Anything You Want - Derek Sivers


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐(5/5) A quick read that packs way more insights than its length suggests. It is an account of Derek's journey as an entrepreneur and how his 'accidental success' led to him creating a company worth $22 million.

Anything You Want - Derek Sivers Book Cover After reading 'Show Your Work' by Austin Kleon, I started to take a particular interest in quick but good reads. I scoured the Internet and came across this book. As the title of the first chapter suggests, this book is indeed 'Ten years of experience in one hour'. This book is barely 60 pages and it takes just under an hour to read it. Yet, it provides lessons that you can apply in all areas of life for decades to come. Although the subtitle says : 40 Lessons for the New Kind of Entrepreneur, I doubt there's anyone who would find none of the 40 lessons applicable in their life in any shape or form. Here is my brief notes on the book.

You would find this an interesting read if you...

  1. are thinking about starting a business of your own / learning how to run one.
  2. are looking for a fresh perspective about how to do the things you enjoy and find fulfilment in them.
  3. are not an avid reader but is willing to try out a book that is compact enough to read in one sitting yet informative enough to cause your brain to explode with new ideas and inspiration.

Key Takeaways

"Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers. Make every decision—even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone—according to what's best for your customers."

This was an amazing insight!

"In the end, it's about what you want to be, not what you want to have.
To have something (a finished recording, 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 real point.
When you sign up to run a marathon, you don't want a taxi to take you to the finish line."

"Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers."

"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 they way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they'll tell everyone."

"In a perfect world, would your website be covered with advertising? When you've asked your customers what would improve your service, has anyone said, 'Please fill your website with more advertising'?"
^ This is why I don't ever plan on placing Google Ads on this site. After a lot coding and designing to make sure its pleasing to the eye and has an intuitive interface, it would be counterproductive and disrespectful to bug my readers with loads of ads in the middle of an article they've very kindly taken the time and interest to read.

"Just pay close attention to what excites you and what drains you. Pay close attention to when you're being the real you and when you're trying to impress an invisible jury."

"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’ve all heard about the importance of persistence. But I had misunderstood. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working."

Closing Remarks

'Anything You Want' is probably the first book that I re-read right after my first read. Derek's style of writing is so approachable and engaging it seems like he's having a personal conversation with you as he shares with you the 40 lessons he learnt as an entrepreneur.

Another interesting thing that Derek mentioned in this book was the art of writing emails. As the founder of the CD Baby startup, he had to email independent musicians to keep them updated with the latest happenings in the company. However, he realised that most people never read past the first few lines of the email before they start bombarding him with questions that were already answered in the said email, just a couple of lines down.

Derek understood that he couldn't demand his customers to change; and so he demanded himself to. He actively practiced writing concisely so that he could deliver his main points within the first few lines of his email. From my personal perspective, this also had a significant amount of impact on his writing style for this book. None of the chapters were more than 3 pages long. Derek structured his sentence skillfully and chose his words carefully such that it wouldn't lose the readers attention but at the same time relaying all the information that he intended to deliver to the readers.

One of the most important insight from this book.

In 'Anything You Want', Derek provides a radical and refreshing look on the purpose of starting a business : To provide value to your customers.
However, this seem to be more a lip service than a reality for most companies because they are so focused on growth. Derek points out that creating your own business is like creating your own utopia, where laws bend to your will and you can create the perfect environment that you would've wanted if you were in your customer's shoes.

In short, 'Anything You Want' by Derek Sivers is one of the books you should definitely pick up and give it a read because the potential benefit you can receive from this book is so outrageously disproportionate to the time it takes to read the book. I hope this brief book review has convinced you to add 'Anything You Want' to your summer reading list. Be sure to follow Derek's website too! He has loads of original thoughts and ideas I've yet to come across anywhere else. Here is one of his short videos where he gives out nuggets of wisdom that is potentially life-changing.

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