"Everybody needs an Evil Plan. Everybody needs that crazy, out-there idea that allows them to actually start doing something they love, doing something that matters. Everybody needs an Evil Plan that gets them the hell out of the rat race, away from lousy bosses, away from boring, dead-end jobs that they hate. Life is short."
Business and personal development books generally fall into one of two categories. First, there are those based in science and research. The Heath Brother’s Switch, Dan Ariely’s The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, and Jim Collins’ Good to Great are all examples of books that use data, facts, and figures to shine a light on new opportunities or help you better understand the reason a particular obstacle continues to stifle your growth.
Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by Hugh MacLeod is in the other category. You won’t find much science. He doesn’t cite any research or psychological studies. He doesn’t need to. He’s one of those authors with the unique ability to build a compelling case without science, spreadsheets, or control groups. What makes it even more powerful is it feels like he’s talking right to you. With each page, each chapter, you’re wondering how he knows so much about you, your dreams, and your fears. And by the end, you are pondering not only the decisions you’ve made, but more importantly, the ones you need to make.
One Powerful Word
Is it possible to distill this book down to one word? Yes. Definitely yes!
Drafting and executing your own Evil Plan starts with decisions. You get to decide what’s important, what matters, and what makes you feel alive. You get to decide how you want to contribute and who you want to collaborate or work with.
And for the many, many millions who’ve never felt they had the resources, ability, or connections to decide to carve their own path, MacLeod challenges those assumptions and assertions at every turn. Much like Seth Godin, MacLeod points to the power of the connection economy (though he doesn’t specifically call it that) as the catalyst that has made “world domination” a possibility for anyone, regardless of your location, your niche, or your perceived limitations.
And while there are no scientific studies or research to support this position in the book, there are countless anecdotes from both MacLeod’s personal experience and the stories of others that demonstrate what’s possible.
So rather than answers or formulas, the book leaves you with more questions than answers. For example:
What Evil Plan have you been putting off until the stars are completely aligned? (For the record, they will never be aligned perfectly.)
Are you making the best use of the brief amount of time you’ve been allotted on this Earth?
What are you really afraid of?
Embrace the Unknown
"Failure’s easy. Success isn't."
Now that you’re all pumped up and ready to go, there is a bit of bad news. Please don’t decide to build your Evil Plan because you think it will be easier than whatever you’re doing now. MacLeod explains, and I can personally attest, that this is not likely the case. In fact, chances are it will be harder–much, much, harder.
Following your Evil Plan requires the ability to move forward with no guarantee of success. You can’t shy away from words like uncertainty, unknown, mistakes, and risk. The road to world domination is full of highs and lows. Yes you will have some victories, but you have to be ready to fight for them. You have to be flexible and able to make adjustments on the fly. You need to embrace feedback, criticism, and rejection.
And while there will hopefully be financial success along this path, that is not the only reward. It can’t be the only reward. The real satisfaction is in knowing that you are building, or selling, or creating something that matters. The real sense of accomplishment comes from building real connections with the people who embrace your Evil Plan.
Real success is when “People aren’t merely buying your product, your Evil Plan; they are buying the story you are telling … a story that’s not just about you, but about them, and what they could be.”
Average Is So Yesterday
"Mediocrity has had its day. That day is so over."
Our economy no longer supports mediocrity. Mostly because we don’t have to settle for it if we don’t want to. Access to something better – more stable software, more durable furniture, more competent employees – is only a click away. But I sense MacLeod’s quote above refers to a different kind of mediocrity.
He’s talking about us, you and me. More and more people are deciding (there’s that word again) they are no longer willing to accept living a mediocre life, spending 10 hours in a mediocre cubicle, for mediocre pay.
He suggests that few valid reasons exist for postponing your Evil Plan. The time may never come when you “have an answer for every possible contingency” or “know enough about the industry….or where it will be in five years.” But the good news is you don’t need to know it all to start.
These summaries are intended to be actionable. If you’re stuck in a rut, a job you don’t like, or doing work that has no meaning, stop. If you know that you will look back and regret the chances you didn’t take, you can change that starting today. Taking action is a personal choice.
MacLeod explains it this way: “That’s all I ever wanted: my best self, playing my best game.”