Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers

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Episodes

November 17, 2019 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, “If only one percent of the people reading this magazine buy my CD, that’ll be 10,000 copies! And that’s only one percent!”

He bought 10,000 padded mail... Read more

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Mark as Played

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. Ryuichi Sakamoto was there recording his new album “Heartbeat”.

Ryuichi mentioned to Ho... Read more

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Mark as Played
November 14, 2019 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 months, I hear an old man yelling, “Goddamn it! What’s wrong with this typewriter? Can’t someone ma... Read more

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Mark as Played

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 met a week later for dinner.

Dinner was a lot of blah blah blah smalltalk, and I wondered what they really wanted. Then they finally got to the real point:

“The... Read more

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Mark as Played
November 6, 2019 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 of a genre or style. But to me, that’s too strict and sad. It was someone else’s innovation. To imitate it now with rules and recipes is just nostalgia. It’s uninspired ... Read more

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Mark as Played
November 5, 2019 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 the first time to fall in love.

The second time, in your 30s, to tell everyone what you’ve learned. You’re full of answers, since you’ve done so much. ... Read more

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Mark as Played
November 2, 2019 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 had to decide what new clothes would fit the new me. Like many of us, I looked to the style of glamorous and successful people. I should wear what they wear since it w... Read more

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Mark as Played
November 1, 2019 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 accepted. This was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But his mother was on her death bed. An undiagnosable illness seemed like it was going to take her ... Read more

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Mark as Played
October 31, 2019 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 window looks out at the nature around me. I’m getting to know this one tree really well. I toss a little dog food out there each day, and watch the local birds and ... Read more

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Mark as Played

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 doing this, here’s what I do and recommend:

A daily diary

If digital, use only plain text. It’s a standard format not owned by any company. It will ... Read more

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Mark as Played
October 29, 2019 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 per day performing circus shows for kids, though I’d spend about $50 in bus fare to get to the gigs. I was sharing a t... Read more

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Mark as Played
October 27, 2019 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?
  • Quitting your job to go freelance?
  • Err on the side of yes. Try it. If it was a mistake, at least y... Read more

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    Mark as Played
    October 26, 2019 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 about the service. Why?

    The problem is that their expertise makes them annoyed. They’re trained to spot errors. They’re so aware of what’s wrong. Even worse, t... Read more

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    Mark as Played
    October 25, 2019 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 again.

    The way we define ourself is all relative to our surroundings, right? However we differ from the people in our home town is how we define ours... Read more

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    Mark as Played

    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 to put my code into public view, so anyone can play arou... Read more

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    Mark as Played
    October 23, 2019 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 — to offer help and guidance.

    This uses Salman Khan’s propos... Read more

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    Mark as Played
    October 22, 2019 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 regrettably closed-minded. She hates everything that isn’t European, sophisticated, and familiar. Culture of India? Hates it. Chinese opera? Hates it. ... Read more

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    Mark as Played

    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 was great.

    I thought for a minute about the importance of my commitment to post here daily. But nope, being ... Read more

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    Mark as Played
    October 16, 2019 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 possible so as not to waste their time.

    Before sending it, I try to predict what they’ll say. Then I go back and update what I wrote to address these obvious p... Read more

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    Mark as Played
    October 15, 2019 43 sec

    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 win a game? Read more

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    Mark as Played

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