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How to Make it Anything You Want


This list was adapted from an article I wrote on my blog, Shock Notes.

Once, a long time ago, I took MBA classes at a business college. My classmates hated this one professor because he didn’t use the textbook to teach.

He was an old fella, I think 72 years old at the time, and he would just tell stories for the entire hour of each class. His stories weren’t bullshit either. He was the richest man in town and his stories came from personal experience. My classmates hated it, but I loved it. It was my favorite class and I learned more from that professor than any other professor.

Anything You Want, by Derek Sivers is the book form of that old professor. It won’t teach you how to calculate ROI. It won’t explain the difference between an LLC and an S-Corp. It won’t even tell you the proper way to start a business.

But it will tell lots of interesting stories from the battlefield trenches of business. Derek Sivers tells his business stories from the place of someone who has been there, done that, and has discovered the meaning of it all.

Here are my top twelve takeaways from the book:

    1. Help others

    “Don’t pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help.” In other words, businesses exist to help other people, not just yourself.

    2. It's "hell yeah," or "no"

    “When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than ‘Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!’ then say no.”

    3. The advantage of no funding

    “By not having any money to waste, you never waste money.”

    4. Ideas are just a multiplier of execution

    “To me, ideas are worth nothing unless they are executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions. Explanation:


    Awful idea = -1
    Weak idea = 1
    So-so idea = 5
    Good idea = 10
    Great idea = 15
    Brilliant idea = 20


    No execution = $1
    Weak execution = $1,000
    So-so execution = $10,000
    Good execution = $100,000
    Great execution = $1,000,000
    Brilliant execution = $10,000,000″

    5. Proudly exclude people

    “Have the confidence to know that when your target 1 percent hears you excluding the other 99 percent, the people in that 1 percent will come to you because you’ve shown how much you value them.”

    6. Why no advertising?

    “This goes back to the utopian perfect-world ideal of why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place. In a perfect world, would your website be covered with advertising? When you’ve asked your customers what would improve your service, has anyone said, ‘Please fill your website with more advertising’? Nope. So don’t do it.”

    7. Care about your customers more than about yourself

    “That’s the Tao of business: Care about your customers more than about yourself, and you’ll do well.”

    8. Act like you don’t need the money

    “If you set up your business like you don’t need the money, people are happier to pay you. When someone’s doing something for the money, people can sense it, like they sense a desperate lover. It’s a turnoff.”

    9. Little things make all the difference

    “If you find even the smallest way to make people smile, they’ll remember you more for that smile than for all your other fancy business-model stuff.”

    10. Prepare to double

    “But no matter what business you’re in, it’s good to prepare for what would happen if business doubled. Have ten clients now? How would it look if you had twenty at once? Serving eighty customers for lunch each day? What would happen if 160 showed up?” Keep your internal processes prepared to handle a sudden doubling of business

    11. Delegate or die: The self-employment trap

    “To be a true business owner, make it so that you could leave for a year, and when you came back, your business would be doing better than when you left.”

    12. Make it anything you want

    “Never forget that you can make your role anything you want it to be. Anything you hate to do, someone else loves. So find that person and let her do it.”

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