Evil Plans: A Book Review

February 18, 2012 Book Reviews 3 comments

Written and illustrated by renowned cartoonist and blogger Hugh MacLeod of gapingvoid.com (he just completed his 10th year in the business), Evil Plans: Escape the Rat Race and Start Doing Something You Love is a business book that reads more like a personal motivation tome. True to MacLeod’s craft, every other page (or more) is peppered with his characteristically abstract and witty cartoons, complete with clever captions.

An example of this is found below:

Courtesy of gapingvoid.com

As a former advertising copywriter who broke free from the reins, MacLeod writes very well and displays great flair in coining new terms such as “social objects” (an item, person, event which people have conversations about). Examples of phrases and words from his lexicon include:

The Hughtrain Manifesto: “The Market for Something to Believe in is Infinite”

If ever there was a time to be overextended, this is it

Create your own Global Microbrand

The Tao of Undersupply: The biggest problem in the Western world is oversupply. Don’t let it be yours.

Avoid Dinosaurspeak

Courtesy of gapingvoid.com

Those familiar with Seth Godin’s work would also recognise a similar style comprising short, energetic, quoteworthy prose, laced with bold proclamations. Like Seth and many other new age mavens, MacLeod believes in the gift economy where giving away useful stuff may repay itself many times over.

Citing stories from his own work and life history, MacLeod narrates the story of Thomas Mahon, a Saville Row tailor who was given a new lease of life through the help of blogging. In that chapter, the cardinal rules of blogging (or any personal/professional platform for content creation) can thrive so long as the following conditions are met:

1) A great product

2) A unique story

3) Passion and authority (something that I’ll always remember from my good friend Ivan Chew about blogging)

4) Continuity

5) Focus

6) Speaking in your own voice

7) Sovereignty

8) Being broke when you first start (ok maybe this doesn’t have to be true..)

In the longest chapter in the book (the rest are about 2 to 3 pages each), MacLeod gave four reasons why one doesn’t need to wait for perfect knowledge and conditions before starting out. I found these pretty insightful. They are:

1) Being an outsider with too much insider knowledge makes it even more likely that you’ll make the same mistakes as everybody else

2) “Events, dear boy, events.” – Harold Macmillan, British prime minister, 1957-1963, after being asked by a young journalist what is the most likely single factor to blow any government administration off course from its long-term vision.

3) Interesting destinies rarely come from just reading the instruction manual.

4) “Sometimes paranoia’s just having all the facts.” – attributed to William S. Burroughs.

If you’re looking for something short, entertaining, and easy that will make you get up and go, Evil Plans is the book for you. Go ahead and inspire yourself!

PS – you can find lots of great content from MacLeod’s website too, much of it free of charge.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. Read this book and loved it. As usual, the challenge is always taking the great stuff in the book and putting it into practice! His other book “Ignore Everybody” is good too.

  2. Cool. Yeah implementing is always 10 times harder than ideating. One day, I’m gonna look at all my blog posts and try to come up with something that I will execute! 🙂

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