Book Reports · Entrepreneurship

Casual Company Building: Review of Derek Sivers’ “Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur”

Today’s post concern’s itself with Derek Siver’s book “Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur.” I recently finished this short read via an audiobook on Audible, which is pleasantly read by Derek himself.

Overall one gets the feeling that the building of his business was a casual, almost accidental affair that at times he did not want. One gets the impression that you too can be as aloof and succeed with your own multi-million dollar business. It’s a very nice thought. That said, I like his to-the-basics approach, and think there are some valuable things to get gained from the book, thus this post. And to be fair, he does speak about some of his difficulties along the way.

One common theme is doing what makes you happy and pursuing your own happiness as the ultimate end-goal. This seems to be a common socially acceptable goal these days: one’s own happiness. I, for one, like to question that one’s own happiness is a satisfactory goal for a life. One’s own happiness can be difficult to attain, and the feeling of happiness if fickle and fleeting. I think maybe we should pursue other goals, like decreasing world suck, even if it means we individually will be less happy. I think people should appreciate happiness when it comes, but should not devote their life to chasing it. One should pursue some higher purpose, and even sacrifice their own happiness to that end.

Themes in the book:

  1. Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself
  2. Success comes from continuously improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working.
  3. Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it. “No business plan survives first contact with customers.”
  4. Starting with no money is an advantage
  5. You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people
  6. Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business
  7. The real point of doing anything is to be happy
  8. If it’s not a “hell yes,” it’s a “no”
  9. Listen to what your customer wants. Take care of the customer.
  10. Ideas are worth little without execution.
  11. There is an infinite number of ways to do anything, so be flexible and adjust to your customer’s needs
  12. Your company should be willing to die for your customers. Don’t be a company that consciously or unconsciously propagates a problem so it can keep solving it.
  13. Don’t punish everyone for the actions of a few.
  14. Show your customers love with little extras.
  15. It’s okay to be casual.
  16. Trust but verify.
  17. Freedom is more valuable than possessions.

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