Ignore Everybody

One of Hugh’s (Hugh has achieved the level of iconic status that it seems strange to call him by his last name. Sort of the way everyone referred to ‘Bill Gates’ as ‘Bill’ as in ‘Have you ever met Bill?’) heroic concepts is the ‘social object.’ The ‘social object’ is distinctive in its quality of how compelling it is to share it thus giving it viral impetus. I will often recommend books I have read to others who I think would enjoy them or get something out of them (as many people do). What was interesting about ‘Ignore Everybody’ is that when I was thinking about how I should recommend the book to, just about everyone I know came to mind.  In my most immediate circle, my wife, my kids, my parents, my best friends. And now out to my widest circle…my blog readers.

It’s both current and universal.  It is both of the moment and timeless. Hugh has an uncanny knack of seeing the obvious in the unobvious. I often coach speakers that a presentation (and for that matter just about any communication) will have three fundamental purposes – 1. Inform, 2. Entertain, 3. Inspire. A good presentation will achieve a couple and a great one all three. Hugh’s ‘Ignore Everybody’ is one of those rare works books that achieves all three.

Hugh stands in an esteemed line of writers, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Ayn Rand, who stood for individual integrity and aspiration. But Hugh doesn’t just make a philosophical stand, but rather he offers sort of a how-to guide of very practical and specific advice.  Also, Hugh sort of turns this individualism on its head, though. Instead of glorifying the individual over the communal, he (a) gives the individual a good drubbing, and (b) links the individual to the greater whole. Thoreau chose to reject society and sequester himself away in his hermit-like existence. Hugh instead derives his insights into individualism from heart of the largest, most frenzied collective in the world, New York City. He doesn’t stand in judgement of the individual or the collective so much as he sees through their cores and exposes their gritty, sometimes harsh realities.

I think that one of Hugh’s many ‘crofts’ is digital media pundit, but this book has taken him far beyond that niche to a universal appeal. It stands him with the like of Covey and Peale as a work of broad applicability. His thoughts on creating are actually applicable to relationships, business, sport, etc.

So what is the connection to Leadership and Management? Throughout the book he fosters this sort of pragmatic idealism (or idealistic pragmatism?) that parallels the Leader/Manager balance (leaders are idealistic, managers are pragmatic). I think the most relevant insight in this area is his Lesson #8 ‘Keep you day job” where he outlines his ‘Sex & Cash Theory”

“The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs. One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task at hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play centre stage. It will never be transcended.”

To paraphrase, the ‘creative’ businesses, have two types of executives (or the rare ‘creative’ executive has two dimensions).  Leaders do the ‘sex’, Managers do the ‘cash’. Leaders drive sexy creativity, Managers pay the bills. “This tense duality will always play centre stage.”