Innovation Versus Imitation | Derek Sivers on The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish

Check out The Knowledge Project Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  •  People like to stay busy so they often say ‘yes’ to everything
    • Instead, say no to almost anything. Use the Hell Yeah rule: If an activity doesn’t feel like a hell yeah for you, then don’t take it.
      • “Strategically, it’s better to do 5 bigs things with your life instead of 500 half-assed things” – Derek Sivers
  • However, don’t use the Hell Yes rule when you’re just starting out in your career. In the beginning, try to say yes to every opportunity.
    • “I don’t think that Hell Yeah or No is something that should be applied to everything in life. You have to know when you’re drowning in opportunity or starving for opportunity.” – Derek Sivers
  • Although training someone to help you out with work may take a lot of time and energy, if you try to do everything yourself you’ll become overwhelmed and eventually burn out.
    • When Derek was running CD Baby, he was working from 7AM to midnight because he was so involved in the business and not delegating work
  • “You know you’re a true business owner when you could leave your business for a year and come back a year later and find that it’s doing better than when you left. That’s when you’re no longer self-employed, you’re a business owner.”Derek Siver
  • Ideas multiplied by execution will tell you how much a company is worth. Imagine two columns (one of ideas and one for execution):
    • Awful idea: -1
    • Weak idea: 1
    • Okay idea: 10
    • Great idea: 20
      • No execution: $1
      • Weak execution: $1,000
      • Okay execution: $100,000
      • Great execution: $1,000,000
  • To make a business, you need to multiple those two columns:
    • Great idea X No execution = $20
    • Okay idea X Okay execution = $1,000,000
    • Great idea X Great execution = $20,000,000
  • “I’m not really interested in hearing people’s ideas, it’s just not interesting without the execution.”Derek Sivers
  • “I feel like the reflection time is when you really learn. The moment when you read somebody else’s idea, that’s a wow moment, but you don’t really learn it until you’ve put aside the time to reflect on it.”Derek Siver

Intro

Books Mentioned

  • Shane’s new book is called The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts  
  • Derek realized he wanted to be a business owner instead of being self-employed. A business owner can make a business run without them. He learned this lesson from Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
  • Derek calls The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, one of the best business books he’s ever read
  • Derek and Shane both enjoyed reading What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
    • In it, the author advises readers to let employees own their ideas and projects because they’ll feel more motivated to work on it
      • “People worked harder, they were more motivated, they owned things…everything was so much better” – Shane Parrish
  • Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins completed changed Derek’s life
    • “The stuff that Tony Robbins preached in that book is like so deeply ingrained in me” – Derek Sivers
  • Derek calls James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, a masterpiece

About Derek Sivers

  • There are only 3 podcasts Derek subscribes to:
  • Derek’s first job was working at Warner Bros. in their music publishing division
    • After 2 years, he was ready to quit to pursue being a musician full-time
      • How did Derek quit? He found a friend that wanted his job, he trained her and then told his boss he was quitting and introduced his boss to his friend.

The “Hell Yes” Rule 

  • People like to stay busy so they often say yes to everything
    • FOMO, optimism, and the belief that we’ll have more free time in the future all play a role in saying yes to more things than we can handle
      • Instead, say no to almost anything. Use the Hell Yeah rule: If an activity doesn’t feel like a hell yes for you, then don’t take it.
        • “Strategically, it’s better to do 5 bigs things with your life instead of 500 half-assed things” – Derek Sivers
  • “I think it’s a tool to use when you’re overwhelmed and almost drowning in opportunities and therefore don’t have the time to give your full attention to anything” – Derek Sivers
  • However, don’t use the Hell Yes rule when you’re just starting out in your career. In the beginning, try to say yes to every opportunity.

The Importance of Delegation

  • Although training someone to help you out with work may take a lot of time and energy, if you try to do everything yourself you’ll become overwhelmed and eventually reach a breaking point
    • “You have to have long term perspective”  – Derek Sivers
      • When Derek was running CD Baby, he was working from 7 AM to midnight because he was so involved in the business and not delegating work
        • “I hated it. I hit my breaking point”
      • So what did Derek do? He created a company manual where every question people had was recorded and an answer was provided.
    • After that, he started working from home and his employees could operate the business without constantly asking him questions
      • Derek was still working 12 hour days because he enjoyed the work he was doing, but instead of spending all day answering questions and emails, he spent it focused on innovating and improving the business.
        • “This wasn’t work, this was fun” – Derek Siver
  • The company grew from $1 million to $20 million in 4 years while Derek was away
    • This is when Derek realized he wanted to be a business owner instead of being self-employed. A business owner can make a business run without them. He learned this lesson from Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
      • “You know you’re a true business owner when you could leave your business for a year and come back a year later and find that it’s doing better than when you left. That’s when you’re no longer self-employed, you’re a business owner.”Derek Siver

Idea X Execution = Business Valuation

  • Ideas multiplied by execution will tell you how much a company is worth. Imagine two columns (one for ideas and another for execution):
    • Awful idea: -1
    • Weak idea: 1
    • Okay idea: 10
    • Great idea: 20
      • No execution: $1
      • Weak execution: $1,000
      • Okay execution: $100,000
      • Great execution: $1,000,000
  • To evaluate a business, you need to multiply those two columns:
    • Great idea X No execution = $20
    • Okay idea X Okay execution = $1,000,000
    • Great idea X Great execution = $20,000,000
  • “I’m not really interested in hearing people’s ideas, it’s just not interesting without the execution.”Derek Sivers

Let’s Talk Books

  • Derek and Shane both enjoyed reading What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
    • In it, the author advises readers to let employees own their ideas and projects because they’ll feel more motivated to work on it
      • “People worked harder, they were more motivated, they owned things…everything was so much better” – Shane Parrish
  • Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins completed changed Derek’s life
    • “The stuff that Tony Robbins preached in that book is like so deeply ingrained in me” – Derek Sivers
      • Lessons from the book:
        • You can change the way you feel about anything in an instant
        • Events are neutral, you can interpret events as good or bad
        • There’s no such thing as a failure until you give up
  • For a book to be life-changing, you have to read the right book at the right time
    • Derek Sivers and Tim Ferriss both read each other’s favorite book but neither one considered the other’s recommendation to be that great
  • How does Derek filter what to read now?
    • He looks for books that solve a current problem or something he’s curious about
      • He also looks for book recommendations from people he admires
  • While reading Derek underlines every interesting idea he wants to think about and puts them on his website
    • He doesn’t care about a summary, he just wants the interesting ideas so he can reflect on them later
      • “I feel like the reflection time is when you really learn. The moment when you read somebody else’s idea, that’s a wow moment, but you don’t really learn it until you’ve put aside the time to reflect on it.”Derek Siver
        • Derek is working on tagging all of his book notes so he can quickly search for advice whenever he needs something
  • Derek is currently writing 3 books:
  • A lot of books are much longer than they need to be
    • Derek doesn’t want to read a 400-page book about diet, he wants to read one page on what to eat and what to avoid
      • “If you trust the source, you don’t need all of the supporting evidence” – Derek Sivers

6 Directives For A Better Life

  • 1) Prepare for the worst
    • “Since you have no idea what the future may bring, be open to the best and the worst” – Derek Sivers
      • Like insurance, don’t obsess over the worst case, just prepare and care on
  • 2) Expect disaster
    • “Fully expect that disaster to come to you at any time. Completely assume it’s going to happen.”
      • Not just money, but health, family, and freedom
  • 3) Own as little as possible and depend on even less
    • “The less you own, the less you’re affected by disaster”
  • 4) Choose opportunity, not loyalty
    • “Have no loyalty to location, corporation, or your past public statements. Be an absolute opportunist.” 
      • Have loyalty to only your most important human relationships
  • 5) Choose the plan with the most options
    • “The best plan is the one that lets you change your plans”
      • Renting a house lets you change your mind and move at anytime
  • 6) Avoid planning
    • “For maximum options, don’t plan at all. Since you have no idea how the situation or your mood may change in the future, wait until the last possible moment to make each decision”

How To Stop Being Rich & Happy

  • 1) Prioritize lifestyle design
    • Make all your dreams come true and follow your immediate gratification
  • 2) Chase that comparison moment
    • Always buy that the new thing
  • 3) Buy, not rent
    • Buy the house, boat, etc.
  • 4) Internalize your new status
    • Celebrate your new status and relax 
  • 5) Be a connoisseur
    • Insist on only having the finest foods, drinks, etc.
  • 6) Get to know your possessions
    • Spend more time learning about more possessions and getting them just right
  • 7) Acclimatize to comfort
    • Eliminate all discomfort and blame others when life seems hard

Additional Notes

  • Follow first-principle thinking:
    • “To me, the world feels unnecessarily ceremonial, like people imitate others without questioning it enough, but I don’t want to learn their ways. I don’t want to be like them. Instead, I just ignore it all and ask myself, what’s the real point? Meaning like, what am I really trying to do here?” – Derek Sivers
  • Simple is not always easy
  • A lot of the files and code on a website aren’t truly necessary
    • “The average user is going to download like 98 files just to read your 4 paragraphs of text, it’s so unnecessary” – Derek Sivers
  • Derek finds innovation more fun even if it takes him much longer to get something done
    • E.g: Making your own table is a lot more fun than buying one from IKEA
  • “Whatever makes you take the necessary actions is the perspective that helps you. I’m never aiming for reality. I’m trying to make decisions usually based on finding the perspective that helps me take actions.” – Derek Sivers
  • “I often focus on an aspect of my life that’s lacking, and then I’ll enhance it until maybe it’s almost overflowing. Then I turn my attention to whatever aspect is now lacking after that. I think it’s really interesting that we all have conflicting needs simultaneously. At the same time, we have a need for stability and a need for adventure.” – Derek Sivers
  • “I don’t think life has meaning. I don’t think anything has inherent meaning. I think it’s all just a blank slate that we can project whatever meaning we want onto.” – Derek Sivers
  • Derek runs the website Musicthoughts.com
    • It’s meant to inspire musicians to create music
  • Derek’s biggest mistake was ending a relationship after listening to a friend’s advice
    • “I destroyed a great relationship” – Derek Sivers
  • Derek calls James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, a masterpiece
  • Derek loves changing his mind, understanding different points of view, and creating useful things
Knowledge Project : , , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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