Do you have an evil plan? I don’t just mean a plan like a Bond villain to disrupt the energy market, forcing everyone to buy from your energy company and achieving a monopoly but what is your evil plan to get away from that boss that sucks the creativity out of you? What are you doing to stop living from paycheck to paycheck? And how are you doing more of the things that make you excited in the morning?
If you aren’t doing these things, Hugh argues, it’s because you don’t have an evil plan. An evil plan is any plan that combines what you do for a living with what you truly love. And it’s only evil because it will make your friends, families and coworkers jealous that you are thriving with whatever you end up doing – whether it’s art, a side hustle, writing a book, tech start-up, etc. Everybody needs an evil plan, but how do you actually go about creating your evil plan? Here is what I learned from Hugh’s story:
Create your own global microbrand
What an interesting concept: global microbrand. It actually makes a lot of sense. Let’s break down the concept. First – miccrobrand, this is the idea of getting to an extremely small niche where you know for sure that you have a small but zealous and enthusiastic market. Maybe you sell japanese knives in your little store in Toronto. Or you train cats how to pee in the toilet. How does the global come in? With the power of the internet, your small microbrand can become global through virtual coaching sessions, online shopping, youtube videos and more.
Keep your evil plan simple
Hugh tells the story of a small meat business shop that sells a thousand pounds of meat… every day. What in the world? If they have a reasonable margin, they are making quite a bit of money – maybe more money than some of the highest paid friends you may know. And for a lot less stress and overhead. You don’t need to do fancy things in your evil plan to make a living doing what you love. Keeping it simple will help with other things too (which I’m sure Hugh implied): marketing, product differentiation, sales, logistics – just a few things that will be easier if you keep it simple.
How many people do you know are overextended? They are writing books, have a demanding full time job, kids, manage a website, write on the side, blog, etc. It seems like a bad thing – very stressful, but in fact, the world is moving this way. Humans are designed to compete, designed to create, not to sit around all day, not to consume. I have a close friend who seems to schedule social events every free hour she has on week nights and weekends. I don’t know how she does it and I wish I had her energy but I bet she gets a lot done too (this will probably be another post but scheduling things in your calendar means that you get more stuff done).
Make art every day
I know this is probably a story that you have heard before but I recently heard it again: Jerry Seinfeld’s secret to comedy was to get funnier every single day. And the way to become funnier was to get better at writing jokes. And the way to get better at writing jokes was to write jokes every single day – whether or not they were funny, write jokes. His secret was that he would get a huge calendar where he could see every single day of the year. Every day, if he wrote jokes, he would mark the day off with a red ‘X’. Over time, he would develop a nice long chain of X’s and his only goal every day was to not break the chain of X’s. I’m pretty sure the same thing applies to whatever craft you want to develop: piano, dance, writing, making videos, stand up. Do it every single day and then fail enough so that you know how to become better.
Become an amazing storyteller
Hugh tells the story of his friend who wanted to get started in the film business as a director. He had all the equipment but times were tough and he couldn’t seem to crack into the film business. So his friend decided to get into porn. But not just any porn – this was personalized porn. He and a videographer would come in to your home. Film you doing the deed, with nice lighting, different angles, nice setting. He would then, on his computer and in your home, edit the whole thing and then when done, he would give you a copy and then erase everything off his cameras and computer, leaving you with the only copy. Later on, Hugh was asking his friend for permission to share the story in his book and it turned out that this story was completely made up. He made up the story because he wanted to differentiate himself from other film directors and to get him his first few jobs in the film business. His friend realized that human beings need to tell stories. When you buy something that is not a commodity (a car, a house, a smartphone), you are telling yourself a story with whatever you are buying. If you buy an iphone, you are telling yourself that you are hip, cool, into design, etc. If you buy a house, you tell yourself that you are settling down, need the space, will have kids, want to have a nice neighbourhood for your family, etc. The products that we buy should fit within our narrative.
Everything starts off with an act of futility
It sounds weird but there has been a lot of hugely successful things that have started out as an act of futility: Harry Potter was turned down by multiple publishers, getting people to pay $4 for a cup of coffee – Starbucks, trying to destroy the Death Star using only thirty X-Wing fighters – Star Wars. The lesson that I took away here is sometimes you might be on the right track if you are completely different than what the market wants. I’ve heard mixed advice about trying to get businesses off the ground: if you don’t see your idea in the market, it can be a bad thing because it might just mean that someone has tried it before and couldn’t get the market to buy. If you see your idea in the market, you know you will have competition. But what I got out of this piece of advice is that your ideas may be counterintuitive to the norm but can still be successful.
“What people say they want and what they’re willing to work their ass off to get are two different things”. Sleep rough refers to the idea that you are roughing it out somewhere – say camping or sleeping in your car when you have nowhere else to sleep. Most people may have evil plans but are not willing to sacrifice and put in the enormous amount of effort in order to execute on their evil plans. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get your evil plan off the ground?
You can create the best artwork out there, the best book, the best smartphone in the market. But if nobody knows about it, you are dead in the water. Some of the most successful websites, products, services have some sort of social component. Sharing it on social media. Referral bonuses. Affiliate marketing. Make sure that whatever you create has a social component to it so that you can expand your reach (easily).
Become a crofter
Crofters are people that live on a very small holding of land with a small cottage on it – on the land, they raised sheeps and cows, had their own hay, grew oats, turnips and potatoes and other crops. Crofting is a good life but not very financially rewarding. Crofters did a variety of things as you can imagine – they fed the livestock, farmed, cleaned but they also had jobs outside of their land – some were policemen, post office workers, etc. When they didn’t have their jobs or were down in their luck in the job market, they lived off their land. It wasn’t fun but at least they could survive until the job market got better, which it inevitably did. What’s the takeaway here? Do multiple things to keep your life exciting. Explore multiple ways of getting income. Maybe your bread and butter is income from the books you have written. Keep writing but explore other sources of income every once in a while.
Steal time every day
What are you stealing from? TV. Social Media. Unnecessary social activities. Negative people that you have conversations with. Use that time to advance your evil plan in small ways.
Give a gift every day
Figure out what your gift is and give it out to others every single day. For Hugh, that’s his comic strip. For you, it could be an e-mail or a video. When you give your gift to others, you build up so much goodwill that when it comes to selling something, they will be more than happy to reciprocate.
Here’s my evil plan: continue to write in my books, eventually making enough passive income where I don’t have to work (or work much less hours than I do now). Write some more. Explore how I can leverage some of my books into other streams of income – online courses, audiobooks, speeches, etc. Continue to write. Maybe figure out how to get published with a magazine or column. Get so famous that I need a pseudonym. Re-create my success with my pseudonym. Live humbly and then start a Booster Juice just because.