Ignore Everybody

Telling someone how to be creative is like explaining how to wiggle your ears. But Hugh MacLeod’s little blog-to-book (Ignore Everybody – And 39 Other Keys to Creativity) has some useful insights. Here are my favorites:

  • The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you.
  • Good ideas alter the power balance in relationships. That is why good ideas are always initially resisted.
  • The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.
  • It was so liberating to be doing something that didn’t have to have some sort of commercial angle, for a change.
  • Doing anything worthwhile takes forever.
  • Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.
  • Like the best jobs in the world, it just kinda sorta happened.
  • Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring.
  • The only people who can change the world are the people who want to. And not everybody does.
  • Selling out is harder than it looks (It’s hard to sell out if nobody has bought in)
  • If you’re arranging your life in such a way that you need to make a lot of fuss between feeling the (creative) itch and getting to work, you’re putting the cart before the horse. You have to find a way of working that makes it dead easy to take full advantage of your inspired moments. They never hit at a convenient time, nor do they last long.
  • The best way to get approval is to not need it.
  • Part of being creative is learning how to protect your freedom.
  • The size of the endeavor doesn’t matter as much as how meaningful it becomes to you.
  • If you are successful, it’ll never come from the direction you predicted. Same is true if you fail.

Work is your real life

I found The Work Manifesto at Hugh McLeod’s Gaping Void. My favorite bullet points:

Work is your real life. It is the way you translate your feelings, your thoughts, your hopes and your desires into something valuable, tangible and useful every day. You can choose to make work into a dreaded, necessary evil that you can’t wait to finish so that you can get busy with your “real life.” Why not just do work you love?

Your secret desire holds the clue to your best work. You say that you would love to do meaningful work, but don’t know how to find it. What is your secret desire? What idea are you a little embarrassed to share with someone because it is so delicate or bold or crazy or exciting? You often claim to not know what you want to do, but in fact censor yourself from what you know you want for fear of appearing ridiculous.

You can’t fool your kids. Many of you claim passionless, dull and frustrating careers with the excuse that you must provide for your family. Providing for your family is noble; using it as an excuse to hide from your own greatness is a bad example for your kids. If you want them to grow up motivated, creative, free and enterprising, be that yourself. They are watching and emulating your every move.

The Work Manifesto was submitted by Pamela Slim who blogs at Escape from Cubicle Nation.

The Cleopatra Effect

Hugh Macleod explains why he doesn’t do corporate blog consulting.


My take on this goes something like this: If you have what it takes to blog, you really don’t need much guidance or consultation. If you do not have what it takes, no amount of either will help.

Many years ago a wise and patient man named Hoyt Wooten gave me some guitar lessons. In answer to my question, “Think I’ll ever learn to play this thing?”, Hoyt answered: “Depends on how long you live.”

A looonnnnggg time

Part of the answer to one of ten questions Hugh Macleod posed to Seth Godin:

“I’m astonished at how long it takes an idea to filter from the early adopters to the masses. What sort of person just read the Da Vinci Code or just discovered the iPod? I was standing in a nice store in a nice suburb and heard one 25 year old explain to a 30 year old what gmail was… it’s so easy to assume that everyone already gets it.”

Why yes, I do have a card


In this email/PDA/Blackberry/digital age, business cards seem kind of… quaint. Every few years I toss a couple of hundred when something changes.

Now, at long last, my (personal) business cards reflect who I am. I’m a regular reader of Hugh MacLeod’s blog and a fan of his art (cartoons drawn on the back of a business card). There’s a link on his blog where you can order your own.

An animated film a day for a year. How hard can that be?

Scott Bateman is going to produce a brief animated film a day for a year. Day 010 is “Elyse Sewell’s Fabulous Hong Kong Apartment.” I’ve frequently commented on how I admire those that create using an extremely small canvas. Hugh Macleod’s drawings on the back of business cards, for example. I’d love to know how long it takes Mr. Bateman to create one of these little gems. I’ve added a link to remind me to check these. [via Screenhead]

Hugh MacLeod on being creative

“The best working definition of creative I have is ‘When work and play become the same thing’. When that happens, you’re in flow. When you’re in flow, things are created.”

Mr. MacLeaod offers thirty tips on how to be creative. My two favorites are:

3. Put the hours in. Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort and stamina.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would SERIOUSLY surprise me.

Cartoons on the back of business cards

Hugh Macleod “draws cartoons on the back of business cards” and writes about about advertising and marketing. The cartoon above spoke to me until I broke it down:

A 28-year-old wasn’t born when 3 Days of the Condor was released; I’d eventually comment on her stupidity; I could not “do the time”; and I’d never give up my Casio. But the naked part sounded okay.