More Creativity Required

In the early 1950s, Gordon MacKenzie was a University of British Columbia dropout who landed a job as a cartoonist and writer for the Vancouver Sun. After a few years in the fast-paced world of daily newspapers, Hallmark Cards, the famous greeting-card company, recruited him as a sketch artist.

Initially discouraged by his fellow employees’ staid adherence to company rules and bureaucracy, the rebel MacKenzie landed a coveted position in Hallmark’s Contemporary Design department in Kansas City, Missouri. MacKenzie flourished because his eccentricity was encouraged even if it wasn’t always understood, and the products he and his colleagues turned out were enormously profitable. MacKenzie rose through the managerial ranks because of his uncanny gift for inspiring people to ever-greater creative heights. When he retired from Hallmark in 1991 he held the unusual title of Creative Paradox, a job that essentially entailed helping Hallmark employees and executives “think outside the box” or, as he once put it, “risk to grow.”

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Alec Ross