WDS2015: Derek Sivers

Derek is hilarious. I've read some of his books and several of his blog posts but nothing prepared me for hearing him speak live. He's a riot and is very incisive at the same time. Using hs experiences from creating and then selling CD Baby he wove a very interesting tale of doing what you're passionate about and being unconventional and creative on whatever it is that you choose to do.

Patience is a virtue

Part of knowing what you want is being patient while you define what it is you want and being patient while building what you want to do or be. Realize that this is not an instant process where you say this is what I want and it happens, it may take a long time or not happen at all.

Why are you doing what you’re doing?

Another question worth asking is why are you doing what you're doing. Most people don’t know, they imitate others and go with the flow and forget that they are not doing what they want or, even worse, the thing that they are doing to follow the flow becomes their lives.

You should avoid pursuing something that someone said you should want instead of what you really want

That's why it irks me so much when parents tell their children what they should go to college for and what they should major in and who they should marry. How many of them stay in their majors or do something absolutely different after they graduate from college?

What do you want?

Another deceptive question... Yeah, we all want something and we all fight to accomplish it but we refuse to accept that we all give up something in exchange for what we want. I know I've given up freedom when I chose to stay at a job for the money and, conversely, I gave up the security of a stable paycheck and unconditional insurance when I chose to live a job and be myself.

In addition to knowing what you want you should also prioritize. What are the top 3 things that you can't live without and how will you manage competing priorities. Derek presented the list below as a starting point.

  • Money
    • Others take spotlight
  • Prestige
  • Fame
  • Leave a legacy
    • Trump: spend to put your name on things
  • Freedom
    • If you pick freedom
    • Refuse reponsibility
    • delegate everything
      • DIY (delegate it yourself)

Once you make a decision know what you're going after. Focus and don’t difuse your efforts. If you're lucky you will build a killer product/service and make tons of money but you should always keep in mind what you're original goal is. Why did you set out to make the product/service. WIll money change your mind about that goal (it shouldn't unless money and a nice buyout was your goal to begin with.)

Nobody knows the future

Derek speaks about business and companies and customers but this is also applicable to relationships, to personal projects and anything else that you can think of. The truth remains the same: nobody knows the future and whoever tries to sell you a 'happily ever after' future is full of shit.

You have a lot to learn from people and it does good to be reminded to listen and learn from people. Every so often it's a good idea to just sit down and listen or just read a twitter stream or forum thread instead of preaching and getting into arguments. It's

  • Nobody knows the future
  • Your business plan is moot
  • Commit to a problem not a solution
  • No plan survives contact with the customer
  • "Nobody knows"
  • Ask instead of answer
  • Learn instead of preach

Work your ass off but know when to back off

Hard work is always a necessity. So is knowing when to back off and let things change and evolve on their own without you being there all the time getting your nose in the project.

There is also knowing when to move on.... it's easy to get married to a project and not want to see it fail, you have to be strong enough to realize when it didn't work and when to move on to the next thing. Now I'm understanding better why when you pitch you have to be absolutely ready to kill the idea... sitting on it for years won't work.

  • If it’s not a hit, switch
  • trying everything will yield a hit eventually
  • If people aren’t loving what you’re doing, STOP!
    • Don’t persist
    • Don’t push it
  • When yo’ve got something great, you’ll know
    • People will freak out
    • Anything less that OMFG take all my money means move on
  • Success comes from persistently improving and investing, not from pushing what’s not working

BE SELECTIVE. Either Hell yeah or not at all.

No more half assed projects. If you're going to jump on something then you do so fully committed and 100% dedicated to it. If not then don't do it.

  • Revolution
  • Love is not the same as Romeo and Juliet
  • We don’t need to revolutionize the industry we’re getting into
  • Revolution = uncommon sense

Get your ass in gear

If you're going to work in a project or product your number one priority is to launch it. Launch. Something. Now. Not later but NOW.

It doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to be. That's a good starting step

  • Version 0.1
    • Every journey starts with one step
    • The time spent in pitching and ideas could be spent doing things
  • If you’re not launching too soon, you’re launching too late

  • Ideas vs Execution

    • Don’t tell me, show me