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

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'I love this book! If you want a true manifesto, a guidebook with clear signposts, and a fun ride you'll return to again and again, you have it here in this book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did' Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek

The iconic manifesto on lessons learned while becoming an entrepreneur


You don't need a visionary master plan, loads of funding or a brilliant team to start a business.

When Derek Sivers started CD Baby, he wasn't planning on building a major business. He was a successful independent musician who just wanted to sell his CDs online. He started in 1998 by helping his friends sell their CDs too. In 2000, he hired his first employee. Eight years later, he sold CD Baby for $22 million.

Sivers didn't need a business plan and neither do you. You don't need to think big; in fact, it's better if you don't. Anything You Want will inspire you to start with what you have, care about your customers more than yourself, and run your business like you don't need the money.


'Some of the best hours you'll ever spend will be reading Derek Sivers's new book...Anything You Want' Forbes

96 pages, Paperback

First published June 21, 2011

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About the author

Derek Sivers

47 books1,104 followers
Derek Sivers is an author of philosophy and entrepreneurship, known for his surprising quotable insights and pithy succinct writing style.

Formerly a musician, programmer, TED speaker, and circus clown, he sold his first company for $22 million and gave all the money to charity.

Sivers’ books (How to Live, Hell Yeah or No, Your Music and People, Anything You Want) and newest projects are at his website: https://sive.rs/

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,319 reviews
Profile Image for Aaron Goldfarb.
Author 11 books44 followers
June 29, 2011
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?"
Profile Image for Hamad.
989 reviews1,302 followers
November 16, 2020
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

This is a very short review because the book was short. The book has 40 lessons on entrepreneurship and these were unusual, out of the box lessons which I really enjoyed. Personally, I do enjoy reading non-fiction but I usually find the advice given in these books to be very logical. The beautiful thing about this book is that it was really unconventional. The lessons and the way the author speaks just captured my attention.

The author tells his story with the CD baby company and the challenges and obstacles he had to face. I really thought that the author was lucky at many points but also smart so it was a perfect mix of both. I don’t think it gave me the answers to start a business but rather it provided some knowledge to maintain one. It was a short read anyway and I do recommend it for anyone interested in business and entrepreneur books!!
Profile Image for D.
412 reviews8 followers
July 27, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Josh Davis.
56 reviews30 followers
February 9, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Keshav Bhatt.
92 reviews78 followers
December 10, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Kaiti Yoo.
37 reviews1,357 followers
January 7, 2023
i will return to this book many times over the years. an absolute hug + indispensable advice.
Profile Image for Matt Lillywhite.
116 reviews28 followers
October 8, 2022
"When you sign up to run a marathon, you don't want a taxi to take you to the finish line."

I love this book. Even though it's short, Derek is totally right. The journey is often more important than the destination. For example, it's cool that I've read 100+ books a year. But it's the memories from reading & learning new things that I'll treasure most. Not the label of being a prolific reader.

"Anything You Want" is also a great insight into CDBaby, and how Derek grew it to one of the most recognizable businesses in the music industry.

Five stars.
Profile Image for Mustafa Nuwaidri.
377 reviews143 followers
October 19, 2018
كتاب رائع وخفيف يتحدث عن تجربة نجاح خاصة خاضها الكاتب ديريك سيفيرز بتأسيسه شركة من الصفر في 1998 حتى باعها في 2008 بقيمة 22 مليون دولار

كان ديريك مولعا بالموسيقى منذ كان في الرابعة عشر من عمره، وكان دائما ما يسمع الاحباطات من زملائه بأن صوته نشاز ولا يصلح لمثل هذه المهنة، والغريب انه أصر في هذه الهواية واستمر في التدريبات حتى تحقق له النجاح في هذا المجال وهو في عمر التاسعة والعشرين!

أراد ديريك أن ينشر ألبومه في الانترنت فلم تقبل شركات الموسيقى الكبرى، فما كان منه الا ان صمم موقعا خاصا به ووضع فيه موسيقاه، وحينها تداعى له معارفه برغبتهم بنشر البوماتهم في موقعه ، اكتشف ديريك أن موقعه اصبح مشروعا تجاريا مربحا، من هنا بدأت شركته سي دي بيبي التي نمت بسرعة كبيرة حاول ديريك ان يبطئ نموها قدر الإمكان وهنا تظهرمبادئهالتي تختلف عن مبادئ التاجر البحت، طبعا مبادئ الكاتب متنوعة قد نختلف مع بعضها وقد نتفق.

مبادئ الكاتب

• الناس اذ يبحثون عن المال هم ينظرون الى المال كوسيلة في جلب السعادة ، وهذا جيد ولكن لا تركض وراء الوسيلة بلهاث وتنسى سعادتك، ان السعادة ليست عند أولئك الذين يمتلكون المليارات بل عند من يعيشون لحظات جميلة من حياتهم في العمل ويحسون بقدر الإفادة التي يقدمونها للعالم، دون اهمال الحصول على قدر جيد من المال بالطبع.

• يركز ديريك على اسعاد عملائه بطريقة شخصية ، هو لا يهتم بعقلية الشركة العالمية التي تتعامل مع ملايين العملاء بل يهتم ان يسعد هذا العميل او ذاك، الأشياء الصغيرة تعمل الكثير، يكفي ان ترسل لعملائك رسالة ترسم البسمة.

• يقول لا تسع من اجل كسب المال في مشروعك التجاري، افد الاخرين وستأتي الأموال راكضة.

• لا ترضي الجميع ولا تستهدف الجميع، استهدف شريحة عملاء صغيرة تستطيع خدمتها بكفاءة عالية، ولا يهمك ان يفوتك عملاء من شرائح أخرى.

• ابدأ مشروعك صغيرا فما أجمل ان تعمل بموارد محدودة، ولا تبحث عن التمويل ولا تستعجل في ان تضخم مشروعك، ولا يجب ان تضع خططا للمدى البعيد

• ان تحمل فكرة مشروع هو شيء جيد ولكنها بلا قيمة ان لم تطبقها

• شخصية الكاتب لاتهتم بالنواحي القانونية وهو يدعونا لتجنب الخوض فيها رغم انه خسر كثيرا جراء جهله بهذه الأمور

• يوما فيوما كان ديريك يحتاج الى توظيف المزيد، واعماله تزداد باستمرار، فتعلم شيئا فشيئا كيف يجب أن يفوض، ويجب ان تتذكر ان التفويض والثقة لا يعني ان لا تراقب العمل بين وقت واخر، ولكن يبدو أن ديريك لم يعجب كثيرا بكونه مديرا على 85 موظف، وحدثت بعض الصراعات التي جعلته ينفر سريعا من شركته التي بناها،

باع ديريك شركته ب22 مليون دولار، والاغرب انه أسس بالأموال مؤسسة خيرية تعنى بالموسيقى لا يملك منها ديريك الا ما يسد به حاجاته الأساسية، وهذا شيء يدعو للتعاطف الكبير مع هذا الرجل، فماذا يعني أن يتخلى شاب في مقتبل عمره عن ملايين تعب سنينا في جمعها ليعيش حياة بسيطة هدفها خيري

ان كل هذه المبادئ المثالية بأن تساعد الناس ولا تبحث عن المال في مشروعك التجاري تأكدت انها حقيقية عبر هذا الفعل الكريم الذي قام به الكاتب مما يعطي لكل كلامه مصداقية وقوة، كم نحن محتاجون الى رجال اعمال كثيرين بهذه العقلية من الاكتفاء وعدم الجشع والرغبة في اسعاد العملاء والنهوض بالمجتمع
Profile Image for Klinta.
332 reviews159 followers
July 22, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Niran Pravithana.
Author 3 books29 followers
July 16, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Katie ♡.
224 reviews75 followers
February 22, 2022
“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?”

A concise yet useful take on entrepreneurship from the founder of the original CD baby company. In other words, the birth of the company can be considered the stepping stone for the idea of iTunes as we mostly are aware of today. Whether it is the author’s main intention or not, the book offers quite a genuine and practical approach, instead of deliberately trying to sell business ideas to the readers.

Overall, this is quite an interesting and approachable read.

Actual rating: 3.7/5☆
Profile Image for Ioannis.
11 reviews4 followers
March 11, 2017
Amazing little book of mostly unconventional entrepreneurship wisdom. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Daniel Clausen.
Author 10 books456 followers
November 7, 2020
Sometimes something can be short and impactful. The long essay by Seneca “On the Shortness of Life” is one such short impactful essay. I feel this is another one. This book is less than a 2-hour read.

The book is a very casual take on business creation. If you’re happy and your customers are happy and there is a bit of money in the bank, then you’re fine. Better than fine.

The book is about business success without trying too hard. I mean “without trying too hard” in both senses– the book doesn’t try too and the creation of the business wasn’t a try hard sort of thing either…though actually, when you read between the lines, there was a lot of work.

Though I’m sure there was a lot of hard work, that work was organic and intuitive rather than premeditated. And that is a key point of the book: many things with think of as success happen casually and organically rather than through well-thought out five year plans or MBA-approved business plans.

That’s kind of a bummer for type-A personalities who believe they can simply will success. It also shouldn’t give type-B personalities supreme confidence either. A type-A personality will say: make success happen…and then bang his or her head against the wall when things don’t work out as planned. A type-B personality will say: Let success come to you, and then be bummed out when they get tired of waiting or realize they have to put in deliberate effort.

The story here is more useful than the stated lessons. There is a lot of both serendipity and deliberate effort in the creation of the business CD Baby. There are times when winging it works to the author’s advantage, but there are times when carelessness leads to unnecessary headaches.

Timing is also important – there is a good TED talk about that. You should try to look that one up.

It’s always great to hear from people who have done it. But always remember that it is just one story. Your story will likely be different. Some of the lessons will apply. Some will not.

One of the aspects of this story that I liked was the author describing his journey as taking the long road – persisting in learning things himself rather than outsourcing it to others. He admits it was the slower, less rational road, but also describes great joy in it. Again, this is a story – one that may or may not apply to you. But I believe it does apply to my writing career. More and more I’ve had to learn how to do things by myself. It’s tough, but it also gives you greater ownership over your successes.

I think the key point is: Your business can be whatever you want, so know what you want. But the story itself is something else: success requires a lot of what you don’t want. Then, when you’re successful, you can use that success to make whatever you want.

There is also another point to this story – don’t be careless. This guy is really careless with his business. Being a little bit more careful at no less than three junctures could have saved him a lot of stress and heartache…I’ve found the same is true for me.

Find your bliss, find out what others need, don’t be too hardheaded, put in the work – but also, don’t be careless. That could’ve been the second title to this book: Don’t be Careless.
Profile Image for Rob Warner.
225 reviews3 followers
August 26, 2011
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.
101 reviews15 followers
May 31, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Paul Sochiera.
59 reviews3 followers
November 8, 2022
A lot of times, the author made very hard generalizations just from his experience - I did not like that.
Profile Image for Adam Zerner.
59 reviews104 followers
May 19, 2017
- 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.
Profile Image for TRB.
14 reviews9 followers
June 23, 2021
Listened to the audiobook book version of this! It was very short and philosophically cheerful
25 reviews176 followers
August 13, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Abolfazl Fattahi.
61 reviews9 followers
December 29, 2018
این کتاب فوق‌العاده را من چندین بار خوندم چون تازه ترجمه‌اش کردیم و قراره تا یک ماه آینده چاپ بشه، فعلا نمی خوام زیاد درباره‌اش بنویسم، بعدا در بلاگم خواهم نوشت، فقط به صورت کلی باید بگم در این کتاب خیلی ساده نوشته اگر چیزی در ذهنتون هست خودتون رو درگیر کلی مسخره بازی بی‌خودی مثل سرمایه‌گذار و شتاب‌دهنده و ... نکنید شروع کنید :))
Profile Image for Michael.
1 review7 followers
July 8, 2011
An interesting read, more like you've sat down over a couple of drinks, and he's spilled his story out on the table.
Profile Image for Greg Stoll.
305 reviews10 followers
July 24, 2011
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)
Profile Image for Stephen Heiner.
Author 1 book44 followers
March 25, 2023
Video review: https://youtu.be/bV5KzJHiI70

***This is a slight update (i.e. adding quotes, updating page numbers) of my original review having read the slightly different 3rd edition which has now been put out by Derek in self-published form.***

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:

"When you make a company, you make a utopia. It's where you design your perfect world." (p. 2)

"You can't please everyone, so proudly exclude people." (p. 3)

"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. 9)

"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. 15)

"Start by sharing whatever you've got." (p. 19)

"By trying so hard to please the big client, you lose touch with what the rest of the world wants." (p. 23)

"When you ask your customers what would improve your service, has anyone said, 'Please fill your website with more advertising?'" (p. 26)

"So please don't think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today." (p. 30)

"Contrast those (great customer experiences) with...charging an additional 25 cents for extra sauce..." (p. 34)

"But even well-meaning companies accidentally get trapped in survival mode." (p. 35)

"As a business owner, when you get screwed-over by someone, it's tempting to make a big grand policy you think will prevent you from ever getting screwed-over again." (p. 41)

"When one customer wrongs you, remember the thousands that did not." (p. 41)

"You're lucky to own your own business. Life is good." (p. 41)

"...it's often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you." (p. 46)

"[O]nce you become the boss, your opinion is dangerous because it's not just one person's opinion anymore — it's a command!" (p. 57)

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.
Profile Image for Jon Stephens.
59 reviews5 followers
April 24, 2013
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."
Profile Image for Dillan Taylor.
133 reviews20 followers
February 9, 2023
A book I come back to each year. It's such a helpful and inspiring little read.

It's the reason I wanted to start a business in the first place. Derek invites you to build something simply because it's fun and because you get to help others along the way.

In a world of gurus telling you "how to grow and expand your business," Derek first asks, "Why do you want to expand? What are you hoping to get out of that?"

Next time I read it, I'll post my favorite takeaways. But to anyone interested in business or creating, take 30-60 minutes and read this thing.

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