Clarity First Newsletter,
September 20, 2019

“In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.” – Patti Smith

Clarity First

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

The quote of the week summarizes so neatly our collective challenges. The miracle that is life on earth demands that we dream with abandon, but to also realize those dreams with balanced intention.

Happy Friday, dear reader. I hope that this letter finds you taking sure footed steps toward some big, hairy and audacious dreams.


When a small-town clinic in England started prescribing human connection to its lonely patients, rates of chats over coffee increased—and hospital visits fell.

“Studies show that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking or obesity. People who are lonely are at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

“So what if a doctor could prescribe social connection? What if the entire community was treated as part of the health care system, and if social connection and health were treated as though they went hand in hand?

“In one small town—Frome, England—they are. And they have the data to prove it pays off.”

Article: Treating Loneliness as a Medical Condition

Futures Thinking

Using queer perspective to explore visions of society after the current economic system is dismantled.

“As the economic divide between the uber wealthy and everyone else continues to grow disconcertingly wider, more and more people are questioning the morality and inevitability of late-stage capitalism. What good is an economic system that cannot adequately provide for huge segments of the population, and what would the alternatives look like?

“Inspired by a chant from the recent Oakland Teachers’ Strike — ‘Capitalism will fall / then we will have a ball’ — the Post-Capitalism Ball brings a queer perspective to explore visions of society after the current economic system is dismantled.”

Article: A Post-Capitalism Ball Imagines a Queer Future


A new Pew Research Center survey finds that people judge people of power differently, guided by key building blocks of trust.

“Members of Congress and technology leaders are rated lower in empathy, transparency and ethics; public gives higher scores to military leaders, public school principals and police officers.”

Article: Why Americans Don’t Fully Trust Many Who Hold Positions of Power and Responsibility

Circular Economy

Cups made from coffee grounds, algae, bamboo and rice husk. Oh my.

“In an bid to reduce the vast amounts of single use plastic that come with meal deliveries – which average an estimated 500g per person per long haul flight –  PriestmanGoode has explored a vast range of food safe materials that have been developed for the catering industry….”

Article: Priestmangoode Show Us What the Future of Flight Could, or Should, Look Like


Use your purpose as a driver and a filter for all decisions.

“How can we keep our purpose front and center to create a truly purpose-driven organization? Here are eight strategies….”

Article: Eight Strategies For Keeping Your Purpose Front And Center

Corporate Responsibility

Burger King will no longer give away plastic toys with its children’s meals and will melt down its existing stock in a move that was triggered by a petition from two schoolchildren.

“‘Free’ plastic toys have long been a staple of fast-food marketing, but Burger King said it would no longer hand them out and that it was encouraging customers to take their old ones to a store so it could melt them to make other items.”

“According to the BBC, the restaurant was responding to a petition from sisters Ella and Caitlin McEwan, who wrote to both Burger King and McDonald’s asking them to ‘think of the environment and stop giving plastic toys with their kids’ meals’. The petition was signed by more than 500,000 people.”

Article: Burger King Axes Plastic Toys and Pledges to Melt Old Ones After Petition

Brand, Visual Identity

A perfect example of the limits of research

A new paper published in the Journal of Marketing Research suggests that in spite of the fact that McDonald’s is the far more successful company, on paper, the Burger King logo is a better logo. Such research is a perfect example of why so much marketing research sucks. Therefore this article is required reading.

First, your brand is not a logo. Second, asking people hypothetical ‘would you’ questions is so different than asking ‘why did you’ questions.

Missing summary: Successful brands balance a 360/3D promise of how they help. Your logo is a very important facet, but it is meaningless without an understanding of the whole story you tell. Logos are just one element of a very complex system. To study them in isolation is a fool’s errand.

Article: These Scientists Studied 500+ Logos. Here’s What They Discovered About Good Branding


Recently I’ve been doing a deep dive into the various musicians who perform, together and apart, under the names Reina del Cid and The Other Favorites. The one player who shows up in the bands’ various performances more often than any other is polymath Josh Lee Turner.

The terms polymath and wunderkind were coined to describe people like Josh. Still in his mid-twenties, he has been been making YouTube videos since he was in middle school. When he was in college he posted a note for note cover of Paul Simon’s Graceland, a performance that earned him a spot on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Since then he’s been doing very cool things, very consistently, things like asking one other musician to join him in covering a song he knows and loves. Here he performs the 1960 classic Baby (You’ve got what it takes) with Larkin Dodgen.Also check out:
All I Want – Joni Mitchell cover (Feat. Kami Maltz)
American Tune – Paul Simon cover (Feat. Leah Taub)
Crazy – Patsy Cline cover (Feat. Allison Young)

Another cool thing that Josh has been doing incredibly well and really consistently, is to cover a well known song, playing all of the parts himself. He also films each part, and then edits all the parts into a video. He describes his approach as being “surgical”. His goal is to deconstruct how a sound was made, then do it again, with modern technology. I love how his work shows me how songs I know and love were likely made. This is Josh playing The Stones’ Honky Tonk Woman. He is a one person band, producer, engineer, director, and editor, of both a performance, and a film of the performance.

Also check out:
Starman – David Bowie cover
Once In A Lifetime – Talking Heads cover
Pretty Thing – Bo Didley cover

Then, if you want to geek out, he’s made a separate video in which he shows exactly how he made the amazing cover of Bowie’s Starman.
Starman – The Making of a Full Band Video

Speaking of geeking out, at the end of every post he lists all of the mics, guitars, amps and software he used. This is the gear list for his cover of Bo Didley:

Guitar: D’Angelico Deluxe Atlantic – Zoom G1Xon (Tremolo) – Fender Blues Jr. – se Voodoo VR2 – ART Pro MPA II Vocal: Vanguard V13, “Two clicks towards omni” – ART Pro MPA II Harmonica: Suzuki Folk Master in A – Blue Encore 100i – Art Pro MPA II – Reamped through Fender Blues Jr. Snare: Gretsch Silver Series Walnut – se Voodoo VR2 – Art Pro MPA II Maracas: Whatever they had at the store, same signal chain as drum Mixed in mono in Pro Tools. Bounced to an Akai M8 running 7.5 ips ATR 1/4″ tape and back to Pro Tools. Interface is a Zoom UAC-8. Reverb is Valhalla Plate. Filmed on a Canon EOS 200D with a 24mm f/2.8. Edited in Premiere.

In his spare time he released his first solo album, As Good a Place as Any, in April. At first listen it seems he can add songwriter to his credit list, too. I’ve got a feeling that we’ll be talking about him again.

Image of the week

The image of the week is anonymous and untitled. It is being hung in a San Francisco museum now.

“San Francisco’s Walt Disney Family Museum lives up to its name as they commence their fourth annual community access exhibition, opening A Powerful Force: Working to End Homelessness Through Art on September 25, 2019, at their beautiful Presidio space. The exhibition, showcasing a body of work produced by local homeless youth in the SF Bay Area, bases its title on the words of Walt Disney himself: ‘There is great comfort and inspiration in this feeling of close human relationships and its bearing on our mutual fortunes—a powerful force to overcome the tough breaks which are certain to come for most of us from time to time.’”

Article: A Powerful Force: Walt Disney Family Museum Focuses on Homeless Initiatives Through Art


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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