4 Lessons from Derek Sivers and His Book Anything You Want

Close readers of this blog (Hi Mom!) may have noticed that I’ve started sharing lessons from books I’ve read. Well this book is the reason.

Derek Sivers founded, built, and then sold CD Baby. Anything You Want is his short and concise book about some of the unconventional approaches he took, mistakes he made, and lessons he learned as a leader. It’s full of enjoyable and thought provoking little stories. He has even compiled the highlights in these short animated videos like the one in my first lesson below.

1. Don’t Make Universal Rules for One Annoying Person/Instance

After reading about this, I began to see this all around me. Broad and intrusive rules being applied because of one bad actor or instance. Are there broad rules in your environment that are unnecessary?

2. Seek the Counter-Melody

As a former musician he describes his approach as seeking the counter-melody. If you are fond of this kind of counter-melody thinking, I’d recommend his interview with Tim Ferriss or even better is this short version he did as a follow-up to the initial interview. Readers should be aware that CD Baby was such a great idea at a great time, so keep in mind survivor bias as one considers Sivers unconventional ideas.

3. Create a Now Page

Sivers encourages folks with websites to update them with Now pages that provide more current info on what the person is doing now. You can view mine here.

4. Collect Notes, Take-Aways, Lessons, or Actionable Directives from Books

Sivers described reading many books and thinking that they were wonderful, insightful, and even life changing. But a year later, he could remember that he loved the book and how powerful it was – but he could rarely remember the important details that were so life changing. Me too!

Sivers decided to create summaries and rankings, mostly so that the process would help him remember and refer back. He decided to share these as they might be helpful to others. Check out this wonderful section of his website with hundreds of book reviews, rankings, and summaries. He has since gone back and tried to distill down the three or so actionable directives he wants to harness from each good book. It is this urging that has led me to try and compile the key lessons from books that really resonate with me. This is mostly for me, but I thought I would share. Why not?

Special thanks to Garrick van Buren for gifting me this book when we first met for coffee.

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