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Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  20,121 ratings  ·  514 reviews
When Hugh MacLeod was a struggling young copywriter living in a YMCA, he started to doodle on the backs of business cards while sitting at a bar. Those cartoons eventually led to a popular a reputation for pithy insight and humor, in both words and pictures.MacLeod has opinions on everything from marketing to the meaning of life, but one of his main
Hardcover, 159 pages
Published June 11th 2009 by Portfolio (first published 2009)
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Jun 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: career-advice
I checked this out because I enjoyed the original Gaping Void post. I also lent it to my mother, a Seth Godin fan who'd heard Godin rave about it. We're both writers; I'm a newbie, but Mom earns six figures with her writing. Creativity is vital to what we do, and we represent both ends of the experience spectrum.

Neither of us cared for this book.

I made it through the whole thing (if nothing else, it's a fast read), but Mom handed it back halfway through. She said that the advice seemed to state
Amy Suto
Dec 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
The premise of this book is simple: a self-important cartoonist with mediocre drawing skills rants about how awesome he is for 150 pages.

Just because he likes to draw (badly) on the back of business cards doesn't give him a free pass to write a watered down, uninspired perpetual blog post advising creative types when he does barely fits in the category himself.

There are a few lines of good advice here and there, but they are overshadowed by his repetitive internal ramblings about himself and his
Jul 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-improvement
Pretty good stuff for such a short book :

The 40 Keys
1. Ignore everybody.
2. The idea doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be yours.
3. Put the hours in. Time, effort, and stamina are why 99% people don’t complete anything.
4. Good ideas have lonely childhoods.
5. If your business plan involves 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 was given cra
Oct 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
I hate this book and I hate myself for finishing it.

Evidently somebody (um, somebody named Seth Godin) told this guy who blogs poorly-drawn, unimaginatively-written cartoons that he's such a success and creative genius that he should write a how-to book on being more like him. Luckily for me he didn't have much to say so he used a lot of space putting in crappy cartoons—making it a mercifully short read.

His whole schtick is that his comic strips fit on the backs of business cards. I don't get it
Emma Sea
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed MacLeod's writing, and find his cartoons witty and just in my favorite kind of humor. I mean, quite a few are misogynistic, too, but still, I wish I'd read them before I got married so I'd known what I was getting into.

Not a deep read, but an entertaining one.

Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hugh's writing really resonates with me.

The price of being a sheep is boredom.
The price of being a wolf is loneliness.
Choose one or the other with great care.

Please go to bed with me 2.0

Big offers are a good thing, but personal sovereignty matters a whole lot more over the long run.

If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
The pain of making the necessary sacrifices always hurts more than you think it’s going to.
I know. It sucks. That said, doing something seriously creative is one of the most
Jun 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Hugh writes without apology. He's telling you how to keep that creative spark alive.

His 39 tips (really 40) are all about defending your creative spirit and your right to have it. The tips are typically short, numbering no more than a few paragraphs each. A handful are longer where he relates personal experiences.

The book isn't meant to tell you think right and you'll win. It doesn't tell you the world will line up to help you succeed. This is not a law of attraction book. This book makes you
Yousif Al Zeera
*Not a deep book but a light book for the weekend.

*Hugh is a humorous/sarcastic cartoonist who draws on the back of business cards. Made his fame by doing this. The book sheds some light on his story and what we do to maintain our creativity spark. Came to know about Hugh through reading one of Seth Godin's books.

*The book contains some of his cartoons. Amusing, unfiltered, undiplomatic, direct, no zig zag, straight-to-the-point, unapologetic, strongly-worded, unconservative, non-conformist and
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Most all of MacLeod's 39 ideas are spot on. Half, if not more of MacLeod's 39 ideas and their explanation, had the f-bomb in them. I was going to count them, just for curiosity's sake, but decided against it (because I actually don't have too much time on my hands). For such a creative guy, I would have preferred that he came up with more unique words than using the f-word, time and time again. Very disappointing in that aspect. Imagine if this review had friggin' this and freaking' that every o ...more
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It took me two hours to read and it was a very pleasant read. Deep in your heart you knew most of this and Hugh put it on paper, in his words and with his cartoons. It’s not a guide nor is it telling you what will happen if you do x. It’s bringing you down to earth and making you feel good about the way you are, helping you to not think about what other people think about your “art” too much. It shows nicely the power a blogger can have because he's not dependent on anyone to bring his thoughts ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This book doesn't really share 40 keys to creativity, but rather 40 keys to live a life of creativity without getting discouraged. It's a simple and quick read without anything mind blowing, but I really appreciated the advices given because they were direct and sugarcoat-free. As someone who doubts her ability to be creative and therefore often gives up on projects midway even with the rare courage to start at them, this book nudged me in the most helpful way and I am grateful for it. This remi ...more
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
The book was published in 2009 but the tone of the book sounded like it was published in the 1980's. This may be because he worked in advertising (which I feel like he mentioned once every 3 paragraphs). Advertising, especially in NYC may still have that persona where they only care about sex, money and social status. He mentions sex a lot in this book. He gives off the tone that woman are just objects. He ends almost every chapter or section with a reference to sex. Maybe his target audience is ...more
Jul 04, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
I was pretty disappointed with this book. MacLeod doesn't actually build an argument in this book, but instead seems to repeat the same points in each chapter. The observations he makes, while contradictory, seem a little obvious to me, but I may not be his intended audience, and there is something to be said for reminding people of the obvious truths that the daily grind has made them forget.

Don't get me wrong, MacLeod is not wrong, far from it. It's just the book does not do a very good job of
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020-books
Meh. It was a quick read, but not too enjoyable. If you need it - get it from the library.
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hello everyone i want to testify of the great and powerful spell caster named Dr Larry who brought back my ex who left me and got engaged to another girl, We where happy together when all of a sudden he just change he used to call me every morning and and night before going to bed but all that stopped when i call him he yell at me and told me he didn't want to have anything to do with me anymore i was so sad and confused i didn't know what to do then i went online to search on how to get back my ...more
anthony e.
Nov 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
A *very* quick read, which offers up here and there a few nuggets of wisdom about what, exactly, is required of a creative soul. Truth be told, however, much of its advice, I find, was a little slim. The ideas were there, certainly, and many of them would in fact be helpful were one in the business of exploring and exploiting his or her creative impetus. It advocates a kind of altered perception, centered upon the simple notion of creating for creation's sake, of 'doing' rather than 'talking'. A ...more
May 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, motivational
I checked this book out from the library yesterday and on a whim, decided to read it in the tub last night. I'm glad I did - I spent the next hour or two giggling or outright laughing out loud (in the tub!) as I read through the quirky business-card comics and the kind but blunt insights on living life as a creative person. The Sex and Cash Theory tip alone is worth reading the entire book for, but to say that is the only reason would be doing this book an injustice. It is a FANTASTIC little boo ...more
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-stars
If you like reading books about contradictory and repetitiveness, Ignore Everybody is a good book to add to your list. The first several pages of Ignore Everybody were funny and the art really added to what MacLeod was saying in those early chapters. As I read on, however, I got the feeling that there was either multiple people writing or he just didn't make up his mind really well.

As I progressed through the chapters, I felt MacLeod turn from a humorous author to a nagging teacher that wants th
Jan 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-improvement
"It's good to be young and full of dreams. Dreams of one day doing something "insanely great." Dreams of love, beauty, achievement, and contribution. But understand they have a life of their own,and they're not very good at following instructions. Love them, revere them, nurture them, respect them, but don't ever become a slave to them. Otherwise you'll kill them off prematurely, before they get the chance to come true."

"If I had to condense this entire book into a line or two, it would read so
Alison Livingston
I began reading this by midnight and by four in the morning I had already read it twice. This was the book I needed today, last night, last week, forever. Sometimes you find a book that says everything you were thinking but couldn't put into words. This book was that for me. MacLeod has won a fan for life. It's a quick read, not too daunting. If you are someone creative who has a goal, read it and see for yourself.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Don't we all like lists? This list will give you some support for the things you already know if you consider yourself a creative person. And MacLeod throws in a couple things you hadn't thought of, too. Just remember: You'll almost always be punished for having a new idea, so get ready. As Jonathan Swift wrote, "When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him." This is the book I give college graduates as gifts.
Mar 14, 2010 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: non-fiction
It was a cute-sounding idea, and could have been (and maybe is!) really interesting, but I just couldn't handle the attitude - somewhere between pessimism and a sort of curmudgeonly grumpiness - so after a couple of chapters, I put this one aside.
Cinthya Brenes
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Seriously liked this one i read digital but I'm definitely gonna buy it in print!
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
I don't think I'm the right audience for this book. I also can't get those two hours back.
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Work hard. Keep at it. Live simply and quietly. Remain humble. Stay positive. Create your own luck. Be nice. Be polite."
Mike Lewis
Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, work
Great little book about ideas and how to cultivate and manage ideas
Bogdan Florin
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book for creatives. A book for those that are looking to find their way. A book about thinking different. A book from an advertising pro that shares it's path to greatness.

Some key ideas:
- You can invest in small ideas. You need to make them yours and face the critique of other people.
- It doesn’t happen overnight it happens over many years
- Your experience is what you are putting together
- You receive a box of crayons in the kindergarten, however as you grow older someone else takes them fro
Mar 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book reads like an extended blog post, which makes sense as it grew from a popular post on the author's blog (, but to be honest I imagine the original post probably captured his ideas more succinctly as the book feels rambling and a bit self-indulgent. Hugh's unique idea was to draw satirical cartoons on the back of business cards and he mentions it frequently. They are also liberally peppered throughout the book. Unfortunately, I don't like them. Many of them are ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biz, art
Not bad, not great.
Only a handful of these advices are new to me, the rest are rehashed.
Two or three of the advices are depressingly myopic and shortsighted, too.
#35 (Beware of turning hobbies into jobs) is explained with a belief that “if you turn your hobby into a job, then you won’t have a hobby anymore”, as if to suggest people are only capable of having one hobby at a time.
The author also believes creatives shouldn’t/can’t transcend the duality of having a pay-the-bills job as well as a
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
PERFECT NATURAL HERBS AND VEGANS CURE FOR Herpes 1&2 THAT WORK FAST WITHIN A COUPLE OF WEEKS WITH DR ELINFOH HERBAL MEDICINE, I saw so many testimonies about Dr ELINFOH a great HERBAL DOCTOR that will help you CURE and give you the rightful health to live a joyful life, i didn't believe it at first, but as the pain got worsen and my life was at risk after using lots of ARV drugs from the hospital and no changes so i decided to give a try to Dr Elinfoh I contacted him also and told him i want a c ...more
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