There’s no doubt that Hugh MacLeod, author of Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination, loves his work. It bounces off every page of his crisp, slim, cartoon-strewn new book.
MacLeod is a perfect example of a career changer who has made it on his own terms.
He began his transition from advertising copywriter to cartoonist, professional blogger and author roughly seven years ago.
He credits being laid off from his “crappy, hack advertising job” as the catalyst to get his work life in motion and get him in “the zone,” where work and love are unified. Today he juggles 10 jobs at any given time, from consulting to drawing cartoons to a little wine business.
Overextended? That’s how he rolls. “That’s just how the world of work is evolving,” he writes. “Welcome to the overextended class. You may opt out of it if you want, but over time it’s going to get harder and harder to make ends meet, let alone be successful, if you do.”
He is opinionated to say the least.
MacLeod’s pithy prose and personal stories of how he followed his passion and leveraged his online business through niche marketing is a quick romp — thanks to his artistic doodling.
He states his message from the start: “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.”
An evil plan, he writes, is really about being able to do both at the same time. He asks: “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?”
You get the drift. Go forth and shake things up. Life is short and so on. His message is not that new, but his voice is true and aimed in large measure at aspiring entrepreneurs looking for inspiration.
His tips on what makes a successful blog: You need to write with passion and authority and focus. Don’t write about what you had for breakfast. And, important, speak in your own voice.
Here are some thoughts from his “Hughtrain Manifesto”:
•We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary.
•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.
•Believe in something. It really works. Trust me.
•A blog is a great way to build one’s personal “global microbrand.” But it’s not essential.
•Make art every day. I didn’t wait for the money, I didn’t wait to “be discovered,” I didn’t wait for approval from others. I just got on with it, every day.
We all need to have “that moment” when we stop futzing around and actually start acting like officers in command of our own lives. That moment is when you decide to not cut corners, to not make excuses.
Eventually you can ease the relentless day-to-day pressure of being a small-time entrepreneur by learning to take the cream off the top, and leave the rest behind.
The best way to get approval is not to need it.
If you’re grappling with striking out on your own, you might pick up some pointers. At the very least, you’ll cop a grin.