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Book Notes: Anything you want – Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers’ “Anything You Want” is a quick hour read that’s easy to understand. I love how he lives by his life’s philosophy and his very human approach to business.

Here are some of the highlights I made of his book:

  • You need to know your personal philosophy of what makes you happy and what’s worth doing
  • Business is not about money, it’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.
  • Do business so that you can answer the calls for help.
  • You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people – it’s really ok!
  • The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.
  • Derek goes on to talk about how he started CD Baby as an accidental entrepreneur. His main goal was to help musicians and that was always the guiding principle behind CD Baby – before profits.
  • Some people will tell you to outsource everything, but if learning to do it by yourself makes you happy, then do it.
  • A tech startup that outsources it’s programming is like a musician outsourcing it’s song / music writing

The point is not just to cross the finish line, but to enjoy the ride while you are crossing it – for example, you could ride a taxi to bring you to the finish line in a marathon, but what’s the point?

  • What’s most important is that it makes you HAPPY.

Write down a utopian view of what you want the world to be and how your business helps to achieve that. Make that your mission.

  • For Derek, his mission was to run a business that would pay musicians every week, show him where his fans were, never kick him out for not selling enough records, never allow paid placement – otherwise it wouldn’t be fair to those that couldn’t afford it.
  • The best plans are simple – don’t complicate matters with growth revenue reach and other business jargons.
  • There’s no revolution, only bit by bit and day by day. Start working on your business idea by building a simple prototype, as long as you are in the race, you can achieve it.
  • You don’t need funding, just need to find customers and build something people really want. Otherwise all the marketing dollars won’t be able to save your company.
  • Only do things that make you do “HELL YEAH” – if it’s a hmm ok, then say “NO”.
  • Ideas are just multipliers of execution. Execute.

How do you grade yourself?

  • It’s important to know your benchmarks – otherwise how else will you know you are focused on what’s honestly important to you?

Running a business

  • Care about your customers more than about yourself. That’s your #1 rule of providing good service to them, It’s all about them them them – not you.
  • Set up your business like you don’t need the money – the money will likely come your way.
  • Be clear in what you say – it can cause pain when you are unclear to customers and your staff.
  • Be human – you don’t need to act like a mechanical turk just because others are – look at mail chimp and the Treehouse!
  • When delegating, make sure you answer the question and explain the philosophy, then make sure everyone understands and get someone to document it!

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