My Notes: "Anything You Want" by Derek Sivers

(If you'd like a copy of this book, please click on the picture above.)

Our CEO has chosen to take the 52 week book reading challenge.

Every Saturday for all of 2017 we will be posting his notes from the books he reads on the site and also in the "Library" section of the website. 

So please feel free to follow along through out the year and if you've read any of the book please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below his notes.


Ten years of experience in one hour.

(I’m a student, not a guru.)

What’s your compass?

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.

Making a company is a great way to improve the 

world while improving yourself.

Never do anything just for the money.

Don’t pursue business just for your own gain. Only 

answer the calls for help.

Success comes from persistently improving 

and inventing, not from persistently promoting 

what’s not working.

Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what 

people really want until you start doing it.

Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t 

need money to start helping people.

You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people.

Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your 


The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy. Make a dream come true.

The key point is that I wasn’t trying to make a big 

business. I was just daydreaming about how one 

little thing would look in a perfect world.

When you make it a dream come true for yourself, 

it’ll be a dream come true for someone else, too.

A business plan should never take more than a few 

hours of work—hopefully no more than a few 

minutes. The best plans start simple. This ain’t no 


Revolution is a term that people use only when 

you’re successful. Before that, you’re just a quirky 

person who does things differently.

If you think your life’s purpose needs to hit you like 
lightning bolt, you’ll overlook the little day-to-day 
things that fascinate you. If you think revolution 
needs to feel lke war, you’ll overlook the importance 
of simply serving people better.

If it’s not a hit, switch.

Instead of trying to create demand, you’re managing the huge demand.

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.

Present each new idea or improvement to the world.

If multiple people are saying, “Wow! Yes! I need this! I’d be happy to pay you to do this!” then you should probably do it. But if the response is anything less, don’t pursue it.

Improve or invent until you get that huge response.

No “yes.” Either “Hell yeah!” or “no.”

If you’re not saying, “Hell yeah!” about something, say no.

When deciding whether to do something, if you feel 

anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! 

Absolutely! Hell yeah!” then say no.

We’re all busy. We’ve all taken on too much. Saying 

yes to less is the way out. 

Just like that, my plan completely changed.

No business plan survives first contact with 


The advantage of no funding I’m so glad I didn’t have investors. I didn’t have to please anybody but my customers and myself. No effort was spent on anything but my customers.

Necessity is a great teacher.

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 


If you’re ever unsure what to prioritize, just ask your 

customers the open-ended question, “How can I best 

help you now?” Then focus on satisfying those 


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.

Start now. No funding needed.

For an idea to get big-big-big, it has to be useful. 

And being useful doesn’t need funding.

Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy into

actually solving real problems for real people.

Ideas are just a multiplier of execution.

To me, ideas are worth nothing unless they are 

executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is 

worth millions.

That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas. I’m 

not interested until I see their execution.

Formalities play on fear. Bravely refuse.

Do you passionately love the “Terms & Conditions” 

and “Privacy Policy” pages on other websites? Have 

you even read them? If not, then why would you go 

putting that garbage on your website?

Never forget that there are thousands of businesses, 

like Jim’s Fish Bait Shop in a shack on a beach 

somewhere, that are doing just fine without 

corporate formalities.

As your business grows, don’t let the leeches sucker 

you into all that stuff they pretend you need. They’ll 

play on your fears, saying that you need this stuff to 

protect yourself against lawsuits. They’ll scare you 

with horrible worst-case scenarios. But those are 

just sales tactics. You don’t need any of it. The 

strength of many little customers.

When you build your business on serving thousands 

of customers, not dozens, you don’t have to worry 

about any one customer leaving or making special 

demands. If most of your customers love what you 

do, but one doesn’t, you can just say good-bye and 

wish him the best, with no hard feelings.

Proudly exclude people.

You need to confidently exclude people, and proudly 

say what you’re not. By doing so, you will win the 

hearts of the people you want.

When CD Baby got popular, I’d get calls from record 

labels wanting to feature their newest, hottest acts 

on our site. I’d say, “Nope. They’re not allowed here.” The record label guys would say, “Huh? What do you mean not allowed? You’re a record store! We’re a record label.” I’d say, “You can sell anywhere else. 

This is a place for independents only:

It’s a big world. You can loudly leave out 99 percent 

of it.

Have the confidence to know that when your target 

percent hears you excluding the other 99 percent, 

the people in that 1 percent will come to you 

because you’ve shown how much you value them.

This is just one of many options

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 


You don’t need a plan or a vision don’t think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today.

I miss the mob.” 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 damn corporations full of MBA weasels micromanaging, trying to maximize the profit from every square foot of floor 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!

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?

How do you grade yourself?

How do you grade yourself? It’s important 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.

Care about your customers more than about yourself.

You should care about your customers more than 

you care about yourself! 

Isn’t that Rule No. 1 of providing a good service? It’s all about them, not about you.

Any business that’s in business to sell you a cure is 

motivated not to focus on prevention.

Tao of business: Care about your customers more 

than about yourself, and you’ll do well.

Act like you don’t need the money.

Banks love to lend money to those who don’t need it.

People fall in love with people who won’t give them 

the time of day. It’s a strange law of human behavior.

When someone’s doing something for love, being 

generous instead of stingy, trusting instead of 

fearful, it triggers this law: We want to give to those 

who give.

It’s another Tao of business: Set up your business 

like you don’t need the money, and it’ll likely come 

your way.

Don’t punish everyone for one person’s mistake.

One employee can’t focus and spends his time 

surfing the Web. Instead of just firing or reassigning 

that person to more challenging work, the company 

installs an expensive content-approving firewall so 

that nobody can go to unapproved sites ever again.

It’s important to resist that simplistic, angry, 

reactionary urge to punish everyone, and step back 

to look at the big picture.

You should feel pain when you’re unclear.

Writing that e-mail to customers—carefully 

eliminating every unnecessary word, and reshaping 

every sentence to make sure it could not be 


When you make a business, you’re making a little 

world where you control the laws.

But please know that it’s often the tiny details that 

really thrill people enough to make them tell all their 

friends about you.

Little things make all the difference.

If you find even the smallest 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. 

Over ten years, it seemed like every time someone 

raved about how much he loved CD Baby, it was 

because of one of these little fun human touches.

It’s OK to be casual.

My hiring policy was ridiculous. Because I was “too 

busy to bother,” I’d just ask my current employees if 

they had any friends who needed work. Someone 

always did, so I’d say, “Tell them to start tomorrow 

morning. Ten dollars an hour. Show them what to 

do.” And that was that.

The thought was that it’s almost impossible to tell 

what someone’s going to be like on the job until he’s 

actually on the job for a few weeks.

Prepare to double.

It’s about being, not having.

The day Steve Jobs dissed me in a keynote.

Delegate or die: The self-employment trap.

Trust, but verify.

Delegate, but don’t abdicate.

You make your perfect world.

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