Anything You Want
I instantly feel in love with Derek Sivers the moment he opened up on the Tim Ferriss podcast about his life and journey to sell his company CD baby for 22 million. Started from nothing, didn't even know how to code. Didn't want a business. But what impressed me most was his attitude toward the business, in particular his attitude towards prioritising the things that matter more than the business - like his life, his relationships, his happiness. Having dabbled unsuccessfully in a start-up and having lived and suffered by start-up fever during that time, after reading Derek’s book I now ruefully wonder what might have been different if I’d had this guide to hand back then as a reminder as to what your business oughta be.
Derek smacks down pretty much every business model and start up “how-to” philosophy out there. For example, he convincingly argues for having your ‘model’ as simple as possible (he had two figures only; a set-up fee and a cut per CD sold. End of model. Made 22 million. So much for the lean canvass).
What It's For?
Derek mentions advice he got from Seth Godin at one point around the time when he was wrestling with the idea of selling, which is quite telling, as some of the philosophy that seeps through his decision making is very Godin-esque. In particular the idea of being clear about what it's for (Anything You Want is dedicated to Seth, and asking what’s it for is one of Seth’s favourite questions as far as I can tell). Why are you doing this? Who are you seeking to serve? And in Derek’s mind it’s all very clear - you’re in business to help people. End of story. And as to the HOW of your business, this is very clearly defined by one thing alone - making you happy! This is where I think Derek shines through as such a rarity. Yes he’s a brilliant polymath (musician, author, amazing speaker, learner, programmer, cool dude, renaissance man) but you know what I love most about Derek? He knows what makes him happy.
Derek drops the mic on all the BS out there about why you should and shouldn’t start, scale, and sell your business. Do it if it’s your thing. Otherwise don’t. Go figure out what your thing is and do that instead.
Tim Ferriss calls Anything You Want a Manifesto. I agree. At about a 1-hour read, it is jam-packed with just about everything you need to know to get started in business, just the Tao, just the distilled wisdom from Derek’s 10 year magical CD Baby journey. Then when you get done with that, I highly recommend tooling around his website for more inspiration and Truth at every single click and turn https://sivers.org/.
Derek is smart. Let’s all be like Derek.