📖 Lessons from “Anything You Want”

June 19th, 2020

Book cover

Personal, honest, and beautiful. Derek Sivers shares a couple thoughts on how to run a business.


  • The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.
  • When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. This is your utopia.
  • A business plan should never take more than a few hours of work—hopefully no more than a few minutes. The best plans start simple.

We’ve all heard about the importance of persistence. But I had misunderstood. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.

  • When you say no to most things, you leave room in your life to throw yourself completely into that rare thing that makes you say, “Hell yeah!”
  • Anytime you think you know what your new business will be doing, remember this quote from serial entrepreneur Steve Blank: “No business plan survives first contact with customers.”
  • Necessity is a great teacher.
  • Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers.
  • Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy into actually solving real problems for real people.

Never forget that there are thousands of businesses, like Jim’s Fish Bait Shop in a shack on a beach somewhere, that are doing just fine without corporate formalities.

  • 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?
  • Set up your business like you don’t need the money, and it’ll likely come your way.
  • When you make a business, you’re making a little world where you control the laws.
  • When you sign up to run a marathon, you don’t want a taxi to take you to the finish line.
  • Make sure everyone who deals with you leave with a smile.
  • You can’t live someone else’s expectation of a traditional business. You have to just do whatever you love the most, or you’ll lose interest in the whole thing.

When people would ask, “What are you doing to grow your company?” I’d say, “Nothing! I’m trying to get it to stop growing! I don’t like this. It’s too big.” They thought that was the weirdest thing. Doesn’t every business want to be as big as possible? No. Make sure you know what makes you happy, and don’t forget it.

Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller were at a party at a billionaire’s extravagant estate. Kurt said, “Wow! Look at this place! This guy has everything!” Joseph said, “Yes, but I have something he’ll never have… . Enough.”

  • 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.
  • No matter which goal you choose, there will be lots of people telling you you’re wrong.
  • Pay close attention to when you’re being the real you and when you’re trying to impress an invisible jury.