<300: Anything You Want - Derek Sivers

I came across Derek Sivers (@sivers) through Tim Ferriss’ podcast. Very rarely do I get hooked on someone from an interview, but the way which Derek answered questions and his life story made me pause. I had to get more of his thoughts into my thoughts. A man who donates the majority of his company for the benefit of others got me. My interactions with him have been refreshing and I am so thankful that he is accessible and really seeks to help others.

Here’s his book, Anything You Want, in less than 300 words. Best $11 I’ve spent this year!



Be yourself. Stop kowtowing to the perceived expectations of others. There is no easy way to grow in life. It takes work and focus. Most growth happens through failure, so get ready for it.

It is easy to get overwhelmed in the sea of multi-million dollar marketing. Instead of setting your goal to make more money, seek to serve more people. In serving, money follows. If you want to have enough, want less. Stop focusing on being bigger and better. Oftentimes purposefully being deaf to the siren call of more frees you to remain true to your purpose.

In having such laser focus in your dreams, you will disappoint a lot of people. If you seek to be everyone’s Messiah, you will fail them and yourself.

At root, the call to serve others requires you to do the hard work of knowing yourself. Know your likes and dislikes. Choose what you like to do and stop saying the ugly stuff that you are swamped in is just part of owning your own business. You can delegate. And you ought to delegate. Don’t abdicate. Be involved. Set parameters for those you empower before you almost get fired by them!

People are not commodities to be traded. Pinching pennies is punching your customers in the face, give a full refund. Period. Stop justifying greed with survival verbiage. Take the bruises, not those you seek to serve.

Stop all your strategy. Do. Take one step toward your goal rather mapping out the whole path. Inevitably, your path will be re-directed. If you plan out every step you will veritably be disappointed, stifled, and probably stop. Failure is part of the journey. You can’t mitigate it. Expect bad things to happen and embrace them as part of your personal growth.

Don’t Say You’ll Be Brief…Be Brief

I attended a meeting recently where the person was allotted a few minutes to make a presentation. The fellow started by saying, “I’ll be brief.” He then went on to take a ridiculous amount of time to explain the thing he was supposed to be brief about!

The moment he said, “I’ll be brief,” I started counting in my head how long he had been up there.

Listen. There’s no need to tell your audience you are going to be brief. They were not behind the curtain with the coordinators of the meeting at which time you were given how long you were allowed to speak. What is more, by saying “I’ll be brief” you may be unduly telling your host that you don’t appreciate being rushed with such an important topic as the one you are going to speak about. What is more, you lost me–and everyone else!–at the 30 second mark. What is more, you are telling me (your audience) that your announcement doesn’t merit a “regular” length…but just a short, small, insignificant highlight. Your whole sentence doesn’t need underlining, so I (as your hearer) don’t underline any of it! 

Brevity is a relative term. To be brief as an announcement could be 10 seconds or it could be 5 minutes (especially if the previous “brief” presentation went 10 minutes–in which case you will be slighting the previous presenter as you indict him for not being brief!)

Don’t say you’ll be brief. I will not listen to you as I now know you will not be brief. Like the preacher who belabors (and adds to!) his last point. By being brief, it must not be that important if all it requires is a brief comment.

Simply put: Be brief.

After you sit down, I will be thankful for your brevity and if I have questions, I will find you later–or ask the person next to me–or check the website for details.

You Get What You Pay For

This old adage has been worn out, hasn’t it?

Is there, though, certain things you pay for that aren’t worth the extra money? The business shoes you buy ($50) at Wal-Mart will need replacing in a few months. The business shoes I buy that are three times  more ($150) have yet to be replaced five years later. I do wonder, though, the designer shoes someone else might buy ($450), are they worth the money?

This all depends on the commitments and the people we are walking with. The folks I live among will not know that I am wearing $450 shoes. Further, I would rather spend the $300 savings in a different way than on cow leather (or alligator skin). The $300 could be spent on sponsoring a child in need. It could be spent on providing water to those in need. It could be invested. It could be used for a myriad of other positive uses.

For those of you who have such money, I would ask: Is the $300 you would spend on those shoes worth the acceptance you are purchasing from folks in the upper echelon of society? That, in essence, is what you are paying for. You are not paying more for a superior product. You are buying the approval of people.

EVERYONE Has a Rock in Their Shoe

As mentioned before, I am trying to intentionally improve various aspects of my life. One of the practical things I have been doing is to listen to highly productive people who are agents of change in their respective fields.

As I have been listening to a myriad of people across various disciplines, I have been struck by the fact that not only have these highly influential people come from adversity, but they are also always going through adversity in the midst of their success.

In our age of humble brags and putting only our shining moments for the world to see, we don’t like to dwell on the fact that we have shadows. That is, there is a darkness to our lives even when we stand in the sun. This darkness. This adversity is meant to be relished because this is where our mettle is tested. This is where we grow as people.

I have often run from adversity. I have thought that pain is bad. Pain isn’t bad. It’s what you decide to do with the pain that is good or bad.

Remember next time you see someone with a huge smile on his or her face with a lush tropical or beach as the backdrop, the smile they have on their face could easily be a grimace from the rock in their shoe. They might have had an argument with their spouse. They might have stepped in a pile of poo. They might have had a horrible day and this is the first time they are smiling.

Matthew S. Wireman | Life & Theology