Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers

sivers.org
Derek Sivers posts from sivers.org


And if only 1% of those people…
Nov 17 • 1 min
A musician had manufactured 10,000 copies of his CD in anticipation of 10,000 orders that were sure to come through that week. He had bought a quarter-page advertisement in the back of a magazine with a circulation of one million people. He kept saying,…
How I became Ryuichi Sakamoto’s guitarist
Nov 16 • 4 min
In 1991 I was 22 years old, and had moved to New York City to be a professional musician. I had a little home studio, and was doing some random gigs around town. My roommate, Hoover Li, was an assistant engineer at a huge recording studio in midtown.…
Sammy Cahn said thank you
Nov 14 • 6 min
In 1990, at the age of 20, I moved to New York City and got a job as the tape room guy for Warner/Chappell Music Publishing. It was a small office, about 12 people, but the door to one room was always closed. I assumed it was unused. One day, after a few…
Human Intervention as a Competitive Advantage
Nov 13 • 4 min
The listening algorithm A year after I started CD Baby, when it was still just me in my bedroom, the CEO and VP of a hugely-funded Silicon Valley online music company contacted me, saying they wanted to fly out to New York to meet me. I said OK, and we…
Experiments in music and life
Nov 6 • 3 min
One approach to music is to do whatever you want. Absolutely anything goes. But to me, that’s too free. It’s anti-inspiring because having infinite options is overwhelming. Another approach to music is to follow tradition. You stay within the guidelines…
Cross the world four times
Nov 5 • 1 min
Cross the world four times. First, in your teens or 20s, to take it all in. See it all, do it all, and learn. Get involved. Stay up all night talking with strangers, everywhere. Kiss and fall and promise to them all. Make lots of mistakes. Cross the world…
My old clothes don’t fit
Nov 2 • 2 min
I was uncomfortable, unhappy, and restless. I didn’t want to meet new people, because I felt I was giving the wrong impression. Something wasn’t right. It took me months to figure out the real problem: My clothes don’t fit anymore! Once I realized this, I…
The art of selfishness
Nov 1 • 2 min
David grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, with five brothers and sisters. When he was 18, he got accepted to a very prestigious art school in Vienna. Vienna! This was his dream come true! He had wanted this so badly, but never thought he’d actually get…
Doors and windows and what’s real
Oct 31 • 1 min
Like everyone, I live in a little house with many doors and windows. One door goes out to my neighborhood. The local kids come to play with my dog. The elderly neighbors take so long to tell me their stories. I slow down my inner clock to listen. One…
Benefits of a daily diary and topic journals
Oct 30 • 7 min
You know those people whose lives are transformed by meditation or yoga or something like that? For me, it’s writing in my diary and journals. It’s made all the difference in the world for my learning, reflecting, and peace of mind. After 20+ years of…
How I got rich on the other hand
Oct 29 • 2 min
I don’t usually talk about money, but a friend asked me what it was like to get rich, and he wanted to know specifics, so I told him my story. I had a day job in midtown Manhattan paying $20K per year — about minimum wage. On weekends I would earn $150…
When in doubt, try the difference
Oct 27 • 2 min
If you’re in doubt about something that’s not in your life, try it. Things are so different in practice versus in theory. The only way to know is to experience it yourself. Try it examples: Pursuing a new interest? Moving somewhere very different?…
Why experts are annoying
Oct 26 • 1 min
When someone becomes an expert at something, you know what else they become? Annoying. At a restaurant, your designer friend complains about the font on the menu, your musician friend complains about the background music, and your manager friend complains…
What you learn by travelling
Oct 25 • 1 min
I wanted to learn about the world, so I went travelling. People in the east are so graceful, I felt like an inconsiderate pig. People up north are so serious, I felt like a lightweight clown. People down south are so laid-back, I had to escape north…
PostgreSQL example of self-contained stored procedures
Oct 24 • 1 min
First, see my previous article about PostgreSQL functions at sivers.org/pg. That article gave tiny examples, but no finished working code. This week, I wrote a shopping cart to sell my books directly from my own site. So I took a couple extra hours today…
Mastery school
Oct 23 • 2 min
Here’s an idea: Create a little school somewhere remote. School of what? School of mastery. A place for anyone who wants go focus on a skill of their choice, surrounded by other people doing the same, and a few coaches — experts on the craft of mastery —…
Monthly self-expansion project
Oct 22 • 2 min
Here’s an idea: Every month, pick something you hate or know nothing about, and get to know it well. Spend a few hours per week, for an entire month, just learning about that subject. Why? The idea is inspired by a very successful friend of mine who is…
Living according to your hierarchy of values
Oct 21 • 1 min
My “daily” blog was silent the last four days, because I took my kid on a spontaneous trip to another country. No phone. No computer. I gave him my full attention every day from when he woke me in the morning to when we fell asleep together at night. It…
How to ask your mentors for help
Oct 16 • 1 min
I have three mentors. When I’m stuck on a problem and need their help, I take the time to write a good description of my dilemma, before reaching out to them. I summarize the context, the problem, my options, and thoughts on each. I make it as succinct as…
When you win the game, you stop playing
Oct 15 • 0 min
Someone asked me today why I don’t charge money for the things I do. Why don’t I have ads on my site? Why don’t I exploit my assets and pursue some profitable things? I already did that. I made more than I’ll ever be able to spend. What do you do when you…
Digital pollution
Oct 14 • 2 min
You couldn’t just roll down the street leaving huge piles of garbage everywhere you go, making life slower for everyone as they climb over your mountains of junk, just to get on with their life. You’d feel bad about it, right? That’s how I feel about the…
Cut out everything that’s not surprising
Oct 13 • 1 min
This is my advice to anyone writing something for the public — especially a talk on stage. People listen to a talk, or read an article, because they want to learn something new. They want a little “oh wow” moment. “I never thought of it that way before.”…
Heed your fears
Oct 12 • 1 min
People often ask me how they can get over their fears. For example, they are scared to quit their job and start a business. I think they want me to say something to make their fears go away. So my advice is pretty disappointing. We should pay attention to…
Daydreaming is my favorite pastime
Oct 11 • 1 min
Somewhere in our past, we were told it’s bad to daydream, because it meant doing nothing — staring out the window — instead of doing what we’re supposed to be doing. To admit we’re daydreaming felt like it needed an apology. But now I’ve finally embraced…
Anti-chameleon
Oct 10 • 1 min
I don’t know why I have this rebellious nature. I tend to want to be the opposite of my surroundings. At serious formal events, I can’t stop laughing inside. At crazy festivals, I want to hide and read a book. My ambitious friends bring out the slacker in…
Where we do and don’t want automation
Oct 9 • 2 min
I used to use Gmail. But one day, as I typed my mother’s email address into the “To:” field, Google popped up a prompt asking if I also wanted to CC my uncle. That was so invasive and creepy that I deleted the account immediately and never used it again.…
Human nature to focus on the one bad thing
Oct 8 • 1 min
Today my bus was delayed, and I was really annoyed. Also, I got a really nasty email, which put me in a worse mood. No, wait, I should give the full story. It takes two busses to get from the airport back to my house. The first bus leaves once per hour.…
Back and forth between super-hot and super-cold
Oct 7 • 2 min
The most relaxed feeling I know is after going back and forth between a super-hot pool and super cold pool. Stay in the super-hot pool until you can’t stand it. Then go in a super-cold pool until you can’t stand it. Repeat that a few times, and you’ve…
Err on the side of action, to test theories
Oct 6 • 1 min
I spend a lot time thinking of alternate ways to approach life. I re-consider my hierarchy of values. When values change, the plan of action needs to change, too. For example, if I decide that personal growth is top priority, then I plan a life pushing…
Blowing off work to play
Oct 5 • 2 min
What do you call it when you skip school or work for a day, to do whatever you want instead? In America, we call it playing hooky. In England, we call it skiving. (Got another word for it?) Some of my best, most productive, and enjoyable days have been…
The joy and strategic wisdom of ignoring plans
Oct 4 • 2 min
I took my 7-year-old to London today. I made two plans: if it rains, we go to a museum, if not, we go to the zoo. But when the train arrived in London, he said he didn’t really want to do either one. So we just walked with no plans. We immediately ran…
Tour -isms
Oct 3 • 1 min
Since I’m living in Europe now, I thought it would be good to tour everywhere in Europe, and get to know it better. I’m not into seeing the sights. I don’t take photos. What I want is to get to know the mindset, the world-view of each place. The…
Meta-considerate
Oct 2 • 2 min
My friend has a huge crush on someone. He showers her with attention and appreciation. He remembers her preferences, and constantly gives her thoughtful gifts. He thinks he’s being considerate, but he’s actually being inconsiderate. Meta-inconsiderate. By…
Daydreaming the downside, for once
Oct 1 • 2 min
A few years ago, I thought it would be fun to get into camping. I live in New Zealand! How can I not? I daydreamed about it, picturing how much fun it could be. I read a book about it. I carefully picked out then bought some highly-recommended gear: a…
Where to find the hours to make it happen
Sep 30 • 1 min
When you experience someone else’s genius work, a little part of you feels, “That’s what I could have, would have, and should have done!” Someone else did it. You didn’t. They fought the resistance. You gave in to distractions. They made it top priority.…
Your heroes show which way you’re facing
Sep 29 • 1 min
People with many interests often ask my advice on which industry or career path they should follow. Years ago, I felt I was just a programmer and entrepreneur. Yes sometimes I write a tiny blog post sharing what I’ve learned, but that’s just something on…
Don’t quote. Make it yours and say it yourself.
Sep 28 • 2 min
Which sounds better to you? “In his best-selling book on behavioral science, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman said, ‘Nothing in life is as important as you think it is when you are thinking about it.’.” … or just…
Have a private email account
Sep 27 • 1 min
I used to like the internet. I thought it was cool, creative, wild, untamed, expressive, decentralized, and educational. I guess it was, back then, but now? I kinda hate most of what’s out there. I don’t like social media, either. Staged photos, and…
Future posthumous autobiography
Sep 26 • 1 min
I’ve started writing my autobiography. I’ll keep writing it for the rest of my life. It’s private now, but will be released the week I die. I’ve written the last chapter, which is more of an afterword. (“Now I’m dead.”) So now I will just keep writing the…
What I did belies why
Sep 25 • 3 min
Imagine you host a dinner party with two doctors and two accountants. You introduce the doctors to each other and the accountants to each other, assuming they’d have the most in common. But actually one doctor got into it because her mother died…
Would you make your art if you were the last person on earth?
Sep 24 • 1 min
Musicians, photographers, writers, and artists of all sorts: Would you make your art if you were the last person on earth? For me, it’s an immediate YES — of course! In fact, it might make the experience even better. A musician friend asked me this…
Travel without social praise
Sep 23 • 1 min
I met a couple who were thinking of quitting their jobs and travelling the world for a year. They asked my thoughts. I suggested they should only do it if they don’t bring a camera, and don’t tell anyone but their family and few dear friends. No sharing…
Travel without a phone
Sep 22 • 2 min
The first time, it was an accident. I’d always wanted to go to Korea. I was so excited. I set out to explore and forgot my phone in the hotel. I walked around Seoul for twelve hours that day and experienced so many wonderful things. I remember them all…
initialize
Sep 21 • 0 min
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