November 25, 2007

"important announcement" from gapingvoid


After I found myself permanently exiled from the advertising business in late 2004, I found myself with only a single, unpaid gig remaining i.e. this website, gapingvoid.

Luckily this unemployed phase didn't last long. Sure, I had a month or two of being poor and desperate, but then English Cut came along, then Thingamy, then Stormhoek, then the consulting, then the Blue Monster, then the paid speaking gigs. Within two years or so I had turned the ship around quite nicely.

But somehow gapingvoid got lost in the mix. Even though the plan has always been to keep gapingvoid at the very epicenter of what I do, in the last 18 months or so it seemed to get increasingly pushed to the margins.

I guess that's not surprising. With so much going on it's hard to make a small cartoon blog [with equally small advertising revenues] the main focus of one's business.

But of course, without gapingvoid, my own personal global microbrand, the other stuff would never have been possible. Therein lies the rub.

The last three years has been without question the most exciting period of my career, but My God, it has stretched me thin. I'm worn out.

So this last week I've been telling people I work with, I'm changing the game plan. I'm going back to basics. From now on building "the gapingvoid brand" will become my first priority. Yes, I will still be working with the same people and projects I'm working with now, in much the same way, but in a much less involved capacity.

Time to regroup. Indeed.

I'm thinking now would be a good time to thank everybody who reads gapingvoid on a regular basis. Without you, the last three amazing years would never have happened.

Thanks, Everybody. You guys rock.

Posted by hugh macleod at November 25, 2007 8:30 AM | TrackBack

Congratulations, Hugh. We're all here rooting for you (and Gapingvoid!)

See you in London on 12/6...


Posted by: David Sifry at November 25, 2007 10:10 AM


tough decision, but the right one, I think, well done.

This site is your personal (global micro)brand.

The other stuff is important too but it comes from the invaluable posts on this site. Thank YOU for that!

Now off to my too-neglected blog!

Posted by: Tom Raftery at November 25, 2007 10:14 AM

Great news, Hugh. Cheers, and here's to the worldwide domination of gapingvoid.

Posted by: Chris Baskind at November 25, 2007 10:17 AM

You've got to look after that global microbrand first! Looking forward to seeing the results on the site Hugh.

Posted by: Mathew Patterson at November 25, 2007 10:22 AM

Glad I picked this moment in time to 'discover' your blog, then :)

Keep 'em coming!

All success

Posted by: Dr.Mani at November 25, 2007 10:23 AM


Posted by: Hrishi at November 25, 2007 10:35 AM

Good call mate. You've looked stretched lately. If you were a corporation and employed mealy-mouthed spokesman it might be claimed you were 're-focusing on core activities'. All the best.

Posted by: David Brain at November 25, 2007 10:37 AM

Look forward to your Gaping Void work!

Posted by: Enric at November 25, 2007 10:46 AM

Bravo! It's fun to imagine you looking back from 10 years in the future, hugging yourself with gratitude for all that flowed from the simple act of acting on your own best inner wisdom.

Posted by: Len Edgerly at November 25, 2007 10:49 AM

Sounds like you've been doing a lot of soul searching the last few weeks/months and that this decision has been waiting to come out. You got to do what makes you happy, good luck =)


Posted by: Robbie at November 25, 2007 11:28 AM

bravissimo hugh
hang in there
even when we don't interact with you we're still reading you and being inspired

Posted by: Simon at November 25, 2007 11:39 AM

GV rocks, Hugh. Keep up.

Posted by: Mika Luoma-aho at November 25, 2007 12:27 PM

Why were you exiled out of the adschmad business? Did you do a Jerry Maguire?

Congratulations on the Stormhoek success as Brand of the Year, BTW.

Posted by: Leon Jacobs at November 25, 2007 12:27 PM

Follow your instincts Hugh! It seems to be working. Thanks for all the thought provoking material in 2007.

Posted by: JedB at November 25, 2007 12:45 PM

as someone whose personal blog has completely suffered due to working on a different project, i totally understand your situation and i take my hat off to you.

your widget though is brilliance and it keeps what you started here everywhere.

im also glad you are on facebook because im able to size your widget there in a much larger setting.

rock on bro!

Posted by: tony pierce at November 25, 2007 12:52 PM

go for it, hugh - can we expect a 'mygapingvoid' anytime soon ... ;-)

i'll get me coat.

Posted by: carl at November 25, 2007 1:03 PM

You continue to inspire, Hugh! Cheers!

Posted by: Jeffrey M. Bentley at November 25, 2007 1:41 PM

Glad you reached this new level, can't wait to see the next.

Posted by: Suki Fuller at November 25, 2007 1:49 PM

You are one the main reasons I got involved with blogging. Your cartoons are my daily escape, and it is great to hear that I'm not alone wading through the swamp of being a young professional.

Keep doing your thing.

Posted by: Chris at November 25, 2007 1:50 PM


Posted by: britta k at November 25, 2007 1:57 PM

Keep it coming, man. You've earned the trust of so many readers -- we'll keep following your work regardless.

Posted by: Tim at November 25, 2007 1:57 PM

All the best, Hugh! :-)

Posted by: Skrocki at November 25, 2007 2:36 PM



Posted by: Joaquin at November 25, 2007 2:49 PM

I'm just glad I stumbled across Gaping Void,



Posted by: Roo at November 25, 2007 3:05 PM

we all love u, hugh. the world loves u. rock on, wise one. :-)

Posted by: kirsten at November 25, 2007 3:26 PM

Strange-to me you have always argued about the other site of business - nothing really changed - of course everybody has to earn money but this is a phony way to leave the field!

You are betraying yourself - it seems that you have been rather pissed from the working situation you came from and after all went right for you and your freaky mind got accepted from the corporates again you leave the field - poor! This has nothing to do with a loyal behaviour - way before I started at BSI I watched your blog - it was good but after you got this much of attention from the traditional media the quality and the humor of your blog constantly declined and your attitude was more arrogant than ever! I don't wish you the best!

Posted by: Anna at November 25, 2007 3:28 PM

Rock on, Hugh. You're an inspiration.

Posted by: Warner Crocker at November 25, 2007 3:29 PM

Good on you, Hugh. To quote Hans Hofmann, "The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."
a faithful reader

Posted by: peggy at November 25, 2007 3:45 PM

glad to be at this epicenter. Keep it going.

Posted by: llx at November 25, 2007 3:50 PM

Well, if you call this slacking and neglecting, then I must have had my expectations set too low. In that case, I very much look forward to what comes next. It's no exaggeration at all to say I've been greatly inspired by your example as well as by your words & cartoons. I have printed out the Hughtrain long ago, and reread it once in a while, which is more of my attention than Tom Peters or Seth Godin gets (as far as I'm concerned, you three form a kind of new marketing holy trinity).

Anyways, sex or money, right?

Posted by: Michael Martine at November 25, 2007 4:01 PM

I'm just now reading Steven Pressfield's The War of Art ... sounds like you're path has been a perfect example of what he'd call going "pro" I am very happy for your prosperity. Rock on.

Posted by: vicequeenmaria at November 25, 2007 4:16 PM

Amen. You're so right. Life is short. Well done.

Posted by: Kate at November 25, 2007 4:28 PM

you're awesome :)

Posted by: Connie at November 25, 2007 4:51 PM


Like you I've been "too busy" lately to blog and podcast and, like you, the blogging and podcasting brought me all the cool work I'm currently engaged in and have been thinking similar thoughts (about needing to get back to basics) recently.

So.... I started to write a comment here and realized it would be better if I blogged first and commented second :)!

The blog entry is posted ( and here's the comment:

Thanks Hugh!

Posted by: Michael Lehman at November 25, 2007 4:52 PM

Congrats on your successes, Hugh! I am looking forward to seeing get your focus on and take us all to the next level. I have learned so much from this blog, definitely one of my faves.

Posted by: @Stephen | HD BizBlog at November 25, 2007 5:39 PM

Good luck, Hugh. Go for it!

Posted by: Lesley Smith at November 25, 2007 5:49 PM

Look forward to whatever emerges now. You microbrand is terrific and fundamentally generative. Good call. Best wishes.

Posted by: Jim Ewing at November 25, 2007 7:07 PM

I think you are genius no matter what form you share your talent in-be it with these brilliant cartoons, wine labels or web initiatives. Thanks for what you've given us so far, and here's wishing you the very best for the next three years and beyond too!

Posted by: Sue at November 25, 2007 7:18 PM

You sound so inspired! I can't wait to see what is next.

It sounds like you have an incredibly clear vision for the future of Gaping Void. Keep on keepin' on!

Posted by: KG at November 25, 2007 7:29 PM

Dear Lawd, Hugh. With that lead in, I thought you were going to quit blogging and take a job witrh Microsoft, hawking the Blue Monster.

Thanks for staying on the blog. I would deeply miss Gaping Void if you ended it.

Posted by: shel israel at November 25, 2007 7:36 PM

Have you thought about building out a theme based on your art? I think the gapingvoid brand should start with a fantastic gapingvoid designed site (ahem... also recommend WordPress ;)

Whatever you choose, we'll still be reading!

Posted by: Douglas Karr at November 25, 2007 8:18 PM

Good luck Hugh - sensible move and I have missed some of your earlier blog-borne insights lately.

You're quite unique and you always make me chuckle, even when we don't totally agree.

Rock on indeed!

Posted by: Lee Bryant at November 25, 2007 9:10 PM

Congrats on your turn-around Hugh! I love your ideas.

Rock on yes!

Posted by: Alvin at November 26, 2007 1:11 AM

You are the brand. You mean something to me through your art. I've never cared about the wine the suits or the fucking blue monster. I don't give a shit about your views on blogging. I want you to just do what you want to do bro in whatever medium. Your level of talent and voice is astonishing to me. Good luck. Hope you get stinking rich before you're dead. If you are into that sought of thing ;-)

Posted by: Loren Feldman at November 26, 2007 1:18 AM

Great stuff - I was worried for some time there that you were going to announce the very opposite.

Does this mean returning to more time in Cumbria so? It can only be good for the spirit - and therefore gaping void?

Posted by: American Hell at November 26, 2007 1:24 AM

Great Hugh you reminded me what the hell I should be doing. Keep walking the fells of Cumbria you lucky SOB.I'll keep reading even when I want to crown you with Hotspurs Battle Axe.

Posted by: roger wilks at November 26, 2007 3:21 AM

Hugh, you're amazing and inspirational in every thing you've done since I first started reading your stuff almost 3 years ago - cheers!

Posted by: tomdog at November 26, 2007 3:55 AM

I can't help wondering whether "the mix" actually _is_ your [micro-]brand; that you are walking the talk is much of what makes your blog worth following.

(Yes, your cartooning is inspired, but you're not alone in that; agreed, keeping the workload under control is essential; I hope that you don't pull back _too_ far from your side-projects.)

Posted by: Roland Turner at November 26, 2007 5:02 AM

Looking forward to another "How To be more creative"

Posted by: Prashant Singh at November 26, 2007 5:13 AM

No rock. Like totally, shmotally, rock.

Posted by: Fredd Kambo at November 26, 2007 9:03 AM

As a more silent reader I take the opportunity as well to thank you for your work here so far and whish you joy and lots of energy with that new focus.

That combination of yours is so very rare. The cartoons with their minimalist approach, that sometimes really make my day! and your inspiring texts, that cut the chase and hit the point precisely all the time.


Posted by: Helmut Adam at November 26, 2007 9:32 AM

All I can say is syndicate, syndicate, syndicate - national papers will die for this content and given its dark witty edge.

Posted by: Sam Sethi at November 26, 2007 9:52 AM

I’m at the other end of the scale at the moment, Hugh: I feel I need to concentrate on my other ventures and let the personal blog take a back seat for a while (a work blog at Lucire is a bit more active consequently). But it’s good we are all realigning our lives to the areas where we feel are most productive.

Posted by: Jack Yan at November 26, 2007 10:28 AM

Dear Hugh:
It looks like you're following your own advice - at least it makes me think of the content of How To Be Creative.
I was going to sign off with "Best of luck", but I'm no longer sure how big a part luck plays, so I'll finish with "Cheers" - sipping some Stromhoek and lots of supportive yelling.
John Ballantrae

Posted by: John Ballantrae at November 26, 2007 1:59 PM

Looking forward to you rekindling the old times. Glad I hung in there. Thanks, from your Austrian fan

Posted by: Karin at November 26, 2007 3:06 PM

Good call.

Some months ago I think I sent you a message via Facebook with a request along these lines. Gaping Void is "The Thing" - get this right and the rest will follow.

Personally - I think the next step for Gaping Void is to make it more of a network. In my view creating networks / social clusters is the future for anything that aspires to be a "media type thing".

Posted by: Richard Stacy at November 26, 2007 4:59 PM

Agree with Richard Stacy... Good decision - we want YOU back!!!!!!!! xxx

Posted by: Catherine at November 26, 2007 6:29 PM

I am grateful for all you have gotten to do Hugh, just got mixed up in this world less than a year ago. At the same time I actually started getting paid for the things I'm good at, your creativity and thoughts have been inspiring on many levels. Thanks to you.

Anyway for me to get more Hugh is my diet is a good thing. (Not meant as weird as it sounds or maybe I do:)

Posted by: Michael at November 26, 2007 6:47 PM

Well met, and glad to hear it.

I hope I wasn't any part of the tipping.

I will be happy to have my to read box so full that my to write box never gets empty.

welcome back in a sense.

Posted by: Convictus at November 26, 2007 10:17 PM

Lots of people shifting back and regrouping.
I was pleasantly forced to join in on the fun.
I feel so much better, and oh boy am I gonna be better off.

Keep the good stuff coming.

Posted by: Nikita at November 27, 2007 3:18 AM

hard to say anything that hasn't already been said. good luck, although you really don't need it. you have found your way, and that's the most important thing.
rock on!!

Posted by: ricardo at November 27, 2007 4:12 AM

Cheers, Hugh.

Posted by: Matt Wardman at November 27, 2007 10:32 AM

Hey Hugh, I'm so glad. I'd miss the cartoons if I didn't see them regularly. Sure, your articles are fantastic, but the zip-zapness of your cartoons is something else all together.

Great going.

Posted by: sonali at November 27, 2007 10:40 AM

I think you should take up photographing nude women as a hobby. At this stage in your life you could apply some creativity to it and have some fun. My thinking is that the side benefits might cheer you up ...

Best Wishes,

Posted by: Dave Armstrong at November 27, 2007 11:18 AM

How interesting to come across this blog at such a pivotal moment. I am looking out for any information on global microbrands.


Posted by: Mark Fenwick at November 27, 2007 2:33 PM


We have passed a few emails, regarding "change the world, or go home" and how it has been my company's motto (for LiftPort - The Elevator to Space Companies) for a couple years now.

The idea of the phrase resonates with me, and the rest of my team. And there are times when you have a really bad day ( and everything comes crashing down around you.

At that point, you have no option but to consider what the hell you are doing, and why, and come up with a plan that works.

It is good to know that you had that crisis moment before, because that is where I am, now. It is also good to know that you are "eating your own dog food" (Microsoft phrase, which I assume you know, but not everyone reading this comment will) and regrouping on your best asset - yourself.

Do yourself the favor of reading "how to be creative" with fresh eyes. Pretend you are one of us, seeing it for the first time. Let it hit you, like it hit us. hard.

I am sure you will find some good stuff in there - we did, which is why we are reading you in the first place.

Take care. Mjl

Posted by: SpaceElevator Guy (Michael Laine) at November 27, 2007 3:17 PM

Keep rocking Hugh!!

Posted by: Manoj at November 27, 2007 7:12 PM


So happy you’ve decided to catch your breath. I fully expect we'll see an even greater outpouring of your dark brilliance.

Posted by: Lorraine at November 28, 2007 1:27 AM

Hugh, you are a one and only. What would we do without you? I, for one, am happy you're rededicating yourself to making gapingvoid once again the centerpiece.

Posted by: Paul Chaney at November 28, 2007 8:03 AM

Excellent move - congrat's on making the decision to throttle back a bit before completely burning out. I'm a big Gaping Void fan and really enjoy your insights, comments and cartoons.

Keep it up!

Posted by: The Dan Ward at November 29, 2007 12:18 AM