Content Marketing, Social Media Case Studies, Book Reviews, Social Media Book

Perception, Happiness, and Getting Anything You Want

Anything You Want Derek SiversI’ve read a lot of books. But I’ve perhaps never been personally impacted as much as I was reading Derek Sivers‘ new book Anything You Want. Part of Seth Godin’s Domino Project that’s rewiring the publishing industry from the inside-out, Anything You Want is a concise (one hour read) and motivational account of Derek’s experiences founding, growing, and selling, the pioneering indie music e-commerce site.

I like this book so much, I bought some to give away to readers of this post. See below for details.

In the book, the life-long musician talks about:

  • How he accidentally founded the company (he taught himself programming and digital commerce to sell his own CD)
  • Intentionally kept it smaller than it could have been
  • Refused all investor monies
  • Eventually made himself superfluous to day-to-day operations
  • Sold the company when he lost his passion for it

There are lots of books, and speakers, and training classes and such that espouse a philosophy of “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Derek Sivers lives that principle 1000%.

From his new home in Singapore, Derek sat down for a Skype interview about his career, the book, and making decisions through a happiness prism.

I’ve done a lot of interviews (including the ground-breaking Twitter20 series), but this is my favorite one. It’s a little longer, but I sincerely hope you’ll spend the time to watch it.

If you sometimes find yourself wondering “is this it?” watching this interview and reading Anything You Want will hit you like a ton of bricks.

We all have to worry less about what we have and how we’re perceived, and worry more about making our customers – and ourselves – happy. Thanks Derek for the reminder. For less than $10, Anything You Want is the cheapest life coach in history.

Let Me Send You a Free Copy

I believe in this book so much that I bought copies to give away here at Convince & Convert. In the comments (or on the Facebook page), tell me what about your business or company makes you happiest. The answers that are most interesting, creative, and true will win a book.

(links are Amazon affiliate. Domino Project sent me the book for free)

See Candidio for ย Help with Your Video

I’m an ambassador for Candidio. They take your raw Flip video (or similar) and polish it up. I use them for all my videos here at Convince & Convert. They do a great job, are very reasonably priced, and are a joy to work with – no attitude. Tell them I sent you.

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    One piece of my business that makes me happy is when a client says “wow! I had no idea you could do this!” and that’s a response usually given after a client has been with us about 3 months and the reports we provide show improvements above and beyond what we told the client to expect. The happy comes from a great sense of satisfaction for a job well done, as well as pride that we were able to perform beyond the clients’ expectations. Another is when I get hands on with the research and analytics. Information gathering then disseminating it, organizing it, analyzing it and then making recommendations based on it – what a rush. There’s a reason I’m still the business owner, and part of it is that I get to choose the pieces of projects that I want to be directly involved in.

  2. says

    One piece of my business that makes me happy is when a client says “wow! I had no idea you could do this!” and that’s a response that usually given after a client has been with us about 3 months and the reports we provide show improvements above and beyond what we told the client to expect. The happy comes from a great sense of satisfaction of a job well done, as well as pride that we were able to perform beyond the clients’ expectations. Another piece is when I get hands on with the research and analytics. Gathering the information, organizing it, disseminating it, analyzing it and then making recommendations based on the findings – what a rush! There’s a reason I’m still the business owner and it’s because I get to choose the pieces of projects that I want to be directly involved in. Still glad to get to the computer every morning, excited to review the results of efforts being done for my clients (yes, even the ones that fail because that means more analysis!).

  3. says

    What makes me happiest in my business is when together, my clients and I, determine our goals and accomplish them. I love the client’s that are like “partners” in the process and are willing to roll their sleeves up to get the job done. In that light, I learn a lot from them and they learn something new from me. When the light bulbs start going off (for both of us), it’s awesome!

    Love the interview (and the sharing of your side business in college – LOL!) and even if I don’t win a copy of the book will pick up a copy anyway! Need to hear this and read this lesson…thanks so much.

  4. says

    For a couple years, I’ve struggled with the conflict between my desire to be a full-time self-employed professional photographer and my loyalty to the company where I’ve worked for 20 years that pays a good salary, has great benefits, great people, etc. Every day, I go to work, doing something I enjoy, and sacrifice that time that I could be doing something I love.

    • says

      @Collin_K It’s a tough call. I’m an entrepreneur. This is my 5th company. So for me, I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I really believe that if you do what you love, money will inevitably follow. That’s the premise of garyvee book Crush It! too. But, you can’t be careless about it, either. It’s say try to ease into it and then do what you love.

  5. nrobins1 says

    Unbelievable interview! It truly shot a fire up my behind. One of the most interesting things you guys spoke about is self belief. Could I really build and run a company? Anyone can if they have the passion and desire to hold their destiny. Hell yea!

    • says

      @nrobins1 Trust me. I’ve worked for more than 700 companies in the last 15 years, and there are TONS of people running companies that have no business doing so. You can DEFINITELY do it!

  6. susangiurleo says

    What makes me happiest in my business is being able to do meaningful work, make a good living and have tons of time to be home with my young son. When he was born 7 years ago, I vowed to build a business so I could do work I love and be a mom who’s present at home. I’m happiest when I do a few hours of work in the morning and head to the beach in the afternoon with my family : ).

  7. says

    Wow! Got my message for the day! Had to wait for the end, but it was worth it. “Give yourself 15 mins. a day for social media. And then turn off your computer (and go to work)”

  8. RussThornton says

    Thanks for sharing this, Jay.

    I’ve followed Derek’s writing for a while now and am always inspired by his unique and fresh perspective on things, many of which I take for granted in my life and work.

    I’m a financial planner in Atlanta, GA, with a small group of families in my care, and if I were independently wealthy (not quite there, yet), I would do my work for free. I’m in a unique position to help people define and quantify their unique and personal definition of success for themselves and their families, and then I get to help them achieve it. And while investing is a part of what I do, it’s the least interesting part. I get to explore peoples’ values, goals, priorities and other issues they often haven’t discussed with their spouse. It’s challenging and inspiring work, but it also involves a lot of responsibility, clear communication and relentless focus on doing what’s best for the client.

    I love what I do, and I hope to do it for as long as I’m mentally and physically able.

  9. GJAdoorman says

    Great interview Derek! You’re story is very inspiring and your humility is a great lesson. Jay’s my favourite socialite :) Great work and interview again Jay, thanks for sharing.

  10. JillRoth says

    It has been one month since I decided to put my financial life on the line to pursue my writing dream. I made the leap from employed to self-employed by realizing that I am not getting anywhere by chasing money. Becoming a self-employed writer is more than mining for copywriting projects and creating article queries; it requires a transformation in how I think about myself, my skills and my passion. It is true that working for yourself can provide more time with family and that, for me, is a given in the happiness department. What causes the most surprising happiness is learning how to overcome fear by keeping focused on what I want, dispelling doubts one at a time and taking action towards my goals. Self-awareness, empowerment and authenticity can be life-changing gifts from following your dreams. Now, if I can get all of that to pay the mortgage and grocery bill I will be on fire.

  11. Verilliance says

    I’m going to be radically honest here (this will be long). I went to bed last night and woke up this morning with all-consuming thoughts that something needs to change in my work. True story. I was up until 3:00 a.m. sketching mind-maps in a notebook, making lists – looking to locate what needs to change and why.

    (For those who don’t know, I’m a marketing consultant specializing in understanding the behavior science behind marketing.)

    Ever since I can remember I’ve been interested in human behavior – it’s the key to everything after all. We continually make the mistake of operating from how we think people SHOULD behave instead of trying to understand how they ACTUALLY behave. This is true for politics, relationships, marketing, teaching, negotiating, work relations, and so on. So it was natural I would study cognitive psychology and neuroscience in college, but when life circumstances prompted me to delay grad school I fell into a job in web marketing. From there it was a natural progression to research the fields fo behavioral economics, decision science, and neuromarketing.

    Additionally, I have strong views about our culture’s relationship to money and consumerism and how these tie into so many of the things that lead to various neuroses. But money is necessary and the closest business model we have to a healthy relationship between generating income and maintaining social awareness is Social Entrepreneurship or Triple Bottom Line business.

    So I’m finding that I don’t want to help just anybody sell widgets to as many people as possible. I just can’t feel comfortable in my own skin doing that. I know that I want to use my keen insight to help people balance business and social responsibility, but I’m still figuring out what MY model will look like.

    I want to love my work. I want to wake up in the morning and be jazzed about what I do. I want to make enough to be comfortable and without worry when there’s a financial emergency. I want to have plenty of free time within my work and outside of work to stay creative and energized and to spend meaningful time with people I love. And I really, most of all, want to leave my world a better place than I found it EVERY DAY.

  12. JosephManna says

    The great Kathy Sacks recommended I read the book a few weeks ago. Excellent stuff. Love how Silvers shares how he kept to his core values — even if it meant forming enemies — and ultimately creating a successful business from it. His passion was NOT about making money, or getting acquired or whatever. It was to help indie-artists sell music.

    Great read, even if people don’t win it. It’s worth it 10x over.

  13. YukariP says

    Great interview, and yes I did watch the whole thing, which doesn’t happen so often in this busy world. And I throughly enjoyed it. Thank you. A friend mentioned Derek’s book but I don’t know much about him and haven’t picked it up yet – would LOVE to get a copy! My regular “day job” business is helping international students, and while it gives me great pleasure helping them, I get great satisfaction from meeting all the cool people on Social Media. Many people think I make a lot of money on social media but – no. I’m on all the social media platforms because I love interacting with all the people online. It would be great if I can make a lot of money socializing online, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet ๐Ÿ˜‰ Although I haven’t read Derek’s book yet I love his philosophy of Hell Yeah test and doing what you really love. That’s what I’m doing right now – loving social media and enjoying it.

  14. griffinthomson says

    The part of my business that makes me happiest is getting to meet other small business owners and professionals everyday. The learning and inspiration from these encounters is invaluable to us here at MobileVantage (, and really keeps me going and motivated.

  15. rpbelczak says

    “Be George Costanza!” I loved the interview and LOVED the Opposite George reference. I coined and embraced this mantra years ago when I realized that I was continually making choices that underminded and/or wreaked havoc on my life (personal and professional). I say it to myself at those times when every fiber of my being is telling me to do something (emotions) but I know from past history it is not the best choice (brain). I become Opposite George and, (TADA!), my life is happier, less stressful, less full of self-imposed drama. I end my communication workshops (doing them to network, find a new job, set my trajectory to be a public speaker) with the mantra and a clip from Seinfeld where George first tests out his new theory in the coffee shop. Take a peek. It’s hilarious. What I love most about my current work (which is searching for a new job) is teaching and sharing information, then seeing the AHA moment in an attendees eyes. I love when someone tells me I’ve shared information that will make their job easier, more fulfilling, and help them be more successful. I would appreciate a copy of the book. Thanks!

  16. says

    Disclaimer: I am not working right now for any company but that was not my choice so I’ll share what I loved about my recent company.

    I drove about 24 miles to and from work everyday and it took me about 1 hour to 2 hours to do so. Why? Because I never felt like I was driving to work. I loved what I was doing at the company. I loved that my sales team was drowning in leads because of me. I loved the connections I made every single day and I loved being challenged further every time I raised the bar a little higher. In fact, I have always told myself the second I dread the drive or have to drag myself out of bed to go to work, I will start looking for something else. One thing I particularly loved about my most recent role was that I was not micro-managed (at least in the beginning under the original leadership) and I was held accountable for my actions. So I was able to fail and succeed on my own accord because I wanted to try something and see if it worked (why I *heart* marketing) and if it failed, I was accountable for that and if it succeeded, I was accountable for that too.

    You dont need to give me a copy of the book, I am going to B&N tonight to purchase it. Thanks for the referral!

    • says

      @C_Pappas Wow. Driving that long and doing so gladly is a major thing. It’s funny that you LIKED being micro-managed. That’s pretty rare these days. Let me know how you liked the book!

      • says

        @JayBaer no I didn’t like it and I wasn’t micro-managed which made it so much better! I always believed there should be some level of trust when you hire people. Micro-managing destroys that

  17. pjcich says

    Thanks for the Candidio tip! Excellent resource for any biz to take advantage of using video to tell their stories and encourage them to do it on a monthly basis. Video production is a scary/expensive thing that usually ends up with a forced promo with an ugly backdrop and bad makeup melting under hot lights. The attitude of the Candidio team to make your videos genuine & casual interviews spiced up with some environmental footage and then they’ll take care of the rest is exactly what I’ve been looking for to encourage my clients to take leap into adding video to their sites.

  18. allisondeford says

    Jay, thank you for sharing! My coach @pelegtop gave me a copy of this book and it moved me in the same way it did you. Derek encourages people to live their dream. Think way outside the box. Keep it simple. Don’t be afraid to fail. My failures allow me to help make the road a little easier for up and coming designers or business owners.

    ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES is what makes me happiest about my business. It’s truly not a job, it’s an opportunity. To connect with amazing people, to share knowledge and creativity, to have a positive impact on the world. I started my design firm 17 years ago from my bedroom. I was a girl, a Mac and a dream. Today, I have a cool space, work with uniquely gifted creatives that I call friends and have opportunities to share that go far beyond creative solutions for businesses. There is no ceiling. My motto has always been the same as Dereks….”How hard can it be?!”

  19. claudeoggier says

    Thanks for sharing this great video Jay. Derek’s book “Anything You Want” has been very enjoyable to read. A book that makes you hungry to initiate and to say Hell Yeah or simply no.

    Thanks again,


  20. uShipCollin says

    What do I love most about working at uship ?

    Two things.

    1. I get to come with my friends, who happen to be incredibly smart and dedicated. We solve problems together. We are a professional family, and the product is our baby.

    2. Lunch is SACRED! and provided by the company.

  21. uShipCollin says

    What do I love most about working at uship ?

    Two things.

    1. I get to come to work with my friends, who happen to be incredibly smart and dedicated. We solve problems together, regardless of title. We are a professional family, and the product is our baby.

    2. Lunch is SACRED! and always provided by the company.

  22. dblacombe says

    @Mingooo I know eh? Accidentally starting that business was a pretty cool trick, especially in 97!

  23. madison.bushell says

    Thanks for the great read and interview! Loved the various lessons, but most specifically “don’t be afraid to fail.” I’m a young professional, and I’m constantly reminded by my family and friends that I won’t be in the job I’m in now forever. Though I love it, I want to take many risks, try new things, and both succeed and fail (in order to grow and learn) in my life! Thanks, Jay!

  24. says

    I honestly never really put much stock on “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”. Perhaps, it’s the cynic in me, but I always thought that there are cross roads in life that may hinder you to do just that, and sometimes you have to choose between surviving (at least for that time being) and the alternative. But still, quite fortunate of him to have experienced that in all its glory, I envy him so much.

  25. says

    Jay, it’s taken a while to find time to listen to this interview but I can see why it’s your favorite. Great content and just fun to listen to. Thanks to you and Derek for finding time in YOUR schedules to create it. LOVE the “say no enough to create more freedom in your life” – “go to the fear in your life” and “if you don’t learn how to focus you’ll never be good at anything.” Wow.

    Appreciate your interviewing skill.

  26. DrewGneiser says

    Hey Jay – Really enjoyed the interview – Derek is always fun to listen to. I’m a huge believer in loving what you do and going after it. A few years ago, I quit my nice paying job to pursue different areas of marketing and business that I could wake up everyday and love. My current job (which I can’t believe I get to do) is running all the social media for a non-profit that sends nutritional meals to schools, orphanages, and the poor all around the world. There are too many parts that make me happy to just pick one, but I love hearing stories from the partners we send meals to about how the food helps them get important, long-term work done with children in communities like Haiti, Philippines, and Kenya.

  27. says

    Holy cats. LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. Just polished it off on my flight to Chicago Monday. In the process of buying it for many other people now (using the affiliate link, of course).

    Amazing story and REAL lessons/recommendations. Thanks so much, Derek aka sivers

  28. says

    And by the way, I can’t recall the last time I’ve sat (relatively) still … and focused for 34 minutes.

    Great questions. Great answer. Great banter. Great rapport.

  29. highballsport says

    Great entrepreneur and great life philosophy!

    “Good enough” is definitively better than perfect! Thanks for a valuable interview!

  30. letstalkandchat says

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  31. GeriRosmanPR says

    Thanks Jay for this terrific interview. There are two things I like about having my own business: I sink or swim by my own efforts, and the autonomy to say no (to clients, prospects, opportunities). I believe in my heart that I will be “successful” because I’m dedicated, persistent and good at what I do. It may take a while to achieve that success, I may redefine that success but ultimately, I know I will achieve because of my own efforts.

    It’s also “good to be the king.” (Hat tip to Mel Brooks!) Having the autonomy to say “no” is a powerful thing.

    Thanks again for sharing this great conversation. Looking forward to all that you’ll be working on this year. Best/Geri Rosman

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