“evil plans”: how a tiny store in chappell hill, texas changed my life

["Cross", which I sent out in the newsletter recently. You can buy the print here.]

With the deadline for the finished draft only a few months away, I’ve started working again on the next book, “Evil Plans” in earnest.

Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN. Everybody needs a way to get the hell out of the RAT RACE. Everybody needs to get away from boring, dead-end jobs that they hate, and start doing something they love, doing something that matters. Life is short.

Every person who ever managed to do this, every person who manged to escape the rat race and start doing something that matters, started off with an EVIL PLAN.

My EVIL PLAN for the next couple of months is to work on the book first thing in the morning, 500 words a day. Afternoons I’ll work on the Cube Grenades. Evenings will be drawing new cartoons for the Newsletter.

From my end, it’s pretty sustainable, so I’m happy.

Let me tell you a story:

About twelve years ago I was living in New York City, busting my ass, working in an ad agency. One day I decided to go down to Houston to visit my family. While I was there, my sister and I decide to drive up to Austin to visit some old college buddies.

Instead of our usual route via I-10, we decided to take the slower but more scenic Route 290, through the Texas Hill Country. A lovely drive of about 150 miles.

At about the halfway point we pull into Chappell Hill, Texas, a sweet little town of maybe three hundred people. We stop for some gas.

Right next to the gas station is this small storefront, called the Chappell Hill Meat Market & Cafe. A traditional lunch diner taking up most of the building, and to the right, a tiny little grocery store.

Turns out this hole-in-wall grocery store sells some of the best Texas sausage and jerky you ever did come across. They have their own smoke house in the back, and everything is prepared right there on the premises. My friends in Austin are having a barbecue that evening, so we buy about forty dollars worth of sausage, brisket and jerky for the party. We eat some of the jerky in the car- Outstanding!

We have a great time in Austin, seeing our friends. Everybody LOVED the meat we brought for them. On our way home to Houston, my sister and I like the Chappell Hill Meat Market so much, we decide to stop in again, and buy some more sausage for my dad and his wife.

As I’m paying for the food I compliment the person serving me, the owner, a nice lady named Cissy.

“This is a great little place”, I say. “I LOVE your jerky.”

“Why, thank you,” says Cissy, in her very polite, Texan way.

“I bet you sell a lot of this stuff,” I say.

“Sure do,” says Sissy. “About a thousand pounds of meat…”

“A week? Really? That much?”

“No, Darlin’. A thousand pounds, every day.”

BOOM! Moment of clarity. A tiny little hole-in-the-wall in Nowheresville, Texas. Selling three-and-a-half TONS of world-class product a week. Doing the math in my head, assuming they’ve got a decent enough margin, that’s a lot more money than me or any of my other New York cronies were making (or probably ever going to make). For a lot less hassle and overheads, to boot.

Now, I never wanted to go into the meat business, but since that day in Chappell Hill, Texas, I have always aspired to have a business model as simple, elegant, profitable and low-key as this one. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting close…

And that, My Friends, is what “EVIL PLANS” is really all about. Exactly.


  1. Hi Hugh,

    Just finished reading Ignore Everybody. Awesome! Thank you so much for writing it! Can’t wait to read the next one! Keep up the awesome work!

    If you’d like to see something slightly ridiculous (though hopefully humorous), here’s a little of what I do (that is, when I’m not working as a Community Manager at a respectable tech startup):


    all the best,
    Los Angeles, CA

  2. AND that is a hell of a story.

    Can’t wait for the book and you sound happier then ever. Sure hope that doesn’t mean your going to go soft on us. *laugh* I know better then that.

    See you next week in Vegas.

  3. Make that Austin, NOT Vegas.

    Guess I need some jerkey.

  4. Fantastic story.

    I love evil plans.

    Thanks Hugh.

  5. I guess it’s time to buy a smoker!

    But seriously…what’s the secret here? Were they successful because the product was so good? Because they kept things simple?

    Is it really that easy?!?! :)

  6. Thanks for that great story!! I’m working on a little evil plan of my own. I’m betting the house on it, so it pretty much has to succeed.

    I’m glad I read this post to remind me that if it happened to someone else, it can happen to me to.

    Here’s to low-key and sustainable evil plans…


  7. Hey Hugh,
    I think you’ve told that story before, but only this time round it was a lot more POW, must be my changed situation or frame of mind. Anyway, just what i needed. Thanks. Now, for that plan….
    (so even if you think you’ve told it before, retell it, people hear things differently the next time around)

  8. Fernando says:

    My idea of a dream business comes from the following two posts:



    Needless to say, I love/drink Yorkshire tea.

    BTW, it’s so refreshing to hear someone like Hugh openly state that he wants to make a profit. I mean, everyone wants to, but god knows why they’re all afraid of admitting it.

    Thanks Hugh.

  9. When I had the honor to meet you here in Brazil (at CampusParty) I would never imagine that we had that in common.
    My Evil Plan is just like yours… but not as much accomplished as yours yet…
    Great story, Hugh, tks!

  10. You want to see a similar business model work on a larger scale…In N Out. Their menu is about 5 items, plus drinks. Of course, those items are infinitely customizable, but the reason Californians get so insane about In N Out is because they keep things simple, fresh, and amazing.

  11. Love your “Evil Plans” theory, so much so I just quoted you on my Twitter page. Your the Sh*t Hugh!

  12. I write songs.

    I have a goal. I have a band. We have an album and a blog.

    I don’t have an evil plan.

    And I know that’s a problem. But so far my creative abilities have better lent themselves to the writing of songs and essays. They haven’t discovered an effective way to find the people who will connect with our music. Whatever that way is, it needs to be different than anything anyone has ever tried, or no one will pay attention.

    As far as I can tell, the only way to come up with the evil plan is try lots of different things until something sticks, then figure out why it stuck. Maybe there’s a more efficient way than stumbling around in this manner. If so, I don’t know what it is.

  13. ‘Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN. Everybody needs a way to get the hell out of the RAT RACE.’
    That is particularly poignant for me: MY EVIL PLAN IS A RAT RACE! Literally.
    I’m trying to get my bronze mice in every country and on every continent in the world! (even got Antarctica covered)

  14. Most definitely agree, life is short! Make the most of it!

  15. Incredible.

    Which is what makes it exciting.

    Recently I reduced my Facebook, Twitter and blogging to once a week, from multiple times a day. Sure, on that “once a week day”, I might go crazy with a dozen or more posts.

    But still. It was at the realization that one of my most accomplished associates did it in relative anonymity. Then I realized my first, and one of my best successes, happened very much like that.

    Focus. Passion. Fun. Total engagement.

    No distractions.

    BTW: Hugh, I picked up a business card by your folks in the UK. One of my company’s is http://www.Exitpath.com (resurrecting it from the fire-sale in 2002′s dot-bomb).

    I selected (appropriately enough) your perfect “Whining is not an exit strategy” illustration. Thanks for that.

    Though I suspect now “Wine-ing IS an exit strategy”.

    Looking forward to Evil Plans. Will you be sending a pre-release copy for review to friends and family? If so, please send it this way. Just finished Linchpin for the 2nd time, and The War of Art for the first. The print for Ignore Everybody is gracing my wall.

    Ya’ done good.

    And you’re in good company, Hugh.

    Grace & Peace,

  16. Howdy there,Terrific article dude! i am just Tired of using RSS feeds and do you use twitter?so i can follow you there.

  17. Joyce McCormack in Ripon X


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  2. [...] importantly) touch or change people, you will gain in influence, authority and power.”10. Hugh MacLeod in “evil plans”: how a little shack in chappell hill, texas changed my life:“Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN. Everybody needs a way to get the hell out of the RAT RACE. [...]

  3. [...] everything. “Urban threadmill”. It’s better to keep it simple, like the “Chappel Hill Meat Market & Cafè“, silently and simply selling superb meat in a small little village to passbyers that are [...]

  4. [...] “evil plans”: how a little shack in chappell hill, texas changed my life | gapingvoid [...]

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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

Seth Godin
Best Selling Author

His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

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In moments of indecision I glance at the wall [to Hugh's work] for guidance.

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