The Focus Course

April Book Club: ‘Anything You Want’ by Derek Sivers

This month’s Book Club pick is the book I have gifted most often to others over the past few years.

It’s one of my favorite books on entrepreneurship and creativity. But it’s about much more than just just starting and running an awesome business.

At its core, this book is about challenging assumptions and being intentional. The book…?

Anything You Want, by Derek Sivers.

I first read this book a few years ago. I’d had it on my shelf for ages but had never cracked it open.

I had been wanting to read it for a while. And since it’s so short, one afternoon I finally grabbed the book and began reading it during my lunch break.

Derek’s writing instantly grabbed me. I read through the whole book that afternoon. It took me about 2 hours, but I’m a slow reader, so I bet you could get through this book in half that time.

Anything You Want is filled with stories and lessons for entrepreneurs. It’s based on the 10 years Derek spent building CD Baby (which he then sold for $22,000,000).

In my copy of the book, I made highlights on pretty much every single page (alas, before I had implemented Idea Indexing).

Here’s one highlight that continually hits home for me in my endeavors to grow my online business:

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? […]

When someone’s doing something for love, being generous instead of stingy, trusting instead of fearful, it triggers this law: We want to give to those who give.

It’s another Tao of business: Set up your business like you don’t need the money, and it’ll likely come your way.

On Having Fun Building Your Business

Derek writes:

Business is as creative as the fine arts. You can be as unconventional, unique, and quirky as you want. A business is a reflection of the creator.

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

Risk will always be a part of the creative process and will always be part of building a business. Because creativity and business development is not an exact science — it’s filled with objectivity that changes from within and without.

There’s no sure fire way to make something awesome. There’s no proven formula to go viral. There’s no such thing as literal overnight success.

So, along the way, be sure you’re taking joy in the process.

Create without inhibition. Create without fear of failure; without mind for other people’s opinions; without fear of rejection; without feeling like an impostor.

Have fun.

On Self-Employment versus Business Ownership

Here’s another quote from the book that I’ve been chewing on lately:

There’s a big difference between being self-employed and being a business owner.

Being self-employed feels like freedom until you realize that if you take time off, your business crumbles.

To be a true business owner, make sure you could leave for a year, and when you come back, your business would be doing better than when you left.

I’ve been working for myself for 6 years now, and something that has been top of mind for the past year is how I can build the “Blanc Media” websites into businesses that provide immense value and that also don’t require my day-to-day input.

(Side note: Building a business that can run without me is not about “retiring early”. That’s the selfish point of view. If the business can run without me, then it will be better. It won’t be limited by my few ideas and my single point of view; it won’t be held back my availability. To build a business that can run without me is to build a business that has no limits on the value it can provide and the areas it can grow.)

Persist Only With What Works

Derek writes that if something you’re working on isn’t a hit, it’s okay to switch.

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

We all have lots of ideas, creations, and projects, When you present one to the world, and it’s not a hit, don’t keep pushing it as-is. Instead, get back to improving and inventing.


Where to Get it

If you want to join us in reading Anything You Want this coming month, here’s where to grab a copy:

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