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Derek Sivers

  sivers.org
derek@sivers.org
    @sivers
BACKGROUND:
Professional musician
Website to sell my CD
CD Baby (1997)
CD Baby (2007)
200,000 musicians
2 million customers
85 employees
CD Baby (2008)

sold for $22 million cash
CD Baby (2008)

sold for $22 million cash
… and gave it all away
Moved to Singapore
Why are you listening?
Why are you listening?
Dumb luck…
… but learned some things
WHY ARE YOU DOING?
Most people don’t know
They imitate others.
Go with the flow.
Pursuing someone else’s idea
Won’t make them happy
(or even rich)
Deathbed regret:

Pursued something that
someone convinced you
you should want, instead of
what works for you.
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Money?
Prestige?
Fame?
Leave a legacy?
Freedom?
Know. Focus. Don’t diffuse.
Money?
(Refuse fame.
Others in spotlight.
Just watch numbers.)
Legacy?
(Like Trump:
Put your name on everything.
More money if others get to name it.)
Freedom?
(Refuse responsibility.
Delegate everything.
DIY = Decide It Yourself, but not Do.)
Your compass. Optimize.
Side-effects
(money, fame, freedom)
But know your goal.
NOBODY KNOWS
THE FUTURE
Q: “What’s the future
   of new media?”
Q: “What’s the future
   of new media?”

A: “Nobody knows.”
Your business plan is moot.
No plan survives first
contact with the customer.
CD Baby:
CD Baby:
Payment processor 
CD Baby:
Payment processor 
Store 
CD Baby:
Payment processor 
Store 
Distributor
Admit: “Nobody knows.”
Admit: “Nobody knows.”

Ask instead of answer.
Learn instead of preach.
REVOLUTION?
Warren Buffett:
“We don’t swing unless it’s
a clear home run.”
Keep it simple. One thing.
CD Baby business model:

ask the local record store
CD Baby business model:
$35 to add
$4 per sale
5 years later: “Revolution!”
Love ≠ Romeo & Juliet
Revolution ≠ War & blood
Revolution =
simply serving people better
Revolution =
uncommon sense
IF NOT A HIT, SWITCH
12 years trying everything
CD Baby = hit song
Felt the difference. Advice?
If people aren’t LOVING
what you’re doing, STOP!

Don’t persist. Don’t push it.
When you’ve got something
great, you’ll know.

They’ll be freaking out.
Anything less than “OMFG!
Yes! I want to pay!”

STOP. Write a new song.
Success comes from
persistently
improving and inventing
NOT
persistently
pushing what’s not working
VERSION 0.1
Music recommendations?
First CD Baby:
- showed CDs
- add to cart
- emailed me the info
First CD Baby:
- showed CDs
- add to cart
- emailed me the info
Profitable in 2nd month
If you’re not
launching too soon,
you’re launching too late.
IDEAS vs EXECUTION
“I’ve got this killer idea!”
“I’ve got this killer idea!”

(sign NDA to hear it)
“Online dating with music!”
“Online dating with music!”

(That’s it! You make it. 50%)
IDEA
-1 = bad idea
1 = weak idea
5 = average idea
10 = good idea
15 = great idea
20 = amazing idea
IDEA                EXECUTION
-1 = bad idea       $1 = no execution
1 = weak idea       $1000 = weak execution
5 = average idea    $10,000 = average execution
10 = good idea      $100,000 = good execution
15 = great idea     $1,000,000 = great execution
20 = amazing idea   $10,000,000 = amazing execution
IDEA                EXECUTION
 -1 = bad idea       $1 = no execution
 1 = weak idea       $1000 = weak execution
 5 = average idea    $10,000 = average execution
 10 = good idea      $100,000 = good execution
 15 = great idea     $1,000,000 = great execution
 20 = amazing idea   $10,000,000 = amazing execution




To make a business, you need to
multiply the two.
IDEA                EXECUTION
 -1 = bad idea       $1 = no execution
 1 = weak idea       $1000 = weak execution
 5 = average idea    $10,000 = average execution
 10 = good idea      $100,000 = good execution
 15 = great idea     $1,000,000 = great execution
 20 = amazing idea   $10,000,000 = amazing execution




Amazing idea × no execution?
$20
IDEA                EXECUTION
 -1 = bad idea       $1 = no execution
 1 = weak idea       $1000 = weak execution
 5 = average idea    $10,000 = average execution
 10 = good idea      $100,000 = good execution
 15 = great idea     $1,000,000 = great execution
 20 = amazing idea   $10,000,000 = amazing execution




Good idea × good execution?
$1,000,000
IDEA                EXECUTION
 -1 = bad idea       $1 = no execution
 1 = weak idea       $1000 = weak execution
 5 = average idea    $10,000 = average execution
 10 = good idea      $100,000 = good execution
 15 = great idea     $1,000,000 = great execution
 20 = amazing idea   $10,000,000 = amazing execution




Amazing idea × great execution?
$20,000,000
IDEA                EXECUTION
 -1 = bad idea       $1 = no execution
 1 = weak idea       $1000 = weak execution
 5 = average idea    $10,000 = average execution
 10 = good idea      $100,000 = good execution
 15 = great idea     $1,000,000 = great execution
 20 = amazing idea   $10,000,000 = amazing execution




I don’t want to hear ideas.
I just want to see the execution.
THE MOST SUCCESSFUL
THINGS WE DID
AT CD BABY
Answered phone on   2nd   ring
From: CD Baby loves Sara <cdbaby@cdbaby.com>
To: sara@gmail.com
Subject: CD Baby loves you!




Personalized email headers
Changes need pizza
Customer comments
sent to musicians
Special requests with order
   (including cinnamon gum and squid)
People remember you more
for the little ways you make
them smile, than all the
business-school stuff you do.
Eccentric American?
Eccentric in America, too.
(that’s the point)
So unusual (remarkable) that
everyone tells their friends.
Be shockingly unique.

Use uncommon sense.
Derek Sivers

  sivers.org
derek@sivers.org
    @sivers

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"Uncommon" Sense