Anything You Wantby Published 18 Sep 2018
|Anything You Want.pdf|
Best known for creating CD Baby, the most popular music site for independent artists, founder Derek Sivers chronicles his “accidental” success and failures into this concise and inspiring book on how to create a multi-million dollar company by following your passion. In Anything You Want, Sivers details his journey and the lessons learned along the way of creating CD Baby and building a business close to his heart. “[Sivers is] one of the last music-business folk heroes,” says Esquire magazine. His less-scripted approach to business is refreshing and will educate readers to feel empowered to follow their own dreams. Aspiring entrepreneurs and others trying to make their own way will be particularly comforted by Sivers straight talk and transparency -a reminder that anything you want is within your reach.
Anything You Want is also available in a 5 pack, 52 pack and very limited edition Collectible, signed by Derek.
"Anything You Want" Reviews
The first time I ever spoke to Derek Sivers, I accused him of ripping me off.
I had seen his great TEDx video called "Why You Need to Fail" and I wrote him to complain. (Jokingly of course.)
I told him "I wrote THE book on failing."
Derek gives his e-mail address on his website and he couldn't have responded quicker or have been nicer (or have used a more amusing adverb to explain why he hadn't heard of my book) :
"Holy crap! That's awesome. Wow. I'm sorry I didn't know about this. Oh, I see it's only been a few months since it came out and I've been quite ostriched lately..."
Soon, we were talking about books. Or, rather, he was asking me about them, telling me he was considering writing one himself.
"It's a lot of fucking work writing a book, though, isn't it? Why do you do it? Not for the money, right? Bigger speaking fees afterwards? Side-effect for consulting?"
Little did I know, he was already working on his own book. That sneaky guy!
So, when he was done, and he wanted several sets of eyes to give it a quick read through, I was more than happy to.
I'm not sure if I helped improve even a single letter in the book--it was pretty much "there" when I read it--but he thanked me on the inside cover nonetheless. My first career thank you and THE first thank you in the book! (I'm glad Derek alphabetizes by first name.)
I respect Derek because, unlike so many others, he's a self-helper that's actually done something in his life.
Derek writes like a guy you'd immediately want to be your friend, your co-worker, your employee...your boss.
(I really don't like audio books, but I implore you to listen to Derek speak to get his cadence and voice running through your head. It truly makes his text pop more.)
"Anything You Want" is THE greatest manual for running a business. For creating your own Utopian business world that will make both you and your employees happy. It's not about making money, or growing larger, or conquering the world, it's simply about filling a need that makes both you and your customers happy. It's simple, but genius.
The book tells the story of how Derek's "little hobby"--CD Baby, a company; no, not even a company, a website created to sell his musician friends' CDs--became a big business. It was all an accident.
Why? Because Derek was filling a need for others.
If you're filling a need for the world, and making yourself happy, that's all you need in life says Derek. In many way, "Anything You Want" reminded me of a more streamlined version of Tony Hseih's "Delivering Happiness," also recommended. The crux of Tony's business plan is to "WOW" customers. Derek would agree with that sentiment as "Anything You Want" tells wonderful stories of all the little things he encouraged his employees to do to make customers happy (a story involving a frozen squid is a major highlight.)
"But please know that it's often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you."
There is seemingly so many things to worry about in life. Even more if you're running a business. But, that doesn't need to be the case. Derek says:
"Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn't that enough?"
A couple of Derek Sivers stories:
My first CD Baby order was #17697, for 8 discs, in 2000. When I got the now-famous colorful shipment notice I thought I’d actually been the first brand new customer to order as many as 8 albums. I thought the email had been crafted for me, in particular. I felt special.
A little later, I placed an even bigger order, and it happened to be while CD Baby was moving across the country. It was delayed long enough that I eventually contacted support, and I promptly got a very nice and apologetic email from Derek Sivers himself (along with the discs, in short order). Again, I felt special.
Later on I learned that everyone got the crazy shipment notice, even for ordering a single disc, and that at the time Derek emailed me, he was one of just two people in the CD Baby “organization.”
And for a little while I felt less special. But eventually I realized that a key part of CD Baby’s value proposition for customers — artists and purchasers alike — was making everyone feel special.
Which, when you think about it, is no small trick.
Reading Sivers’ story of how and why he started, grew, and sold CD Baby, I was strongly reminded of interviews with Dischord’s Ian MacKaye. Partly because they say some of the same things, particularly about not having business growth as a goal. Both describe awkward conversations with “suits” who really can’t grasp this.
But both also display an element of self-contradiction. Sivers says the money didn’t matter — an easy thing to say when your life is not severely constrained by the lack of it — but he did, after all, build a music store, not a music give-away service. Perhaps more tellingly, some of his biggest regrets are about decisions with significant cost impacts. And although Sivers repeatedly says that growth wasn’t a goal, but not only did he consistently make decisions that furthered growth, one of his most provocative epigrammatic guidelines is explicitly about facilitating growth. (It’s to try to make your business practices support double your current volume, which sounds very smart. If you, you know, want to grow the business.)
These cavils aside, this is a pretty great book. Sivers is unusually candid about his mistakes as well as what he did right, and he’s lucid and entertaining. (He says he learned to prize clarity and brevity when crafting emails to CD Baby’s subscriber list, and demonstrates mastery of both here.) You’ll probably be thinking about the contents of this brief book for much longer than the time it takes to read it.
Awesome little book, I will keep re-reading. I love the opening pages - "10 years of experience in 1 hour".
This book is written by Derek Sivers, who started a business called CDbaby that he later sold for $22 million. One of my favourite parts of the book was the graph at the beginning showing the monthly sales over 10 years of his business. In analysing it one thing I really appreciated was the steady but slow growth in the first 5 years of his business in particular. Reiterating once again the importance of steady applied effort & patience, whilst persistently improving.
The key things I learned from this book (I read it twice over the course of 2 years) were:
* Keep things simple. Implement a model and then persistently improve over and over again.
* A reminder about the principle of being a hell yes or no to things - when you say no to things, you create room for the things you are a hell yes to. I've learned this to be true in many spaces of my life. To create a client who is a 10, you also need to be effective at repelling anyone who isn't. To do things you are a HELL YES to, you need to get really clear about your HELL NO.
* "No business plan survives first contact with customers" Steve Blank.
* Necessity is a great teacher
* Everything in your business should be about your customers. Every choice you make, every decision as owner, every task you agenda, every meeting. Focus on that and things will grow. Just thrill them, and they will tell everyone.
* I loved the story he told about quitting a job, feeling bad he was leaving so he trained & hired a replacement before he did, not knowing that that wasn't standard practice. "Deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do".
* Never forget that someone else loves doing what you hate, you can make your role anything you want, you just need to remember why you do it - you do it to make you happy! (Derek talks a lot about the programming, and random tasks he did, just because he liked doing them. Yeah he could hire someone, or do it better, but he loved learning different things - and thats OK!!)
* Execution is worth more than any idea.
* Have lots of little clients instead of one big one. Definitely something I'm implementing right now in my social enterprise.
* What you are doing is just ONE way of doing things. You want to test & try different ways, and not be stuck to one method.
In business, there are different ways:
- make a plan without any funding
- make your whole business offline
- make a franchise model
In life, there are different ways:
- You could be living in NY obsessed with making lots of money
- You could be a free spirit backpacking around SE Asia
- You could be a monk meditating in isolation in the mountains
- You could be married living your family in a quiet neighbourhood
There is no one way. Things change. Things work for different people at different times. Be open to change. Embrace and roll with it.
* There's not always a need for a huge vision. You can focus on helping people today. Instead of thinking about "if I had X.. I could do Y". A trap I notice many people fall into
* Add lots of fun human touches to your company. Everywhere. From the email auto-responder to the copy on your site, to your office layout. It's OK to be casual & human. Focus on what makes you happy and doing things in a way that makes you happy.
* When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia.
* There's lots of nudges towards keeping things simple, here's another - a business plan shouldn't take more than a few hours of work. Hopefully no more than a few minutes, the best plans are simple. A quick glance, and common sense should tell you if the numbers will work. Everything else is details.
(edit: After 6 years in business, and going from a beginner, to trying to turn pro and master lots of details, I really understand this more on a different level now. You don't need to be too fancy or complicated.)
* Never make promises you can't deliver on. Under promise & over deliver instead of the other way around.
* Delegate or die. Trust but verify. Delegate but not abdicate
* Once something works, it will feel freeing, not strenuous. Sivers mentions how he spent 12 years doing different things, it felt like it was uphill all the time (I can relate!) then suddenly it was like he struck a hit. Instead of trying to create demand, you're trying to manage the demand. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not persistently doing what is not working. So you should always be trying, tweaking, testing new ideas instead of stubbornly pushing the same one again and again.
Seth Godin recommended this book for every entrepreneur. I just bought it in kindle format.
It's introduction tells that you could learn an author's entire experience of creating business within one hour or two... which, unbelievably, I managed to finish it within exactly one hour because it's short, direct-to-point and really fun to go through.
The story in the book is about author's bibliography, entrepreneur tips and tactics, wow ideas of CDBaby.com's owner Derek Sivers. He built his business with passion and became a very successful entrepreneur.
There are not so many books in shelf that give you motivation, drive you to build the business that change the world.
This book is one of them.
I have loved reading Derek Sivers' essays for the longest time. And even though I've read some of the ones mentioned in the book before, they were still as fresh and thought provoking as ever.
I listened to the audio book narrated by Mr. Sivers himself, it added another layer of personal connection to the stories. It narrates a story with an unusual approach to business. Yet it's about much more than that.
It's a very short book, and I would recommend it to everyone.