Apr 16, 2017. Hugh Macleod’s Sex and Cash Theory


This week’s think is Hugh McLeod’s Sex and the Cash Theory. Read more at https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2004/03/25/the-sex-cash-theory.

He says,

The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: [sex] One is the sexy, creative kind. Second [cash] is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the assignment covers both bases, but not often.

I read about this a few years ago and it literally changed how I looked at things. I understood that not everyone is lucky enough to earn enough [cash] from what they want to do in life [sex].

Most of us are “unlucky” in the sense that the two things [sex and cash] are often not the same. Unless you are a famous cricketer. Or a fancy photographer. Or a chef. Or something like that. So we are left to do things that give us cash and then use the leftover time to indulge in sex.

Lemme give some examples.

A. Hugh talks about this guy who wants to be a novelist and yet he waits tables. In fact, I know of numerous people in the agency business that do boring things like account management. Only to be able to make enough money and save enough time to actually to become photographers, film directors, open a farm etc.

B. I know of a guy who wants to race cars but has no money to train — so he works his ass off during the week as a store manager at a McDonalds and on weekends, works at a Go-Karting track.

C. In fact, I was reminded of this by a chance encounter with a DJ on my recent trip to Budapest. So this guy, James, is from south of France and is apparantly a kickass DJ. I got talking to him and he said while he makes a lot of money from DJing, his goal is to save enough to cut an album of his own. In other words, he is doing a “boring” job to be able to save enough to do something that is fun for him.

If he can, we can!

Staying on the topic of fun, fun is what puts you in the flow. Fun is something that you can do for hours.

And no, fun does not mean watching movies or cricket. Fun does not mean watching House of Cards for hours (something that I can’t seem to stop watching, even though it’s tad slow for my liking). Fun while creating something new. When you bring a new thing to life. Keyword is creating something new. When you write a book, make a movie, help someone else, volunteer, you are using your time at an endeavour that is larger than you. You are using your time meaningfully.

Look at me for example. Let’s assume that I want to make movies. And since I dont have the knowledge, money or connections and most importantly, I dont have the money to spend chasing the skills, I am forced to do things that give me some cash to survive while I chase the movie dreams.

A more complex and close to heart example would be, again myself. I believe that purpose of my life is to enable others to be the best versions of themselves (thanks GV for helping me articulate this). For that I know I need to grow as an individual, have contacts and spend billions of rupees. I don’t have any of the three. So I spend my [cash] time doing things that give me a chance of improving on all the three things.

The point, ladies and gents, is if you are unlucky like me and have to work hard for things, may be try to do CASH things that take you closer to your SEX things? For example, you want to make movies? Find work in the film industry. You want to create a unicorn? Find a job in a startup. So on and so forth.

Thats it for the week!

The homework? Identify what is sex for you? What’s your cash? Can you try and make “cash” by doing things that are closer to your “sex”?


  • Sex: things that are fun, things that give you happiness
  • Cash: things that pay your bills
  • Real-life scenario: you make cash by trading your time and then you get sex with whatever time is available and whatever money you made
  • Ideal scenario: sex and cash are same
  • Goal: Move from real-life to ideal!
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