Become wiser

50 Quotes from Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers has a very popular blog, and several very inspiring books, check his minimalist website:


Are you at the starting line or the finish line?

That’s the best predictor of how far you’ll go.



Most of us don’t know what to do next. We know where we want to be, but we don’t know how to get there.

The solution is incredibly simple and effective:

Work backwards. Just contact someone who’s there, and ask how to get there.



Have you heard of rejection therapy? It’s a challenge — kind of a game — where you make it your mission to get rejected by someone every day. You have to do crazy things, like asking a stranger if you can try a bite of their sandwich. If they say no, you win for the day. The real point of the challenge is to overcome the fear of rejection by constantly exposing yourself to it.



When I’m hot, it’s hard for me to imagine that others in the room are cold. I think it really is hot, not that it’s hot only for me. It feels like a fact, not an opinion.

When I do something that’s really valuable to me, it’s hard for me to imagine that it’s not valuable to others. I think it really is valuable, not that it’s valuable only for me. It feels like a fact, not an opinion.



This is one of the most useful lessons I’ve learned in life.

When you don’t know your next step…

When you’re feeling unmotivated…

When asking someone to help you…

When you’re ready to make a dream come true…

Get more specific about what’s needed.

It helps you and others to take action, and beats procrastination.



When you’re in high school, it’s all about popularity, cliques, and being cool.

When you go to college, the focus shifts to academic achievement.

Many people get out of college thinking the world will be like that — like the harder you work, the more you’ll be rewarded. But it’s not.

Life is like high school. It’s all about how you come across, how social you are, what scene you’re in, being likeable, and being cool.

But you can make this work in your favor.



Everything usually feels so serious — like if you make one mistake, it’ll all end in disaster. But really everything you do is just a test: an experiment to see what happens.



Every outgoing email has a “From:” name, right? Why not use that to make people smile, too? With one line of code, I made it so that every outgoing email customized the “From:” field to be “CD Baby loves {firstname}.” So if the customer’s name was Susan, every email she got from us would say it was from “CD Baby loves Susan.” Customers loved this!



Forget “follow your passion” or “find your true calling”. Stop thinking like that.

Passion and purpose are emotions that come after expertise and experience. The way to get them is to commit to the path of mastery, get great at something, and do great work.



Most successful email:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!



You can’t prevent bad things from happening. Learn to shrug.

Resist the urge to punish everyone for one person’s mistake.



You can’t pretend there’s only one way to do it. Your first idea is just one of many options. No business goes as planned, so make ten radically different plans.



How you do anything is how you do everything. It all matters.

Your actions are completely under your control, and seem to be the best indicator of future success.



Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for 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.



Pay close attention to when you’re being the real you and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.



Never do anything just for the money.



If you want to be useful, you can always start now, with only 1% of what you have in your grand vision. It’ll be a humble prototype version of your grand vision, but you’ll be in the game. You’ll be ahead of the rest, because you actually started, while others are waiting for the finish line to magically appear at the starting line.



Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.



To stay in just one country is like living in a huge house but never leaving the bedroom.



Your instincts have a compass that points two directions:

what excites you

what drains you

No matter what advice anyone gives you — no matter how smart they may be — you need to let this compass guide you.

Whatever excites you, go do it.

Whatever drains you, stop doing it.



The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.



You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people.



No yes. Either HELL YEAH! or no.



Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.



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.



Story of biking and The Art of Living with Less Stress



If information was the answer then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs. So you need to shut that shit off, put your blinders on, get out the door and start running.



When successful people give advice, I usually hear it like this: “Here are the lottery numbers I played: 14 29 71 33 8. They worked for me!”



Don’t be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams.



Life can be improved by adding, or by subtracting. The world pushes us to add, because that benefits them. But the secret is to focus on subtracting.



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?



Whatever scares you, go do it.



Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed.



When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia.



Ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.



If you think your life’s purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt, you’ll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you.



So to get smarter, you need to get surprised, think in new ways, and deeply understand different perspectives.



Judge a goal by how well it changes your actions in the present moment.



If you set up your business like you don’t need the money, people are happier to pay you.

When someone’s doing something for the money, people can sense it, like a desperate lover. It’s a turn-off.



Some people think they need to go all the way to Thailand to meditate, or to India to learn yoga. But of course these are things they can do for free at home.



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.



“Yes, I can ignore what you’re saying and just look at your actions. Our actions always reveal our real values.”



He taught me that “the standard pace is for chumps” — that the system is designed so anyone can keep up. If you’re more driven than most people, you can do way more than anyone expects. And this principle applies to all of life, not just school.



There’s a benefit to being naïve to the norms of the world — deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do.



So maybe what’s obvious to me is amazing to someone else?



Don’t wait for permission.



You have to just do whatever you love the most, or you’ll lose interest in the whole thing.

Anything you hate to do, someone else loves. So find those people and let them do it.



Don’t confuse the word “marketing” with advertising, announcing, spamming, or giving away branded crap. Really, “marketing” just means being considerate.



Make plans, but feel free to ignore them — to see them as an option, not a requirement.



Present each new idea or improvement to the world. If multiple people are saying, “Wow! Yes! I need this! I’d be happy to pay you to do this!” then you should probably do it. But if the response is anything less, don’t pursue it.

Don’t waste years fighting uphill battles against locked doors. Improve or invent until you get that huge response.


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