Derek Sivers on Developing Confidence, Finding Happiness, and Saying “No” to Millions (#125)


The tim Ferriss Show with Derek Sivers

“To me, ‘busy’ implies that the person is out of control of their life.” – Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers(@sivers) is one of my favorite humans, and I call him often for advice. Think of him as a philosopher-king programmer, master teacher, and merry prankster.

Originally a professional musician and circus clown, Derek created CD Baby in 1998. It became the largest seller of independent music online, with $100 million in sales for 150,000 musicians.

In 2008, Derek sold CD Baby for $22 million, giving the proceeds to a charitable trust for music education. He is a frequent speaker at the TED Conference, with more than 5 million views of his talks. Since 2011, he has published 34 books, including “Anything You Want,” which I’ve personally read 10+ times.


You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.



Derek Sivers on Developing Confidence, Finding Happiness, and Saying “No” to Millions (#125)

Want to hear another podcast from a tech entrepreneur who built and sold a multi-million dollar company? — Listen to my conversation with Bryan Johnson. In this episode, we discuss his path to building a business worth $800 million (stream below or right-click here  to download):

#81: The Rags to Riches Philosopher: Bryan Johnson's Path to $800 Million

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: In this episode, Derek discusses how he deconstructs the ideas from books into useful “do this” style directives. If you were to write a directive based on lessons from this podcast, what would it be?  Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • Derek Sivers, the leader of the circus [8:56]
  • A framework for developing confidence [15:41]
  • How Derek Sivers graduated from the Berklee School of Music in two years [19:26]
  • Lessons learned from the Santa Monica bike path [28:31]
  • How CD Baby came to be [34:51]
  • The co-op business model [38:36]
  • How one e-mail helped make CD Baby a remarkable company [41:36]
  • How Derek Sivers responded to those seeking to invest in CD Baby during the dot-com bubble [46:01]
  • On his relationship with money and saying “no” to millions [49:06]
  • The origins of the HELL YEAH! Or No. [57:06]
  • Discussing the Now Now Now project [1:01:21]
  • What inspired the automation of CD Baby [1:03:41]
  • Derek Sivers’s book consumption habits and creating directives [1:12:36]
  • Most gifted books [1:46:36]
  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively affected your life? [1:49:16]
  • What Derek Sivers listens to when working out [1:51:11]
  • If you could have one billboard anywhere, what would it say and why? [1:52:46]
  • Advice for your thirty-year-old self [1:54:36]

People Mentioned

Posted on: December 14, 2015.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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131 comments on “Derek Sivers on Developing Confidence, Finding Happiness, and Saying “No” to Millions (#125)

  1. Thanks for introducing this wonderful human being into my life. Since I started listening to your podcasts almost every quest contributes something positive to my life!
    Derek has such an easy way of speaking, you can tell he a being real about everything he is saying.
    I needed this!!!