YOCR #11 – Orbiting the Giant Hairball

Book: "Orbiting the Giant Hairball" by Gordon MacKenzie.
Book: “Orbiting the Giant Hairball” by Gordon MacKenzie.

You’re not going to believe this. I have actually read a book that is on my original list of Year of Creative Reading books. Crazy, but true.

One of my hopes for the list was to use it to find books that I might not find on my own. What with the shift of bookstores to an online environment, it’s a lot harder to find books using serendipity. Now we’ve got to use lists (normally found online) curated by others.

The book I read is “Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace” by Gordon MacKenzie. While on the surface this sounds like a business book, Gordon MacKenzie worked at Hallmark … a company known for its creative products … for 30 years. This book examines his methods for surviving as a creative in a corporate culture.

The hairball of the title refers to the tangle of corporate policies and rules. Creative people must learn to orbit the hairball, rather than get sucked into it, in order to remain creative and not go completely batty.

The book contains suggestions for avoiding the hairball, but is mostly inspirational and encouraging for creatives.

Perhaps my favorite part was the final job MacKenzie managed to create for himself at Hallmark. He came up with his own title … Creative Paradox (seriously) … and then had to figure out what that meant in terms of a job. What he ended up doing in his atmospheric office was listening to creative people in the company and giving them the encouragement they needed to move forward on projects. Because managers at Hallmark thought his Creative Paradox job was higher up on the corporate hierarchy, they usually green-lighted the ideas that MacKenzie approved of. And he approved and encouraged all of them, saying that creative people hear “No” far more often than they hear “Yes.”

This was precisely the type of book I was hoping to find in embarking on my Year of Creative Reading.