John Pollack

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John Pollack (born c. 1965) is an American originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan who served as a Special Assistant to the President and Presidential Speechwriter for Bill Clinton, as a foreign correspondent, and as an advisor to leaders and philanthropists. Now a consultant, Pollack is a noted authority on analogy, wordplay, creativity and innovation.

Early life[edit]

Born in Ann Arbor, Pollack attended public schools and graduated from Ann Arbor Huron High School, where he lettered in cross country, track and wrestling. Earlier, while living in England, he attended Durham Johnston Comprehensive School in Durham. In 1988 he graduated with distinction from Stanford University with an AB in American Studies.

Professional life[edit]

Pollack began his career as a journalist at The Hartford Courant, and later spent several years in Spain as a foreign correspondent, freelancing for American media and eventually going to work for the Associated Press in its Madrid bureau. On his return to the United States, he went to work on the U.S. Senate campaign of his mother, Lana Pollack, and later for the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village. Eventually, he moved to Washington, DC where he became a speechwriter for the Democratic Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, David E. Bonior, and later for President Bill Clinton at The White House. He is the author of four books: The World On a String: How to Become a Freelance Foreign Correspondent (1997); Cork Boat: A True Story of the Unlikeliest Boat Ever Built (2004); The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History and Made Wordplay more than Some Antics (2011); and Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation and Sell Our Greatest Ideas (2014). He currently works in New York as a writer and consultant.

The Cork Boat[edit]

One of Pollack's notable projects was his 30-year quest to build what became The Cork Boat, a 22-foot Viking ship made almost entirely of wine corks, which he and his boat-building partner Garth Goldstein eventually sailed and rowed down the Douro River in Portugal. The boat and the journey, made possible through the help of hundreds of volunteers, received significant media attention in Portugal and was the subject of his 2004 book Cork Boat.[1][2][3][4][5] In 2004, Pollack wrote a memoir of the experience entitled Cork Boat.[6]


  1. ^ Whitney Duncan. "Bobbing Through Portugal on Boat Made of Wine Corks". Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  2. ^ Gretchen Giles. "If I Had a Boat". Archived from the original on 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  3. ^ "Sink or swim as cork boat takes to the water". Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  4. ^ "The Saga of the Cork Boat". Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  5. ^ R. KRITHIKA (2002-07-13). "Cork boat sail". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on 2003-08-26. Retrieved 2007-07-27.
  6. ^ Cork Boat: Books: John Pollack