"get other people to hate you"

[“Popularity”, which I sent out in the newsletter recently. You can buy the print here etc.]

The bad news is, the better your EVIL PLAN, the more people are going to hate it.

The good news is, the better your EVIL PLAN, the more people are going to love it.

In Flaubert’s great literary masterpiece, “Madame Bovary”, the narrator describes Monsieur Bovary (the husband that the main heroine eventually cuckolds) with the most damning description I’ve ever read of a fictional character: “He offended no more than he pleased”.

In getting us to identify with Madame Bovary and dislike Monsieur Bovary, Flaubert was very clever. He made sure that Monsieur Flaubert wasn’t evil or a sociopath, he just made him a conventional, boring, inoffensive, COMPLETELY UNINSPIRING member of the middle classes, completely aligned and beholden to 19th-Century, respectable French society. And we couldn’t help but despise him for it. Because he wasn’t pure evil, because he was just as human as the rest of us, he had just made a conscious decision to emasculate his own humanity for the sake of social standing- something we’re all very capable of doing ourselves.

Walk into any supermarket and you’ll see again a similar phenomenon. Aisle after aisle full of products that most people, frankly, don’t really give two hoots about. Sure, they might be a perfectly good brand of paper towel or breakfast cereal, but at the end of the day, like Monsieur Bovary, they offend no more than they please. And so how much do people care? Answer: Diddly squat.

And go visit these products’ corporate headquarters and you’ll meet their human equivalent. Aisle after aisle of people in cubes. Sure, they’ll be perfectly nice, polite and all, they’ll be efficient and good at their jobs and all, but how many people would care if one of them lost their jobs tomorrow? Answer: Diddly squat.

But once your EVIL PLAN starts getting traction, you’ll start noticing a much more polarized world start to emerge. People who LOVE what you do, and people who UTTERLY DESPISE it.

Why such strong feelings? Why the emotions? You’re just doing your thing, they’re just doing their thing, so what’s the big deal?

Answer: Because A LOT of people AREN’T ACTUALLY doing their own own thing. They’re just trying to pay their bills, living paycheck-to-paycheck, payroll-to-payroll, promotion-to-promotion.

To some of these people, your example will give them hope. “I may just be shlepping now, but ONE DAY I’ll leave this cubicle farm AND THEN go do something amazing!” Those people will love you and buy into your EVIL PLAN. Hell, some of them will even give you money.

But some people will hate your EVIL PLAN too, for no real reason. Envy? Jealousy? Of course. Your example is not giving them hope, your example is just making them more aware of their own issues and inadequacies. And maybe it’s easier for them to attack you, than attack their own demons.

In Internet circles, we call these people “Trolls” or “Haters”. They’re easy to spot, mainly because they’re everywhere.

Sure, the haters are a pain, especially at first, when you’re not used to this kind of treatment.

But they do serve a purpose. If you were just shleppping along like they were, they wouldn’t bother going after you, their sights would be turned elsewhere.

Ergo, they’re a sign that you’re doing something right. So you probably want to get other people to hate you eventually i.e. the right kind of people. They might actually end up helping you define your brand to others, more than the people who actually love you.

Yes, it’s so worth it…


  1. Yes, and yes – and yes some more.

    Such has been my experience over the last while – as soon as you’re doing something different, and especially if that different is getting you somewhere, and the majority of those around you are going nowhere…

    …they hate you.

    One of the first steps of my EVIL PLAN was to get myself back in shape – body and mind are one, and all of that.

    I decided to do something totally against the “norm” in terms of nutrition (Paleo), and it has worked wonders for me – as in, I’ll have a six-pack soon where once there was a “keg”.

    For me, it has resulted in more energy, and a huge increase in self-confidence. I know if I can do this, I can execute the other steps in my EVIL PLAN (and so, every day at 4 am, I am up, working away… before I go to my cube job, I give the best part of me to ME.)

    For others – well, it’s a mixed bag. Suddenly, there are a lot of people who are “concerned”.

    I’ve been asked by a lot of folks if I’m sick (I’m not – but I was when I was 50 pounds overweight, and no one gave a shit about me then).

    I’ve been asked if I’m eating enough (I am, thank you very much – and I don’t get hungry between or after meals, like many of them do).

    People ask me how I can go without eating certain foods, because *they* can’t give them up (they’ll also keep their fat asses, too, because they have no self-control).

    Some people tell me to stop, I’ve gone far enough (Why? I am fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been, and certainly more so than they ever will be…)

    Most of the people who talk like this to me are – surprise! – fat.

    But there are a few who encourage me, some of them went through a similar journey, and so they understand. They have a positive outlook on things.

    So, this is how it is when you have an EVIL PLAN, I guess – interestingly enough, I revealed the concept of the rest of my own EVIL PLAN to a few people I can trust.

    The people who are doing their own thing, love it.

    The ones who are trapped by their own negativity and inability to let themselves change, absolutely hate it and say “they would never do it”.

    Of course they wouldn’t. And in 10 years, they’ll still be here, hating.

    Ultimately, this tells me that I am doing something right :)

  2. Hugh,
    I never understood how anyone could hate what you’re doing. You enrich my life with your art and your work. If somebody doesn’t get it, why bother trolling? I don’t get the waste of energy.

    I had the same experience. Lost 50 lbs 2 years ago and almost nobody said “Good for you.” Almost everybody just said I’m getting too thin or asked if I’m sick. When I moved from Germany to the US, all my German friends told me I’ll be back. As if that would somehow reaffirm their life choices.
    I guess people are so insecure in their life and the choices they made, they need to bash the others. I’m glad to be part of “the others tribe”.

    Just started my own company and life feels very good. Much less money than I had in a long time but the feeling to sit down in your own office and create your own vision is priceless.

  3. From my experience the line is drawn as soon as the idea to delve into the unknown is spoken…. the pro/con groups start to show their true colors. When the idea is actioned, the line in the sand starts to get a little deeper and the groups start to separate. The fence sitters set up little tests to prove the seriousness of the idea before they sit on either side.. if they do… they may well even continue to be fence sitters and flit from one side to the other to watch that line deepen. Human behaviour – fascinating subject.

  4. PS… having equal # of lovers and haters could be the balancing game (yes, I lead a balanced life) what a very interesting concept!

  5. Entirely agree with Brett and Uwe above. The fat example resonates with so many people as, in truth, whenever you are bettering yourself, you’re always annoying others for doing so. But that’s when you start realising that you really are doing something of value, both for you and for all of your groupies, as I call them. In other words… you aren’t really doing anything of value until you start getting hate mail.

    All the best!

  6. A fine film that showcases this Bovary theme and the battle between pursing one’s passion (literally) versus shleping out a daily existence is ‘Little Children’. In fact, great portrayal of the ‘trolls’ that pervade the neighbourhood.

  7. In my opinion – It’s not that they really hate you it is more that they are projecting what they feel for their own inability and self imposed limitation. What people think of you isn’t really about you- its about them. But success does serve as catlalyst to be biased.

    • Glenn- agreed. They don’t really hate you; they just hate what you’re reminding them of.

      They’re just shooting the messenger etc.

  8. What an appropriate post on this the day of my business launch.

    The haters are who keep me awake at night. The haters are who almost kept me from pushing the launch button. The haters are not all strangers. (Those are the hardest ones to ignore.) The haters can’t be on my radar.

    You inspire me, Hugh. Today, my own Evil Plan come to life…thanks to you and Seth and some of the other evil geniuses.

    Thank you.

  9. I’m going to take a moment to feel thankful about the people who surround me. Some of them are into my band’s music, some aren’t, and that’s based solely on their own musical preferences. Not one of them will hate me if and when that music finds a larger audience.

  10. First-time visitor to your online home. Absolutely floored by your blog content. 100% in agreement with your philosophies presented. Currently deciding which piece of art to purchase.

    One word – LINCHPIN!

    – Aaron

  11. ” you probably want to get other people to hate you eventually i.e. the right kind of people. They might actually end up helping you define your brand to others”

    It’s so true, though.

    Here’s to more hate from the right people 😀

  12. […] admits that this will make a lot of people upset (because of “haters” – though often they are just spiteful due to jealousy), but that this development is inevitable, because “transparency is […]

  13. […] there seems to be a secret society amongst us young professionals. Everyone seems to have an “Evil Plan” in development somehow. People are taking up side hustles, working on projects to train […]

  14. […] site with his cartoons and powerful thoughts on life [His Evil Plans section is my favorite — this one's a great […]

  15. […] Rant About Women. It was great, I only wish they had had twice as long to talk. It brought to mind this print from Hugh MacLeod of Gapping Void. I highly recommend his book Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity Popularity by Hugh […]

  16. […] a reliable indication of how you’re doing. (This shouldn’t be confused with the dodgy dictum that triggering hostile reactions means you must be doing the right thing; it just doesn’t […]

  17. […] a reliable indication of how you’re doing. (This shouldn’t be confused with the dodgy dictum that triggering hostile reactions means you must be doing the right thing; it just doesn’t […]

  18. […] a reliable indication of how you’re doing. (This shouldn’t be confused with the dodgy dictum that triggering hostile reactions means you must be doing the right thing; it just doesn’t […]