The first time I ever spoke to Derek Sivers, I accused him of ripping me off.
I had seen his great TEDx video called "Why You Need to Fail" and I wrote him to complain. (Jokingly of course.)
I told him "I wrote THE book on failing."
Derek gives his e-mail address on his website and he couldn't have responded quicker or have been nicer (or have used a more amusing adverb to explain why he hadn't heard of my book) :
"Holy crap! That's awesome. Wow. I'm sorry I didn't know about this. Oh, I see it's only been a few months since it came out and I've been quite ostriched lately..."
Soon, we were talking about books. Or, rather, he was asking me about them, telling me he was considering writing one himself.
"It's a lot of fucking work writing a book, though, isn't it? Why do you do it? Not for the money, right? Bigger speaking fees afterwards? Side-effect for consulting?" (this conversation here)
Little did I know, he was already working on his own book. That sneaky guy!
So, when he was done, and he wanted several sets of eyes to give it a quick read through, I was more than happy to.
I'm not sure if I helped improve even a single letter in the book--it was pretty much "there" when I read it--but he thanked me on the inside cover nonetheless. My first career thank you and THE first thank you in the book! (I'm glad Derek alphabetizes by first name.)
I respect Derek because, unlike so many others, he's a self-helper that's actually done something in his life.
Derek writes like a guy you'd immediately want to be your friend, your co-worker, your employee...your boss.
(I really don't like audio books, but I implore you to listen to Derek speak to get his cadence and voice running through your head. It truly makes his text pop more.)
"Anything You Want" is THE greatest manual for running a business. For creating your own Utopian business world that will make both you and your employees happy. It's not about making money, or growing larger, or conquering the world, it's simply about filling a need that makes both you and your customers happy. It's simple, but genius.
The book tells the story of how Derek's "little hobby"--CD Baby, a company; no, not even a company, a website created to sell his musician friends' CDs--became a big business. It was all an accident.
Why? Because Derek was filling a need for others.
If you're filling a need for the world, and making yourself happy, that's all you need in life says Derek. In many way, "Anything You Want" reminded me of a more streamlined version of Tony Hseih's "Delivering Happiness," also recommended. The crux of Tony's business plan is to "WOW" customers. Derek would agree with that sentiment as "Anything You Want" tells wonderful stories of all the little things he encouraged his employees to do to make customers happy (a story involving a frozen squid is a major highlight.)
"But please know that it's often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you."
There is seemingly so many things to worry about in life. Even more if you're running a business. But, that doesn't need to be the case. Derek says:
"Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn't that enough?"
BUY: "Anything You Want"