Clarity First Newsletter, May 18, 2018

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

The differences are striking. This week, when I listened to the words that crowded the media, I heard themes of division, mistrust and outright lies. But, when I listened to the words I heard in this week’s meetings and calls, I noticed themes of collaboration, listening and regeneration. I notice that these voices of trust and optimism feel very much like the clarity and calm that follows an early summer thunderstorm.


Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself.

The Atlantic’s James Fallows and his wife Deb have been visiting places that voted for Trump, places like Mississippi and Kansas and South Dakota and inland California and Rust Belt Pennsylvania. Yes, they found countless examples of rips in the social fabric, deep political divides, and of desperation that is reflected in rising rates of chronic disease, addiction, and suicide. But, surprisingly, they also found that the national prospect is full of possibilities that the bleak trench warfare of national politics obscures. “Serious as the era’s problems are, more people, in more places, told us they felt hopeful about their ability to move circumstances the right way than you would ever guess from national news coverage of most political discourse.” People, it seems, act really differently at the local level than they do when they are rallying around national party politics.
Article: The Reinvention of America

Learning/Personal Productivity

Think back to a time when you worked on a project that you really enjoyed.

When a project resonates with us we put forth our very best effort. “When we work on these projects regularly, we’re happy, we’re productive, we’re optimistic, and we’re deeply engaged in what we’re doing.” In his book Happier, Harvard professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, describes a technique that he named the Meaning, Pleasure, Strengths (MPS) Process. It’s a simple way to identify projects where we are more likely to find flow.
Article: The MPS Process. Discovering Work That You Love

Organizational Culture/Branding

You will only get the benefits of storytelling if you tell a story.

What happens when employees see changes unfold and decisions get made without access to a clear story about what’s going on? It’s simple, they’ll make a story up. Typically these improvised tales don’t serve the organization very well. Business consultant and executive coach, Shawn Callahan, says this is a total waste. He’s outlined a simple four-part story framework to help tell what he calls the “clarity story”, one that gives shareholders reason to believe.
Article: How To Infuse Clarity In Brand Stories

Creative Process

Works well with others

Without a great designer, great copy can fall flat, and visa versa. In fact, in the best designer/writer teams one loses track of who contributed what. But, collaborating with another creative to address a common challenge takes skill and sensitivity. Here’s a good checklist of behaviors to avoid.
Article: The Biggest Mistakes Copywriters and Designers Make When Collaborating

Design Process/Creative Process/Personal Productivity

So many tools. So little time.

This directory of web-based tools was curated by illustrators, but illustrators are people too. That is, they need to track their time, communicate and prioritize to-dos. And we mortals need to consider color palettes, share collaborative workspaces and visually plan and schedule Instagram posts. So, really, this could be called Cool Tools for People Who Work With Others on the Web. (Thank you Swiss Miss.)
Article: Directory of Tools and Resources for Illustrators

Graphic Design

A catalog of the logos of the major record companies, and some offbeat minors, too

Reagan Ray is an illustrator and designer who plies his trade from Austin. He’s a dad, he does some crazy good work at his day job, and somehow he still finds the focus to sift through thousands of record labels to discern and post “the cream of the crop” (his words). Thank you, Reagan. We needed this. Given the profound influence that these brands have on our collective zeitgeist, their logos are infinitely interesting.
Article: Record Label Logos

Phluid is “the first gender-free store. This is a place for self-expression and creative sharing where strangers, allies, friends—people—can unapologetically be themselves…Phluid is a place where you can be safe in who you are. You can be authentically yourself without judgment….”                                          (Image via


Follow a leader

Winston Wright is a brand consultant in NYC. He’s got an infectious natural passion for clear branding and brand communications. He’s particularly hip to the state of retail today. This year he started writing the Retail Column at, the trend tracking site. Now we can visit brave new shops with a smart guy who knows enough to name where the trends meet, converge and diverge. I summarized some of the most interesting things he’s noticed this year at my blog:
Article: Follow Winston Wright to get close to retail’s front edges.



Now that the weather is warming I have a hankering for soft and sultry beats. Musas, the seventh studio album by Mexican singer/songwriter Natalia Lafourcade, fills this need very easily. She recorded the disc in collaboration with the acoustic guitar duo Los Macorinos in late 2016. Later she said about the sessions, “I wanted the music to sound made in Mexico. I wanted to connect to my roots.”

She hit a chord. Since its release in May of 2017 it has received a Latin Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year. This song – “Tú Sí Sabes Quererme” – is the official video of the first single released from the album. It captures the feeling of a house party where the music relaxes and joins revelers together in shared rhythym.

While promoting the album with her band last year she stopped in to the studios of Morning Becomes Ecelctic at LA’s KCRW. While there they recorded a full 50 minute concert. Lovely.


Images of the Week

The larger image of the week is an unattributed Associated Press photograph of protest posters from Paris in the summer of 1968. The smaller, a call to march and to fight for the causes of students and workers, is attributed only to École des Beaux-Arts. In early May of that year, students throughout the city spontaneously began to strike over the rigidity of the French university system. Simultaneously, workers at a major factory near Nantes walked out. By the middle of the month more than 10 million people throughout the country were on strike, ushering in more than 5 years of upheaval of the old order.

Francois Mori/Associated Press

The prestigious art school École des Beaux-Arts found itself at the center of the revolt. Some of the school’s students and teachers occupied the school and turned it into a workshop for the design and production of protest art. Now, 50 years later, the uprising and the artistic response is celebrated by “Clash of Images,” an exhibition at the school of posters, paintings, films and other works from that time.
Article: Printing a Revolution: The Posters of Paris ’68


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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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