#hughcards Coffee Table Book: A brief but important letter to the hardcore “1,000 True Fans”of @hughcards & Hugh MacLeod

[Please subscribe to this new Hughcards Coffee Table Book Newsletter]

Hi Everybody,

If you saw my Facebook post the other day, you will know that I’m going to be self-publishing my first big, coffee table book of “Hughcards”.

I don’t have a lot of info at the moment. What I do know is that it won’t be cheap, but it will be good.

For one thing, there is no inexpensive way to make a high-end coffee table book. Secondly, the downsides of making it too expensive far outweigh the downsides of making it cheap and cutting corners. Quality matters.

So we’re talking about limited edition hardback of a thousand, high quality paper, dust jacket, individually signed and numbered, all that high-end stuff.

I’ll probably be raising the money through something like Kickstarer or GoFundme.

[NB This project is produced independently of Gapingvoid, but not without their blessing.]

But before I unleash it on the world, I need to build a critical mass of people interested in supporting the project. My “1,000 True Fans“, as it were. I am hoping people reading this will be exactly that. I hope you will subscribe to this new Hughcards Coffee Table Book Newsletter and help get this project off the ground, Thanks.


Lots of Love,

Hugh MacLeod

Attain Mastery


[More thoughts on the IGNORE EVERYBODY book.]

[This is the talk I gave at the first ever Ignite Miami, back in 2012:]

1. Like everybody else here tonight, I give a lot of thought to “Success”. What does it take to be successful, prosprous, happy, have a sense of purpose etc? What does THAT actually look like?

2. And by successful, I don’t mean “lucky”. I don’t mean people born rich or lottery winners. That kind of success never comes from within, that kind of success is too external and random to bother worrying about.

3. Of course, the media LOVE success models of the outrageously fortunate- celebrity artists, celebrity businessmen, celebrity spiritual leaders, not to mention the Reality TV, famous-for-being-famous crowd.

4. The thing is, I know TONS of super successful people, but none of them fit this extreme, celeb-lottery-winner TV model. Some of them are actually pretty boring, to be honest. But they lead happy lives and do VERY well careerwise. THAT is what most success looks like, if you think about it. The stuff on TV or in the movies just isn’t REAL enough to be that useful for us to emulate.

5. So I was thinking about this again, recently, HARD. What model would work for these people, these folk like you and me? A model that didn’t mean you had to sell your soul to Wall Street, Hollywood or Washington? A success model that doesn’t rely solely on the unlikelihood of outrageously good fortune or plain, dumb luck?

6. Then quite by chance, I saw a great documentary the other week: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, a film about the world’s greatest sushi master, and a lightbulb EXPLODED in my head.

7. Our man, Jiro is eighty five years old (EIGHTY FIVE!), doesn’t have a lot of money or own a fleet of trendy restaurants in all the world’s capitals, a-la Wolfgang Puck. He’s just being doing it for 60 years; he just has just a small, plain, dingy, ordinary, low-key sushi bar with ten seats in a Tokyo subway, the kind you’d probably just walk by without stopping if you saw it. Ten seats!  Yet he’s the best in the world at what he does.

8. Jiro works over 350 days a year, serves sushi and sashimi to people in very small numbers, and THAT’S IT. Just sushi. No salad, no appetizers, no deserts. Like I said, JUST SUSHI. And by sticking to this bare-bones formula, he’s become the first sushi chef in the world to win three Michelin stars.

9. A tiny little sushi bar in some random subway station. Yet people wait in line, people book a stool at his sushi bar as much as a year in advance, a prices starting around $600 a head. People have been known to fly all the way from America or Europe, just to experience a 30-minute meal. In a subway station!

10. I was lucky enough to have a similar experience first-hand when about eight years ago, I started working with the English Savile Row tailors. They make the best suits in the world; all hand-made, they go for about $5000 a pop.

11. The tailors have a similar shtick as Jiro. They’re generally not that rich, their businesses are tiny, yet the great and the good worship at their feet. Celebrities, captains of industry, people who are also world-class at what they do, like Jiro’s customers, waiting as long as a year in advance to get their next suit.

12. Like Jiro, the tailors just get up every morning and do their thing, day-in-day-out, humbly, quietly, without a lot of fanfare, totally dedicated to their jobs. I’ve seen it. On the surface, it’s quiet, calm and kinda dull.

13. And like Jiro, from my observations they seem to have this sense of inner satisfaction my Wall Street trader friends (who easily make ten times as much, even on a bad day) can only dream of.

14. As a result, Jiro and the Savile Row tailors are the people I really try to emulate. Because it’s doable. I can do that. I may never be as rich as Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet, I may never be literally a rock star like Bono or Jagger, but I can be like Jiro and the tailors… or at least, more like them.

15. And like them, I live very low-key; I get up every morning and quietly get on with the business cranking out my product, my cartoons. Like I said, quiet, calm and kinda dull.

16. So what’s their secret? THE secret? What is the secret sauce that lets these otherwise quite ordinary people like Jiro and the tailors, lead such extraordinary lives?

17. In a word: MASTERY. They’ve MASTERED something. Something interesting and valuable. They are MASTERS of their craft. It may be an old-fashioned word that makes people uncomfortable, but that’s only because it’s something that eludes most people.

18. Though, having watched these masters carefully first-hand, I can honestly say MASTERY is more satisfying than money (and I’ve seen both, trust me). If you’re up for it, yes, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN MONEY, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN SUCCESS.

19. And it’s portable. It travels with you, wherever you go. No landlord, no boss, no recession, no Wall Street analyst, no newspaper critic can take it away. It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.

20. So when a young person asks me for career advice these days, I tell her, “Don’t worry about so much about money, fame, success, whatever. Worry about Mastery- that is something precious you can actually control. And yes, if you’ve achieved mastery, you’re more likely to be successful and prosperous, anyway.” Again, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN SUCCESS. So go for it. Thank you.

[P.S.: Thanks to Alex and Ana for making this happen for me. I had a great evening!]



If Gapingvoid is about one thing, it’s about finding meaning at work. Making work meaningful. Creating meaning, making work more meaningful, all that good stuff.

Why? Because when I was a kid I had a whole series of crappy day jobs and I realized that I’d have to do something drastic in order to pull myself out of the existential hole I found myself in.

And so eventually Jason, myself and the team began a dialogue. It was our Holy Grail: Meaningful work that paid the bills. You don’t have to be a billionaire, you don’t have to be a rockstar, you just have to kick some ass. *Meaning Scales*.

But for a leader, say, a CEO of a company, how does meaning scale? How do you find meaning for not just for yourself, but for everybody who works for you and beyond?

Wow. That’s a huge question. You’d probably need to write a book to even come close to answering that.

What I will say, is from what I’ve learned on the job, “meaning at scale” is a cultural issue i.e. your company is either culturally engineered for it, or it’s not.

First off, you need to decide what kind of race you want to run. Sure, Gapingvoid has “Culture Design” products and services that can help you with this, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you. Leaders lead. That’s why others get to follow.

Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s lonely. But if that is what God put you on this earth for, so be it.

You weren’t planning on an easy life, anyway…

LINK: gapingvoid.com


When I first moved to Manhattan in December, 1997 I got into the habit of doodling on the back of business cards, just to give me something to do while sitting at the bar. The format stuck.

All I had when I first got to New York were 2 suitcases, a couple of cardboard boxes full of stuff, a reservation at the YMCA, and a 10-day freelance copywriting gig at a Midtown advertising agency.

My life for the next couple of weeks was going to work, walking around the city, and staggering back to the YMCA once the bars closed. Lots of alcohol and coffee shops. Lot of weird people. Being hit five times a day by this strange desire to laugh, sing and cry simultaneously. At times like these, there’s a lot to be said for an art form that fits easily inside your coat pocket.

The freelance gig turned into a permanent job. I stayed in town for the next two years. The first month in New York for a newcomer has this certain amazing magic about it that is indescribable. Incandescent lucidity. However long you stay in New York, you pretty much spend the rest of your time there trying to recapture that feeling. Chasing Manhattan Dragon. I suppose the whole point of the cards initially was to somehow get that buzz onto paper.

Twenty years later, and I’m still on it. I’ve drawn thousands and thousands of them. I never monetized them, not really, I had to do other things to make a living.

Frankly I’m glad it worked out that way- it’s nice to have pretty much the entire body of work intact as a single whole. It gives the work a magnitude it simply wouldn’t have if the series was all broken up and scattered.

LINK: hughcards.co/ny