Book Notes: Anything You Want // Derek Sivers

 Derek Sivers - Anything you want

Rating 10/10

Fantastic wisdom from a clear thinker. Derek has a way of cutting through the noise and keeping your head in the game. The only thing that would make this book better, was if there was more! (However Derek is also releasing 3 books this year so that’s something to look forward to 👌)




  • My approach is just one way, I could argue against it as well.

  • Don’t pursue business just for you own gain. Only answer the calls for help.

  • But I don't want to start a business. I was already living my dream life as a full time musician

  • When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control the laws. This is your utopia

  • Revolution is a term that people use only when you’re successful. Before that, you’re just a quirky person who does things differently.

  • If you think your life’s purpose need to hit you like a lightning bolt, you’ll overlook the little day to day things that fascinate you. If you think revolution needs to feel like way, you’ll overlook the importance of simply serving people better.

  • Present each new idea or improvement to the world. If multiple people are saying: “Wow! Yes! I need this! I’d be happy to pay you to do this!” then you should probably do it. But if the response is anything less, don’t pursue it.

  • Remember this quote from serial entrepreneur Steve Blank: “No business plan survives first contact with customers”

  • By not having any money to waste, you never waste money

  • Many people get caught up thinking: “We need the very best” but if it doesn’t improve things for your clients, there is no point

  • Everything you do needs to be for your customers. Make every decision, based upon what is best for your customers. If you’re ever stuck, ask them: “How can i best help you now?” and then satisfy those requests

  • If you want to be useful, you can always start now, with only 1% of what you have in your grand vision

  • Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy into actually solving real problems for real people

  • Execution is worth millions

  • Never forget that there are thousands of businesses, like Jim’s bait shop in a shack on a beach somewhere that are doing just fine without the corporate formalities

  • (Derek on the importance of having a diversified range of clients instead of just one big one): Whom are you really working for? Are you self-employed, or is this client your boss

  • Have the confidence to know =that when your target 1 percent hears you excluding the other 99%, the people in that 1% will come to you because you’ve shown how much you value them

  • Think for yourself.

  • Make a plan that requires on $1,000 to execute. Go!

  • Now make a plan for 10x customers. Go!

  • Now make all your initial assumptions wrong, and have it work anyway, Go!

  • Now show how you would franchise it, Go!

  • Journalists would ask: “what’s your long term plan for CD Baby?” I’d say, “I don’t have one. CD baby surpassed my goals long ago. I’m just trying to help musicians with whatever they need today.”

  • Please don’t think you need to have a big vision. Just stay focused on helping people today.

  • Business success and KPI’s:

  • Never forget why you’re really doing what you’re doing. Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn’t that enough?

  • We all grade ourselves by different measures.

  • For some it’s how much money they make. WHen their net worth is going up, they know they’re doing well.

  • For others, it’s how much money they give.

  • For some it’s how many people’s lives they can influence for the better

  • For others, it’s how deeply they can influence just a few people’s lives.

  • How do you grade yourself? It’s important to know in advance, to make sure you’re staying focused on what’s truly important to you, instead of doing what others think you should.

  • Care about your customers more than about yourself, and you’ll do well

  • Set up your business like you don’t need the money, and it will likely come your way

  • When one customer wrongs you, remember the thousands who didn't

  • I see websites trying to look impressive, filled with hundreds of puffy, unnecessary sentences

  • “We’ll do anything for a pizza”

  • Even if you want to be big someday, remember that you never need to act like a big boring company. Over ten years, it seem like everytime someone raved about how much they loved CD baby it was because of these little fun human touches

  • It wasn’t my bosses fault I wanted to quit. Find your replacement and train them before you have to leave.

  • It was wonderful to learn how to make technology do what I wanted and not be a mystery. And it was nice to be self-sufficient.

  • When you want to learn how to do something yourself, most people won’t understand. They’ll assume the only reason we do anything is to get it done, and doing it yourself is not the most efficient way. But that’s forgetting about the joy of learning and doing.

  • In the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have. To have something (a finished record, a business, or millions of dollars) is the means, not the end. To be something (a good singer, a skilled entrepreneur, or just plain happy) is the point.

  • Never promise anything to your customers that isn’t in your full control

  • Get your team running the business, that way you are free to actually work on improving the business

  • (When Derek took his eye off the ball for a crucial task that he delegated, but didn’t follow up on): This job was so crucial to the company’s survival that I decided to do it myself again for a while - not just do it, but build a system that wouldn’t let mistakes go unnoticed again.

  • Trust, but verify.

  • I learned an important word: abdicate. To abdicate means to surrender or relinquish power or responsibility; this word is usually used when a king abdicates the throne or crown. (Make sure you’re delegating, but not abdicating)

  • (On Derek deciding now was a good time to sell the business after always turning offers down): This time it was different. I thought how nice it would be not to have 85 employees and all that responsibility. I wrote about how nice it’d be to get outside a bit and feel free of all that. I got excited about all the new projects I could work on instead

  • Called his business coach in confusing time, and got advice. His coach mirrored important questions back to cover all angles

  • (Derek on making your perfect world): i started CD Baby focused on the importance of making a dream-come-true perfect world for musicians

  • A business is a reflection of the creator

  • Pay close attention to when you’re being the real you, and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.