A Dream With No Life


[Originally sent out in the newsletter. Subscribe here etc.]

This is a cartoon from the early 1990’s.

When I was doing my most formative work back then, I was working all the time. ALL the time.

I’d have my advertising job by day, then I’d hit my regular watering hole/cafe, pull up a stool at the bar, and get drawing.

And that’s kinda what I did for many years. While many of my peers were “getting a life”, doing all that normal stuff: Watching Monday night football, getting married, shopping in malls, mowing the lawns on the weekend. Not me. I was just working ALL the time. day and night, either at the office, or the cafe. I didn’t hang out at home much, except to sleep.

And I got asked humorously, “Don’t you have a life?” all the time by the people who saw me around- the waiters, the bartenders, the other barflies. ALL the time.

I kinda felt embarrassed when I had to say, “Not really”. But it was the truth.

Two decades later, it seems to have paid off, for the reasons expressed in the cartoon. I’m glad time proved me right. Imagine if it hadn’t… Ouch.


  1. Great perspective, Hugh. I think there’s a middle ground (well, more like a 90-10 ground) as opposed to the all or nothing approach. There’s something to be said for having a rich social life without sacrificing one’s dreams. Jason Fried over at 37 Signals is a really good example of this (though his last name would suggest otherwise LOL)

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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.

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Former President, Babson College

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

Brian Clark
  • Seth Godin
  • The New Republic
  • Len Schlesinger
  • Tony Hsieh
  • Brian Clark