Clarity First Newsletter, June 22, 2018

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

This week in my meditation group a member spoke of what happens when our leaders lie to us. “We are literally dumbstruck. We are muted by disbelief.” I fear that he is right. While any newswatcher can rattle off the conservative credo, who amongst us has a clue what the elevator speech is for those who believe in dignity and respect for all? Visions of a egalitarian, democratic, and green world are not only very pretty, they are quite doable. So why do stories of the winner-take-all mentality dominate our consciousness? Speaking to power means speaking up.


Socially Conscious Companies

Major companies who are taking a stand against an atrocity

“CEOs generally shy away from wading into political disputes, but the family separation policy is a notable exception.” Money magazine has gathered a who’s who list of CEOs who have taken a stand against the Trump administration’s policy of systemic child abuse.
Article: ‘Heartless, Cruel, Immoral.’ Every Major CEO Who Condemned Trump’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Border Policy


Socially Conscious Companies

What was she thinking?

“In the wake of Melania Trump’s Thursday “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” stunt…Chicago-based Upworthy/Good writer Parker Molloy grabbed the web domain. She then created a social-media splash image for it and initiated a redirect to an existing donation page titled Support Kids at the Border (“Chip in to critical groups working to protect kids separated from their families by ICE”) set up by Run for Something co-founder Amanda Litman. And by Thursday evening, a benefit “I REALLY DO CARE, DON’T U?” T-shirt was introduced by Upworthy/Good’s Public Service Apparel Co.”
Article: Set Up To Counter Melania Trump’s Jacket Stunt

Change and Transition

Roughly 25% of people need to take a stand before large-scale social change occurs.

“This idea of a social tipping point applies to standards in the workplace, and any type of movement or initiative.”
Article: Research Finds Tipping Point for Large-scale Social Change

Personal Development

“The root of suffering is the illusion of our separateness. We’ve forgotten that we’re all interrelated.”

In 1999 Margaret Wheatley and Pema Chödrön met to discuss how we can learn to develop the courage that modern life requires. They both agreed that we can learn to trust ourselves more if we first simply notice how confusing and chaotic life is. “Margaret Wheatley: In your book When Things Fall Apart, you quote Trungpa Rinpoche as saying that this is a dark time when people lose faith in themselves and so lack courage. To me, that’s a very clear statement of what’s going on now, because we are at a point where we feel very badly about who we are as a species. There is all this self-loathing and the messages we give each other are filled with what’s wrong with us. Whether it’s at the individual or organizational level, we’re focused on pathology and use a lot of very negative terms to describe our experience.”
Article: Courage Starts With Uncertainty


The best of what other people have already figured out

Farnam Street has a delightfully clear mission statement: “Farnam Street (FS) is devoted to helping you develop an understanding of how the world really works, make better decisions, and live a better life. We address such topics as mental models, decision making, learning, reading, and the art of living.”

Their bredth is so broad that they feared that readers might be confused. So they took the time to understand and articulate their principles too. “All that we write about, think about, and strive to achieve is inspired by one or more of the following principles. We hope they offer some clarity about what our community believes, and perhaps some direction as you carve your own path.” Their advice is relevant to all of us, as students, teachers or leaders.
Article: Farnam Street Principles


The problem with public domain is that you get to see how dumb so much public work is.

For example, check out National Security Agency (NSA) security/motivational posters from the 1950s and 1960s. It’s a giant pdf of 135 posters that the NSA produced to educate and inspire Americans about their role in keeping national secrets secret. I’m imagining that these adverts were hung in the post office, right next to the Wanted posters. I’m thinking that the Wanted posters got a whole lot more attention. But hey, now they’re free. While you’re there, check out the entire catalog of public domain property that this website gathers and shares. Pack a lunch. It could take some time.

Personal Productivity

“Not-to-do” lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance.

“The reason is simple: what you don’t do determines what you can do. Here are nine stressful and common habits that entrepreneurs and office workers should strive to eliminate.”
Article: The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now


How do some of the most successful brands in the world tell their own stories, and then incite their customers to act?

The folks at Brand Trust have uncovered how loyalists feel about 10 of the US’s top brands. Then they explored how these brands’ used their ads to tell these stories to their audiences. This in-depth article explains what a brand story looks like, how brands’ ads reinforce their stories, and how you can create ads that tell your brand story.
Article: The Keys to Successful Brand Stories

Value Proposition

If brands and advertising have become less useful as tools to both companies and consumers, how can businesses grow?

“Attention has become discretionary. The interruptive power of ads has diminished and people are obviously opting out of what doesn’t interest them.” The simplest answer to this reality is to deliver continuous improvement to product and service, to tell a relevant story, and to earn true attention with content that you’d want to read or watch yourself.
Article: The Principles of Post-Advertising



The singer Chris Connell killed himself a little more than one year ago, in May. For Father’s Day this year his 13-year old daughter, Toni, posted this cover of Prince’s Nothing Compares to You that she had recorded with him. She put it on his YouTube channel, with this note:
I love you and miss you so much. You were the best father anyone could ask for.  Our relationship was so special, and you were always there for me. You gave me courage when I didn’t have any.  You believed in me when I didn’t.  I miss your love everyday.  Recording this song with you was a special and amazing experience I wish I could repeat 100 times over and I know you would too. Happy Father’s Day daddy, nothing compares to you.
– Toni

Sometimes only a good cry will do.


Image of the Week

The image of the week is attributed to John Minchillo—AP. That’s Keira Phair, of Westchester, Ohio, holding a rainbow flag during the Cincinnati Pride parade on June 27, 2015. Next Monday, on the 25th of June, the rainbow flag turns 40. “With a budget of $1,000, artist and drag performer, Gilbert Baker, designed the first rainbow flag in San Francisco…Baker sewed two giant banners at the Gay Community Center on Grove Street and first unfurled them during the Gay Freedom Day parade in United Nations Plaza on June 25, 1978.”

Gilbert Baker, aka “Busty Ross” leading the pack at the Stockholm Pride Festival. (AP Photo/Pressens Bild/Fredrik Persson)

“Born in rural Kansas, Baker mastered sewing by making his own drag costumes. He had about 30 volunteers to help him dye, stitch, and iron the cotton fabric for the original flags. Baker and his conspirators even finished the dye process in a public laundromat, against regulations.” Now in the permanent collection at MoMA, the flag has become a universally recognized symbol of diversity, inclusion and celebration.
Article: “We Needed Something Beautiful.” The Fabulous Story Behind the Rainbow Flag

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony. I help mission-driven companies use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as powerful tools for transformation. Learn more.

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