By Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers shares 40 powerful lessons, in a book that can be read in about an hour. He discusses how an entrepreneur can make their dreams come true by shifting their focus away from money and onto gaining customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing. The book’s most memorable stories are from his horrible mistakes, like why saving ten minutes cost him $3.3 million dollars.

About the book

My tales of starting, building, and selling CD Baby, compressed into an entertaining and useful one-hour read.

You started a business. But why? Entrepreneurs often lose sight of what matters. Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn’t that enough?

Derek Sivers accidentally started a business by helping musicians sell their music. It became the largest online seller of independent music with over 150,000 musicians and $100M in sales. After ten years, he sold the company for $22 million and gave all the money to charity.

Points include:

  • When you make a company, you make your utopia — your perfect world.
  • Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.
  • Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people.
  • Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you launch.
  • Don’t pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help.
  • By focusing entirely on thrilling your customers – even at an occasional loss – you ultimately profit more, because of the loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing that comes only when you place your customer’s needs over your own.
  • The book’s most memorable stories are from his horrible mistakes, like why saving ten minutes cost him $3.3 million dollars, and how he was attacked by Steve Jobs. 

“Anything You Want” was first published by Seth Godin in 2011, then by Penguin/Portfolio in 2015. This third edition for 2022 was improved with eight new chapters.

Its surprisingly humanist approach to business, focusing on generosity and happiness more than profits, has helped thousands of entrepreneurs to re-focus on what matters and find their own path to success.

Book Details

Available in hardcover, paperback, e-book, & audiobook

(Hardcover) Fabric Smyth-Sewn (Paperback) Perfect bound, 98 pages, 5″x8″, 2011
Price: (Hardcover) $19.99, (Paperback) $14.99, (E-book) $9.99, (Audiobook) $5.95
ISBN: (Hardcover) 978-1-99-115238-1, (Paperback) 978-1-99-115239-8, (E-book) 978-1-99-115330-2, (Audiobook) 978-1-99-115334-0
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About the author

Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers, author of Anything You Want, Hell Yeah or No, Your Music and People, and How to Live, is an ambitious creator with a laser focus on perpetually producing and creating. This unyielding ambition shapes the core of his decision-making, leading him to decline numerous opportunities to prioritize time for creation.

Beyond his creative endeavors, he possesses an insatiable appetite for diverse knowledge and alternative approaches to thinking and living. This hunger propels him to immerse himself in extensive reading and maintain a nomadic lifestyle, exploring different corners of the world. He resonates deeply with individuals who push boundaries and embrace personal growth.

His overarching philosophy aligns remarkably with Stoicism, emphasizing self-strengthening for a challenging future. Despite this alignment, he remains a skeptic, recognizing that opposing viewpoints may also hold truth. Intentionally shifting perspectives keeps his worldview dynamic and open.

Contrary to conventional paths, he doesn’t work for monetary gain. Some might label him as retired since his financial pursuits have taken a back seat since 2008. Yet, his ambitions remain fervently intrinsic and intellectual, dedicated to learning, creating, and contributing.

He finds solace in solitary workdays that stretch 12 hours or more, where ‘work’ is synonymous with indulging in what he loves—writing, learning, and creating. This intrinsic pursuit, whether in music, websites, books, or companies, mirrors the life of a novelist, driven by personal fulfillment rather than external validation.

This encapsulates a fraction of who he is—a deliberate, forward-thinking individual who cherishes silence, values time as a precious commodity, and maintains a simple and sincere life philosophy.

Words of praise

Anything You Want is a business book like no other. Derek Sivers built a business a different way, a human way. He did it with no investment and a series of apparently crazy principles. And they work. They worked for him and they might work for you. A brilliant book.
Seth Godin
author of This Is Marketing
I love this book! Derek is the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. Just as important, perhaps more so: he is a phenomenal teacher. Whether detailing the fascinating rise of CD Baby, explaining catastrophic (but common) founder mistakes, or teaching me about relational databases in two minutes using analogies, he makes the complex simple. Moreover, he makes it all actionable. If you want a true manifesto, a guidebook with clear signposts, and a fun ride you’ll return to again and again, you have it here in this book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Tim Ferriss
author of The 4-Hour Workweek

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