The Proximity Paradox by Alex Varricchio and Kiirsten May, ECW Press

The Proximity Paradox: How to Create Distance from Business as Usual and Do Something Truly Innovative

May, Kiirsten and Varricchio, Alex

  • The Proximity Paradox will show you how to step back from your business to focus your creativity and meet your clients’ needs

    “Innovative … It’s a much-needed perspective on how to escape inside-the-box thinking.” — Publishers Weekly

    Traditional business structures love stability and predictability. Yet many organizations believe the two essential ingredients for long-term success are creativity and innovation. Kiirsten May and Alex Varricchio, founders of the marketing agency UpHouse, call the relationship between these two opposing expectations the Proximity Paradox™ — the belief that those who are closest to a subject are best qualified to innovate for it when, in reality, intense proximity limits creativity. Instead, people need to create distance from challenges in order to see the best way forward. May and Varricchio believe that until we can 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.

    Unpacking ten common examples of the Proximity Paradox that affect a company’s people, processes, and industry, the authors share some practical ideas to create the distance necessary for your next great idea. An especially valuable book for creatives, and non-creatives in creative industries, but equally applicable to all businesses that depend on innovation, The Proximity Paradox encourages us to ask hard questions about how we work, how our businesses are structured, and why we routinely find our creativity at odds with what’s asked of us as executors and stewards of the bottom line.


    Price may vary by retailer

    Also available at your local independent bookstore!


  • Alex Varricchio worked with one of the largest advertising agencies on the Canadian Prairies for 10 years, and eventually led the creative department as creative director. He has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and pursued his first business venture at the age of four. Kiirsten May has always had a passion for storytelling and creative expression. She’s channeled that passion into helping brands and individuals influence their communities through well-told stories. Together, they are the co-owners of UpHouse, a marketing agency, and Crainstorm, a crowd- sourced brainstorming web app.

  • Published: March 2020

    ISBN: 9781770415324

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 216


“Innovative . . . Marketers and those tasked with innovation will find this work full of food for thought. It’s a much-needed perspective on how to escape inside-the-box thinking.” — Publishers Weekly

The Proximity Paradox isn’t just a must-read for anyone in business today, it should be your manual for continually unleashing innovation in your teams and within yourself. Their approach is pragmatic, challenging, and, most importantly, hopeful.” — Matt Johnston, Johnston Group

“I read The Proximity Paradox as a neuroscientist, psychologist, and business owner and from all three perspectives feel like it’s great! It’s like applied neuroscience without all the jargon of how the brain works. Instead it’s a practical guide to taking a step back from some of the biases our brain naturally makes when we are too close or experienced in an area. I felt inspired to try these strategies with my own company and at other times affirmed with some of the strategies I already use. The examples throughout were poignant and I even caught myself laughing out loud on the streetcar. This book is a must-have for any creatives, business owners, or academics who want to stay relevant in their field for years to come.” — Mandy Wintink, PhD, RYT, Life Coach/Director, Centre for Applied Neuroscience Inc.

“The endnotes provide plenty of research and online resources, which should have strong appeal . . . A respectable business work recasting vintage techniques that may be compelling to a more scholarly audience.” — Library Journal

The Proximity Paradox is both provocative and prescriptive. It will challenge your industry experience, best practices, and team alignment. In our digital economy, where creativity and innovation are in constant demand, business leaders need a new approach for meeting their client needs. The Proximity Paradox helps you see what you are doing wrong and how to fix it. A must-read for all agency and marketing executives.” — MK Marsden, 3-time global CMO, Managing Partner at Touchpoint Strategies and Board Practice Leader at Avasta

“On almost every page of this book, I found myself nodding my head in agreement, taking notes, or dog-earring the edge. It brings up so many points that I will now be putting in to practice in my own business. Big thank you to Kiirsten and Alex for putting this together. It’s a must-read for creatives and entrepreneurs.” — Phoebe Cornog, Co-owner/Founder, Pandr Design Co.

“I have read a ton of famous business books and The Proximity Paradox is one of the better ones. It’s practical, relatable, and immediately applicable. I think the Proximity Paradox is a great concept, true in many ways. It gave me three ideas that I will try with my employees and a new business idea.” — Steve Alexander, Operations Manager, AGI Westfield