 that ‘there is only one true Impressionist in the whole revolutionary group—and that is Mlle Berthe Morisot.’ Yet Morisot’s gender also played a role in how she was perceived. Writers in her day used terms like ‘flirtatious’ and ‘charming’ to describe her work; neither were labels given to the paintings of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and others.

“Even today, there are still hints of sexism in the ways Morisot is discussed. In 2018, when the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia mounted the first U.S. retrospective devoted to her, it was subtitled ‘Woman Impressionist’. (‘Imagine a parallel case: say, ‘Georges Braque: Man Cubist’, quipped the New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl.) Although that traveling retrospective did a lot to ensure Morisot’s place in art history, the artist is still lesser-known than her male colleagues. Reviewing the 2018 exhibition, art historian Carol Strickland asked, ‘Why does her popularity lag so far behind that of artists in Impressionism’s boys’ club, who seem to have blockbuster exhibitions every year?’”

Article: Berthe Morisot, Impressionism’s Most Relentless Innovator, Is Finally Receiving Her Due

This week In England (Eugène Manet on the Isle of Wight) was the subject of a smart interactive critique in the NYT.

Article: The Impressionist Art of Seeing and Being Seen

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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