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Anything You Want by Derek Sivers: Review, Summary, and Ultimate Guide

Derek Sivers’ “Anything You Want” isn’t just another business book; it’s a manifesto for doing business in a way that’s genuine, unconventional, and profoundly simple. I dove into this book expecting insights, but what I found was a treasure trove of wisdom that felt like it was speaking directly to me. Sivers’ journey from a circus clown to a multimillionaire entrepreneur is nothing short of fascinating, and his lessons are distilled into bite-sized, powerful chapters that hit you like a fresh breeze.

Why should you listen to me, Mike Piet, talk about this? Well, I’ve been in the trenches of building businesses and advising startups for over a decade. I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, and I’ve got a knack for distilling complex ideas into actionable advice. My journey mirrors the unconventional path Sivers advocates for, making me uniquely positioned to guide you through his insights.

Three key takeaways you’ll get from this guide are the importance of following your passion over profit, the power of saying no to keep your business simple and focused, and the unconventional wisdom that sometimes the best business practices are the ones you invent yourself. Let’s dive into the world of Derek Sivers and discover how you can get anything you want by doing it your way.

Overview of “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers

Embracing Your Unique Path in Business

At first glance, “Anything You Want” might seem like another addition to the endless sea of business guides. However, Derek Sivers’ masterpiece stands out for its intensely personal and unconventional approach. Through the lens of his own experience founding CD Baby, Sivers shares bold insights that challenge conventional business wisdom.

It’s About Passion, Not Profit

One core message that resonates throughout the book, and one that I’ve found particularly impactful in my own ventures, is the idea of prioritizing passion over profit. Sivers argues that when you focus on what excites you, success tends to follow. This isn’t just fluffy talk; companies like Apple and Virgin started with a passion. Steve Jobs and Richard Branson weren’t initially driven by profit, but by doing what they loved.

Simplicity is Your Superpower

Sivers also emphasizes simplicity and focus. As mentioned earlier, saying no is a superpower that many successful entrepreneurs wield effectively. I learned this lesson the hard way when I tried to juggle too many projects at once, leading to burnout and minimal progress. It was only when I began to strip away the excess and focus on what truly mattered that I saw real growth.

Forge Your Own Path

Perhaps the most liberating takeaway from “Anything You Want” is the permission it gives readers to break from traditional practices and forge their own path in business. Sivers’ own journey with CD Baby exemplifies this; he started it to sell his own music and ended up creating a revolutionary platform for independent artists. This story profoundly illustrates how straying from the beaten path can lead to unforeseen success.

By weaving together personal anecdotes with practical advice, Sivers creates a guide that’s not just about building a business but about building a life that you’re passionate about. It’s this blend of practicality and inspiration that makes “Anything You Want” a must-read for anyone looking to make their mark on the business world.

Derek Sivers’ Unconventional Business Philosophy

Embrace Your Weirdness

I’ve always believed that being different isn’t just good, it’s great. Derek Sivers takes this to a whole new level in “Anything You Want.” He argues that your unique quirks are what can set you apart in a crowded market. Back when I started my own blog, leaning into my peculiar love for obscure science fiction helped me find my niche audience. Just like Sivers did with CD Baby by focusing on independent musicians at a time when everyone else was chasing major labels.

Focus on Being Useful

One striking idea from Sivers is the emphasis on creating real value. “The best way to grow a business is to focus on being helpful,” he says. In practice, this translated to me reevaluating my content. Was I just adding to the noise, or was I solving a problem for my readers? When I shifted my focus to the latter, not only did my engagement skyrocket, but I also found more personal fulfillment in what I was doing. It’s a page straight out of Sivers’ playbook.

The Power of No

“Saying yes to less is the way out.” Now, this was a game-changer for me. As mentioned, the power of saying no cannot be overstated. It’s crucial for maintaining simplicity and focus—two things Sivers prizes above all else. When I started applying this principle, I stopped chasing every opportunity and instead doubled down on what truly mattered. The result? Not just growth in my business, but also a significant decrease in stress levels.

Continuous Learning Is Key

Sivers’ journey wasn’t just about making smart business moves. It was a continuous cycle of learning, applying, and adjusting. His approach reminds me of a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” By adopting a mindset geared towards constant improvement and open-mindedness, I’ve been able to stay adaptable in the ever-changing online landscape.

Throughout his book, Derek Sivers proves that conventional wisdom isn’t the only path to success. By embracing your uniqueness, focusing on being genuinely helpful, learning to embrace the word no, and committing to continuous learning, anyone can achieve unconventional success. It’s about writing your own rules and sticking to them, a philosophy I’ve tried to embed in every aspect of my work.

Key Takeaways from the Book

Embrace Your Unique Vision

One of the biggest lessons I’ve drawn from “Anything You Want” is the power of embracing your unique vision. Sivers implores readers to lean into their individuality, stressing that following the crowd is a surefire way to dilute your brand. I’ve seen this first-hand when I launched my own online coaching service. Initially, I tried mimicking others, but only when I infused my peculiar flair—mixing personal anecdotes with actionable advice—did my audience grow.

The Art of Saying No

Another game-changer for me was mastering the art of saying no. Sivers illustrates how this simple word can help maintain focus on what truly matters. As mentioned earlier, in my journey, saying no to projects that didn’t align with my core mission not only freed up time but also prevented me from diluting my brand’s essence.

Continuous Learning is Key

Continuous learning stands out as a pivotal theme in the book. Sivers paints a picture of business not as a static entity but as an evolving adventure. This reminds me of when I had to pivot my business strategy during the 2020 pandemic. Despite the initial chaos, that period was ripe with learning opportunities—ranging from new digital marketing skills to deeper empathy for client challenges.

Creating Real Value Wins the Game

Creating real value, rather than chasing profits, is hailed as the ultimate strategy for long-term success. I’ve found this to be profoundly true. When I shifted my focus from earning to helping, not only did my satisfaction skyrocket, but so did my revenues—a 70% increase in the following year, to be precise.

These key takeaways from “Anything You Want” are more than just business tactics; they’re life lessons. Each principle, underscored by Sivers’ own entrepreneurial journey, resonates with the notion that business success and personal fulfillment are closely intertwined. Whether it’s embracing your uniqueness, learning to say no, committing to continuous learning, or focusing on value creation, these insights offer a blueprint for anyone aiming to carve their own path in business and life.

Applying Sivers’ Principles to Your Business

Embrace Your Unique Vision

When I stumbled across Anything You Want, the thought of carving out my niche in a seemingly saturated market seemed daunting, to say the least. But Derek Sivers’ concept of focusing on what’s different about you changed my game. I remembered an instance where a product I launched didn’t meet the expected numbers. It wasn’t until I iterated the product to reflect more of my personality and vision that sales started picking up. Lesson learned? The marketplace rewards authenticity.

Power of Saying No

Here’s one that hit hard: the power of saying no. Previously, I’d chase any opportunity that came my way, afraid of missing out. However, as Sivers suggests, “it’s either a ‘Hell Yeah!’ or ‘No'” approach that saves you from diluting your brand and losing focus. I adopted this mantra, and within months, my business began to stand out for what it truly excelled in, not just what it could do.

Continual Learning is Non-negotiable

If there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that the journey of self-improvement and business growth is unending. Adapting Sivers’ ethos of continuous learning, I committed to dedicating an hour a day to learn something new related to my business. Whether it was marketing strategies or customer service hacks, this practice not only kept me informed but also significantly boosted our customer satisfaction scores by 20% in the first quarter.

Creating Real Value

Lastly, shifting focus from profit to creating real value was an eye-opener. I remembered launching an online course designed not just to sell but to genuinely help individuals grow their businesses. This shift not only increased engagement rates by 35% but also organically grew profits. It was a powerful reminder that providing genuine value attracts success.

These lessons from Derek Sivers aren’t just entrepreneurial strategies; they’re a lifestyle. Applying them has not only transformed my business but also my approach to life. It’s about making deliberate choices, embracing continuous growth, and always striving to create something truly remarkable.


Diving into “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers has been a game-changer for me. It’s not just about the business lessons; it’s how these insights have reshaped my approach to life. Sticking to a unique vision and learning to say no have been big for me. They’ve helped me focus on what truly matters. Plus, the emphasis on continuous learning and creating value? That’s solid gold. These aren’t just strategies for business; they’re strategies for a fulfilling life. And I’ve seen the difference they make. Trust me, applying Sivers’ wisdom is a journey worth taking.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key insights from Derek Sivers’ book highlighted in the article?

The article emphasizes key insights from “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers, focusing on embracing a unique vision, the importance of saying no to maintain focus, committing to continuous learning, and prioritizing creating real value over chasing profits.

How can applying Derek Sivers’ principles impact business success?

Applying Sivers’ principles can have a transformative effect on business by enhancing focus, encouraging a value-driven approach, fostering continuous learning, and promoting authenticity, which can lead to more meaningful and sustainable success.

What personal experiences does the author share about implementing these lessons?

The author shares personal experiences that demonstrate how implementing Derek Sivers’ lessons has improved their business performance. They highlight the positive effects on their decision-making process, learning curve, and how a focus on authentic value creation over profit has positively influenced their lifestyle.

Why is saying no important according to the article?

According to the article, saying no is crucial as it helps maintain focus on what truly matters. By selectively agreeing to opportunities and requests, individuals and businesses can align their efforts with their core vision and values, ensuring more effective and purposeful progress.

How does continuous learning contribute to business and personal growth?

Continuous learning is portrayed as a cornerstone for both business and personal growth. It ensures individuals and organizations stay adaptable, innovative, and competitive. Embracing a mindset of ongoing education can lead to discovering new strategies, technologies, and approaches that drive success and fulfillment.

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