Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, entrepreneur & avid student of life

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 17, 2016

Discussion

Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
Derek Sivers here. Started, built, and sold a company called CD Baby. Wrote a best-selling book with 40 lessons learned from the experience, called "Anything You Want". Spoke at TED a few times. People seem to like my writing at sivers.org. Ask me anything.
Jonny Miller
Jonny Miller@jonnym1ller · Cofounder @Maptia
Howdy @sivers! What did you learn from answering 4,778 emails in January (including a couple from me) from your readers asking you for advice about the big questions? Bonus: can you distill any of these learnings into directives ;)Also: how the on earth do you answer 160 emails/day!
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@jonnym1ller It was like having 4778 writing assignments. Got my finger on the pulse of what many people want to know more about. I'm definitely turning them into articles. Two recent examples: https://sivers.org/gifts + https://sivers.org/switch Hundreds more to come.
Patrick Sanderson
Patrick Sanderson@pjsanderson
Hi Derek, love your stuff. I was wondering if you have come across any other companies that work with a similar philosophy as you had with CD Baby? Reading your book made the whole idea sound so 'right'. I just don't understand why other companies don't seem to operate in that way... Thanks
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@pjsanderson Thanks! Cards Against Humanity. http://cardsagainsthumanity.com/ definitely humanizes their whole approach. I love them more than the cards. Read their blog & stories or try to find talks by Max, the co-founder. Zappos, Nordstrom are big examples. Tons of little ones but I don't keep track, though Seth Godin does. If you read his books or blog he often talks about great examples: http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/
Patrick Sanderson
Patrick Sanderson@pjsanderson
@sivers Cheers Derek, I will have a look at Cards Against Humanity. And Seth, oh yeah, I've heard of him. He's almost as good as you!! All the best pal.
Brent Summers
Brent Summers@brentsum · Founder, Code-Free Startup
Hi Derek, if you could leverage the collective voice/power of your readers to accomplish one thing with a large impact, what would it be?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@brentsum Ack! Wow! I wouldn't want to be in charge of that crowd! ☺ Hmm... maybe can we pick up ALL the trash in the world? Every last bit? (Sorry I don't have a real answer for this. If I think of one some day I'll blog it. Good question.)
Brent Summers
Brent Summers@brentsum · Founder, Code-Free Startup
@sivers Thanks! As someone who moved to SF a few months ago, that answer is definitely a real one :) I actually think I saw a social network for taking photos of the trash you pick up on Product Hunt a few weeks back, but the name escapes me.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Derek, Thanks for joining us! I've been looking forward to this for a long time. So many questions :) What's something you used to fervently believe that you now see as fundamentally misguided (personally? professionally?)
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Out of all the people trying to find truth, or at elast make sense of the world -- novelists, philosophers, religious leaders, economists, sociologists, psychologists, palm-readers, etc -- what group or lens most resonates with you?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@eriktorenberg I like the combination of psychologists, economists, and philosophers who pay attention to the first two. Psychology & economics intersection: https://sivers.org/book/Thinking... Philsophy: https://sivers.org/book/Antidote
Carmen
Carmen@macclabs · travel writer, cofounder
Hi Derek, What did you learn from being in business? Any top 3 learning lessons to share...? Thank you
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@theleanpioneer I narrowed it down to the top 40 lessons & typed it as succinctly as possible, can read in under an hour, here: https://sivers.org/a
Carmen
Carmen@macclabs · travel writer, cofounder
@sivers Thank you :-)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Derek! What advice would you give to someone just starting out writing?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@ems_hodge Imitate! Totally imitate your heroes' writing style. I'm probably still imitating Harry Beckwith - https://sivers.org/book/YouInc - and Robert Fulghum, among others.
Matt Walker
Matt Walker@the_mw · Founder - DayPoint
Stoked for the discussion - thank you! Few Q's: How do you approach your time? Do you struggle with your time (either productivity, time management, or just making sure you are spending your time meaningfully)? Do you have any approaches/tools to make the most of each day? Thanks again..!
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@the_mw Sorry I really don't. See https://sivers.org/2015-12-ferriss2 where he asks "What are your morning rituals?" I just throw myself into whatever I'm into for as long as I'm into it. No routine.
Matt Walker
Matt Walker@the_mw · Founder - DayPoint
@sivers Interesting - - thanks..!
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What was the book writing process like?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@bentossell My book "Anything you Want" - https://sivers.org/a - only took 10 hours or so to write because it was mostly a collection of existing posts. But if you want to read another interesting book process, see https://sivers.org/robust
Joshua Voydik
Joshua Voydik@joshvoydik · Founder, Mindful Makers
Hey Derek, I like your somewhat binary, "HELL YEAH" or "NO" principle. Do you find yourself deviating from this, or are you pretty good about keeping up with it? What results have you seen from applying this, and can you give me an example(s)? Thanks! -Josh
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@joshvoydik "HELL YEAH OR NO" is only applicable in certain situations, where you're overwhelmed with opportunities. It's not meant to be applied everywhere. See https://sivers.org/switch
Joshua Voydik
Joshua Voydik@joshvoydik · Founder, Mindful Makers
@sivers Gracias amigo.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What's your favorite TED talk (that you did not give)? a. tech related b. unrelated to tech
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
What was one of your life experiences that has taught you the most?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@katesegrin I'm still learning lessons from this: https://sivers.org/loss
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What role, if any, does religion play in your life? How about Spirituality?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@eriktorenberg None. Honestly never thought about it. Just haven't felt the need.
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hey Derek! What are the three things you've figured out about people that make them likely to act? i.e. share/comment/buy/donate
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@theo_dimarhos See https://sivers.org/book/Switch and https://sivers.org/book/Drive for much better thoughts on this than I could say here.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
in 2116, What do you humans will look back at in 2016 and say "I can't believe they did that"?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@eriktorenberg Texting. WTF. Texting sucks. Ridiculous.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@sivers or even morally, like animal rights?
Hi Derek. Thank you for being here. My question is when looking for a Technical Cofounder what do you advice? Learning first the basics of programming and create a prototype (a very MVP) and then look for a cofounder? Or look for a cofounder and learn to code while both are working on the product?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@samueco1 Everybody craftsman looks at someone else's work and says, "What?! Who's the idiot that did this?! Here, I'll show you how it's done...." So yes if you dont' have a cofounder already, hire someone to make the barebones version of your idea. Like this: https://sivers.org/how2hire But only after you've proven a demand for it like this: https://sivers.org/book/LeanStartup Then spread the word about this thing you've build, and attend a bunch of tech conferences like RailsConf or whatever, and talk to techies about what you're doing, and see who's interested.
José Pablo Saucedo
José Pablo Saucedo@jose_pablo_saucedo
Hey Derek, do you have any plans of publishing your directives sometime soon? I've been waiting for them since you were on that Tim Ferris Show episode, sounds like some very needed wisdom, specially if you're starting out. Any one you've been thinking on/practicing more lately?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@jospablos Yep! I'm trying! There are 220 of them right now, and working on turning them into succinct individual entries then one overall thing with references to details. Coming as soon as I can! If you're not on my private email list, please go to https://sivers.org/list and add yourself so I'll notify you. Or y'know watch my Twitter, etc.
Do you really think there is such a thing as a true altruistic behavior?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@samueco1 Probably not.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
hobbyistLisper
hobbyistLisper@hobbyistlisper · Hobbyist Technology General HTG
I enjoyed your lessons from ''Anything You Want''. I know you very well can code in PHP. I noticed you write Ruby on your Github profile these days. How's that coming along?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@hobbyistlisper Great! I'm writing mostly Ruby now, with some JavaScript, Elixir, and maybe Elm soon. Watch https://github.com/sivers?tab=ac... if interested. Absoutely all of my programming is public there.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What relationships advice do you find yourself giving the most?
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
How does 80/20 in your life play out? What's the 20% that yields 80% of the results?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@eriktorenberg Writing. :-)
Mike Coutermarsh
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
Derek!! So awesome you're here 😀. The podcast you did with Tim Ferriss was SOO GOOD I listened twice. I'd love to know, what's the one thing you've done professionally that scared you the most?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@mscccc This> https://sivers.org/dancingguy If I was ever going to have a heart attack, that was the time.
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik@jessicamalnik · Community Manager & Blogger
If you could go back in time, what's one piece of advice you would give to your 21 year old self?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@jessicamalnik Nah. I wouldn't change a thing. We have to make those mistakes to learn.
Melanie
Melanie @mindrheo
Do you have a process/system to log or chart all those creative and whizz ideas that cone from nowhere? I keep a notebook next to my bed!!!!
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@mindrheo I love text files on my laptop, because they're so easy to catalog and search and organize. I have a folder called Ideas, one called Projects, and a new one called Future where sometimes I detail elaborate plans for what I'm going to do in the future. But then instead of thinking it's THE future - (which it feels like at the time) - by being in a folder with the other 20-30 times I've done this before, now I acknowledge that it's just one of many possible futures for me. :-)
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
OK everyone I think we're done! Thank you! That was a fun adrenaline mad-typing spree! I hope it was useful. If you thought of anything else, just email me: derek@sivers.org Time for me to go have breakfast now. :-)
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What do you want your tombstone to say? 💀
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Who are some people who inspire you?
Matt Walker
Matt Walker@the_mw · Founder - DayPoint
@sivers awesome, haven't seen this list before! @ems_hodge - good q
Jon Wood
Jon Wood@jwood
What do you usually do when you reach a roadblock while working on a project?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@jwood You should drive and work on a project at the same time, Jon!
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@jwood (OK real answer:) : power through. Break it down into smaller bits. Kick and scream then keep going. That's what I did all day yesterday, for example. Stuck on a programming thing. Kept breaking it into smaller parts. Awful annoying day, with much gnashing and growling. But powered through and glad I did.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Apart from your own ;) - which TED talk is your favourite?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@bentossell Sorry, someone else from Product Hunt asked that here. ^ ^
brennan
brennan@letkma · Freelance industrial design
Is there a better way to guarantee people will come to an event (for example, even like this one) that isn't just making them give you money so that they feel financially bad if / when they back out?
Lucy Yu
Lucy Yu@lucy_yu
hey Derek, wondering what are some of the biggest problems you're facing right now? whether it be work-related, personal, anything at all. Thanks for hosting this Q&A and generally being awesome! :)
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@_lucyyu Trying to get Elixir methods to match based on Regex patterns. http://elixir-lang.org/docs/stab... ☺ Sorry that's the only real answer. Hopefully won't be the answer tomorrow. My life is wonderfully problem-free in almost every way.
Lucy Yu
Lucy Yu@lucy_yu
@sivers regex is always good fun haha :) glad to hear that!
Michael Hwan
Michael Hwan@michaelhwan
@sivers what surprised you as you traveled across Asia? Also what would you advise a new programmer how to learn how to program? Which language should I start with?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@michaelhwan Asia? So much that I had to start a book company to try to figure it out. https://woodegg.com/ Programming: https://sivers.org/learn-js but then dabble in a bunch to see the scope. Learn a bit of Lisp, Elixir, SQL. See https://pragprog.com/book/7lang/...
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
Thank you for taking the time to join us today. I'd love to know what life lesson has most shaped the person you are today?
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
If you were building a college from scratch, how would you design it? How about K-12? What principles would underlie it? I guess the fundamental Q is what should people be doing the first 20 years of their lives? :)
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@eriktorenberg I'd completely defer to people who have spent way more time thinking about this than I have. :-)
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you had a Billion Dollars what would you do in your first week + then for the year following?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@bentossell Stick it in index funds as described in https://sivers.org/book/Smartest... and https://sivers.org/book/Investor... and never touch it. Live off some interest, and have it compound and go to charity when I die. If you ever do come into an inheritance, the smartest thing you can do is nothing, for at least a couple years. Resist the feeling that you need to Do Something about it. (AKA spend it.)
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What Q's would you ask yourself if you were in our position right now?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@eriktorenberg No need to fill space. Silence is wonderful.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are some of your most used apps?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@jakecrump I only have two apps on my phone: WhatsApp for talking & texting with international friends. And StrongLifts to track my workouts.
Topaz Tee
Topaz Tee@topaz_tee
any advice to a a22yr old programmer?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@topaz_tee Read every book from https://pragprog.com/ that interests you at all. Learn it all. Do the examples. Be broad. Make things.
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
Derek, who are some of the people who have had the greatest impact on your life? (Stories, please!)
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What is one of your biggest regrets and why?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@bentossell If you made an intelligent decision, whether it worked out the way you wanted it to or not, you can't regret it. You should only regret the times where you were irrational, impulsive, and led only by a lack of intelligence.
Jake Crump
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
If you were going to tell a great story at a party, what story would you tell?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@jakecrump Depends on the crowd! :-)
Patrick Riegert
Patrick Riegert@waywardmind · Editor/Writer
What is one experience that you've been putting off . . . and why?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@waywardmind Living in China and India because my kid's mom fucking HATES it there. So in 15 years when he's no longer living at home....
Topaz Tee
Topaz Tee@topaz_tee
whats life like as an intj?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@topaz_tee Very peaceful.
Ryan M Braganza
Ryan M Braganza@ryanmbraganza
Hey Derek, I noticed you don't like stuff http://sivers.org/gifts . But I'm curious, what's one piece of stuff that you absolutely treasure?
Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers@sivers · sivers.org
@ryanmbraganza Nothing. Seriously. Not a thing. Not even my laptop. It's backed up multiple places so that I don't need to feel attached to any thing at all.
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik@jessicamalnik · Community Manager & Blogger
As a kid, did you have a teacher or role model that you looked up to? If so, what did they do to inspire you?
Phillip Eveiw
Phillip Eveiw@fcasualty
Is all positive value just the result of eliminating negative value? It would then appear that perfection would place us at 0. Arguably the only potential to overcome this would be to perfect the integration of something like Radiogenetics (A neural interface in adaptation of Optogenetics to precisely record/inhibit/stimulate neural activity), ultimately to inhibit deep suffering and simulate experience; to free the mind from the physical and ostensibly the zero-sum physicality of indulgence.
Christopher Sherrod
Christopher Sherrod@chrissherrod · Entrepreneur
How important is charity being part of business and your movement?