Friday, December 3, 2010

Gordon MacKenzie, a Genius of our Time

Gordon MacKenzie was a man who did not fit his time: an artist, a genius, making a living in a structured corporate environment. As his book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace, tells us, his employer, Hallmark Cards, did not favor ideas that the hierarchy did not see meshing with corporate productivity goals.

He made it work for himself, as the company’s “Creative Paradox”, up to a point. Then he retired and began traveling around the country, speaking, in high-energy, marvelous performances, to audiences about maintaining creativity in bureaucratic environments. Then he died.

Yesterday, arriving early for a typical “girlfriends’ luncheon”, I had a copy of Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” in my bag -- I always have something to read with me, as I am more often early for a meeting than late or on time -- and whose name did I see when I turned to page 68? Gordon MacKenzie’s!

Such memories, immediately! I met, interviewed and had dinner with Gordon MacKenzie when he was in Atlanta for a workshop in, I think, 1999, and attended his what can only be called “performance”. Truly a genius!

His book is still in print. Buy it. Also Dan Pink’s book, and absorb both of them over the holiday season. Then go back to your work environment in January with the confirmation that you arrived in this life with a rolled canvas under our arm and that it is up to you – not anybody else – to paint your masterpiece.

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