Question: Sex and Cash Theory


I know you’re a fan of Hugh MacLeod and I was wondering if you use his ‘Sex & Cash Theory‘ in your everyday life. I can’t seem to reconcile the theory (which I think has some merit) with a lot of what I read about people I respect and admire who seem to focus all their attention on something they love. Thoughts?



I think Hugh could have done a better job supporting his argument. When I read it the first time, they were what popped into my head.

If you had a stepmother and a real mother, you would pay your respects to your stepmother, yes…but it’s your real mother you’d go home to. The court…and philosophy: Keep returning to it, to rest in its embrace. It’s all that makes the court-and you-endurable. – Marcus Aurelius

“When some state or other offered Alexander a part of its territory or half of all its property he told them that ‘he hadn’t come to Asia with the intention of accepting whatever they cared to give them, but of letting them keep whatever he chose to leave them.’ Philosophy, likewise, tells all other occupations: ‘It’s not my intention to accept whatever time is left over from you; you shall have, instead, what I reject.'” – Seneca

The problem I have is with the certainty of it. Like “Sex & Cash” is the only way to do it. How wonderful that his natural inclination happened to be the way to do it. The funny thing is that most of the people have talked to locked themselves into a deathground strategy and let desperation push them forward. But what does it matter, because you’re not them and you’re not Hugh either.

Figure out what’s important to you and give it every bit of the attention it deserves. Maybe you can manage something else on the side or maybe you can’t. Or maybe you can figure out how one fuels the other. The critical step is to stop pretending it’s some academic exercise and place it fully into the realm of tangible reality. For me, the theory isn’t anything more than confirmation to what I already felt was right for me. And I only learned that by trying it out.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.