Derek Sivers – Anything You Want – Summary – Part 3 [Starting a Business]

Continuing on our journey into Derek Sivers’ phenomenal book Anything You Want, here’s the premise for each of the chapter’s 21 to 30:

21. Care about your customers more than about yourself: Every business is created to solve a problem, care for your customers until their problem is solved (that’s the mission – it’s not about making all the money in the world – unless of course that is your mission – Ed).

22. Like you don’t need the money: Run your business like you don’t need the money. Or to put it another way, never show desperation.

23. Don’t punish everyone for one person’s mistake: I love this one. Just because one customer is a pain in the ass, don’t treat everyone like you would them. As my mum used to say “allow people their power”. Derek’s big beef is the amount of signage we see everywhere: “Don’t do this.”; “Don’t do that.”; “Don’t do anything.”.

24. A real person, a lot like you: Social media has normalised bad behaviour. We’ve stopped thinking about people as being real. In short, be nice to people and make the world care again. 

25. You should feel pain when unclear: When you email a confusing message to 2 million customers, you get back a world of pain in replies. When we publish a confusing blog post we hear crickets in response. This is exactly what we deserve. Take care of your words and message.

26. The most successful email I ever wrote: Derek’s most successful email was not a sales promotion, it was his “Thank you for ordering from CD Baby” automated reply. Instead of the usual boring message, he added humour. As a result it went viral (Apple also take great care with their unboxing messages, as do some of the Virgin group of companies, and many others since). It’s the little things that count.

27. Little things make all the difference: Derek went further with identifying every little detail of the way his business reacted to customer service and did everything he could think of to improve it. Attention to detail pays dividends if it’s customer focused.

28. It’s OK to be casual: This one is also dear to my heart. Instead of running expensive staff recruitment campaigns using big data to identify the right people, just ask your existing employees if they know anyone who might be suitable. Derek employed a whole bunch of good people this way. I guess you could say our reputations depend on it if we have a job and we recommend a friend to join.

29. Naïve Quitting: Part of my mentoring business was helping small businesses find good employees. I’d always recommend Seth Godin’s book Linchpin to each newly hired employee. The message was “give them this book, and they will become your best employee”. Derek’s take on this is do what YOU think is the right thing to do, NOT what has been normalised. When Derek quit his first job, he picked and trained a replacement without telling a sole. As a result, when he handed in his notice, his employer just accepted it. Few people would even think of doing that. Go the extra mile.

30. Prepare to double: you’re either expanding or shrinking, when expanding, always make sure you have ample room to do so, that way you’re never sending out the wrong message (e.g. “help, we can’t handle this anymore”).

Read part 4 here.


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