Category: Mindset (page 1 of 10)

Ignore Everybody (Book Summary)

Ignore Everybody (book cover)This is my quick book summary of Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity (by Hugh MacLeod). The book is available on Amazon.

Summary notes below. All emphasis mine.


Good ideas alter the power balance in relationships. That is why good ideas are always initially resisted.

Good ideas come with a heavy burden, which is why so few people execute them. So few people can handle it.

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours. The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.

Your idea doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be yours alone. The more the idea is yours alone, the more freedom you have to do something really amazing.

3. Put the hours in. If somebody in your industry is more successful than you, it’s probably because he works harder at it than you do.

4. Good ideas have lonely childhoods.

5. If your business plan depends on suddenly being “discovered” by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

6. You are responsible for your own experience.

7. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

8. Keep your day job.

The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task at hand covers both bases, but not often.

It’s balancing the need to make a good living while still maintaining one’s creative sovereignty.

The young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool and hip magazines… who dreams of one day not having her life divided so harshly. Well, over time the “harshly” bit might go away, but not the “divided.” This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended. And nobody is immune. Not the struggling waiter, nor the movie star. As soon as you accept this, I mean really accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster.

9. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

10. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb. You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.

11. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would seriously surprise me.

A fancy tool just gives the second-rater one more pillar to hide behind. Which is why there are so many second-rate art directors with state-of-the-art Macintosh computers.

Successful people, artists and non-artists alike, are very good at spotting pillars. They’re very good at doing without them. Even more important, once they’ve spotted a pillar, they’re very good at quickly getting rid of it. Good pillar management is one of the most valuable talents you can have on the planet.

Keep asking the question, “Is this a pillar?” about every aspect of our business, our craft, our reason for being alive, and go from there. The more we ask, the better we get at spotting pillars, the more quickly the pillars vanish.

12. Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

13. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

You’re better off doing something on the assumption that you will not be rewarded for it, that it will not receive the recognition it deserves, that it will not be worth the time and effort invested in it. The obvious advantage to this angle is, of course, if anything good comes of it, then it’s an added bonus.

The second, more subtle and profound advantage is that by scuppering all hope of worldly and social betterment from the creative act, you are finally left with only one question to answer: Do you make this damn thing exist or not?

14. Never compare your inside with somebody else’s outside.

The more you practice your craft, the less you confuse worldly rewards with spiritual rewards, and vice versa.

Never sell something you love. Otherwise, you may as well be selling your children.

15. Dying young is overrated.

Every kid underestimates his competition, and overestimates his chances. Every kid is a sucker for the idea that there’s a way to make it without having to do the actual hard work.

The bars of West Hollywood, London, and New York are awash with people throwing their lives away in the desperate hope of finding a shortcut, any shortcut. Meanwhile the competition is at home, working their asses off.

16. 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.

It is this red line that demarcates your sovereignty; that defines your own private creative domain. What crap you are willing to take, and what crap you’re not. What you are willing to relinquish control over, and what you aren’t. What price you are willing to pay, and what price you aren’t.

Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.

When I see somebody “suffering for their art,” it’s usually a case of their not knowing where that red line is.

17. The world is changing.

If you want to be able to afford groceries in five years, I’d recommend listening closely to the (people who push change) and avoiding the (people who resist change).

In order to navigate the New Realities you have to be creative – not just within your particular profession, but in everything. Your way of looking at the world will need to become ever more fertile and original.

The old ways are dead. And you need people around you who concur. That means hanging out more with the creative people, the freaks, the real visionaries.

They’re easy enough to find if you make the effort, if you’ve got something worthwhile to offer in return.

Avoid the folk who play it safe. They can’t help you anymore. Their stability model no longer offers that much stability. They are extinct; they are extinction.

18. Merit can be bought. Passion can’t. The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.

Part of understanding the creative urge is understanding that it’s primal.

We think we’re “Providing a superior integrated logistic system” or “Helping America to really taste Freshness.” In fact we’re just pissed off and want to get the hell out of the cave and kill the woolly mammoth.

19. Avoid the Water cooler Gang.

20. Sing in your own voice.

The really good artists, the really successful entrepreneurs, figure out how to circumvent their limitations, figure out how to turn their strengths into weaknesses.

Had Bob Dylan been more of a technical virtuoso, he might not have felt the need to give his song lyrics such power and resonance.

21. The choice of media is irrelevant.

My cartooning MO was and still is to just have a normal life, be a regular Joe, with a terrific hobby on the side. It’s not exactly rocket science. This attitude seemed fairly alien to the Art Majors I met. Their chosen art form seemed more like a religion to them. It was serious. It was important. It was a big part of their identity, and it almost seemed to them that humanity’s very existence totally depended on their being able to pursue their dream as a handsomely rewarded profession.

22. Selling out is harder than it looks.

Diluting your product to make it more “commercial” will just make people like it less.

23. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

24. Worrying about “Commercial vs. Artistic” is a complete waste of time.

It’s not about whether Tom Clancy sells truckloads of books or a Nobel Prize winner sells diddly-squat. Those are just ciphers, external distractions. To me, it’s about what you are going to do with the short time you have left on this earth. Different criteria altogether. Frankly, how a person nurtures and develops his or her own “creative sovereignty,” with or without the help of the world at large, is in my opinion a much more interesting subject.

25. Don’t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

Find a way of working that makes it dead easy to take full advantage of your inspired moments. They never hit at a convenient time, nor do they last long.

Writer’s block is just a symptom of feeling like you have nothing to say, combined with the rather weird idea that you should feel the need to say something.

Why? If you have something to say, then say it. If not, enjoy the silence while it lasts. The noise will return soon enough.

26. You have to find your own shtick.

Jackson Pollock discovering splatter paint. Or Robert Ryman discovering all-white canvases. Andy Warhol discovering silk-screen. Hunter S. Thompson discovering gonzo journalism. Duchamp discovering the found object. Jasper Johns discovering the American flag. Hemingway discovering brevity. James Joyce discovering stream-of-consciousness prose.

Somehow while playing around with something new, suddenly they found they were able to put their entire selves into it.

27. Write from the heart.

28. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

29. Power is never given. Power is taken.

The minute you become ready is the minute you stop dreaming. Suddenly it’s no longer about “becoming.” Suddenly it’s about “doing.”

You didn’t go in there, asking the editor to give you power. You went in there and politely informed the editor that you already have the power. That’s what being “ready” means. That’s what “taking power” means. Not needing anything from another person in order to be the best in the world.

30. Whatever choice you make, the Devil gets his due eventually.

31. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

32. Remain frugal.

Part of being creative is learning how to protect your freedom. That includes freedom from avarice.

33. Allow your work to age with you. You become older faster than you think. Be ready for it when it happens.

34. Being Poor Sucks. The biggest mistake young people make is underestimating how competitive the world is out there.

35. Beware of turning hobbies into jobs.

James Gold-Smith once quipped, “When a man marries his mistress, he immediately creates a vacancy.” What’s true in philanderers is also true in life.

“Before, this man had a job and a hobby. Now suddenly, he’s just got the job, but no hobby anymore. But a man needs both, you see. And now what does this man, who’s always had a hobby, do with his time?” My friend held up his glass. “Answer: Drink.”

36. Savor obscurity while it lasts. Once you “make it,” your work is never the same.

If they were still “eating dog food” after a few decades, I doubt if they’d be waxing so lyrically. But as long as you can progress from it eventually, it’s a time to be savored. A time when your work is still new to you, a time when the world doesn’t need to be fed.

37. Start blogging.

38. Meaning scales


Read other reviews and notes on the book’s Amazon page.

The Art of Nonconformity (Book Summary)

The Art of Nonconformity (book cover)This is my quick book summary of The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (by Chris Guillebeau). The book is available on Amazon.

Summary notes below. All emphasis mine.


“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.” – Thoreau

You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.

Come join the living world of adventure!

“The tragedy of life is not so much what we suffer, but rather what we miss.” – Thomas Carlyle

Life is short, Time is Limited.

It’s usually better to do something than not to do it.

Start thinking about your legacy immediately. Then, begin living your life with that vision in mind.

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

“The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” – Walter Bahegot

“Don’t look for the meaning of life. Instead, seek out the experience of being alive.” – Joseph Campbell

“Whatever your dreams are, start taking them very, very seriously.”

1.) Create your ideal world. Goal: wake up knowing there will be something new/exciting/unknown at work

2.) Radical goal setting

  • 1 year goals – writing, health, business, family, service, travel, income and giving
  • 5-year goals, lifetime goals

3.) Planning for serendipity

  • All the time you want for the people you love
  • As much time as you need to think or plan
  • Work that is fun, fulfilling and challenging
  • Financial independence
  • A few “adventure goals”
  • Travel goals
  • Things that other people “don’t get” but that make perfect sense to you

Get rid of:

  • drama and whiny people
  • busywork, or any work that ultimately lacks value
  • schedules set by other people
  • unnecessary obligations or things we do out of a sense of guilt

You never need to apologize for pursuing your own ideals and dreams.

  • What needs can you meet?
  • Who looks to you as a leader?
  • What bothers you about the world?
  • How can you make things better?
  • What can you offer the world that no one else can?

Choose abundance over scarcity. Scarcity involves hoarding, while abundance involves sharing.

When faced with uncertainty, take the leap.

Intelligence is not a prerequisite, but determination is.

You can have unlimited dreams and goals, but not unlimited priorities.

Momentum is on your side. But first you need to be clear about what you want and where you are going.

Your Life, Your Terms

Start understanding what you want to get out of life. In the end, it’s not about you. Most of us want a life that leaves a personal impact on others.

“The absence of fear is not courage, the absence of fear is mental illness.”

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually feeling you can make one” – Elbert Hubbard

3 most common fears: Fear of Failure, Fear of Change and Fear of Success

“They say time changes things, but actually you have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho

Apply the “no regrets” mind set.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

“People don’t want you to be an actor. They want you to be yourself.” – actress from L.A.

Asking yourself: “What’s the worst that can happen?” puts things into perspective

How to Fight Authority and Win

  • “The question is not who is going to let me, but rather who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can’t drive a car.
  • People will always try to stop you from doing the right thing if it’s unconventional.

Marginalization and the Department of No

Deploy the underdog strategy: change the way the game is played

“The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person doing it.” – Chinese prov.

Typical gatekeeper argument: “everybody is doing this, so why shouldn’t you?”

What You Don’t Need:

  1. Experience. The past belongs on a resume
  2. Years of preparation
  3. Paperwork
  4. A mentor. You can’t outsource the responsibility of planning the course of your life.

What You Really Need:

  1. Passion. If you’re not absolutely passionate about what you believe in, chances are you haven’t discovered it yet. Keep looking.
  2. Vision and a task. Vision tells you where you’re going. Task tells you what you need to get there.
  3. Answer these questions, and you’ll be ahead of everyone else:
    1. What do you really want to get out of life?
    2. How can you help others in a way that no one else can?
  4. You need commitment to stay the course. 10,000 hours or more!

Reclaiming Work

Competence is your security.

Memorize and follow this never-fail recipe: Get started. Don’t quit.

Option 1: Self-Employment (online, location independent):

GOOD BusinessBAD Business
Creates assets that sell on their ownTrades time for money
Independent of economic climateDependent on economic climate
Flexible hours, flexible locationRigid schedule (shop or service)
High profit margins, regular cash flowLow profit margins, irregular cash flow
Founder owns the IPSomeone else (i.e. franchise owns the IP)

Option 2: Change the rules of employment – “boss hunting”

Don’t just escape from something – escape to something

“Some people get an education without going to college; the rest get it when they get out” – Mark Twain.

“Colleges are like old age homes, except for the fact that more people die in colleges.” – Bob Dylan

Relate your education/learning to what you actually want to do when you finish!

The Power of your own Small Army

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, become more, then you are a leader” – John Adams

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

  1. Recruit your small army
    – Identify the platform(s) from which you will speak to them. Blog, social networking profile, etc. Communicate with at least 2 mediums.
    – Establish a “Reason Why” you’re looking for their help. They’re going to think: “It sounds cool, but what does it do for someone like me?”
    – Create a welcoming environment. “Come join us. Be part of something bigger than yourself. There are other people who see the world in a similar way.”
  2. Train and reward your army
    – Motivation: Inspiration (most important), education, and entertainment.
    – Be yourself: show your failures and successes on a personal level
    – Rewards: write 3 personal notes or thank you letters every day. Do the unexpected.
  3. Ask your army for help
    – Basics: join an email list, subscribe to blog, complete a survey
    – Help you spread the word (let them bring more prospects to your campaign): “please tell someone about this” or “please pass the word to three other people”
    – Help you connect with anyone
    – Provide financial support (1000 true fans as patrons of your work)
    – Grow your business – instead of focusing on selling, focus on solving problems. Customers = true fans
    – Join the cause (literally)

Warning: if you don’t do what you say you’ll do, or don’t apologize when you make a mistake, say goodbye to your army.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.

Your Personal Finance Journey

“I’d like to live as a poor man, with lots of money.” – Pablo Picasso

  1. Happily exchange money for the things you value
  2. Don’t exchange money for the things you don’t value
  3. Value life experiences over physical possessions
  4. Investing in others is at least as important as long-term savings

To get serious about saving, focus on increasing income more than cutting expenses.

Work toward financial independence, but never retire. Instead of trying to accumulate wealth, focus on increasing and diversifying income.

“If we command our wealth, we should be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.” – Edmund Burke

Places to give to: UNICEF / Kiva / Oxfam / Doctors without Borders

Instead of giving a one-time gift, it’s usually better to give an ongoing monthly commitment.

Once you give, let it go. It’s literally out of your hands at this point, and that’s where it should stay.

What They Say About Winners

“If you want to get a lot of people to hate you, make a lot of money doing something you love” – Hugh MacLeod

People who put down winners are energy-sucking vampires. Just because you’re winning doesn’t require someone else to lose, but most don’t understand that

“Great spirits have always been violently oppressed by mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein

“Every man dies – but not every man lives” – William Wallace

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” – Albert Einstein

Achieving harmony is two-fold:

  1. Say goodbye to unnecessary tasks, obligations, expectations
  2. Welcome in a wide range of things that enrich our lives

Eliminating the Unnecessary

Keep asking yourself: “What will happen if I don’t do this?” and you will gradually learn to discern necessary from unnecessary.

Occasionally make a list of things that drain your energy and do not create any value

Live with 100 things – give away what you no longer need.

Choices, Inputs and Obligations you can usually end:

  • stop making commitments to people, events and activities that bring you down
  • give up meetings and TV
  • give up the phone as much as possible. For voicemail, just have a message with your name
  • give up e-mail.

Enriching Our Lives through Abundance – “But what do we keep?!”

At the end of the day you want to be tired, not from a grind but with a sense of “wow.”

  • Say YES to legacy work.
  • Say YES to work that leaves a deliverable (define work in output instead of time)
  • Say YES to your kind of fun.
  • Say NO to work that doesn’t leave a deliverable (unnecessary meetings, etc.)
  • Say NO to busywork.
  • Say NO to things you would only do out of obligation.

If you have a bad feeling, say NO. If you feel slightly intimidated but also excited, say YES.

Contrarian Adventures

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”

Your Legacy Starts Now

“To live, to love to learn, to leave a legacy. The need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need. To have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.” – Stephen Covey

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.

Stop simply reliving your glory days. Think about moving on to even greater things.

  • Begin thinking about every day as the first day of your life. If you want more glory days, start building a legacy.
  • Best time to start working on it was yesterday. Today will do.

The Search for Meaning – the 2 Questions

  1. What do you really want to get out of life?
  2. What can you offer the world that no one else can?

Also, you have to really answer the question: “How will this really help people?”

VISION: How will the world be different because of this project?

BENEFICIARIES: Who will benefit from this project?

PRIMARY METHOD / MEDIUM: How will you do the work?

OUTPUT: What will be produced as a result of your work?

METRICS: How will success be measured?

Legacy projects require Legacy work.

  • Every day you’ll face a battle between legacy work and busywork
  • Good work vs. Great work. Great work is simultaneously comforting and discomforting because it pushes us to go further.

In the morning, ask yourself:

  • How am I feeling?
  • What do I want right now?
  • What is the single, most important thing I can do today?

In the evening, ask yourself:

  • Who did I help today?
  • How much time did I spend creating today?
  • Did I move closer to one of my big goals today?
  • How much exercise did I do today?
  • How much sugar/caffeine/alcohol did I consume today?
  • What do I want for tomorrow?

Creating vs. Responding

Key principle of legacy work: usually involves creating something as opposed to responding to something that exists. When you create, you initiate a new project or interaction.

Measure work in output, not hours. Deliverable, not the time you spent doing it.

Create a continual metric for your most important work. If you consistently produce x of something per day, you won’t be disappointed.

Don’t compare yourself – don’t let others look down on you.

But what about process?

  • Make something beautiful that will outlast you
  • Wake up in the middle of the night with good ideas. Share them with the world.

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”

“One can resist the invasion of an army, but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.” – Victor Hugo

Leave the “real world” to those who are satisfied with it, and come join the living world.

The feeling of being alive more than compensates for the negative consequences of living life on our own terms.

A Few Dangerous Ideas

  • Change the balance of power and usefulness of university education
  • “Tent cities” / Free shelter for 1 year to fight homelessness
  • Why do charities exist after they have already solved the big problems? They should get out of the way
  • Prisons for nonviolent offenders could encourage supervised work
  • Eradicating systemic poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy

What is YOUR dangerous idea?

The Opposite of Luck

Make your own luck. Be daring, be impractical!

Failure is a real possibility, but regrets are completely optional.

If one plan doesn’t’ work, do something else. But if you don’t try, you’ll go to the grave with the song still in you.

You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.

Provocative ideas that challenged authority were rarely welcomed by the people who controlled access to power and wealth.

Taking the road less travelled is a good start, but you can also build your own road.

Stand for something! Come join the living world. “The rest of us are waiting.”


Read other reviews and notes on the book’s Amazon page.