Cultivating Creativity

Dr. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, is currently teaching at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He recently authored an interesting column published in the Canada’s “The Globe and Mail”. Here is a short excerpt from the full article found here at

“…I had my hair cut in Toronto. It turned out that the hairdresser, a stylish young man in his late 20s or early 30s, was once a resident of Birmingham, an upscale suburb of Detroit that I knew well because my wife lived there when we met.

Without thinking, I said, “My wife used to get her hair done in Birmingham; what salon did you work in?”

“I wasn’t a hairstylist then, man. I worked for General Motors,” he said. “Really?” I said, trying to dig myself out of a hole. “What plant did you work at?” “Plant?” came his reply. “I didn’t work in a factory I’m a mechanical engineer and I worked on new product development.”

My jaw dropped. This man had quit a high-paying job in a good company so he could cut people’s hair. He had left the creative class because it wasn’t creative enough for him and had gone into a service industry to express his creativity.

The point of retelling this story is not that his current line of work is better than his old one; it’s that we need to expand our view of what good jobs can be and how to create them.

From The Globe and Mail Update on 11/24/07

I found this column interesting and insightful, but I would be interested in your opinion. Having a great deal of familiarity with Florida’s books, I would consider myself a “fan” of his work and his ideas. But the readers of The Globe and Mail seem to be polarized (the majority are not favorable) by the article and by Florida himself (see their comments here). I’ve looked at the article a few times and am not quite sure I read the same thing as some of the commenting readers!

What do you think?

UPDATE: Read Dr. Florida’s response regarding the reader commentaries (including a nice shout out for TMIE here!

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