Evil Plans by Hugh MacLeod – A Book Review



“Everybody needs an evil plan. Everybody 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 they hate. Life is short. 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”.

These are words that kick off the introductory chapter of Hugh MacLeod’s new book, entitled Evil Plans – Having Fun on the Road to World Domination. Evil Plans picks up where Hugh’s last book, Ignore Everybody left off. This book describes how ten years ago, he came up with his very own “evil plan” – to get 10,000 people a year to buy his stuff on the Internet.  So he launched gapingvoid.com, which quickly gained him a reputation and mass following online for dark humour, common sense marketing and cartoons drawn on the back of business cards. Since those early days, he has set up his own online art gallery that sells his artwork to fans from around the world.

Much like the idea of Cube Grenades, the book is designed to provoke a reaction and stir a call to action. If there’s one key message to take away from the book it is this:

Many people can make “a good living doing what they love, doing something that matters, becoming the person that they were born to be despite the odds. Finding that. Doing that. Discovering “the Hunger” that lives inside us all”.  Think about what you are passionate about, is it better than the job you have today?


Indeed, it is this creative “hunger” that burns inside many of us that Hugh wants to set free. Even though each chapter is just a few pages, it contains golden nuggets of  insight to help you formulate your own evil plan. During my reading, I often paused and went back to previous chapters just so I could wrestle with the points in my head and absorb Hugh’s wise words a little longer. The text and message are both explosive stuff.

Evil Plans is a book I wish I had been given just after I had left university. It is one of those defacto book’s that should be given by ALL mentors to their mentees. The following excerpts are some of my favourites passages in the book. I find them inspiring and I hope you do too.


  • “Seth Godin once said, “You can’t drink any more bottled water than you already do, Or buy more wine, or more tea. You can’t wear more than one pair of shoes at a time, You can’t get two massages at once. So, what grows? What do marketers sell that scales? I’ll tell you what: Belief. Belonging. Mattering. Making a difference. Tribes. We have an unlimited need for this. It’s not what you make, it’s what you believe in [A lesson for all marketers here].


  • We like telling stories because they defy the odds and that is what gives us hope. Hope of filling in our own “narrative gaps”, Whatever your Evil Plan might  be, there has to be some sort of adventure, some sort of “triumph over adversity” baked in. Otherwise, people won’t want to talk about it, and your story won’t spread. People aren’t merely buying your product, your Evil Plan; they are buying the story you are telling… a story that’s not just about you, but about them, and what they could be.

  • How do you get your stuff on the radar screen of the “The Twenty”? By creating brilliant stuff. By creating brilliant stuff that “speaks” to the market in a way it has never been spoken to before. If your stuff is different enough that it changes “the conversation” of your market for the better, other folk will notice even the Big Boys. “Improve the conversation by improving the language”. All great marketing breakthroughs are evolutions of language.

  • If your boss won’t let you articulate your evil plan during company hours, quit. A good boss wants her employees to have their own sense of sovereignty and destiny. Why on earth would you tolerate a boss who didn’t?

  • …once your Evil Plan starts getting traction, you’ll start noticing a much more polarized world begin to emerge, People who love what you do. and people who utterly despise it.


  • Steal time every day. You can only live life to the full in the moment, the past and present are distractions.


  • Your Evil Plan won’t make your life any easier. In fact, it’ll probably make it harder. But knowing that beforehand will make the experience of being alive, here and now, far richer and more enjoyable. I happen to think it’s worth it.


I found the book spoke to me in many different ways. It is a very handy motivational tool and a marketing book. But, mostly it speaks to the hearts and minds of those that have the potential to change the world for the better.  Are you one of these people? I’d like to think I am one of them.  Learn more about the background of book and Hugh’s ideology on his Gaping Void blog.

I highly recommend reading it, a fantastic follow up to Ignore Everybody.

Buy Evil Plans from Amazon below

Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity– A Book Review


Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity is based upon the hugely successful, Change This Manifesto, entitled “How to be Creative”. Building upon his earlier work, Hugh MacLeod brings together his collective wisdom of thoughts on creativity.

As Steve Clayton describes, there are a number of stand our chapters in this book. In particular, the following chapters stood out for me: 

Chapter 8 “Keep your day job” with the excellent description of Hugh’s Sex and Cash Theory.

Chapter 11, “The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props”. This chapter serves to remind us that the tools aren’t important. True creativity comes from within, regardless of the tools used.

Chapter 3 “Put The Hours In” stuck a particular chord, where Hugh states “Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. Ninety percent of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort and stamina”.

And Chapter 18, “Merit can be bought, Passion can’t”. In this chapter, Hugh states that: “The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does”.

Absolutely. Sometimes, being passionate about something and wanting to change things is great. However, it is important to remember that not everyone may feel the same way.

Overall, the book is an easy read, with Hugh’s unique blend of wit, genius and dark humour. Though his cartoons have been available on Gaping Void for years. It is a real treat to finally have some of them available in book form.


Ignore Everybody is a book that can be summed up with one of Hugh’s own cartoons (see above). It enriches your understanding on ways that creativity can prosper. Whilst at the same time Hugh simplifies the process, with tales from his own experiences.

I wouldn’t just recommend this book for people seeking new ways to be creative. This is a book I would thoroughly recommend for mums, dads, friends, lovers, co-workers and neighbours. Ignore Everybody is a book for everyone. We all display creativity in our everyday lives and Hugh’s book helps us to remain focused.  A common sense book for modern times.

If you want to get a flavour for the book, sample chapters are available here.

Ignore Everybody is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be published by Portfolio on June 11, 2009.

With thanks to Maureen at Penguin Books for the advance copy of this book.