Feb
23

My Review of Evil Plans by Hugh MacLeod

Posted by Aaron West at 10:58 AM in Books

Hugh MacLeod's latest book, Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination was recommended to me last week so I purchased the Kindle edition. It's a short book (192 pages) I was able to knock out in four days. I do recommend the book but don't expect to be given a step-by-step list of todos to create your own Evil Plan. More of my thoughts are after the break.

Before I go further I must mention there are some spoilers below in the form of quotes from the book. I really don't think this will be a problem for folks as we're not talking about spoiling the plot of a novel. Nevertheless, if you'd rather discover these passages as you read the book, you might want to skip this review.

The entire premise of MacLeod's book is to encourage people to create an "Evil Plan" that gets them doing what they love and loving what they do. He describes this early in the book:

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.

I love this sentence as it sums up something I'm constantly striving for. I absolutely, 100% love what I do. I work for an awesome company (Dataium), doing awesome things with great people. Is it my Evil Plan? I'm not sure it's my Evil Plan, but I'm sure it's close and I don't want to be doing anything else.

After describing what an "Evil Plan" is MacLeod uses the rest of the chapters in the book to describe why having and executing an Evil Plan is important.

Finding and implementing your own Evil Plan is without question one of the greatest things you can do with the brief time you're allotted on this earth.

It's written in 2-3 page chapters in much the same way as Rework (by the 37signals guys). Most chapters begin with a simple topic or idea and continue with a story about someone MacLeod has worked with throughout his career. Each chapter is written in way that allows it to stand on it's own which is a good thing. You can pick up the book, read a chapter, and get something out of it without moving on. A byproduct of this however, is moving from chapter to chapter doesn't have enough flow or continuity. MacLeod isn't leading you from the beginning stages of creating and defining your Evil Plan, through the execution of the plan. Rather, he's feeding you simple ideas on what you should do, what you shouldn't do, what's worked for him and what hasn't, and how others have been successful creating their plans.

Throughout the book MacLeod's cartoons and illustrations are used to drive home the points of each chapter. These were quite good and in many cases pretty funny. I found myself sharing several of his cartoons with others in the office, something I'm sure will make him proud. I definitely enjoyed the book and consider it well worth the price of admission. There's also nothing earth-shattering here unless you are coming to the book with absolutely no concept of finding happiness in your life and work. And it just might be that's the audience MacLeod is writing for, those who are in a dead-end job thinking there's no way out or no way to find a life-work synergy. Regardless of which camp you're in the book is good and a quick read. At the time of this writing you can buy Evil Plans in the following formats: Kindle, Hardcover.

Some of my other favorite parts of the book:

Avoid "complicated" like the plague.

Failure's easy. Success isn't.

LARRY ELLISON, THE CEO OF ORACLE, MAY have a million times more money than me, but he isn't going to live a million times longer than me, watch a million times more sunsets than me, make love to a million times more women than me, drink a million times more fine wines than me, listen to a million times more Beethoven string quartets than me, or have a million times more grandchildren than me. Human beings don't scale.

Aaron West's Gravatar
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This entry was posted by Aaron West on February 23, 2011 at 10:58 AM. It was filed in the following categories: Books. It has been viewed 6207 times and has 3 comments.

3 Responses to My Review of Evil Plans by Hugh MacLeod

  1. David's Gravatar David

    Aaron, I'm going to put this on my reading list. I'm interested in reading about the "Avoid "complicated" like the plague. "

    I feel that we, in I.T., are served up "complicated" in the guise of "simple" all the time. It's up to us to work our magic and make complicated look simple - if we're doing it right, that is!

    Simplicity is hard to achieve in life, as well as work.

  2. @David - You're spot on. Here's another post of mine about this very subject (in case you haven't read it). It's quite humorous.

    http://www.aaronwest.net/blog/index.cfm/2010/10/8/...

  3. David's Gravatar David

    Yeah, I think it's like a bell curve - you start out thinking "that's simple", match each new complexity with an equal complexity, and if you're patient enough, bring it back down to a simple level. Not everyone gets to the the final part, you have to be willing to admit you were wrong all along, scrap what you've done and start all over. Sometimes, by that stage, it's all done!

    Cheers

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