I became a fan of Hugh MacLeod about two years ago when I stumbled on his website gapingvoid.com.
For those of you not familiar with MacLeod he is a cartoonist who draws cartoons on the back of business cards.
If you think that is a strange medium, it is, but it is original, and that has been part of Hugh’s key to success.
Hugh is definitely an inspiration to me, his success is self made, and he has undeniably paid his dues.
I was fortunate enough to get a pre-release copy of his book, (Release today.) Ignore Everybody: And 39 other Keys to Creativity. It is a must read for any artist, be they writer, musician, whatever.
For that matter anyone with a dream or idea, even a seemingly stupid idea like drawing cartoons on the back of business cards. Any budding entrepreneur starting a new business should read this book.
The title of the book Ignore Everybody is not meant to be taken literally; what it really means is ignore your critics. The naysayers who think you can’t possibly succeed. Here is an example of Hugh’s advice:
If your business plan depends on suddenly being “discovered” by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.
I sure could’ve used this advice as a teen. I used to walk around the streets of London carrying a guitar, thinking someone would discover me. I never even learned to play the thing properly, because I could tell Elvis didn’t really play, he had back up musicians.
Keep your day job
I know this is sound advice, for many years I had a day job and built frames in my spare time. Poverty not only sucks big time, it forces you to sell yourself short.
Hugh tells a story of how he was offered a book deal some years ago. He read over the contract, made some changes, and sent it back; he never heard from the publisher again.
The fact was Hugh MacLeod worked for an ad agency and had a good paying day job; he didn’t need the book deal on any terms. Now he has this book published by the Penguin Group; his patience was rewarded.
The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do from what you are not.
I can definitely relate to this. When I was struggling to get my business going in 1982/83 in Southern California, and was building custom frames; often a potential customer would come to me with frame specs or a drawing and ask, “Can you build me a frame like this?”
My answer was, “I can, but I won’t.” The reason was I knew a frame built to those specs would not handle as well as it should. The customer would not be happy and probably sell it; then there would be a bad handling bike out there with my name on it. My reputation as a curmudgeon enhanced my reputation as a framebuilder.
The best way to get approval is not to need it.
Again sound advice, like the last two quotes it is about sticking with what you believe in, and not compromising or selling out.
Good advice indeed for the artist or small businessman. Save for the lean times, because they will follow the abundant times as sure as night follows day.
Use the Internet, although you make no money from blogging, it is free or relatively inexpensive, and you slowly build a following. Hugh MacLeod started his blog in 2001; gapingvoid now gets 2 million hits a month. He has a large enough following that he can sell limited edition poster size prints of his cartoons.
Ignore Everybody actually started out as a series of blog posts. The book is funny, Hugh’s cartoons are hilarious, and it is a step by step account of how someone can take a simple idea and see it through to fruition with determination and hard work.
Released in the US today June 11th, Ignore Everybody can be bought from Amazon.com, or from your local book store. In the UK it can be pre-ordered from W.H.Smiths, release there is not until 20th July