James May was the British presenter of a British show called “Toy Stories.” It was he who was behind the construction of a full size Lego house. (not a toy house, but a life-size, inhabitable house built entirely out of Legos… the entire series is definitely worth watching).
It turns out that earlier in his career, he was fired from his writing position at Autocar magazine because of a design trick he pulled in the editing of a year-end review the magazine published.
There were 41 spreads in all, and he decided to edit it so that if you read the first letter of the first word in the first paragraph of each review, it spelled something.
This is what he had to say about it:
“So I had this idea that if I re-edited the beginnings of all the little texts, I could make these red letters spell out a message through the magazine, which I thought was brilliant. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but it was to the effect that “You might think this is a really great thing, but if you were sitting here making it up you’d realise it’s a real pain in the arse“. It took me about two months to do it and on the day that it came out I’d actually forgotten that I’d done it because there’s a bit of a gap between it being “put to bed” and coming out on the shelves. When I arrived at work that morning everybody was looking at their shoes, and I was summoned to the managing director of the company’s office. The thing had come out and nobody at work had spotted what I’d done because I’d made the words work around the pages so you never saw a whole word. But all the readers had seen it and they’d written in thinking they’d won a prize or a car or something”
Here’s the spread:
This seems like one of those instances in which someone gets fired for something like this and usually ends up in a better place not too long after.
Some career risks are simply worth taking.