I love what Hugh MacLeod is doing. I think we see eye-to-eye.
Here’s a quote from his latest book, Evil Plans:
Remember that Evil Plans isn’t just about making money. It’s about becoming the person you need to be. If money’s part of that, fine. If it isn’t, that’s fine too.
Yes, why are you here, exactly? Who are you here for? Yourself? Other people? Family? God? Money? Power Fun? Sex and drugs? Fame? Science? Art? Or maybe some other cause? You tell me…
Such an important question to ask yourself.
We tend to take for granted this idea that it’s about making money and making it and being successful - and only when we attain it - or repeatedly fail to attain it - do we realize it wasn’t fulfilling because it wasn’t what we’re here for. Better to find that out earlier in life.
And here’s something I find compelling about Hugh’s story: Hugh and I both see how this is intricately connected with how you market yourself in the internet age. We both - in part - came to this place via marketing.
When I got started doing this work, I had just come out of two failed startups where I was the programmer and I’d teamed up with other people to do the business and marketing side of things. After the second one also failed, I started to study marketing so I wouldn’t be completely at other people’s mercy the next time around.
At the same time I was going through a personal crisis which prodded me to pick up my latent interest in psychology, and start to learn more about how we human beings work “on the inside”. How our mind and thoughts work, about ego and our higher self, about heart and intuition, about being present, about fear and love.
And here’s where it all starts to fit together: If you look at someone like uber-marketing-guru Seth Godin, he’s actually made the transition from talking about mechanics such as “Permission Marketing” in 1999, to today, where he’s talking about doing Your Art, about being Remarkable, and above all, about Fear.
And what he’s really talking about there, is about connecting with your higher self, your intuition, your creativity, who you are, why you’re here, in order to find your true, authentic “remarkableness”, your art.
It’s not something you think up with your rational mind. It’s something you uncover inside of you. And the thing that’s keeping you away from that is your fear. The fear of being completely yourself, completely present, with your heart open.
And when you uncover that, and act from that place, something happens that’s just really good for your marketing. There’s an authenticity to it that you cannot fake, and that immediately dials people up on a different channel. It makes an emotional connection, it connects with their hearts. And that’s so much more powerful than any mind-based marketing message will ever be.
So it’s great to see Hugh taking the same kind of path. From marketing to being an artist and teaching and inspiring others to find their path in life.
And it’s a great reminder that your path isn’t necessarily what you think it is. Just because you’re a good copywriter, like Hugh, doesn’t mean that’s where your path lies. Yes, he’s using his talent for writing to write books, but first and foremost, he does cartoon art. I believe that you can find ways to put all of your talents to good work, and Hugh demonstrates this so well.
I meet a lot of programmers think the answer to why they’re here has to come in the form of which web app they should build. But that is not necessarily the case at all. It could be they should open a small coffee shop and create a great loving space for people to come and be in. Or something completely different.
And the really great, inspired visions tend to include a multitude of things - 37signals wouldn’t be anywhere near where they are if they just did the web apps. The web apps are just their primary revenue stream, but they’re not what they’re really about. Ruby on Rails was the real work of art for DHH, and their opinions, their values, their blog, their books, their workshops - all of those are the things that make the company so interesting and make their story spread. That’s what they’re about.
Just like Zappos isn’t really about the shoes. Tony Hsieh’s art isn’t selling shoes, it’s creating a space for people to hang out, party, be themselves, be happy, become family, and connect with each other and with customers. That’s what he does at Zappos, that’s what he does at the Delivering Happiness bus, that’s what he did when he sold his first company and bought an apartment just for throwing parties.
It’s about who you are, and it’s something you can’t fake.
Anyway … get Hugh’s book!
It’s a short but good read, sprinkled with his lovely cartoons. And it’s good for just opening up and hitting a random page for inspiration. I love to do that with books, and it works well with this one - and you can even get lucky and land on a cartoon :)
Hugh’s first book was also very excellent, and really helped nudge me along on this path, as I was reading it on a trip to Thailand last winter.
And sign up for his daily cartoon email, too - it’s worth it.
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