“if you want to be more successful, you have to take a leadership position on something that matters”

So this is my latest #EvilPlan for my client, HNI Insurance.

I drew the cartoon above.

What I’m going to do is recommend to the CEO, Mike Natalizio to get it made up into a stack of signed, limited edition prints. Say, 30 or 50 of them.

Then get them framed.

Then send them off as gifts to the the 30 or 50 most influential people in the trucking business. As a conversation starter.

“Let’s talk about the issues, People.”

The trucking business is full of messy issues [e.g. people dying in road accidents every day, which HNI is in the front line of], so why not address them more openly, more forthrightly?

Like it says in “Tribes”, by Seth Godin, the way to succeed is to be a leader.

HNI hired gapingvoid because they wanted to be more successful.

And I’m saying right back, OK,¬† if you want to be more successful, you have to take a leadership position on something that matters.

Which means having a “smarter conversation”.

And these prints would be their opening salvo.

None of this is rocket science, all that’s required is that a decision be made.

A decision to be a leader. A decision to have a smarter conversation.

Not rocket science.


[PS: We’ll see what Mike says. At time of posting this, Mike hasn’t seen the cartoon yet. I’m surprising him! Heh.]

[The Smarter Conversation archive is here.]


  1. Now I wonder where THAT idea came from? (lol)

  2. And you took something that many originally said couldn’t matter (cartoons on biz cards) – and made it matter for yourself and for others.

    When you’re trying desperately to take that step, I wonder how you really are supposed to evaluate this part. Is the real leadership shown in deciding to do the cards your way and then you live with what does or doesn’t fall out from that? Does it make sense to lead somewhere only you may be interested in going?

  3. Congratulations Hugh, using art for business. I wish I had thought of that. ūüėÜ


  4. So, did the CEO go with your recommendation?
    Did it work, did it make impact?


  1. […] last minute comment from today’s GapingVoid cartoon, where Hugh nails it with this: “If you want to be more successful, you have to take a […]

  2. […] are smarter conversations: They¬† focus on something that matters. As Hugh MacLeod has noted, taking a leadership position on something that matters is critical to success.¬† So why waste your time and talk on the […]

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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.

The New Republic
Lydia Depillis

Last year my State of the College address was 76 slides loaded with data. This year it was 14 cartoons that were substantially more memorable.

Len Schlesinger
Former President, Babson College

"There are only two daily newsletters that I look forward to opening and reading every time they show up to my inbox: Seth Godin's and gapingvoid."

Tony Hsieh
CEO, Zappos

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

Brian Clark
  • Seth Godin
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  • Tony Hsieh
  • Brian Clark