Clarity First Newsletter, May 17, 2019


Clarity First

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

This week I.M. Pei, the architect credited with making modern architecture friendly and approachable to a wide audience, died at the age of 102. A deep bow to you and your work, Mr. Pei. You are so right, “The simpler the solution, the more powerful it is.” You left the world a far more interesting place than you found it.


Personal Development
A conscious focus on blessings may have “emotional and interpersonal benefits”.

Last week Danielle La Porte posted a statement on Instagram. She began:
“Gratitude is a quality of the heart… that’s good for your brain chemistry. Science! University of California, Davis studied people who kept a weekly gratitude list compared to people who kept a list of things that irritated them. And whaddaya know!? They concluded that “a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.”

She finished by saying: “We can conclude: Appreciation is a form of wellness.
“So in service of your joy and health, I love these 5 questions for even deeper gratitude…

And this is where Tina Roth Eisenberg comes in, who brought these questions, and this post, to my attention. I so appreciate both of these people who show us what we’re doing right, day after day, week after week.


Personal Development
“Doing what is worth doing”, not happiness, might be the source of our deepest contentment.

“Research shows that we should slightly relegate happiness as the transcendent goal and prioritize finding, feeling, and acting on our sense of purpose. In a time when so many of us are living with a chronic feeling of dread and uncertainty, purpose may be the very thing that gets us up and gets us going every day. Purpose gives us hope, and without hope, we cannot expect happiness for ourselves or for our children.”

Article: Looking for happiness? Try purpose instead


Purpose, Mission, Values
The importance of a clear, socially useful mission.

“When ‘purpose’ is only a statement in the Corporate Social Responsibility report, it’s only a matter of time before the real purpose of the enterprise is revealed. Consider Enron. Wells Fargo. Facebook. And now, we have Boeing. In a searing expose in The New York Times, reporters make a strong case that the problems at the company go much deeper than bad design on the 737 Max.

Article: Boeing’s Muddled Mission Statement Foretold the Company’s Current Crisis 


Organizational Health, Personal Development
The power of ritual is profound and under-appreciated.

“Imagine if we started each meeting with a recognition of the power of bringing a group of people together to collaborate and an intention to dedicate ourselves, without distraction, to achieving the goals of the meeting. Perhaps even an acknowledgement that each person’s views, goals, and priorities are important and need to be heard. Of course, that would require that every meeting have a clear goal, an agenda, and a purpose. But those are just nice side benefits.

“What if every performance review began with a short thought about the importance of clear and open communication? If every time we worked on a spreadsheet someone else created for us, we paused to acknowledge the complexity of the work she did and the attention to detail she brought to it? If at the beginning of the day we paused to honor the work we are about to do and the people with whom we are about to do it?”

Article: The Value of Ritual in Your Workday


Creative Process, Personal Development
“We could all use some gentle pep talks to encourage us to practice self-confidence, accept our imperfections, trust our instincts, and work hard to make our dreams come true.”

Bob Ross was an American painter who created and hosted the instructional TV show The Joy of Painting. For eleven years, from 1983 until 1994, it aired regularly on PBS. Karen Corday has curated five episodes of the show to watch “when you need Bob Ross to set you straight, kindly and lovingly”.

Article: Feeling Down? Here Are the Best Bob Ross Pep Talks


Marketing Communications
Treating customers with respect earns you trust and loyalty.

“Buyer personas — because they inherently generalize consumers — have traditionally lacked empathy, making it difficult for marketers to truly diversify their efforts. We’ve been told for the last decade that segmentation (dividing potential customers into groups based on shared characteristics) and focus are essential to reach paying leads.

“Companies using personas to craft marketing and sales tactics develop a clearer understanding of their buyers, but this method can backfire. Even small audiences contain vastly different individuals, and traditional personas don’t embrace every person in that sampling.

“Here’s how you can use empathy to develop diverse personas and better reach a broader group of consumers.”

Article: How to Create Marketing Personas That Start With Empathy


Advertising Practice
As brands become more purpose-driven, espousing values around equality and social justice in their advertising, shouldn’t their media spend be equally ethical?

“As a former client-side marketer, I feel compelled to ask my fellow marketers and their media agencies: Is there a more ethical, transparent and sustainable way for us to buy media? A strategy assuring that our dollars aren’t going to be hijacked by some bot farm in Siberia or gobbled up by invisible middlemen? Where dollars aren’t inadvertently funding hate speech, fake news, genocide, pedophilia and more evils in the world?”

Article: What if the ‘M’ in CMO Also Stood for Morality?



Born in Chicago in 1942, Curtis Mayfield started his musical career in a gospel choir. When he was 14 he met Jerry Butler, who invited him to join the vocal group The Impressions.

In 1965 Mayfield wrote “People Get Ready” for the group, one of the first songs to make a clear statement of social awareness in soul music.

In 1970 he left the group to embark on a solo career. He was one of the first artists to address problems surrounding inner city minorities such as crime, poverty and drug abuse.

This set was recorded in January, 1972, with a touring band on a German TV show called Beat-Club. Beyond how this set captures his groove and his eloquence, I love how the directors zero in on the players’ superb chops.

Nothing is sampled or looped in this set. These guys set the groove, keep the groove, then play with the groove. In real time.

Beat-Club was a German music program that ran from September 1965 to December 1972. It was broadcast from Bremen, West Germany. Toward the end of its arc it encouraged artists to play whole, mini-concerts, like this one. The production values are high, so we get to see masters at work up close and personal

Video: Curtis Mayfield Live on the Beat-Club, 01-19-72


Image of the Week

The image of the week is a painting by Toronto artist Rob Croxford. It is from a new series he calls Sign Language. About the work he said:

“As a child of the 70’s, I was mostly raised by television and movies. Advertising and pop culture became my religion and the wisdom I gleaned shaped my sensibilities as an artist. As a result, my paintings are a carnival of colour and whimsy. This theatricality has been a through-thread in all my artwork.
“Text has always been a central feature in my compositions. There is something seductive about typography. I love how a font can tell a story with a single flourish. Vintage lettering and signage gently manipulate us to feel a sense of longing for the past. Perhaps that is why my entire art career is shrouded in the bleary haze of pop-culture nostalgia.

“My new series of paintings is the culmination of all my obsessions. By integrating iconic movie quotes into the landscape of well worn roadside signage I am merging pop culture, nostalgia and humour. This blend of elements creates something familiar and yet completely new!”

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 tool for transformation. Learn more.

If you get value from Clarity First, please pass it on.
Not a subscriber? Sign up here.You can also read Clarity-First on the web.

Leave a Comment