Q&A: Alex Varricchio On Writing the Proximity Paradox

When it comes to generating innovative ideas, it’s typically believed that those who are closest to a subject or problem are the ones who are best-qualified to innovate for it. But in reality, intense proximity limits creativity and what’s truly needed is distance from challenges in order to see the best way forward. Our Kiirsten May and Alex Varricchio call this problem the Proximity Paradox™ and believe that until we separate innovation and execution within ourselves, we will only innovate to the level at which we can execute the idea. To be effective, we need to create distance between our innovation brain and our execution brain.

Kiirsten and Alex hold such strong beliefs in this concept that they wrote a book by the same name to share some practical ideas on how-to create that distance.

For this blog, Alex chatted a little bit about the book.

What inspired you to write a book?

When Kiirsten May and I started UpHouse Inc., we knew we were going to need to create content for our website. To do so, we wanted to lean into our business position and our thought position by showcasing our different ideas and activities. With so much to write about, we decided to take all of it and put it into one cohesive book.

The book is called the Proximity Paradox, where do you usually see this scenario?

A proximity paradox is something that everyone struggles with in business and in life—they’re so close to a problem that they can’t see the solution. It’s a problem that is consistent across the board and the more Kiirsten and I talk about it, the more we see it. Occasionally, we even see it in ourselves.

It’s a reminder to always be checking your proximity to ensure it’s not impacting your efforts—and even more significantly, to ensure it’s not impacting your ability to move things forward.

Who would you like to see read this book and what do you hope they get out of it?

I’d love to see any and all marketers read it. We included a lot of practical tips, suggestions and brainstorm activities for readers to use and put into practice themselves.

Every time I go to a conference or a workshop, I want takeaways—we want practical tips we can take back to the office and put into practice. We used that same mentality in our approach to this book.

What was your favourite part about the writing process?

When we first started, we holed ourselves up in an office for three or four days to work out the outline. We had so many little ideas and thoughts and we wrote each one on a sticky note. From there we started to organize the sticky notes into sections and by the end of the process we had a complete outline for the book. It was a tangible way to tackle this project and it was very satisfying to see it all come together.

If the outline was your favourite part, what was your least favourite part of the process?

Definitely the editing process because when we finished it we had reached the no-turning-back zone—the point where our manuscript is published into a book. It’s a little scary.

Often when you write something, there’s always another opportunity to make changes and revisit it. But with a book, you write it, edit it and then there is no turning back.

Deep down, I know we’ve done great work though.

Order The Proximity Paradox today!

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