Everybody Should Read Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod

Do you want to know how to easily find success? If so, then you probably shouldn’t read Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod. One of the themes of the book is that success is not easy. Creativity and Innovation are inherently threatening acts to many people, which makes new ides difficult to execute. And to do something novel requires you to put in a lot of hours so that you are uniquely good at something (i.e. build a craft!).

MacLeod built his fame by drawing cartoons on the back of business cards. After doing this for a while, he started sharing them on his blog gapingvoid.com. Ignore Everybody talks about some of the things that MacLeod has learned while he learned his craft and got his ideas to spread. It’s a terrific book and I highly recommend it. You can read a big section of it on MacLeod’s website here.

There are some pretty useful innovation lessons in the book too. Here’s one quote:

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.

This picks up on several themes that we talk about here regularly. It is hard to get new ideas to spread, precisely because of this resistance. And in the end, the good ideas that do spread are the ones that are executed – which is the hard part.

I get asked a lot “Your business card format is very simple. Aren’t you worried about somebody ripping you off?”
Standard Answer: Only if they can draw more of them than me, better than me.
What give the work its edge is the simple fact that I’ve spend years drawing them. I’ve drawn thousands. Tens of thousands of man-hours.
So if somebody want to rip my idea off, go ahead. If somebody wants to overtake me in the Business Card Doodle Wars, go ahead. You’ve got many long years in front of you. And unlike me, you won’t be doing it for the joy of it.

Craft, execution and effort. Not a glamorous formula, but it works.

Here’s one more quote from his blog:

Patience is a vir­tue. Things tend to hap­pen more slowly at big com­pa­nies, espe­cially the more edgy stuff. A lot more time and effort is nee­ded to corral your allies into cri­ti­cal mass. That’s just reality.

A lot of people find themselves in positions where it is hard to get their innovative new ideas accepted. There is no easy way to get around this problem – you just have to work at it. But ultimately, that’s where the joy is. And that’s why we need to be working on ideas that matter.

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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