6.01.2009

CBJ Book Review: Ignore Everybody

This originally ran in the May 18-24, 2009 issue of the Corridor Business Journal.

Ignore Everybody

Hugh MacLeod

Portfolio, 159 p., $23.95

Having read Hugh MacLeod’s wildly successful blog, Gaping Void (www.gapingvoid.com), for the past four years, I feared that a whole book of his musings would be a bit too much.

That’s not a slight, necessarily. When you’re used to reading bite-sized nuggets from someone with an outsized personality like Mr. MacLeod, the prospect of 159 pages of the stuff is daunting.

I needn’t have worried, for Ignore Everybody was transforming. Where Mr. MacLeod’s blog posts offer the occasional burst of insight and inspiration, a book full of such thoughts was truly moving. I can safely say that this was the first business book I’ve been compelled to read in one day, and the first that made me actually feel like doing something immediately afterward.

Mr. MacLeod was a New York marketer with a cartooning background who started drawing cartoons on the backs of business cards while killing time in bars. He scanned these, uploaded them to the web and then wrote blog posts about marketing and cartooning to run with them. Today 1.5 million people monthly visit his blog, and screen prints of his cartoons sell for hundreds of dollars.

That in and of itself would be worth a book, and while Mr. MacLeod does share much about his own odd career path, he really focuses on his thoughts about creativity. He shares 40 such insights here, from “ignore everybody” to “none of this is rocket science.” In between, on pages liberally sprinkled with his funny, bawdy and incisive cartoons, he offers something that reads like a mash up of affirmation, advice and inspiration.

This may sound slight, and anyone paging through this in a bookstore would be hard pressed to argue otherwise. But it does what it sets out to do. Mr. MacLeod makes his point (“Ignore everybody”), amplifies it (“The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you.”) and then expounds on it for a page or two.

Each point is poignant enough, but it is the aggregation of all 40 points that drives home the key point: indulge your creative self, but don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make it your be-all end-all that you quash the energy that made that creative outlet so rewarding in the first place.

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