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Derek Sivers – December 13, 2015

Derek Sivers
    • How to grow your company? Try why to grow your company. Why start a company? Is there a more direct route to your goals?
  • TF – be specializes in simplifying and demystifying processes. And teaching them.
    • He wanted to become a professional musician, so he took one low paying gig after another (pig shows). Eventually he was asked to pay music in a circus. He wound up doing that for ten years and becoming ringleader in the circus. It grew to ten years of performance
      • Lessons Learned in performace:
      • Even if people are judging you, they’re not judging you. They won’t look back from their death bed and think, damn, that Vlad really screwed up that one time. Try things, be crazy, be adventurous. Just don’t get yourself killed in the process.
      • Performing isn’t about you, or about me. It’s about them. It’s a out the audience.
      • You can choose to be confident.
    • The circus owner kept telling him, you’re different, you’re smart, you’ll make it work. She said it through his sadness and break ups. He waved it off. But after a year of her repeating it, he internalized it, and began to live what she said.
      • “you are whatever you pretend to be” Vonnegut
    • Book: Tony Robbins awaken the giant within.
    • the standard pace is for chumps.” -Kemo Williams, who in four lessons taught him enough to graduate Berkeley college of music in half the time. Four two hour lessons taught him two years worth of college. When he showed up to school, he immediately tested out of those two years.
      • Taught him to question everything. You have a goal, but what is the real goal? Is there a more efficient way to get to that goal?
    • The bicycle – he rode on a bike path every single day, and go at full speed. It would take exactly 43 minutes. Eventually it stopped being fun and he would dread having to do it. One day he worked at half the normal pace. Stopped to look around and saw dolphins in the water. He looked up and a pelican shat in his mouth. He took his time, and got back. Looked at his watch and it said 45 minutes. All of his red faced rushing, huffing and puffing was for an extra two minutes.
    • All of this optimization has an inflection point where you get minimal return for monstrous effort, at great personal cost and stress.
      • Notice the pain. When you notice internal pain, you need to stop doing that thing that hurts, and stop following that path.
    • CD baby –
      • At the time, it was impossible to sell your band CD’s online without first having a check mailed to you.
      • He had a band and wanted a way to sell his band CD’s online with online payment.
      • It took him a thousand dollars to incorporate and set up a merchant account.
      • It took him three months to teach himself programming to code a buy now button for his website.
        • Then his friend’s band saw that and asked if he could sell that bands music online.
        • Then it grew by request. He had a service that friends, and friends of friends really needed.
      • Eventually, so many bands were asking to sell on his website, that he took that option off of the bad site and made a designated page for it.
    • Musicians required a upc code to sell online. At the time it took 400 dollars to get a code for 100,000 albums. He didn’t need that many, so he started giving the extras away to broke band friends. It became popular and time consuming, so he charged 20 bucks and automated the process. The 400 dollar investment wound up generating nearly 2 million in revenue.
    • Respond to demand, don’t create it.
    • Co-op business model. I have something you don’t, I’ve already paid for it. I’m willing to share it, eventually charging a few bucks if the demand is there, and my time is consumed.
    • Don’t ever ask someone to be a formal mentor. Best way to put them off.
    • Business books and analytical things are great, but a colorful touch goes so much further. They make you remark-able!
    • A business should be the perfect utopia that you want to live in.
    • When the dot com boom happened, and everyone wanted to buy into a share of CD baby, he happily turned them away – why relinquish control of your business for blind growth, when you’ve built this utopia for you and the customer? Don’t sell out your customers for imaginary future ones.
    • He kept the same business model for ten years. Two cheap and crystal numbers – 35 dollar per CD sign up fee, and 4 dollars flat charge each disk sold.
    • TF – there is a survivorship bias in the media when it comes to entrepreneurship. It’s dangerous to glorify the outliers who bet the Farm and win big.
    • Hell yeah or no, his most famous essay.
      • If you’re feeling anything less than hell yeah, I would love to do that, it would be amazing! then don’t bother.
      • We say yes to too much stuff, too many little things, and when the real hell yeah comes along, you’re stretched too thin to go with it and appreciate it.
      • When he started giving more no’s, you are less “busy” for the important things.
      • “busy for me seems to imply out of control.”  No control and unclear priorities.
      • even with dating, if it’s not hell yeah, it’s no.
    • – follow people now! What are they doing now?
    • He automated CD baby so that he wouldn’t need to spend more than 4 hours every 6 months on the site.
      • Because 100% of his business was funneling through him, he was unable to focus on anything without an employee needing his assistance.
      • He was gonna run away from his problems, but he didn’t want someone strong arming their way into taking over his company.
      • Instead of solving business problems, teach people how your brain and decision making process works, and let them work with that schema. Automate yourself out of the process and win your life back.
        • When a problem would arise, he would gather the team, explain how he approached the problem – teach them – and then trust them to do it themselves.
        • It took 6 months to set up this system.
      • He still did the stuff he loved doing for CD baby – the four hour number relates to the mind numbing and admin stuff that he hated.
    • Tell a story instead of 20 pages of an employee handbook. Let an aphorism live instead of freaking out over writing down rules and rules and rules and rules. The employees spread the legend. So much more powerful.
    • Sivers book reading process: amazon five stars, or if someone he really respects recommends it. He reads slowly and takes notes. If by chapter three he’s not captivated, he ditches it.
      • “books are my mentors”
      • He loved books while reading them, but would forget them. Eventually he created a system where he would underline and highlight as he read, then sit down and write out notes after finishing in plain text.
      • was born as a result. Sorted by best books he read.
      • Book timing means everything.
    • Books: seeking wisdom Peter Develin, stumbling on happiness Daniel Gilbert, food rules, the guide to the good life,
    • Distilling wisdom into directives is never done. If people trust you as a source, you don’t need to justify why to do something, and your material can be much shorter, to the point.
    • Do this project – instead of talking around the project, just give directives. “for those who believe, no explanation is necessary, for those who do not, none shall suffice.”
      • How to be useful to others –
      1. get famous. Do everything in the public and for the public. The opposite is hiding, which is of no use to anyone.
      2. Get rich. Money is neutral proof that you’re adding value to people’s loves. Once rich, spend money to better people’s lives, then getting rich is double useful.
      3. Share strong opinions. Those who are undecided can just adopt your stance. But those who disagree can strengthen theirs in argument. Even if you invent an opinion for the bold sake of argument, sharing it is very useful to others.
      4. Be expensive. People given a placebo pill that they thought was expensive, were twice as likely to have that pain disappear. People who pay more for tickets are more likely to attend the performance.
      • How to thrive for an unknowable future –
      1. Since you can’t know what the future will bring, be prepared for the best and the worst. Mentally and financially just prepare for the worst.
      2. Expect disaster. Fully expect it to come at any time, and make your plans accordingly. Health, family, freedom. Expect it all to go bad at any time. As a result appreciate it that much more while it’s not.
      3. Own as little as possible, depend on even less. The less you own, the less you’re affected by disaster.
      4. Choose opportunity, not loyalty. Have no loyalty to location or corporation. Be an absolute opportunist with what is best for your current situation, unbound by the past.
      5. Choose  the plan with the most options. The  best plan is the one that lets you change your mind. Ie – rent a house so you’re not tied down.
      6. Avoid planning. Since you have no idea how the situation or your mood will change, wait until the last moment to make your decision.
  • Just always expect everything to disappear. Not be negative, but appreciate what you have now so much more.
    • TF- Practice practical pessimism.
  • TF- Most suffering comesfrom a focus on me. If you’re having trouble making yourself happy, make someone else happy. Go first. Initiate kindness.
  • Book gifted most – geek in Japan. Explains the Japanese mindset better than most booms. Au Contrair to explain the mindset of the French.
  • Best 100 dollar or less purchase – a box of old toys for his 3 year old
  • Billboard to place anywhere on earth – you don’t need it – and put it in front of a car dealership or shopping mall.
  • Advice to his 30 year old self – don’t be a donkey. Too many 30 year Olds are trying too many things at once and moving nowhere. Frustration. Don’t think short term. Do one thing for a few years, then another, and another.
    • Fable – a donkey standing halfway between a pile of hey and water. Looks one way, then the other, and couldn’t decide. Eventually falls over of hunger and thirst.
    • You can do everything you want to do, you just need foresight and patience.
    • Yes, prepare for the worst, but understand that you  can use the future for your advantage.
    • TF – most people overestimate what they can achieve in a week or two weeks, but underestimate what they can achieve in a year or two.
    • TF – instead of getting an MBA, he spent two years learning angel investing, while investing that same amount of money into companies. Viewed it as a two year experiment.