Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers is best known as the founder of CD Baby, which he sold for $22M in 2008, bequeathing the proceeds to a charitable trust for music education. He is also the brilliance behind the How To Start A Movement TED talk. If bottling brains were the done thing, this man’s would be top of our list with his ability to inspire bravery, unblock creativity and define work as play.


What’s happening in the world of Derek Sivers for 2013?

Hopefully nothing. 

We go through different stages in life. Socialite, hermit, scattered, focused, adventurer, homebody. For me, the last five years have been spent very social, scattered, and full of adventure. But the whole time, I felt a little empty because I wasn't getting any real work done. For me, "real work" means making something. I'd be speaking at conferences, visiting dozens of countries, meeting hundreds of impressive people, and all the while, just wanting to be home programming and writing.

So that's why I'm on a long visit to New Zealand. I'm down here, very focused, just programming and writing for 12+ hours a day. Building my next web app ideas. Learning new languages and frameworks.

I'd be happy to just do this for a few years then probably let the pendulum swing back the other direction and go adventuring again.


Describe the most generous person you know and how they influenced you.

Probably Seth Godin. I'm amazed at how his focus is always on giving. He answers hundreds of emails a day because it's giving back to the world. He writes every day because he wants to help people change. His focus is always on what's best for the world; for other people. Less navel-gazing and more "do it because they need you." Incredibly inspiring.

Not only that but he's so encouraging to almost everyone he encounters. I thought he was just encouraging me, personally, but then I've met other people who met with him and they all said that he strongly encouraged them to go do the thing they were considering.

As a friend, I've taken advantage of his generous nature and called on him for advice during some real crucial decision points in my life. His advice was incredibly helpful.


Name an everyday action that makes the world a better place, yet is underrated.

Just manners. Basic consideration. It's the butterfly wings. Answering emails with kind and helpful replies. Taking three minutes to check out a musician's new song they're sending for your feedback. Taking five minutes to give some concrete suggestions. Taking one minute to remember the name of the person at the coffee shop you see every day. 

I really think these little things amplify and spread, and actually change the world. 


Tell us three things that inspire you and why.

No, I can't.  And here's why:

There's only one thing that's actually inspiring and that's your work itself.

You may read an article that gives you a different perspective on how to communicate with people but it's not actually inspiring until you think about how to apply it to your work. Then the thought of your work, seen through this new perspective, is what makes you jump out of your chair and try it out.  But it's your work that's making you jump out of your chair. Not the article.

You may watch a video that teaches you a new technique in music, programming, investing, cycling, or whatever. But that video wasn't inspiring. It was when you thought about how you could apply this to your work. But as soon as you're thinking about this, it's your work itself that's actually inspiring you, now.

So that's why I don't have three inspiring things. Everything is wonderful input, and potentially inspiring. But nothing is inherently inspiring. It's only when you apply it to your work, that your work then inspires you again.

That's why it's crucial to put aside time to reflect on and apply what you learn.

If you want some more Sivers inspiration you can read this wonderful Brain Pickings interview with him hereor you can buy his best-selling book Anything You Want.

Help us create a movement in generosity! Get Involved HERE.