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«Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Dedication Introduction Welcome to the Hunger - IT WILL COST YOU YOUR LIFE. The Market for Something to ...»

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page



Welcome to the Hunger - IT WILL COST YOU YOUR LIFE.

The Market for Something to Believe In Is Infinite

Create Your Own Global Microbrand

Keep It Simple

Join the Overextended Class

Have a World-Class Product

Make Art Every Day

Fill In the Narrative Gaps

Remember Who You Really Are

Treat It Like an Adventure- an Adventure Worth Sharing

Success Is More Complex Than Failure

Sleep Rough

Create “Social”

Create Snowballs Avoid Dinosaurspeak Find Your “Moment” Embrace Crofting The Tao of Undersupply Don’t Be “Middle-Seat Guy” Cheap, Easy, Global Media: The Revolution Is Already Here, and It’s Permanent “The Twenty”: Control the Conversation by Improving the Conversation The “Creative Life” Is No Longer One of Many Economic Options; It’s Now the...

What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Artists, and Vice Versa No, You Can’t Have It All If Your Boss Won’t Let You Articulate Your Evil Plan During Company Hours, Quit Get Other People to Hate You Steal Time, Every Day The Pressure to “Not Be Shit” A Good Customer Base Is the Best Marketing Plan There Is Continuity Is Key Create Expressive Capital Good News! You Don’t Die.

“This Is It” “Take the Cream Off the Top, Leave the Rest Behind” “Live in the Market, Not in the Spreadsheet” Don’t Worry If You Don’t Know Absolutely Everything Before Starting Out Death by Stuff Everything Begins with the Act of Gift-Giving Be a Waker Human Beings Don’t Scale Evil Plans Are Not Products; Evil Plans Are Gifts

Your Evil Plan Starts Here:


Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)• Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:

80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England First published in 2011 by Portfolio / Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Copyright © Hugh MacLeod, 2011 All rights reserved

–  –  –

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

http://us.penguingroup.com Evil Plans is dedicated to my father, WILLIAM MACLEOD (1938-2010), who passed away the very same weekend I sent off the final manuscript of this book to my editor for publishing. People who knew Dad will see a lot of him in this book-he taught me very well. He is sorely missed.

Introduction: “Everybody Needs an Evil Plan”


needs that crazy, out-there idea that allows them to actually start doing something they love, doing something that matters. Everybody needs an Evil Plan that gets them the hell out of the rat race, away from lousy bosses, away from boring, dead-end jobs that they hate. Life is short.

Every person who ever managed to do this, every person who managed to escape the cubicle farm and start doing something interesting and meaningful, started off with their own Evil Plan. And yeah, pretty much everyone around them- friends, family, colleagues-thought they were nuts.

Thanks to the Internet, it has never been easier to have an Evil Plan, to make a great living, doing what you love, doing something that matters. My intention is that by the time you’ve finished reading this book, you will completely concur. More important, you’ll actually feel compelled enough to go and do something about it yourself, if you haven’t already.

“TO UNIFY WORK AND LOVE” Sigmund Freud once said that in order to be truly happy in life, a human being needed to acquire two things: the capacity to work, and the capacity to love.

An Evil Plan is really about being able to do both at the same time.

At time of writing of this book, I’ve been blogging at gapingvoid.com for just shy of a decade. I’ve done a lot of stuff with it since I started. Published cartoons, sold wine, sold suits, plugged Microsoft, plugged Dell, sold art, “built my personal brand,” written e-books, ranted on endlessly about marketing, new media, and all sorts...

But looking back, I realize it all served a common purpose: to unify work and love. I was writing about what was most interesting and important to me, and trying to turn it into a career somehow.

Then I noticed, the people who have inspired me the most these last couple of years-entrepreneurs, writers, artists- they were driven by the same thing: to get paid doing what they love. And they all found a way to make it happen, without exception.

Are you one of the people who can unify work and love? If not, don’t you think you should be? I mean, after friends and family, what the hell is there?


Everyone lives in their own little world. The planet is just too damn big for one person to take it all in. So every human being seeks out their own little microcosm. Whether we’re talking about Wall Street, the coffee shops of bohemian Chicago, the ranches of West Texas or the San Francisco advertising agency scene, we find these worlds that suit us (sometimes they find us too), and we pitch our tents there.

These worlds are the ones we want to dominate. We all know where and what they are....

You don’t really aim to “dominate” the world you live in, of course. The most you can hope for is to live in harmony with it. You like it, it likes you back. Things just work. Things just click. And when your Evil Plan is going full steam, this is how it all feels.


The first few years of this century were tough ones for me.

My career in advertising pretty much tanked around the same time as the dotcom crash, and I found myself unemployed, broke, living in the boonies, scraping a meager freelance living by writing brochure copy. Then 9/11 came along, plunged everything into fear and chaos, and made everything even worse. Not fun or nice.

Up until that point, I had spent my entire working career “chasing gigs.” Whether we’re talking full-time salaried positions or three-day freelance opportunities, I had spent well over a decade chasing that ever-elusive island of security in a swelling ocean of advertising-industry chaos.

And these gigs would never last; they would always end eventually, for whatever reason. Recessions, layoffs, downsizing, incompetence on my part, incompetence on the boss’s part-whatever. And usually the timing was bad.

Chase, chase, chase... And I was sick of it. Really, really sick of it. More than a decade of working my butt off, and those islands of security were no less elusive than before. And I wasn’t as young as I used to be. The hamster wheel was starting to do me in.

Then, in these darkest of days, I had a sudden flash of lifechanging insight. Like I told my fellow advertisingburnout drinking buddy that evening, as we commiserated at the bar about our sad lot in life, “I don’t want to be ‘chasing gigs’ anymore.” “What do you want, then?” asked my buddy.

“I just want ten thousand people giving me money every year.” “Where are you going to find these people?” he asked.

“The Internet,” I replied.

“What do you plan on doing there?” “I think I’ll start by publishing my cartoons online... on a blog.” “What’s a ‘blog’?...” So that was my Evil Plan. To get ten thousand people a year to buy my stuff, via the Internet. I succeeded eventually, and then some. Happy ending.

What? Make a good living, doing what you love, without being accountable to some larger company, organization or secret cabal of “A-listers”? You’re not supposed to do that, MacLeod, you’re supposed to clock in every morning after a lousy commute, just like the rest of us. You’re supposed to hate your job, just like the rest of us. You’re supposed to be stressed out and beholden to the system, just like the rest of us.

It’s funny, but all these years later, and it still bugs some people that I managed to pull it off. No wonder I had jokingly called my plan “evil.” According to these guys, I must somehow be doing something morally reprehensible, to not be playing by their usual, unspoken rules of the relentlessly oppressive status quo, not living in the proverbial “quiet desperation.” And of course, this social resistance will come to you, too, if you try to follow your own Evil Plan. It’s not that people don’t want you to be successful-they just don’t want you to be successful in ways they aspire to be but cannot be themselves. That is just human nature, sad but true.

To hell with it. Finding and implementing your own Evil Plan is without question one of the greatest things you can do with the brief time you’re allotted on this earth. And along the way, just like me, you’ll meet some incredible, like-minded people, determined to do the same: make a good living doing what they love, doing something that matters, becoming the person they were born to be despite the odds. Finding that. Doing that. Discovering “the Hunger” that lives inside all of us.

Welcome to the Hunger


The Hunger to do something creative.

The Hunger to do something amazing.

The Hunger to change the world.

The Hunger to make a difference.

The Hunger to enjoy one’s work.

The Hunger to be able to look back and say, Yeah, cool, I did that.

The Hunger to make the most of this utterly brief blip of time Creation has given us.

The Hunger to dream the good dreams.

The Hunger to have amazing people in our lives.

The Hunger to have the synapses continually firing on overdrive.

The Hunger to experience beauty.

The Hunger to tell the truth.

The Hunger to be part of something bigger than yourself.

The Hunger to have good stories to tell.

The Hunger to stay the course, despite the odds.

The Hunger to feel passion.

The Hunger to know and express Love.

The Hunger to know and express Joy.

The Hunger to channel the Divine.

The Hunger to actually feel alive.

The Hunger will give you everything. And it will take from you, everything. It will cost you your life, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

But knowing this, of course, is what ultimately sets you free.

The Market for Something to Believe In Is Infinite “We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary.” NEAR THE TAIL END OF MY ADVERTISING career, circa 2004, I wrote a little rant on my blog that was eventually christened “The Hughtrain Manifesto.” It encapsulated everything important I knew about marketing,

up to that point. I’ve copied the latest edit below:



BELIEVE IN IS INFINITE.” We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary.

We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies, and products in our lives that make it easier for us to believe in one another.

That is human nature.

Product benefit doesn’t excite us. Belief in humanity and human potential excites us.

Think less about what your product does, and think more about human potential. What statement about humanity does your product make?

The bigger the statement, the bigger the idea, the bigger your brand will become.

It’s no longer enough for people to believe that your product does what it says on the label. They want to believe in you and what you do. And they’ll go elsewhere if they don’t.

It’s not enough for the customer to love your product.

They have to love your process as well.

People are not getting more demanding just as consumers, they are getting more demanding as spiritual entities. Branding becomes a spiritual exercise.

Either get with the program or hire a consultant in Extinction Management. No vision, no business. Your life from now on pivots squarely on your vision of human potential.

The primary job of an advertiser is not to communicate benefit but to communicate conviction.

Benefit is secondary. Benefit is a product of conviction, not vice versa.

Whatever you manufacture, somebody can make it better, faster, and cheaper than you.

You do not own the molecules. They are stardust.

They belong to God. What you do own is your soul.

Nobody can take that away from you. And it is your soul that informs the brand.

It is your soul, and the purpose and beliefs your soul embodies, that people will buy into.

Why is your Evil Plan great? Why does your Evil Plan matter? Seriously. If you don’t know, then nobody else can-no advertiser, no buyer, and certainly no customer.

It’s not about merit. It’s about faith. Belief.

Conviction. Courage.

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