The Man Behind The Posters

There’s no doubt that at some point in your professional career, you’ve been in an office somewhere and seen this:



Well meet the man who invented these, Mac Anderson. recently published Mac’s story from inspirational posters, the sale of his company, to his $50 million worth of motivational book sales.

The Inspiring Man Behind Thousands of Motivational Posters

They were icons of late-1980s America: framed posters of soaring eagles, rowing teams or lonely mountain peaks, each captioned with a mighty concept like “Perseverance,” “Teamwork” or “Excellence” and followed by a compelling quote. They were meant to inspire the millions of people lingering in break rooms, waiting in dentists’ offices or staring at the wall behind the boss’s head. They were–and are–Successories posters, the brainchild of travel-company founder turned motivational rock star Mac Anderson.

While the posters these days are more commonly the subject of ironic memes or parodies than sought-after office artwork, there was a point in the early ’90s when Anderson was shipping 2,000 prints a day, raking in $75 million in one year.

Anderson sold Successories 10 years ago to a private investor for an undisclosed amount, but he didn’t leave motivation behind. Over the last five years his multimedia publishing company, Simple Truths, has sold more than $50 million worth of short motivational books–all designed to be read in about half an hour–including 1 million copies of 212: The Extra Degree.

We caught up with Anderson in his Naperville, Ill., office to get a fresh dose of inspiration.

Where did you get the idea for the Successories posters?
All my life I’ve loved quotations. I’ve probably heard every quotation out there. I owned the largest travel company in the Midwest, and one year I created a book of motivational quotes for one of our customers for a national meeting. The next day the phone was ringing off the hook. So I got the idea to test it in hotel and airport gift shops. Eighteen months later I’d sold 800,000 copies. Then one day I decided to put some of the quotes on posters. I came up with the themes, and my designer, Mike McKee, added the photos and designs. Then we really took off….

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