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Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  9,677 Ratings  ·  451 Reviews

When anyone can start a business (when everyone is running their career like a business), it begs a question. This is your one chance at life, you can have anything you want, what is worth doing?

Most people don't know why they're doing what they're doing. They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own.

They spend dec
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published June 29th 2011 by Brilliance Audio (first published June 21st 2011)
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Aaron Goldfarb
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Top 10 Learnings from "Anything you want"

1. Page 11: Succes comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what's not working.

2. Page 15: Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers.

3. Page 15: It's counterintuitive, but the way to grow your business

4. Page 69: TRUST, but verify

5. Page 33: When someone's doing something for love, being generoius instead of stingy, tursting instead of fearful, ti triggers this law: We want to give to those w
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
نویسنده توی این کتاب داستان ایجاد کسب و کارش که به صورت اتفاقی شروع شده بود و در ادامه گسترش دادن و فروش اش رو شرح می ده. در خلال این شرح این ماجرا، چیزهایی که به نظرش برای ایجاد و توسعه کسب و کار مهم هستن رو هم توضیح می ده و توصیه هایی هم می کنه.
بعضی نکات ساده و پیش پا افتاده، بعضی هاش هم بد نبود. با بعضی هاش هم مخالفم. لحن ساده و غیررسمی کتاب خوشایند بود.
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's owner Derek Sivers. He built his business w
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.
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing little book of mostly unconventional entrepreneurship wisdom. Highly recommended!
Greg Stoll
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Keshav Bhatt
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awesome little book, and I loved 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 ste
Rob Warner
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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," ...more
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, more like you've sat down over a couple of drinks, and he's spilled his story out on the table.
Adam Zerner
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- 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
Brad Revell
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-tos, wealth
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 ...more
Jelle Derckx
Derek Sivers inspireert me al een tijd met zijn schrijfwerk. Het artikel ‘Relax for the same result’ inspireerde mij om het artikel ‘Get the right shit done’ te schrijven. Derek is een ondernemer en houd van vrijheid, creëren, minimalisme en je richten op dat wat écht belangrijk is. En dat maakt hem natuurlijk mijn man.

Hij begon in 1999 als muzikant een website waarop hij zijn eigen cd’s kon verkopen. We hebben het nu over het begin van het internet want het duurde een half jaar om een ‘Buy’ but
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nathan Wheeler
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 ...more
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks-read
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
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, business
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 ...more
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Brad Dunn
This is a charming book written by an endearing writer. The work is crisp, its points clear, much in the same vain as 'Rework'. It will serve a person well who is overcomplicating their business, or worrying about the complexities of starting a new one. It won't change your life, but it will make you smile.
Bob Perry
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short and to the point an excellent start for someone thinking about becoming an entrepreneur. Derek Sivers is one of those people that follows their own path and by doing so he has been kind enough to share how he turned a hobby into a $22 million business.

He is quite a human being and such a positive voice that everyone would find something good in this small 90 page book.
Salvador Daniel
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No hay forma más clara de demostrar que el dinero es una consecuencia de hacer lo que amas y no un objetivo hueco, banal. El autor narra su experiencia, sus aciertos y errores. Es material muy valioso.
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What book should I read? 3 9 Mar 15, 2016 09:01AM  
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“Most people don't know why they're doing what they're doing. They imitate others, go with the flow, and follow paths without making their own.” 26 likes
“Don't be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams.” 9 likes
More quotes…