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  1. 📚 Notes/

Anything You Want - by Derek Sivers

Enjoyed reading the book. The main ideas are centered around:

  1. Helping others is the priority. Serve your customers well. Make them happy.
  2. It’s your business, your utopia, so do anything you want.
  3. Make yourself happy, don’t worry about money, or growth, or other stuff. The reason you started your business, even if it was to make money, is to make yourself happy ultimately.

Check out the book on Derek’s website

Highlights/Notes #

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.

Any time you think you know what your new business will be doing, remember: No plan survives first contact with the customer. [But how do you know you’re making better decisions, rather than listening to someone saying and it feels right?]

My well-funded friends would spend $100,000 to buy something that I made myself for $1000. They did it saying “we need the very best,” but it didn’t improve anything for the customers. [Focus on what provides values to 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 customers.

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 requests.

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. [This is the north star for how you make decisions]

People often ask me if I have any suggestions for what kind of business they should get into. I tell them the only thing I know how to recommend: Start by sharing whatever you’ve got.

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.

You hear hundreds of people’s opinions, and stay in touch with what the majority of people want.

It’s a big world. You can loudly leave out 99% of it. Have the confidence to know that when your target 1% hears you excluding the other 99%, the people in that 1% will come to you because you’ve shown how much you value them. [Back to the idea of serving the existing customers well.]

I’m just trying to help musicians. CD Baby has to charge money to sustain itself, but the money’s not the point. I don’t do anything for the money. [Each sentence is gold. Remember why you’re doing it. Charging money is not a sin. Money is not the goal.]

Years later, I took an entrepreneurship class. [What did he take? Was that helpful? Why don’t I just try one myself?]

So please don’t think you need a huge vision. Just stay focused on helping people today. [Long-term thinking is doing the needs that don’t change.]

For me, it’s how many useful things I create, whether songs, companies, articles, websites, or anything else. If I create something that’s not useful to others, it doesn’t count. But I’m also not interested in doing something useful unless it needs my creative input. How do you grade yourself? [Thinking almost the same?]

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? [Powerful words. Highlighting again.]

If you really feel secure and abundant — that you have plenty to share — then this feeling of generosity will flow down into all of your interactions with customers. Give refunds. Give them attention. Take a little loss. You can afford it.

Anyone who’s in business to sell you a cure is not motivated to focus on prevention. [So much content are like this.]

Banks love to lend money to those who don’t need it. Record labels love to sign musicians who don’t need their help. People fall in love with people who won’t give them the time of day. It’s a strange law of human behavior. It’s pretty universal. [Wow, so true.]

It’s much harder to get a new customer than it is to get more business from an existing customer. Companies focus so much on getting new customers, but keeping existing customers thrilled is a better investment. [Echoes the 100/1000 true fans theory — they will appreciate and help you eventually]

Musicians find it very hard to get anyone to listen to their music. So when someone takes even a couple minutes to listen to it, it’s so touching that they remember it for life. [Same for other writers! Spend some time to help them. Pay it forward for the help I ]was given.

Imagine what you’d do if your favorite rock star called. You’d drop everything, and give them all the time in the world. So that’s how you should treat everyone that contacts your company. Why not? You don’t have time? Make time. It’s how everyone deserves to be treated. It makes life better. It makes work more fun. And it’s the right thing to do.

When one customer wrongs you, remember the thousands that did not. [Paying attention is important]

It’s too overwhelming to remember that at the end of every computer is a real person, a lot like you, whose birthday was last week, who has three best friends but nobody to spoon at night, and is personally affected by what you say. Even if you remember it right now, will you remember it next time you’re overwhelmed, or perhaps never forget it again? [Empathy.]

One unclear sentence? Immediate $5000 penalty. Ouch. Unfortunately, people writing websites don’t get this kind of feedback. Instead, if they’re not clear, they just get silence. [Hidden costs]

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.

Instead, if your internal processes are always designed to handle twice your existing load, it sends an attractive “come on in, we’ve got plenty of room” message to everyone. [I’m kind of afraid that people would just unsubscribe some day… This is a self-limiting ]idea.

You might get bigger faster and make millions if you outsourced everything to the experts. But what’s the point of getting bigger and making millions? To be happy, right? In the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have. [This is so unintuitive yet in the plain sight]

Trust, but verify. Remember it when delegating. You have to do both.

I live simply. I don’t own a house, a car, or even a TV. The less I own, the happier I am. The lack of stuff gives me the priceless freedom to live anywhere anytime.

It’s not that I’m altruistic. I’m sacrificing nothing. I’ve just learned what makes me happy. And doing it this way made me the happiest. I get the deeper happiness of knowing the lucky streak I’ve had in my life will benefit tons of people — not just me. I get the pride of knowing I did something irreversibly smart before I could change my mind. I get the safety of knowing I won’t be the target of a frivolous lawsuit, since I have very little net worth. I get the unburdened freedom of having it out of my hands so I can’t do something stupid. But most of all, I get the constant priceless reminder that I have enough. [I love this.]

That’s the best reason to have a company. It’s your playground, your instrument, your laboratory. It’s your place to play! [Changing the mindset is important!]