Clarity First Newsletter,
March 6, 2020

“It’s exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting, and painful.” – Adrienne Rich

Clarity First

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

Well, this week was certainly confusing, disorienting and scary, too. But as you know I am an optimist, so I take refuge in Adrienne Rich’s assertion that such feelings are the cost of doing business during a time of awakening consciousness.

Here’s a few ideas, observations and learnings I fished out of the firehose. Happy Friday.

Learning, Perspective

Seeing painful events as signs that we’ve lost our way misses the point. The truth is, we are less lost now than when we were comfortable.

Credit: Hernan Pinera / Flickr

This is a reassuring article that provides an important perspective on uncomfortable times. Courtney E. Martin draws a parallel between dead reckoning (“a form of navigation that predated GPS. If a ship, for example, found itself unable to take cardinal cues from the stars, the crew would calculate their position by using a previously known point, and advance that position based upon known or estimated speed and distance”) and the self-reflection that we are engaged in as a society now.”The last few years have been a time of dead reckoning. We’re on high seas: climate change, economic inequality, racism and xenophobia, gun violence, political corruption — we’ve lost celestial direction. Our old constellations are indecipherable, our gods all fallen. Technology won’t save us. Neither will the captains, of industry or otherwise.

“We’ve spent much of the past year collectively looking back in order to look forward. The New York Times’ stunning 1619 Project, asking Americans to revise their most precious history. The protests in Hong Kong, demanding the annulment of a bargain struck years ago in which the city-state pretends to exercise democracy and its overseer pretends to let it. The seemingly endless disclosures of women enduring abusive behavior at the hands of powerful men. Children sitting on the steps of government buildings, banding together to say, ‘You have been reckless with our natural resources. You have turned our borders into battlegrounds. That stops here. We demand a different way.’ This is not just backward indictment. This is future-building.”

“It’s not comfortable — to be lost, to be looking back, to be called out by small children with round faces and watery eyes. In fact, it feels pretty terrible….But we are less lost now than when we were comfortable. The reckoning has woken so many of us up, stripped away pretense and politeness. It is making us more real. It is allowing us to be honest. To grieve. To move forward with solutions to the problems we’ve created with the urgency they deserve.” Her’s is an important viewpoint.

Article: We Are Not Doomed

Corporate Responsibility, Branding

Outdoor clothing company Patagonia is promoting sustainability by educating its customers on how to prolong the life of its products.

“How can we buy less and get more out of what we already own? It’s a question not only for consumers but also for brands that want to continue to grow responsibly. Outdoor clothing company Patagonia is promoting sustainability by educating its customers on how to prolong the life of its products.

“While Patagonia clothing is designed to be tough enough to endure the elements during outdoor exploration, a little wear and tear can occur with prolonged use. Via its Worn Wear initiative, the brand not only accepts and repairs damaged items but also empowers customers to make their own repairs through online tutorials.”

Article: Patagonia Empowers Customers to Make Repairs via Online Sewing Tutorials

Brand Strategy

An overnight success in just 15 years

Image via Linda Gonzales

“There appears to be a national shortage of Purell, due to coronavirus-related fears. The high demand, even in the current circumstances, is a testament to the brand’s clever business strategy in its early days.”

“The Purell story carries three useful lessons for any business owner: First, be persistent. When parent company Gojo first launched Purell in 1988, it was impossible to sell: There were no comparable products on the market, so nobody really knew what it was for. Second, meet your customers or clients where they are. Gojo tailors the positioning and appearance of Purell dispensers to the venue. In grocery stores, you’ll usually find hand sanitizer stations near the entrances and exits. Hospitals? Strategically placed bottles so doctors and nurses can clean their hands while walking to their next patient. And third, be patient. Purell’s slow launch felt agonizing at the time. Yet, it was able to fundamentally change U.S. public-health habits within just 15 years.”

Article: There’s a National Purell Shortage–Which Is Remarkable, Given the Brand’s Origin Story

Diversity, Advertising

The influence inclusive marketing has on consumer behavior

‘Easter So White’ campaign looks to draw attention to lack of diversity in advertising

“The Female Quotient, a women-owned business committed to advancing equality, partnered with Google and Ipsos this past summer to survey nearly 3,000 U.S. consumers of various backgrounds to understand perceptions surrounding diversity and inclusion in advertising. My team and I asked people about the factors they think are important for a brand’s ad campaign to be considered diverse or inclusive. Specifically, we surveyed respondents about 12 categories: gender identity, age, body type, race/ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, skin tone, language, religious/spiritual affiliation, physical ability, socio-economic status, and overall appearance.

We learned that people are more likely to consider, or even purchase, a product after seeing an ad they think is diverse or inclusive (in reference to the 12 categories discussed in this study). In fact, 64% of those surveyed said they took some sort of action after seeing an ad that they considered to be diverse or inclusive.”

Article: Inclusive Ads Are Affecting Consumer Behavior, According to New Research

Learning, Economic Trends

Yup. Amazon et al are too big. Now what do we do?

Benedict Evans is a an analyst who focuses on the strategic and operating issues around consumer technology. Every year he produces “a big presentation digging into macro and strategic trends in the tech industry. This year, ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ looks at what it means that 4bn people have a smartphone; we connected everyone, and now we wonder what the Next Big Thing is, but meanwhile, connecting everyone means we connected all the problems”.

He gave this presentation at an event in Davos in January 2020. It’s a comprehensive survey of where the 21st century economy is and how we got here. His answer to ‘what’s the Next Big Thing?’ is not a new technology, but regulation of the tech we’ve got. And that’s complicated. But he’s got some clear ideas about how to do it right.

PDF: Tech in 2020. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Public Speaking, Presentation

Simple body language tips that will make your presentation more compelling

“When we think of body language, many of us immediately think about hand and arm gestures. But body language is so much more than that — and it’s also something that we should all get comfortable with. By making small, easy tweaks to how we stand, move or even smile, we can help hold an audience’s attention.” Here, communications expert JP Phillips shares 7 body-language tips that anyone can use.”

Article: 7 Ways to be a Better Communicator — by Tweaking Your Body Language

Learning, Personal Development

Habits work better than goals

“The power of habits comes from their automaticity. This is why they are more powerful than goals. Read this article to harness the power of habits.”

Article: Habits vs. Goals: A Look at the Benefits of a Systematic Approach to Life


“In early March 1978, Willie Nelson was atop Billboard’s country albums and country singles charts with friend and frequent duet partner Waylon Jennings. Their Waylon & Willie LP had spawned a massive hit with ‘Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,’ which enjoyed a four-week run at the Number One spot. Nelson, meanwhile, could be seen as sort of taking that song’s message to heart with his follow-up album which, on the surface anyway, would seem to appeal less to cowboys than to ‘doctors and lawyers and such.’ Released April 19th, 1978, Stardust offered Nelson’s interpretations of American pop standards. The album’s first single, Nelson’s passionate reading of the Hoagy Carmichael classic ‘Georgia on My Mind,’ was released March 2nd, 1978, 42 years ago this week.”

Article: Flashback: Willie Nelson, Ray Charles Team Up for ‘Georgia on My Mind’

Image of the week

“Japanese Twitter user @thumb_tani (aka Tanu) has mastered the art of balance. He uses his keen sense of equilibrium to create small, fascinating sculptures from carefully-positioned coins. Although many of us have probably attempted this same sort of coin stacking, Tanu takes these arrangements to a whole new—and totally epic—level.”

Do check out this article. Each one of Tanu’s sculptures is more amazing than the one that just blew your mind.

Article: Japanese Man Masters the Gravity-Defying Art of Stacking Coins

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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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