Clarity First Newsletter,
May 8, 2020

“Love doesn’t have goals or benchmarks or blueprints, but it does have a purpose. The purpose is not to change the people we love, but to give them what they need to thrive. Love’s purpose is not to shape our beloved’s destiny, but to help them shape their own. It isn’t to show them the way, but to help them find a path for themselves, even if the path they take isn’t one we would choose ourselves, or even one we would choose for them.” –  Alison Gopnik

Clarity First

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

This week I noticed feelings of survival guilt. I’m healthy, engaged, and experienced at working at home. But millions have lost their livelihood, hundreds of thousands are sick, and many don’t have the luxury of working at home. That hurts so much.

I hope that you are healthy and engaged, too. And I hope that you can do your work safely, wherever that is. Happy Friday.


“Holding” describes the way we contain and interpret what’s happening in times of uncertainty. It’s what great leaders do.

“When I ask managers to reflect a bit more on the leaders whose visions they find most compelling and enduring, they usually realize that none of those leaders started from a vision or stopped there. Instead the leader started with a sincere concern for a group of people, and as they held those people and their concerns, a vision emerged. They then held people through the change it took to realize that vision, together. Their vision may be how we remember leaders because it can hold us captive. But it is their hold that truly sets us free.”

Article: The Psychology Behind Effective Crisis Leadership

Futures Thinking

Futurist Wendy Shultz on the pandemic as portal

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

“This campaign is an effort to explore what new world – good, bad, indifferent, surprising – might lie on the other side of that portal.

“COVID is creating turbulence across many of the world’s systems – it is decoupling some, destroying some, amplifying others. It is shaking things up. It’s a good time to exercise our imaginations about what we personally think might be the results – upside scenarios, downside scenarios, really weird scenarios, whatever people are imagining. Because the future that emerges will evolve from the collisions, the intersections, and the negotiations among all those futures and our ideas about them.”

Article: COVID-19 The Future of Society


A short but cogent Twitter thread

Post: “Capitalism is not a form of government. It is a type of economic activity. It is not sustainable.”


The pandemic has forced companies to pivot their entire business model, with many having to launch digital initiatives with little time and few resources.

“Less than two months ago, I interviewed several agency leads about how their organizations were helping CMOs break down the barriers to digital transformation. In what can now be best described as a prescient moment, Razorfish President Josh Campo told me that digital transformation is kind of like having to build the plane while you’re flying.

“At the time, he said most brands come to his agency because of a specific challenge — and that, after looking at the problem, his agency would often see an opportunity to really drive transformation. But now, as the COVID-19 crisis continues to dramatically shift consumer behavior, businesses across industries are neck-deep in an economy where digital transformation is imperative to surviving outcomes caused by the pandemic.”

Article: Digital Transformation Is No longer a Buzzword. It’s an Imperative.


Make it local.

“Businesses” by omarsalvatierragracida is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“If you squint just a little and tilt your head just so, you can begin to see the shimmer of silver linings coming out of this moment — a few reasons to be hopeful about our post-pandemic future.

“That may seem a bold and reckless statement at a time when so many things still seem to be falling apart, if not downright broken, and while the daily toll of the virus continues to mount. We’re hardly out of the woods, but we’re inching inexorably forward.

“Among the bright spots is the newfound appreciation of healthcare workers, schoolteachers, waste handlers, police, EMTs and other essential employees — not to mention the brave shopkeepers and restaurant workers whose establishments remain open to enable us to buy food, medicine, liquor and other vital goods.

“There are also glimmers of hope about the world we’ll be stepping into in the not-too-distant future. In particular, there’s the rebirth of “local.”

“Local what, exactly? Well, food, manufacturing and retail, and probably several other things.”

Article: Local – A Glimmer of Hope for a Post-Pandemic World


Lasting change is always built on common ground.

Our current age of distrust grew out of four generational shifts that have been brewing over the last 50 years. Yet if we are ever going to be able to meet the challenges that face us today—and Covid-19 is only one of many—we will need to create a new sense of shared purpose.

Greg Satell points out that Americans have done this before. In the 1930s and 40s, we faced a global depression, massive genocides and a world war that claimed the lives of 75 million people. Europe, once the center of western civilization, was in ruins, its people struggling to survive. Yet out of those ashes we built a new world order and a new social contract. He thinks we can do it again.

Article: The Coronavirus Crisis Shows Why, If We Are To Solve Big Problems, We First Need To Rebuild Trust


My friend Julia Mines refers us to great a series of poetry readings

Padraig O Tuama                                                                                          Photo credit: Trevor Brady

This week my dear friend Julia  posted this wonderful review on LinkedIn:

“An 8-minute podcast is a brilliant idea. But equally so is that Irish poet and storyteller extraordinaire Padraig O Tuama has gorgeously curated the content: one poem per podcast, which he reads then unpacks with examples from his and others’ lives. Then he reads the poem again.

“Even if we’re someone who doesn’t “get” poetry, the poems make if not literal sense, then emotional sense through his translation.

“If we’ve been on the deep freeze we can thaw in their familiarity. Armored up, we get to let down our guard as we’re reminded of our essential humanness: sometimes raw, sometimes vulnerable, sometimes lost or alone, which we discover doesn’t make us less ourselves, but more. Return, is the offering, to our better selves.”

Podcast: On Being: Poetry Unbound

Personal Development

How spending time in nature can improve your mind, optimize your health, and calm your spirit

Article: Hug a Tree, Fix Your Brain


The New York Public Library has compiled an album of sounds we miss—including the sound of the library itself. It’s reassuring. and it’s welcome, the sounds of silence get old.

Article: Miss Reading in Public? Bring the Sounds of the Library to Your Home.

Image of the week

“It was 155 years ago this week, on May 4th, 1865, when Alice tumbled down the rabbit hole. Carroll chose the day because it was Alice Liddell’s birthday (in 1865, she turned 13). Since then, Alice and her compatriots have been reimagined countless times, and inspired creative work of just about every genre. These days, it feels like we’re all down one rabbit hole or another, so it seemed just as good a time as any to revisit some of the best artistic treatments Alice and the gang have gotten over the years….”

This one, by Arthur Rackham, is inspired by the line At this, the whole pack of cards rose up into the air and came flying down upon her.

Article: 20 Artists’ Visions of Alice in Wonderland From the Last 155 Years

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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