The Market for Something to Believe in is Infinite: An Interview with Hugh MacLeod

We are here to find meaning. We are here to help other people do the same. Everything else is secondary.

We humans want to believe in our own species. And we want people, companies, and products in our lives that make it easier for us to believe in one another.

~Hugh MacLeod, from “The Hughtrain Manifesto.”

I first read those words around 2006, and I immediately recognized an idea that would end up changing my life.

It turns out Brian Clark recognized the same thing (a bit earlier than I did), along with thousands of others who became fans of Hugh’s ground-breaking site

I got the chance to catch up with Hugh and ask him about his views on meaningful business, on becoming successful, and on authentic leadership and authority.

In this episode Hugh MacLeod and I discuss:

  • Why our heroes’ real lives are boring — and why that’s actually very cool.
  • Where real authority comes from.
  • The elements of enduring success, and how not to be a one-hit wonder.
  • The success “secret” that anyone can use.
  • Why a “paint by numbers” business can never give you what you want.

Hit the flash player below to listen now:

Other listening options:

Want to know more about how ethical authority builds businesses that are both profitable and meaningful? Come join us for Authority Rules. It’s a free series of three webinars and additional articles, and it kicks off with a special report by Brian Clark on The 10 Rock Solid Elements of Successful Online Marketing.

Links from the Show:

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Share your own quest for meaning with Sonia on twitter.


  1. says

    Don’t know who Hugh MacLeod is. But I did find out 2 things:

    1. He doe shave some books on Amazon and it got a good overall user review rating.

    2. He appears to embrace some spiritual philosophy – not sure from his brief commentary here if it is Eastern, Law of Attraction, etc.

    I do think Sonia comes across better as the interviewer. Should I view Hugh as an expert on authority? Perhaps I haven’t read his books. I think I rather see the 2011 movie “Atlas Shrugged – Part 1”. But wait.

    Hugh did come across better after the first 5 minutes. I’ll just suspend judgment until I do read his books. I think he was being more himself later. The dialogue on authority did come across better as the podcast went on.

  2. says

    Harkens to Viktor Frankl’s idea’s in “Logotherapy: Man’s Search for Meaning”

    It’s all true, of course, what both he and MacLeod were saying.

    Personally, I’ve invented a product that I do believe in, quite strongly; In fact, I can’t shake my strong beliefs and feelings regarding it; and I keep trying to articulate those beliefs and feelings to others here ( ). But, as you say, the articulation process is difficult. But again, as you remind us, that is the challenge.

    Best Regards,

    The Backyard Harmonica Teacher

    • says

      I remember Mans Search for Meaning many years ago. It was part of my own reading, as I searched for meaning among the existential philosophy and literature, coupled with a sampling of Zen literature. Vickor attributes his philosophy to helping him survive the Nazi death camp experience.

  3. says

    By gum!

    Super helpful interview…. thank ya kindly.

    This is where things get splendidly stimulating – when something deeper is calling us and we see how it’s working out for others too.

    So if we can learn to enjoy the journey toward meaning and purpose while finding ways to make a living, make a life, and make a difference – oh yea, and set our real selves free at the same time – well then, we’ve cracked it.


    Much love,


  4. says

    Great interview with Hugh. Thank you. I have his book entitled “Ignore Everybody” which is kind of a series of short posts that inspire creativity. It’s good stuff. I will have to check out his latest.

    Loving these Copyblogger podcasts.

  5. says

    Cool interview! Thanks for sharing and it is definitely some good stuff. I have to agree with Russ on loving these podcasts recently.

  6. says

    I found my iPod the other day after having lost it for a year. Evidently, I stuck it in some secret compartment in my backpack. Whoops! Anyway, I fired it up and found old podcast episodes from Julien Smith (remember those?). All good stuff.

    So I got on this kick yesterday, went to iTunes and started downloading more episodes: IMFSP Radio (all of ’em), The Twist Image Podcast, Marketing Over Coffee, etc. I listen while I work and write.

    My point? Right…I almost forgot. A good rock-solid intro is pretty hard to do. Interviewing questions can be tricky too. My point is, I really love the work you guys are putting into the show (very well done) and you have one kick-ass intro!!

  7. says

    I heard about Sonia and read her post. She is a popular writer undoubtedly…I listened to the conversation. As I am not a native speaker, there was a little bit problem with the accent of the speaker but I tried to understand carefully.

    So far, it is a post which deserves “WOW“!

    Thanks to Sonia And Hugh

  8. says

    I look at a lot of sites where people come to looking for answers to their woes; their business woes, their career woes, their family woes, their spiritual woes, etc. And yet, what amazes me is how little belief these people actually have in themselves.

    No one idea is going to be the secret. No one idea is going to transport you to all your desires, no matter how long it takes or how long you wait. You already possess the secrets of life within you. All the answers you need are within, so why then do people turn to a respected figure and plead with them to make them happy?

    I love listening to podcasts, where I’m able to learn a few things which are cool, but they don’t provide me with direct answers. The things I learn, I incorporate them with the other things I’ve learned, to form new answers. I don’t take anything I hear as gospel. I find it a shame when I see other people doing just that :-/

  9. says

    Hi Sonia and Brian,

    I’ve been in the hospital for another surgery and recovery. All went well and I’m feeling great. I missed CopyBlogger the last few months.

    RE: Hugh’s Views.

    I think that cynicism and disenchantment seem to be more prevalent today than ever before (and my memory goes back 60+ years). People want something to believe in. Every time we turn around, we’re lied to by politicians, the media, business and even friends.

    The world is a scary place. Many people are wondering where to find THE TRUTH. Hugh makes some very good points on how to develop that trust. I read the Manifesto in 2004. It was so good to find someone that could pull together many of the things I had been thinking, but couldn’t distill and verbalize.

    Thanks for getting me back to his Gaping Void web site.

    Steve Benedict

    Huge CopyBlogger Fan

  10. says

    I understand that you are attending the Agent Reboot in Chicago on Wednesday, April 20th. Is it possible that I can have an opportunity to ask you some questions some time during this event?

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