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Anything You Want

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Best known for creating CD Baby, the most popular music site for independent artists, founder Derek Sivers chronicles his “accidental” success and failures into this concise and inspiring book on how to create a multi-million dollar company by following your passion. In Anything You Want, Sivers details his journey and the lessons learned along the way of creating CD Baby Best known for creating CD Baby, the most popular music site for independent artists, founder Derek Sivers chronicles his “accidental” success and failures into this concise and inspiring book on how to create a multi-million dollar company by following your passion. In Anything You Want, Sivers details his journey and the lessons learned along the way of creating CD Baby and building a business close to his heart. “[Sivers is] one of the last music-business folk heroes,” says Esquire magazine. His less-scripted approach to business is refreshing and will educate readers to feel empowered to follow their own dreams. Aspiring entrepreneurs and others trying to make their own way will be particularly comforted by Sivers straight talk and transparency -a reminder that anything you want is within your reach. Anything You Want is also available in a 5 pack, 52 pack and very limited edition Collectible, signed by Derek.

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Best known for creating CD Baby, the most popular music site for independent artists, founder Derek Sivers chronicles his “accidental” success and failures into this concise and inspiring book on how to create a multi-million dollar company by following your passion. In Anything You Want, Sivers details his journey and the lessons learned along the way of creating CD Baby Best known for creating CD Baby, the most popular music site for independent artists, founder Derek Sivers chronicles his “accidental” success and failures into this concise and inspiring book on how to create a multi-million dollar company by following your passion. In Anything You Want, Sivers details his journey and the lessons learned along the way of creating CD Baby and building a business close to his heart. “[Sivers is] one of the last music-business folk heroes,” says Esquire magazine. His less-scripted approach to business is refreshing and will educate readers to feel empowered to follow their own dreams. Aspiring entrepreneurs and others trying to make their own way will be particularly comforted by Sivers straight talk and transparency -a reminder that anything you want is within your reach. Anything You Want is also available in a 5 pack, 52 pack and very limited edition Collectible, signed by Derek.

30 review for Anything You Want

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Goldfarb

    The first time I ever spoke to Derek Sivers, I accused him of ripping me off. I had seen his great TEDx video called "Why You Need to Fail" and I wrote him to complain. (Jokingly of course.) I told him "I wrote THE book on failing." Derek gives his e-mail address on his website and he couldn't have responded quicker or have been nicer (or have used a more amusing adverb to explain why he hadn't heard of my book) : "Holy crap! That's awesome. Wow. I'm sorry I didn't know about this. Oh, I see it's on The first time I ever spoke to Derek Sivers, I accused him of ripping me off. I had seen his great TEDx video called "Why You Need to Fail" and I wrote him to complain. (Jokingly of course.) I told him "I wrote THE book on failing." Derek gives his e-mail address on his website and he couldn't have responded quicker or have been nicer (or have used a more amusing adverb to explain why he hadn't heard of my book) : "Holy crap! That's awesome. Wow. I'm sorry I didn't know about this. Oh, I see it's only been a few months since it came out and I've been quite ostriched lately..." Soon, we were talking about books. Or, rather, he was asking me about them, telling me he was considering writing one himself. "It's a lot of fucking work writing a book, though, isn't it? Why do you do it? Not for the money, right? Bigger speaking fees afterwards? Side-effect for consulting?" Little did I know, he was already working on his own book. That sneaky guy! So, when he was done, and he wanted several sets of eyes to give it a quick read through, I was more than happy to. I'm not sure if I helped improve even a single letter in the book--it was pretty much "there" when I read it--but he thanked me on the inside cover nonetheless. My first career thank you and THE first thank you in the book! (I'm glad Derek alphabetizes by first name.) I respect Derek because, unlike so many others, he's a self-helper that's actually done something in his life. Derek writes like a guy you'd immediately want to be your friend, your co-worker, your employee...your boss. (I really don't like audio books, but I implore you to listen to Derek speak to get his cadence and voice running through your head. It truly makes his text pop more.) "Anything You Want" is THE greatest manual for running a business. For creating your own Utopian business world that will make both you and your employees happy. It's not about making money, or growing larger, or conquering the world, it's simply about filling a need that makes both you and your customers happy. It's simple, but genius. The book tells the story of how Derek's "little hobby"--CD Baby, a company; no, not even a company, a website created to sell his musician friends' CDs--became a big business. It was all an accident. Why? Because Derek was filling a need for others. If you're filling a need for the world, and making yourself happy, that's all you need in life says Derek. In many way, "Anything You Want" reminded me of a more streamlined version of Tony Hseih's "Delivering Happiness," also recommended. The crux of Tony's business plan is to "WOW" customers. Derek would agree with that sentiment as "Anything You Want" tells wonderful stories of all the little things he encouraged his employees to do to make customers happy (a story involving a frozen squid is a major highlight.) "But please know that it's often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you." There is seemingly so many things to worry about in life. Even more if you're running a business. But, that doesn't need to be the case. Derek says: "Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn't that enough?"

  2. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    A couple of Derek Sivers stories: My first CD Baby order was #17697, for 8 discs, in 2000. When I got the now-famous colorful shipment notice I thought I’d actually been the first brand new customer to order as many as 8 albums. I thought the email had been crafted for me, in particular. I felt special. A little later, I placed an even bigger order, and it happened to be while CD Baby was moving across the country. It was delayed long enough that I eventually contacted support, and I promptly got A couple of Derek Sivers stories: My first CD Baby order was #17697, for 8 discs, in 2000. When I got the now-famous colorful shipment notice I thought I’d actually been the first brand new customer to order as many as 8 albums. I thought the email had been crafted for me, in particular. I felt special. A little later, I placed an even bigger order, and it happened to be while CD Baby was moving across the country. It was delayed long enough that I eventually contacted support, and I promptly got a very nice and apologetic email from Derek Sivers himself (along with the discs, in short order). Again, I felt special. Later on I learned that everyone got the crazy shipment notice, even for ordering a single disc, and that at the time Derek emailed me, he was one of just two people in the CD Baby “organization.” And for a little while I felt less special. But eventually I realized that a key part of CD Baby’s value proposition for customers — artists and purchasers alike — was making everyone feel special. Which, when you think about it, is no small trick. Reading Sivers’ story of how and why he started, grew, and sold CD Baby, I was strongly reminded of interviews with Dischord’s Ian MacKaye. Partly because they say some of the same things, particularly about not having business growth as a goal. Both describe awkward conversations with “suits” who really can’t grasp this. But both also display an element of self-contradiction. Sivers says the money didn’t matter — an easy thing to say when your life is not severely constrained by the lack of it — but he did, after all, build a music store, not a music give-away service. Perhaps more tellingly, some of his biggest regrets are about decisions with significant cost impacts. And although Sivers repeatedly says that growth wasn’t a goal, but not only did he consistently make decisions that furthered growth, one of his most provocative epigrammatic guidelines is explicitly about facilitating growth. (It’s to try to make your business practices support double your current volume, which sounds very smart. If you, you know, want to grow the business.) These cavils aside, this is a pretty great book. Sivers is unusually candid about his mistakes as well as what he did right, and he’s lucid and entertaining. (He says he learned to prize clarity and brevity when crafting emails to CD Baby’s subscriber list, and demonstrates mastery of both here.) You’ll probably be thinking about the contents of this brief book for much longer than the time it takes to read it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Keshav Bhatt

    Awesome little book, I will keep re-reading. I love the opening pages - "10 years of experience in 1 hour". This book is written by Derek Sivers, who started a business called CDbaby that he later sold for $22 million. One of my favourite parts of the book was the graph at the beginning showing the monthly sales over 10 years of his business. In analysing it one thing I really appreciated was the steady but slow growth in the first 5 years of his business in particular. Reiterating once again th Awesome little book, I will keep re-reading. I love the opening pages - "10 years of experience in 1 hour". This book is written by Derek Sivers, who started a business called CDbaby that he later sold for $22 million. One of my favourite parts of the book was the graph at the beginning showing the monthly sales over 10 years of his business. In analysing it one thing I really appreciated was the steady but slow growth in the first 5 years of his business in particular. Reiterating once again the importance of steady applied effort & patience, whilst persistently improving. The key things I learned from this book (I read it twice over the course of 2 years) were: * Keep things simple. Implement a model and then persistently improve over and over again. * A reminder about the principle of being a hell yes or no to things - when you say no to things, you create room for the things you are a hell yes to. I've learned this to be true in many spaces of my life. To create a client who is a 10, you also need to be effective at repelling anyone who isn't. To do things you are a HELL YES to, you need to get really clear about your HELL NO. * "No business plan survives first contact with customers" Steve Blank. * Necessity is a great teacher * Everything in your business should be about your customers. Every choice you make, every decision as owner, every task you agenda, every meeting. Focus on that and things will grow. Just thrill them, and they will tell everyone. * I loved the story he told about quitting a job, feeling bad he was leaving so he trained & hired a replacement before he did, not knowing that that wasn't standard practice. "Deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do". * Never forget that someone else loves doing what you hate, you can make your role anything you want, you just need to remember why you do it - you do it to make you happy! (Derek talks a lot about the programming, and random tasks he did, just because he liked doing them. Yeah he could hire someone, or do it better, but he loved learning different things - and thats OK!!) * Execution is worth more than any idea. * Have lots of little clients instead of one big one. Definitely something I'm implementing right now in my social enterprise. * What you are doing is just ONE way of doing things. You want to test & try different ways, and not be stuck to one method. In business, there are different ways: - make a plan without any funding - make your whole business offline - make a franchise model In life, there are different ways: - You could be living in NY obsessed with making lots of money - You could be a free spirit backpacking around SE Asia - You could be a monk meditating in isolation in the mountains - You could be married living your family in a quiet neighbourhood There is no one way. Things change. Things work for different people at different times. Be open to change. Embrace and roll with it. * There's not always a need for a huge vision. You can focus on helping people today. Instead of thinking about "if I had X.. I could do Y". A trap I notice many people fall into * Add lots of fun human touches to your company. Everywhere. From the email auto-responder to the copy on your site, to your office layout. It's OK to be casual & human. Focus on what makes you happy and doing things in a way that makes you happy. * When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia. * There's lots of nudges towards keeping things simple, here's another - a business plan shouldn't take more than a few hours of work. Hopefully no more than a few minutes, the best plans are simple. A quick glance, and common sense should tell you if the numbers will work. Everything else is details. (edit: After 6 years in business, and going from a beginner, to trying to turn pro and master lots of details, I really understand this more on a different level now. You don't need to be too fancy or complicated.) * Never make promises you can't deliver on. Under promise & over deliver instead of the other way around. * Delegate or die. Trust but verify. Delegate but not abdicate * Once something works, it will feel freeing, not strenuous. Sivers mentions how he spent 12 years doing different things, it felt like it was uphill all the time (I can relate!) then suddenly it was like he struck a hit. Instead of trying to create demand, you're trying to manage the demand. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not persistently doing what is not working. So you should always be trying, tweaking, testing new ideas instead of stubbornly pushing the same one again and again.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Niran Pravithana

    Seth Godin recommended this book for every entrepreneur. I just bought it in kindle format. It's introduction tells that you could learn an author's entire experience of creating business within one hour or two... which, unbelievably, I managed to finish it within exactly one hour because it's short, direct-to-point and really fun to go through. The story in the book is about author's bibliography, entrepreneur tips and tactics, wow ideas of CDBaby.com's owner Derek Sivers. He built his business w Seth Godin recommended this book for every entrepreneur. I just bought it in kindle format. It's introduction tells that you could learn an author's entire experience of creating business within one hour or two... which, unbelievably, I managed to finish it within exactly one hour because it's short, direct-to-point and really fun to go through. The story in the book is about author's bibliography, entrepreneur tips and tactics, wow ideas of CDBaby.com's owner Derek Sivers. He built his business with passion and became a very successful entrepreneur. There are not so many books in shelf that give you motivation, drive you to build the business that change the world. This book is one of them.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ioannis

    Amazing little book of mostly unconventional entrepreneurship wisdom. Highly recommended!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Klinta

    Ok, so I read this because apparently everyone in web development has been raving about it and I am not really that blown away. I don't know why I had such a different experience from others, but most of the things said in this book just seemed common sense to me. I didn't feel like it is a very special wisdom he is sharing, he is just stating the obvious (at least for me). It might be to with the fact that I am currently listening to the Simon Sinek's book and a lot of ideas are really the same Ok, so I read this because apparently everyone in web development has been raving about it and I am not really that blown away. I don't know why I had such a different experience from others, but most of the things said in this book just seemed common sense to me. I didn't feel like it is a very special wisdom he is sharing, he is just stating the obvious (at least for me). It might be to with the fact that I am currently listening to the Simon Sinek's book and a lot of ideas are really the same. Or it might do with the fact that I have never heard of his company and didn't have the emotional connection to it. Anyway, it was a nice and quick read and I think I might give it a re-read at some point, but I don't really feel like my ground has been shaken and I should change the way I live, work, care and believe.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rob Warner

    Quick read but insightful. The basic premise, as I understood it, is to spend your life doing things that bring you happiness, which is not as straightforward as it seems. Too often, we spend our time doing what we think will make us happy, or what we think others expect from us, or what society dictates that we do. This book isn't a formula for building a multi-million dollar company, although that's what CDBaby turned out to be. Instead, it helps you see what criteria to consider when making d Quick read but insightful. The basic premise, as I understood it, is to spend your life doing things that bring you happiness, which is not as straightforward as it seems. Too often, we spend our time doing what we think will make us happy, or what we think others expect from us, or what society dictates that we do. This book isn't a formula for building a multi-million dollar company, although that's what CDBaby turned out to be. Instead, it helps you see what criteria to consider when making decisions about your life, your work, and your company. Inspirational.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jihad

    I have loved reading Derek Sivers' essays for the longest time. And even though I've read some of the ones mentioned in the book before, they were still as fresh and thought provoking as ever. I listened to the audio book narrated by Mr. Sivers himself, it added another layer of personal connection to the stories. It narrates a story with an unusual approach to business. Yet it's about much more than that. It's a very short book, and I would recommend it to everyone.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Josh Davis

    I like Derek Sivers a lot. He has fantastic stories and has great advice. I love to read his stuff. However, reading this book made me realize that he is more of a product of survivorship bias. This book was filled with two types of lessons: good business advice and then advice that happened to work for Derek Sivers. I couldn’t tell the two apart.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Greg Stoll

    I have a secret desire to found a technology startup, which probably comes from reading too much Hacker News. I'm pretty happy with my current job, and I don't think I'd actually handle the stress of doing a startup very well, so I doubt it will ever happen. But reading books like this push me towards it. It makes running a startup sound so exciting! (and skips over the long discouraging parts) This is a collection of anecdotes about founding, running, and eventually selling CDBaby. It's a very q I have a secret desire to found a technology startup, which probably comes from reading too much Hacker News. I'm pretty happy with my current job, and I don't think I'd actually handle the stress of doing a startup very well, so I doubt it will ever happen. But reading books like this push me towards it. It makes running a startup sound so exciting! (and skips over the long discouraging parts) This is a collection of anecdotes about founding, running, and eventually selling CDBaby. It's a very quick read, and it's entertaining. My favorite section: My friend Sara has run a small online business out of her living room for twelve years. It's her whole life. She takes it very, very personally. Last week, one of her clients sent her a ten-page-long scathing email, chopping her down, calling her a scam artist and issuing other vicious personal insults, and saying she was going to sue Sara for everything she's worth as retribution for the client's mishandled account. Devastated, Sara turned off her computer and cried. She shut off the phones and closed up shop for the day. She spent the whole weekend in bed wondering if she should just give up. Thinking maybe every insult in this client's letter was true, and she's actually no good at what she does, even after twelve years. On Sunday, she spent about five hours - most of the day - carefully addressing every point in this ten-page email; then she went through the client's website, learning everything about her, and offered all kinds of advice, suggestions, and connections. Sara refunded the client's money, plus an additional $50, with gushing deep apologies for ever having upset someone she was honestly trying to help. The next day, she called the client to try to talk through the situation with her. The client cheerfully took her call and said, "Oh, don't worry about it! I wasn't actually that upset. I was just in a bad mood, and didn't think anyone would read my email anyway." ...and later... When we yell at our car or our coffee machine, it's fine because they're just mechanical appliances. So when we yell at a website or a company, using our computer or our phone, we forget that it's not an appliance but a person that's affected. It's dehumanizing to have thousands of people passing through our computer screens, so we do things we'd never do if those people were sitting next to us. It's too overwhelming to remember that at the end of every computer is a real person, a lot like you, whose birthday was last week, who has three best friends but nobody to spoon at night, and who is personally affected by what you say. Even if you remember it right now, will you remember it next time you're overwhelmed, or perhaps never forget it again? Anyway, I'd recommend it if you're at all interested in startups, or reliving the dot-com era. (which is kinda coming back these days! so...yeah)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Minah

    Actually I knew the author, Derek Sivers from his TED speeches: "How to start a movement," "Keep your goals to yourself," and "Weired, or just different?," not from this book. At glance of my thought about him is that he is interested in a big range of topics, but he points out the core things of human psychology and phenomenon very well. Most of all, I feel strongly he enjoys being what he is doing. He seems very happy. I mean he is doing what makes him happy. From his book "Anything You Want," Actually I knew the author, Derek Sivers from his TED speeches: "How to start a movement," "Keep your goals to yourself," and "Weired, or just different?," not from this book. At glance of my thought about him is that he is interested in a big range of topics, but he points out the core things of human psychology and phenomenon very well. Most of all, I feel strongly he enjoys being what he is doing. He seems very happy. I mean he is doing what makes him happy. From his book "Anything You Want," the same core philosophy is there. Be happy and do what makes you happy.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Quick, easy, very inspirational read -- particularly for entrepreneurs. Love Derek's story and fierce commitment to happiness, simplicity and doing what's best for his customers.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    An interesting read, more like you've sat down over a couple of drinks, and he's spilled his story out on the table.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Roni Laukkarinen

    Wow. Amazing book that is compact enough to read in one hour in one sitting yet informative enough to cause your brain to explode with new ideas and inspiration. I needed this, badly. This book gave me the wake up call after five years of being an entrepreneur. I love every single page of this book, from all the realizations to the encountering with Steve Jobs. Even though I know and breathe about half of the attitude presented (some unknowingly) there are many take-aways I will cherish most prob Wow. Amazing book that is compact enough to read in one hour in one sitting yet informative enough to cause your brain to explode with new ideas and inspiration. I needed this, badly. This book gave me the wake up call after five years of being an entrepreneur. I love every single page of this book, from all the realizations to the encountering with Steve Jobs. Even though I know and breathe about half of the attitude presented (some unknowingly) there are many take-aways I will cherish most probably again and again. I will recommend this book to every entrepreneur or want-to-be one, for mental booster if nothing else. This is the real shit without bullshit!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Wheeler

    Anything You Want by Derek Sivers It’s not what you think. The title causes someone to think of some sort of name it and claim it gospel or a how to guide to accumulate mass amounts of whatever you want. Derek Sivers is behind one of the most important lessons on leadership on the web. Derek was also the brains behind a company called CD baby. These are lessons that he learned from that experience. This comes a business background so some of this is not applicable to church leadership but lots of Anything You Want by Derek Sivers It’s not what you think. The title causes someone to think of some sort of name it and claim it gospel or a how to guide to accumulate mass amounts of whatever you want. Derek Sivers is behind one of the most important lessons on leadership on the web. Derek was also the brains behind a company called CD baby. These are lessons that he learned from that experience. This comes a business background so some of this is not applicable to church leadership but lots of it is. If you are wanting a little taste of his ideas I would check out Anything You Want cartoons. Most of the thoughts or ideas come in compact antidotes. I really appreciated the succint details of his ideas. It’s a quick read which is also nice especially for someone like me that can’t stand most books on business or leadership. Some of the high points for me is his philosophy of Hell Yeah or No! If you are not saying Hell Yeah about something choose to say no. I posted the video on this on my blog a few months back. Hell Yeah or No. “Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not.” I love this! The Church is notorious for continuing to do things as usual hoping for different results. We should be innovative! This goes along with the next quote… “You can’t pretend there’s only one way to do it. Your first idea is just on of many options. No business goes as planned, so make ten radically different plans.” There are 100′s of ways to do church. Let’s not get hung up on just one way. “In the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have.” This quote says it all…Does the church you lead or attend focus more on what it wants to be or what it wants to have? I see so many churches focus on what it wants to have and generally that means more people. I love having more people at events, small groups, worship, serving but what I really want is that whom ever we have to be about loving God, self and neighbor. Finally, I like his approach to delegating responsibility. 1. Gather everybody around 2. Answer the questions and explain the philosophy. 3. Make sure everyone understands the thought process. 4. Ask one person to write it in the manual. 5. Let everybody know they can decide this without me next time. He went from having to answer every question from every employee to having everyone able to answer most questions in two months. I think the church needs less point persons and more everybody is in the know. It’s frustrating in meetings when no one knows anything and the one person who does is not there. What if we all the spent the time to invest in one another and start doing less of everyone and more of that one or two things that gives us life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adam Zerner

    Summary: - The goal is happiness, not money. - Be persistent in iterating, not in doing what doesn't work. - Just focus on making customers happy. Go above and beyond for them. If they're not begging you to let them pay you for the service, keep iterating until they are. - Don't worry about the business-y stuff - it's not that important. - Be real. Be genuine. Be a person. - Optimizing for lots of trivial metrics has bad unintended consequences. There's value in simplicity and genuineness. - You do hav Summary: - The goal is happiness, not money. - Be persistent in iterating, not in doing what doesn't work. - Just focus on making customers happy. Go above and beyond for them. If they're not begging you to let them pay you for the service, keep iterating until they are. - Don't worry about the business-y stuff - it's not that important. - Be real. Be genuine. Be a person. - Optimizing for lots of trivial metrics has bad unintended consequences. There's value in simplicity and genuineness. - You do have to delegate. - Don't be the small shop that is overwhelmed and can't handle lots of business. It signals that you're incompetent. - Be careful - don't make promises about things that are beyond your control (or else Steve Jobs is going to screw you!). - Don't sign away 90% of your company to your dad for $20,000! Or give your employees authority to set up profit sharing for themselves! These points may seem obvious. However, I think Derek does a really great job of telling stories that make them stick. And he does so without taking up twenty hours of your life. Some awesome stories: - A silly confirmation e-mail lead to tons of recommendations and free advertising. - A taxi driver in Vegas missed the days when the Mafia ran things. The Mafia just cared about the bottom line. Now the MBAs run things. They have all of these stupid metrics and charge an extra 25¢ for ketchup on a hot dog. That just takes the fun out of Vegas. - Why no advertising? "That would be like putting a coke machine in a monastery." (best analogy ever) - When he is unclear in an email to 20,000 customers, it costs him $5,000 in customer support. For other people, when they're unclear, the consequences are similar, but they aren't as visible. That's too bad, because it doesn't motivate them to correct mistakes. - If people want a favor, like updating an album cover (which takes 45 minutes), CD Baby asks the customer to buy them a pizza. This humanizing thing made customers love them. - Apple told Derek that they want to have every song in their iTunes store. Then they got pissed, went back on their word, ignored Derek, and cost him $400,000. Other notes: - The tone of the writing is pretty absolute. There isn't an explicit disclaimer of: "This isn't always true. It doesn't apply to every situation. Actually, I'm not even sure if it's true at all, but it seems to work for me." However, the disclaimer does apply, and it is stated in the first post: https://sivers.org/ayw1, so keep it in mind. - The core ideas and philosophies are very similar to DHH and Jason Fried at Basecamp.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    I fucking love this guy

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jon Stephens

    I was first introduced to Derek Sivers while watching a TED Talk. I thought his three minute speech was brilliant, so when I saw that he had written a book I was very excited to read it. Sivers is the creator of CD Baby, a very successful online business that helps independent musicians sell their music. The book is essentially his retelling of the birth and journey of growing that business. It is described as "40 Lessons For A New Kind of Entrepreneur". The book is put out by The Domino Project I was first introduced to Derek Sivers while watching a TED Talk. I thought his three minute speech was brilliant, so when I saw that he had written a book I was very excited to read it. Sivers is the creator of CD Baby, a very successful online business that helps independent musicians sell their music. The book is essentially his retelling of the birth and journey of growing that business. It is described as "40 Lessons For A New Kind of Entrepreneur". The book is put out by The Domino Project and is very short in length (77 pages). Everything in me wanted to love this book, but I just couldn't really get into it. There was some content that I just thought was poor advice (ie. not setting up thorough precautions for possible lawsuits) and then the parts I enjoyed I feel like I have read elsewhere and it wasn't new to me. Even though I wouldn't consider this a "must have" book, I do think it is a decent book, and it is interesting if you're into the nuts and bolts of starting a project or business. Here are a few quotes from the book that I appreciated: "Watch out when anyone (including you) says he wants to do something big, but can't until he raises money. It usually means the person is more in love with the idea of becoming big big big than with actually doing something useful. For an idea to get big big big, it has to be useful. And being useful doesn't need funding. If you want to be useful, you can always start now." "You can't pretend there's only one way to do it. Your first idea is just one of many options. No business goes as planned, so make ten radically different plans." "Never forget why you're really doing what you're doing." "Delegate, but don't abdicate."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brad Revell

    I added this to my list of books to read after it being recommended by Shawn Blanc's monthly book club. Although new books go to the bottom of my list, this one looked like a quick read and given Easter Monday I was able to consume within the hour. What I liked about this book was Siver's open and honest approach to running a business. To him, it is about having fun, being happy and ultimately about the customer; money didn't play a role. It is certainty a healthy approach to have in a business I added this to my list of books to read after it being recommended by Shawn Blanc's monthly book club. Although new books go to the bottom of my list, this one looked like a quick read and given Easter Monday I was able to consume within the hour. What I liked about this book was Siver's open and honest approach to running a business. To him, it is about having fun, being happy and ultimately about the customer; money didn't play a role. It is certainty a healthy approach to have in a business however sometimes I think reality can bite into this approach given our fast paced world of technology and disruption. There were many anecdotes on both his successes and failures along with lessons we can all take from it. For example, the tried and true test of trusting and verifying, to delegate but not abdicate and to make every decision based on the impact to the customer. I don't believe that this approach to business works carte blanche in every industry and idea however there are some great fundamentals for any entrepreneur to take on board with a new venture. Three key takeaways from the book: 1. Delegation is key in the business (especially when you grow), however, with delegation trust but verify. Furthermore delegation doesn't not mean abdication. 2. If you're not saying "Hell Yeah!" to an idea/approach etc. then say no! 3. Siver's Tao of Business: Care about your customers more than about yourself and you'll do well.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Heiner

    I've heard Derek's story multiple times in multiple formats, whether in a TED talk, on the Tim Ferriss show, or even on a random podcast where he shared his story, so I had heard many of the lessons distilled in here in different ways. I finally had the chance to knock back the 84 pages on a recent flight and it's enjoyable, filled with lots of good advice for new entrepreneurs. A few of the gems: "Your business plan is moot. You don't know what people really want until you start doing it." (p. 3 I've heard Derek's story multiple times in multiple formats, whether in a TED talk, on the Tim Ferriss show, or even on a random podcast where he shared his story, so I had heard many of the lessons distilled in here in different ways. I finally had the chance to knock back the 84 pages on a recent flight and it's enjoyable, filled with lots of good advice for new entrepreneurs. A few of the gems: "Your business plan is moot. You don't know what people really want until you start doing it." (p. 3) "...revolution is a term that people use only when you're successful. Before that, you're just a quirky person who does things differently." (p. 10) "None of your customers will ask you to turn your attention to expanding. They want you to keep your attention focused on them. It's counterintuitive, but the way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they'll tell everyone." (p. 17) "...it's often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you." (p. 48) The chapters titled, "No 'yes' either 'hell yes' or 'no'" and "Ideas are just a multiplier of execution" are worth the (small) price of the book alone.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    I read the audio version of this, read by the author himself. The book reads as a manifesto mixed with a retrospective. Derek SIvers founded CD Baby before iTunes, before even ecommerce was popular in order to help a few of his musician friends sell their own CDs online. The business exploded and he sold it for $20+M. The book is both his philosophy on what it means to start a business (summed up as "you have a chance to build your own utopia in which the world works as you want it to work"), les I read the audio version of this, read by the author himself. The book reads as a manifesto mixed with a retrospective. Derek SIvers founded CD Baby before iTunes, before even ecommerce was popular in order to help a few of his musician friends sell their own CDs online. The business exploded and he sold it for $20+M. The book is both his philosophy on what it means to start a business (summed up as "you have a chance to build your own utopia in which the world works as you want it to work"), lessons learned (quit when you've had enough and are no longer happy, empower people but don't give away too much authority, etc.), and other random stories (what happened with CD Baby and iTunes). The philosophy, optimistic part is maybe the first third or half of the book. His world view and lessons are underscored by anecdotes. The tone is honest and up-beat. And I read this part 3 times last year as inspiration to help me found my own company. The second half is a little more dire and less inspirational, but still valuable. I didn't re-read that part. Overall, it's a terrific book, a fast read, and should be required reading if you're going to start a business of your own. It has much more soul than any other startup book you'll read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    An extremely short but worthy read. I'm a slower reader, and was done in an hour and a half. Derek Sivers began his own company without ever intending it to grow as it did, and he gives practical advice to readers about happiness in your work, what worked well for him, and mistakes that he made. Sivers is extremely down-to-earth, and his language portrays this. After growing his business to a level in which he was no longer joyful about running it, he sold it for 22 million dollars and gave the An extremely short but worthy read. I'm a slower reader, and was done in an hour and a half. Derek Sivers began his own company without ever intending it to grow as it did, and he gives practical advice to readers about happiness in your work, what worked well for him, and mistakes that he made. Sivers is extremely down-to-earth, and his language portrays this. After growing his business to a level in which he was no longer joyful about running it, he sold it for 22 million dollars and gave the vast majority of this to charity. He lives as a minimalist in New Zealand now, and continues writing, working as an entrepreneur, and spends much of his time replying to emails from strangers. He requests at the end of the book that you shoot him a message to say hello. =) I loved soaking up the perspective of someone whose life is so drastically different from my own. Though it was mostly about business and less about life in general, I found it a refreshing change from a work I just read written by Colin Wright, who is also a minimalist but seems far more self-congratulatory about his lifestyle choices and his business success. Recommend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I listed to his Ted talk which was the short version of the book although I recommend the book more. Must read! Anyone starting a business or in business or with a pulse read this. His gentle boyish style is refreshing especially considering the heights he has been able to attain. Nuggets of Truth: Don't be on your death bed someday having squandered your one chance at life full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams. You can't please everyone so proudly exclude I listed to his Ted talk which was the short version of the book although I recommend the book more. Must read! Anyone starting a business or in business or with a pulse read this. His gentle boyish style is refreshing especially considering the heights he has been able to attain. Nuggets of Truth: Don't be on your death bed someday having squandered your one chance at life full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams. You can't please everyone so proudly exclude people Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business Going beyond that You have connections all over I do believe I'm getting stronger everyday Start from the beginning Spiritual antenna Circle Back Grand gesture Clearest proof We want to give to those who give Resist the urge to punish everyone for one persons mistake Create a funny email like the one from CD baby Fun little human touchs Give it a focused listen In the end it's about what you want to be not what you want to have

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alison Prendergast

    If you read Derek Sivers' blog or have seen him speak, you won't read anything new in this book. It's very short and took me about an hour to read. Derek Sivers has a great voice and has a refreshing, down-to-earth perspective based on his experiences and decisions. He seems incredibly genuine. The relationship between a customer and a business is often adversarial, but it's clear that Derek Sivers was able to create a different kind of relationship with his clients. Maybe that's because he ulti If you read Derek Sivers' blog or have seen him speak, you won't read anything new in this book. It's very short and took me about an hour to read. Derek Sivers has a great voice and has a refreshing, down-to-earth perspective based on his experiences and decisions. He seems incredibly genuine. The relationship between a customer and a business is often adversarial, but it's clear that Derek Sivers was able to create a different kind of relationship with his clients. Maybe that's because he ultimately wasn't there for the money but the project itself. He also makes the point that at the end of the day, whatever you're doing should make you happy, and that happiness can be realized in a number of ways, which he illustrates with several examples. As much as I like Derek Sivers and his writing, I wish there was a lot more to this book besides a compilation of stories and arguments that he's already made in his blog.

  25. 5 out of 5

    N

    Why I didn't read this six months ago was a huge mistake. Seems Monsieur Derek has some valuable lessons and insight... but here's the thing his words are only words until you've gone through the fire yourself... or maybe you're just one of those people who actually take advice and don't agree when hindsight is 20/20. Best piece of advice from Derek Sivers? Delegate don't Abdicate. Le Sigh. Yes yes... I learned a very hard lesson doing just exactly what Derek advises the reader not to do... and Why I didn't read this six months ago was a huge mistake. Seems Monsieur Derek has some valuable lessons and insight... but here's the thing his words are only words until you've gone through the fire yourself... or maybe you're just one of those people who actually take advice and don't agree when hindsight is 20/20. Best piece of advice from Derek Sivers? Delegate don't Abdicate. Le Sigh. Yes yes... I learned a very hard lesson doing just exactly what Derek advises the reader not to do... and now I leave the tribe I was leading likely to never see them again either... which is just as well... Overall great book. Solid. Derek seems like a great guy who actually knows what he's talking about. Derek Sivers

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    Refreshing book about building a customer focused business. Refreshing because it is very short - takes as long to read as a business magazine. Refreshing because it focuses on the decisions to best serve the customer, with plenty of examples, even though some examples run counter to other suggestions. Yes, business can be messy. Refreshing because this story about a business is not about optimizing the business, it's about optimizing the owner's happiness. Refreshing in that the owner describes Refreshing book about building a customer focused business. Refreshing because it is very short - takes as long to read as a business magazine. Refreshing because it focuses on the decisions to best serve the customer, with plenty of examples, even though some examples run counter to other suggestions. Yes, business can be messy. Refreshing because this story about a business is not about optimizing the business, it's about optimizing the owner's happiness. Refreshing in that the owner describes some very dumb mistakes. And he also describes how the proceeds from the company's sale help the customers that he served. A shortcoming is that he portrays his running of the company as naïve, like not using legal review of contracts. It sounds too risky to be repeated, but I understand the direction he is proposing - operate where you are comfortable.

  27. 4 out of 5

    David

    This book aims to be read in an hour. This is technically possible, but it probably needs to be read a dozen times over to really internalize the lessons. Sivers has an incredibly unique perspective, which can be very freeing if you're open to it. Through anecdotes, he shows that shunning the beaten path can lead to great things in many different areas (though it comes with unknown challenges). I'm marking the book "read" now, in that my eyes have seen all the words. I'm not sure when I'll be able This book aims to be read in an hour. This is technically possible, but it probably needs to be read a dozen times over to really internalize the lessons. Sivers has an incredibly unique perspective, which can be very freeing if you're open to it. Through anecdotes, he shows that shunning the beaten path can lead to great things in many different areas (though it comes with unknown challenges). I'm marking the book "read" now, in that my eyes have seen all the words. I'm not sure when I'll be able to interpret all the wisdom the book contains.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amr

    Simple message told simply by an author and an business owner who admits to liking simplicity: Do what you like is the best strategy for better business management. Don't get driven into the usual way of doing and managing your business. Your business is YOUR business. Do what you like and know, very well, why are you doing it. Interesting read of an unusual story. Not exactly a story that will fit every business out there but still nice to read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Frode Bjerke

    Derek Sivers is not your everyday person or entrepreneur. He has a solid philosophy of life which he executes in a way few dares to do, as it breaks with many cultural norms. In many ways, CD Baby, the backdrop story of this book was the time he discovered his philosophy and got aware of it. Though some of his advice might not hold water in every situation, or for any person, I believe there are many small tidbits of wisdom both philosophical and practical for anyone who reads this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed

    Always loved listening to Derek Sivers talk. This time it wasn't different. Lovely, lovely book. It was short, insightful and was told like a story. Most of all it was enjoyable. I'd recommend it to everyone who wants to have a fulfilling life, and has an hour or two to spare. I must say that I read the audiobook and it was beautifully narrated by Derek himself.

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