April 29, 2022

Anything You Want

I made 44 highlights while reading Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. The book will give you insights into building a successful life.
  • Know the philosophy of what makes you happy and what’s worth doing.

  • (1) Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and yourself. (2) Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself. (3) When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design your perfect world. (4) Never do anything just for the money. (5) Don’t pursue business just for your gain. Only answer the calls for help. (6) Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working. (7) Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people want until you start doing it. (8) Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people. (9) You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people. (10) Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business. (11) The point of doing anything is to be happy, so do what makes you happy.

  • Six years and $10 million later, those two numbers were the source of income: a $35 setup fee per album and a $4 cut per CD sold.

  • A business plan should never take more than a few hours of work - hopefully no more than a few minutes.

  • Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.

  • When you present something to the world and it’s not a hit, don’t keep pushing it as is. Instead, get back to improving and inventing.

  • When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say, ‘Hell yeah!’

  • We’ve all taken on too much. Saying yes to less is the way out.

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

  • Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers. Make every decision - even decide whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone - according to what’s best for your customers. If you’re ever unsure what to prioritise, ask your customers the open-ended question, ‘How can I best help you now?’ Then satisfy those requests.

  • Watch out when anyone (including you) says he wants to do something big. But, can’t until he raises money.

  • Starting small puts 100 per cent of your energy into actually solving real problems for real people. It gives you a stronger foundation to grow.

  • They hope to make some technology that a huge company will want to build into every product or install at every employee’s desk. But this approach has many problems: (1) You have to custom-tailor your product to please a very few specific people. (2) Those people might change their minds or leave the company. (3) Whom are you working for? Are you self-employed, or is this client your boss? (4) If you do land the big client, that organisation will practically own you. (5) By trying so hard to please the big client, you will lose touch with what the rest of the world wants.

  • Imagine that you’ve designed your business to have no big clients, just lots of small clients. (1) You don’t need to change what you do to please one client; you need to please only the majority (or yourself). (2) If one client needs to leave, it’s OK; you can sincerely wish her well. (3) Because no one client can demand that you do what he says, you are your boss (as long as you keep your clients happy in general). (4) You hear hundreds of people’s opinions and stay in touch with what most of your clients want.

  • Notice that most businesses are trying to be everything to everybody. And they wonder why they can’t get people’s attention!

  • You need to exclude people confidently. And, proudly say what you’re not. By doing so, you will win the hearts of the people you want.

  • When the mafia ran this town, it was fun. There were only two numbers that mattered: how much was coming in and how much was going out. As long as there was more in than out, everyone was happy. But then the whole town was bought up by these corporations full of MBA's micromanaging, trying to maximise the profit from every square foot of space. Now the place that used to put ketchup on my hot dog tells me it’ll be an extra twenty-five cents for ketchup! It sucked all the fun out of this town!

  • Never forget why you’re 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: (1) For some people; it’s as simple as how much money they make. When their net worth is going up, they know they’re doing well. (2) For others, it’s how much money they give. (3) For some, it’s how many people’s lives they can influence for the better. (4) For others, it’s how deeply they can influence just a few people’s lives. For me, it’s how many useful things I create, whether songs, companies, articles, websites or anything else.

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

  • Banks love to lend money to those who don’t need it. Record labels love to sign musicians who don’t need their help. People fall in love with people who won’t give them the time of day. It’s a strange law of human behaviour.

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

  • When writing an e-mail to everyone, if I weren’t clear, I’d get twenty thousand confused replies, which would take my staff all week to reply to, costing me at least $5,000 plus lost morale.

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

  • If you find even the slightest way to make people smile, they’ll remember you more for that smile than for all your other fancy business-model stuff.

  • Even if you want to be big someday, remember that you never need to act like a big boring company. It seemed like every time someone raved about how much they loved CD Baby over ten years; it was because of one of these little fun human touches.

  • I found and trained my replacement.

  • There’s a benefit to being naive about norms - deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do.

  • No matter what business you’re in, it’s good to prepare for what would happen if business doubled.

  • You’d have to do things in a new way to handle twice as much business. Processes would have to get streamlined.

  • They said we were losing millions of dollars in business because we didn’t have certain features. But that was OK with me. I loved the process.

  • 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.

  • I asked one person to start a manual, write down the answer to this one situation and the philosophy behind it.

  • There’s a big difference between being self-employed and being a business owner. Being self-employed feels like freedom until you realise that if you take time off, your business crumbles. To be a true business owner, make it so that you could leave for a year, and when you came back, your business would be doing better than when you left.

  • The job was so crucial to the company’s that I decided to do it myself. Not just do it, but build a system that wouldn’t let mistakes go unnoticed again.

  • Trust, but verify. Remember it when delegating. You have to do both.

  • I realised that there’s such a thing as over-delegation. I had empowered my employees so much that I gave them all the power. After a complete communication breakdown, it was eighty-five people against one.

  • Lesson learned too late: Delegate, but don’t abdicate.

  • Every plan needed a significant effort for little reward, but all were required for future growth. I had broken the plans into about twenty projects of two to twelve weeks each, and I wasn’t excited about any of them.

  • I let two companies bid. I ended up choosing the one that bid lower but understood my clients better.

  • Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller were at a party at a billionaire’s estate. Kurt said, ‘Wow! Look at this place! This guy has everything!’ Joseph said, ‘Yes, but I have something he’ll never have - enough.’

  • When I decided to sell CD Baby, I already had enough. I live simply. I don’t own a house, a car, or even a TV. The less I own, the happier I am. The lack of stuff gives me the priceless freedom to live anywhere, anytime.

  • No matter your goal, there will be people telling you you’re wrong.

  • Pay attention to what excites you and what drains you. Pay attention to when you’re the real you and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.