In today’s disruptive landscape, creativity is key to smart, innovative leadership. But how do the best-in-class (creatively speaking) do it? To find out, we interviewed the most innovative couple I know, Desiree Gruber and Kyle MacLachlan, on our March episode of Making a Leader on SiriusXM.

Gruber is the founder and CEO of Full Picture, working with celebrities and brands in retail, fashion, and tech to build profiles linked to the global zeitgeist. Her husband of 17 years, MacLachlan, is a renowned actor who has been director David Lynch's favorite leading man (Dune, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks 2x around) and co-star of such iconic TV shows as Sex & the City (Trey MacDougal), Desperate Housewives (Orson Hodge), and Portlandia (the Mayor).

"I make myself available and am really open to a variety of things," MacLachlan replied when Nina Easton, my SellersEaston Media partner and SiriusXM co-host, asked how he built an edgy and experimental career. "I'm never restricted. I never feel like I have to do just one thing.” Instead, he follows people and material he most admires.  (Click here to hear MacLachlan on how he charts his career.)

Portlandia, he added, was “a leap of faith.” Believe it or not, so was Sex and the City. When the producers called, "I was like oh, I'm not so sure.’” That’s when his wife, who has an uncanny sixth sense for spotting cultural moments, showed her clout. “She basically said, ‘You're doing this.’”

Sex and the City “was a cultural moment for everybody I knew," recalls Gruber. "I said, 'You can't pass this up! It's what everybody's watching. It's setting a tone for how women think about things, relationships, friendships.'"

When Heidi Klum, Gruber’s first client at Full Picture, wanted to build her global profile, she and Klum came up with the idea of a fashion show on TV. They called the show Project Runway.

Gruber's playbook for getting Project Runway on the air in 2004 (on Bravo, then a tiny cable network) is a primer on creative execution. To move from concept to hit, they learned to "open the aperture" to other ways of doing things. "If I had given you the coordinates when I took this proverbial plane off, I [would have] said I was landing in New York. [Instead] I got to Newark. "That rerouting turned Project Runway into one of the longest-running shows on television—and propelled Klum’s and Gruber’s careers.

Click here to hear Gruber explain how she started Project Runway. And listen to this full episode of Making a Leader on SiriusXM Insight channel 121 Tuesday, March 19, at 6 and 10 pm ET. The episode repeats on Insight channel 121 on Wednesday 3/20 at 10 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 3/23 at 7 am and 6 pm ET, and Sunday 3/24 at 9 am. and 4 pm ET. Pattie Sellers and Nina Easton, partners in SellersEaston Media and senior veterans of Fortune Magazine, host Making a Leader monthly on SiriusXM.

To listen on demand to our show on SiriusXM Insight Channel 121, click here or download the SiriusXM app from the App Store. Then search on the SiriusXM app for Making a Leader. Mark it as a Favorite. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Astrid Stawiarz for SiriusXM


Pattie Sellers

Pattie Sellers produces top-quality content for SellersEaston clients, leveraging her 30+ years writing for Fortune and overseeing Fortune Most Powerful Women.