CD Baby Creator and Author DEREK SIVERS

1. In your book Anything You Want, you talk about how people can create their own reality by doing what they love and by sharing what they create. How did you came up with that construct/concept?

Being a professional musician gives you this perspective as the norm. You make music because you want to – because you want to play and experiment with notes, sounds, or words – and then afterwards you see if perhaps you could also make money sharing what you’ve created.

It seems very normal to me. As I got out of my musician world and into the non-musician world, some people found this attitude surprising.

2. In general, how do you come up with ideas for your projects? You created CD Baby, sold that, donated the money to charity and are now creating another business. Where do your ideas come from?

So far, almost everything I’ve done has been by request. My musician friends asked if they could sell their CD through the little website I built to sell my own. People asked if I could host their website, since they didn’t like their web hosting company. Now my upcoming ideas are all coming from things that people are asking me to help them with, or seem very interested in.

3. What advice would you give someone who doesn’t think of him/herself as an entrepreneur or who doesn’t have any confidence in their ideas?

Don’t try to be an entrepreneur! Please see – “First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy.” There are lots of people who are trying to do everything themselves, without any help. You can be a lot more effective by finding a “lone nut” doing something great, and helping them. This has the benefits of being an entrepreneur – such as more hands-on control over your work – but without having to strike out and do everything yourself.

4. What advice would you give people who are financially challenged and who need to make money right now?

First, cut all expenses possible. This is something that musicians learn early. The only way to make a living as a musician is to ditch all the comforts that others consider normal, and live so cheaply that you don’t need to make much money to survive. Question every dollar spent, and cut every expense you can.

Then take any job possible, preferably one that isn’t a typical job at a big company, but perhaps helping a one-person startup get something done. You’ll learn much more this way than being one cog in a big machine.

5. You seem like someone who will always be able to “make it work for you.” What are you looking forward to next?

Learning as much as possible. Living in Asia now, it’s the opposite of a rut. Every week I’m experiencing new things, learning new things, meeting people with very different backgrounds and beliefs than I grew up with. It’s difficult, because it’s outside of my comfort zone, but that’s the whole point.

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