Tools of Titans with Derek Sivers | The Tim Ferriss Show (Podcast) | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Tools of Titans with Derek Sivers | The Tim Ferriss Show (Podcast)".

1970-01-01T04:00:09.000Z

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Introduction

Intro (00:00)

Hi guys, Tim Ferriss here. Before we get started, a quick announcement. Have you ever wished that you could easily access the best tips, tricks, tools, and tactics, all that alliteration from 200 plus guests on the Tim Ferriss show? That's about 600 to 700 hours of audio. Well, now you can. And my new book, Tools of Titans does the job. It is an inside look at my favorite advice from the guests on the podcast. People like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who actually wrote forward for the book, Jamie Foxx, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, Amanda Palmer, and so many others and how you can apply their wisdom to your life and how I've applied all their advice to mine. It is at least 50% new material, new tips from old guests, new tips from brand new guests. I poured my heart into this book. So if you love the podcast, you will love Tools of Titans. Please check it out. It helps me continue to do this podcast. Pick up your copy or just read more about it at tools of titans.com. And as always, thank you for listening. At this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Can I ask you a personal question? No, what if I did the opposite? I'm a cybernetic organism, living tissue over metal entoskeleton. This episode is brought to you by audible, which I've used for years. I love audio books and I have two to recommend right off the bat. Number one is perhaps my favorite audio book of all time. And that is the graveyard book by Neil Gaiman. The only audio book I've wanted to immediately listen to a second time as soon as I finished. It's amazing. You will thank me the graveyard book. The second is Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, which had a huge impact on my life and formed the basis for a lot of what became the four hour workweek. So all you need to do to get your free 30 day trial is go to audible.com/tim and you can choose one of those two books or you can choose from more great options than you can possibly imagine. So that could be a book, that could be a magazine, that could be a newspaper, could be a class. It's that easy. Go to audible.com/tim. That's audible.com/tim and grab a book. Enjoy. This episode is brought to you by FreshBooks. Back in 2003, a busy freelancer named Mike McDermott, who I've actually had dinner with, accidentally saved over an invoice and lost all of his work. To make sure that never happened again, Mike set out to create FreshBooks, which is now the number one cloud accounting software designed exclusively for self-employed professionals around the world. It is used by now 10 million plus folks in total who need to send invoices, get paid fast and track their time. A lot of you fall in that category. In September of this year, Mike and his entire team relaunched an all new version of their platform built from the ground up, doubled down on what made it great in the first place, namely simplicity and speed. So I can't cover all the features in this particular sponsor read, but you can set a branded invoice in under 30 seconds. You can see when a client has looked at their invoice and you can enable online payments in two clicks. If you need customer support, you will get a real human being on the phone in three rings or less. And there are many other things you can do. You can take pictures of receipts on your phone using their iOS mobile app and make expenses a million times easier, et cetera, et cetera. It is a rad service. A lot of you have recommended to me. That's how this came to be as a sponsorship. So to claim your 30 day unrestricted free trial, that means no credit card needed and see how the brand new FreshBooks can change your freelancing game. Go to freshbooks.com/tim and enter Tim, T I M in the, how did you hear about a section that is freshbooks.com/tim. This is Tim Ferriss and welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss show, where it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers from many different worlds, many different industries, many different areas of speciality to tease out the philosophies, habits, routines, et cetera, that you can use. This episode is going to be a little bit different. It is an experimental episode doing something that many, many thousands of you have requested. And that is a highlight episode, but this is not just material that some of you have heard. This is cherry picked to highlight the information that I have most applied to my own life. A and B includes some of my own commentary for those of you who are interested. And I'm inviting back in the form of his highlight reel and there are many others, but this is certainly a selection that I enjoy. Derek Sivers. Derek Sivers who can be found on Twitter and Facebook at Sivers, S I V E R S. He has many, many golden nuggets at sivers.org.


Insights On Success And Personal Growth

Who is Derek Sivers? (04:54)

He is one of my favorite humans and I often call him for advice. You can think of him as a philosopher, king programmer, master teacher, and of course, Mary Prankster. He's a hilarious guy. Originally a professional musician and circus clown, I kid you not, he did the latter to counterbalance being introverted, Derek created CD Baby in 1998. It became the largest seller of independent music online with $100 million in sales for 150,000 musicians. Then, 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 TED with more than 5 million views of his talks. In addition to publishing 33 books via his company, Wood Egg, he is the author of Anything You Want, which I highly recommend. It's a collection of short life lessons that I've read personally at least a dozen times. I still have a very early draft printed out with highlights and notes. Behind the scenes. Derek has read, reviewed, and rank ordered more than 200 books at sivers.org/books. They're automatically sorted from best to worst. He is a huge fan of, among others, Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett's business partner. Derek, in fact, introduced me to the book Seeking Wisdom, subtitle From Darwin to Munger by Peter Bevelin. He read Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins, who's also been on this podcast. If I mention any past guests, you can find all their episodes at 4hourworkweek.com/podcast. But he read Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins when he was 18 and it changed his life. I posted the following on Facebook when I was, in fact, working on this chapter from my new book, Tools of Titans, and it read as follows. "I might need to do a second volume of my next book, 100% dedicated to the knowledge bombs of Derek Sivers. So much good stuff. Hard to cut." There were many comments that flowed in. The most upvoted comment was from a gent named Kevin O who said, "Put a link to the podcast and have them listen. It's less than two hours and it will change their life. Tim, you and Derek got me from call center worker to location independent freelancer with more negotiation power for income and benefits than I previously imagined. You both also taught me the value of enough and contentment and appreciation in addition to achievement." So that made my week and I do highly recommend everybody listen to the whole episodes. There are more than one with Derek, but especially the first. And of course you can find that at 4hourworkweek.com/derek. But moving on. If more information was the answer, then we'd all be billionaires with the perfect dabs. This is a direct quote from Sir Derek and it really underscores that it's not what you know, it's what you do consistently. And Tony Robbins, just to bring him up since I did already, has said something along the lines of, "What you know doesn't mean shit. It's what you do consistently that makes the difference." It's not about just more how-to information. It's about why-to incentives and much more than that. So it's not just enough to ingest more pages and so on. You have to put it into practice and you have to rig the game so you can win by creating incentives, which I've talked about a lot in the Dis and Stakes section of The 4-Hour Chef. But you can use tools like Stik.com or something like Coach.me. How to thrive in an unknowable future? Choose the plan with the most options. The best plan is the one that lets you change your plans.


How to Thrive in an Unknowable Future. (08:48)

My commentary. This is one of Derek's "directives" as he calls them, which are his one-line rules for life, distilled from hundreds of books and decades of lessons learned. Other directives of his include Be Expensive, which I think certainly echoes the sentiment of Marc Andreessen, who's been on the podcast. Expect Disaster, which echoes one of my favorite podcast guests. He's only 2,000 years old. Seneca, I've had him on before, my favorite stoic philosopher. And Own As Little As Possible, which echoes other podcast guests, including Jason Niemeyer and Kevin Kelly, in fact. Who do you think of when you hear the word successful?


When You Think of Success, Ask Why (09:30)

Well, the first answer to any question isn't much fun because it's just automatic, right? What's the first painting that comes to mind? Mona Lisa. Oh, name a genius. Einstein. Who's a composer? Mozart. But this is the subject of the book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. There's the instant, unconscious, automatic thinking, and then there's the slower, conscious, rational, deliberate thinking. So I'm really, really into the slower thinking. Like breaking my automatic responses to the things in my life and slowly thinking through a more deliberate response instead. And then for the things in life where an automatic response is useful, I can create a new one consciously. So what if you asked, when you think of the word successful, who's the third person that comes to mind? And why are they actually more successful than the first person that came to mind? Well, in that case, the first person would be Richard Branson because he's like the stereotype, right? He's like the Mona Lisa of success to me. And honestly, you might be my second answer, but we could talk about that a different time. And my third and real answer after thinking it through is that we can't know without knowing a person's aims, right?


What Richard Branson Can Teach Us About Success -- And What He Can't (10:49)

Like what if Richard Branson set out to live a quiet life, but like a compulsive gambler, he just can't stop creating companies. Well, then that changes everything and we can't really call him successful anymore. My commentary. This is absolutely genius. I love this approach and it is not limited to Derek.


Ricardo Semler, Asking Why Three Times (11:17)

Ricardo Semler, CEO and majority owner of the Brazilian based Semco Partners, who's writing, I've read quite a bit of early on just after graduating from college, practices asking why three times. This is true when he is questioning his own motives, doing self-work, so to speak, or when tackling big projects and collaborating with others. The rationale is identical to Derek's. For people starting out, say yes. When Derek was 18, he lived in Boston and he attended the Berkeley College of Music.


Wanna Channel Frank Zappa? Play a Pig Show (11:53)

I'm in this band where the bass player one day in rehearsal says, Hey man, my agent just offered me a gig that's like $75 to play at a pig show in Vermont. He rolls his eyes and he's like, I'm not going to do it. Do you want the gig? I'm like, fuck yeah, a paying gig. Oh my God. Yes. So, uh, I took the gig to go up to Burlington, Vermont and I think it was like a, you know, $58 round trip bus ticket. And I get to this pig show in Vermont. I strap my acoustic guitar on and I walk around a pig show playing music and did that for like three hours, got on the bus home. And the next day the booking agent called me up and said, uh, Hey, so, uh, yeah, you did a really good job at the pig show. We got good reports there. I'm wondering if you can come play at an art opening in Western Massachusetts. Uh, I'll pay you 75 bucks again. I said, yeah, sure. So same thing. I took the, you know, like a $60 bus out to Western Massachusetts, got 75 bucks for playing at an art opening and the agent was there and he was impressed. And so he said, Hey, look, I've got this circus. Uh, and the previous musician just quit. So we really need somebody new and I really like what you're doing. So there's a, about three gigs a week. I can pay you 75 bucks a gig. Uh, they're usually Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Uh, do you want the gig? I said, hell yeah, I'm a professional musician now. This is amazing. So, so I said yes to everything, which is going to come up later, you know, with the hell yeah or no thing that I think it's really smart to switch strategies. But when you're earlier in your career, I think the best strategies, you just say yes to everything. Every piddly little gig, you just never know what are the lottery tickets. So this one ended up being a real lottery ticket for me.


Resisting the Chump Factory (13:40)

The standard paces for chumps. Kemo Williams is this, uh, large black man from Hawaii that, uh, was a musician that attended Berkeley School of Music and then stayed there to teach for awhile. And so what he taught me in four lessons got me to graduate Berkeley College of Music in half the time it would take. And here was his thing. He said, the reason I wanted you to like study with me for a bit, he said, I know you only have like eight weeks before you go to school. He said, I think you can graduate Berkeley School of Music in two years instead of four. Um, he said the standard pace is for chumps. I should get a t-shirt made. Totally Tim Ferriss stuff, right? This is like, I can't believe we hadn't talked about this before that he's the one at the age of like 17, 18 got me into this mentality. He said, where the standard paces for chumps. That's the school has to organize its curricula around the lowest common denominator so that, um, almost nobody is left out. So they have to slow down so that everybody can catch up. But he said, you're smarter than that, or anybody can be smarter than that if they want to be. So you can go as fast as you want and here's how. Uh, and so he sat me down at the piano. He said, okay, what do you know about music theory? I said, well, I don't know. Let's find out. And he, you know, he just asked me a few of these music questions. Like, okay, what, how does the major scale go to, to, to, to, to, right. Okay. Show me the tritone. Do you know what a tritone is? Okay. Play me a tritone in the C major scale. I'm like, uh, okay. BNF. He said, okay, now, uh, how can you take that? And what other chord can you make from BNF? He said, okay, that's called the substitute chord. Now what is the resolution? We were like, and he was just like, boom, boom, boom. At this kind of pace, he was doing all this music theory stuff with me. It was so intense. And I was like, I had all this adrenaline, like a video game. I was like, this is amazing. Okay, keep going. Okay. And this, and this. And that was like a two hour lesson that went at that kind of pace. And then he dumped a bunch of homework on me. He said, okay, now go home tonight and take this big book of jazz standards. Find me all the two, five substitutions or, uh, two, five closures now substitute chords for that. And then come back next Thursday and we'll do this again. So we did that for like four Thursdays in a row. And sure enough, what he taught me in four two hour sessions was basically like two years of Berkeley College of Music. He compressed it into four lessons. So that when I showed up to my first day of Berkeley, I tested out of the first few years just thanks to him. And then he even taught me a strategy. Just offhand mentioned, he said, you know, I think they might still have a rule in place where those other required courses, you know, that you have to take to graduate, he said, I think you could pretty much just buy the books for those and then contact the department head and just take the final exam to get credit. Don't be a donkey.


Not Making Progress in Many Directions? Enter the Donkey... (16:35)

What advice would you give your 30 year old self? My advice to my 30 year old self would be, um, don't be a donkey. What does that mean? Well, I meet a lot of 30 year olds that are trying to pursue many different directions at once, but not making progress in any right. And then or they get frustrated that the world wants them to pick one thing because they want to do them all. And I get a lot of this frustration like, but I want to do this and that and this and that. Why do I have to choose? I don't know what to choose. But the problem is, if you're thinking short term, then you're acting as if you don't do them all this week, that they won't happen. But I think the solution is to think long term, to realize that you can do one of these things for a few years, and then do another one for a few years and then another. So what I mean about don't be a donkey is, you've probably heard the fable about, I think it's Buridun's donkey, who it's a fable about a donkey that is standing halfway in between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. And he just keeps looking left to the hay or right to the water, trying to decide hay or water, hay or water, he's unable to decide. So he eventually falls over and dies of both hunger and thirst. So the point is that a donkey can't think of the future. If he did, he'd clearly realized that he could just go first drink the water and then go eat the hay. So my advice to my 30 year old self is don't be a donkey, that you can do everything you want to do. You just need foresight and patience.


Business models can be simple (18:18)

Business models can be simple. You don't need to constantly pivot. Derek tells the story of the sophisticated origins of CD Baby's business model and pricing. So I was living in Woodstock, New York at the time and there was a cute tiny little record store in town that sold consignment CDs on the counter of local musicians. So I walked in there one day and I said, "Hey, how does it work if I want to sell my CD here?" And she said, "Well, you set the selling price at whatever you want. We just keep a flat $4 per CD sold and then just come by every week and we'll pay you." So I went home to my new website that night and I wrote, "You set your selling price at whatever you want. We just keep a flat $4 per CD sold and we'll pay you every week." And then I realized that it took about 45 minutes of time for me to set up a new album into the system because I had to lay the album art on the scanner and Photoshop it and crop it and then fix the musicians' spelling mistakes in their own bio and all that kind of stuff. That took about 45 minutes of work per album. So it shows you what I was valuing my time at those days that I thought 45 minutes of my time, that's worth about $25. So I'll charge a $25 setup fee to sign up for this thing. And then, ooh, at the last minute I thought, "Wait a second. In my mind, $25 and $35, they're in the same brain cell in my head. $25 and $35, those numbers don't feel very different when it comes to cost. $10 is different and $50 is different, but $25, $35, that occupies the same space in the mind. So you know what? I'm going to make it $35. That will let me give anyone a discount anytime they ask. Even if somebody's on the phone and upset, I'll say, "You know what? Let me give you a discount." So I added in that little buffer so I could give people a discount, which they love. So yeah, $35 setup fee, $4 per CD sold. And then, Tim, for the next 10 years, that was it. That was my entire business model. It was generated in five minutes by walking down to the local record store and asking what they do. Once you have some success, if it's not a hell yes, it's a no. This mantra of Derek's quickly became one of my favorite rules of thumb. I apply it all over the place. And it led me to take, in effect, at this point certainly, an indefinite startup vacation, which started in late 2015. I've elaborated on that in the past in my blog post, which was how to say no when it matters most. But here is his origin story and how he arrived at the "if it's not a hell yes, it's a no." And then once it came close and it was time to book the ticket, I was like, "I don't really want to go to Australia right now. I'm busy with other stuff." And it was actually my friend, Amber Rhubarth, who's a brilliant musician. I was on the phone with her and kind of lamenting about this. And she's the one that pointed out, she said, "It sounds like, from where you're at, your decision is not between yes and no. You need to figure out whether you're feeling like, 'Fuck yeah!' or 'No.'" And I said, "Yeah, that's really what it comes down to, right?" Because the idea is, if you're feeling anything less than like, "Oh, hell yeah, I would love to do that. Oh my God, that would be amazing!" If you're feeling anything less than that, then just say no. Because most of us say yes to too much stuff, and then we let these little mediocre things fill our lives. And so the problem is, when that occasional big, "Oh my God, hell yeah!" thing comes along, you don't have enough time to give it the attention that you should because you've said yes to too much other little half-assed kind of stuff, right? So once I started applying this, my life just opened up.


Busy equals out of control (22:22)

Busy equals out of control. Every time people contact you, every time people contact me, they say, "You know, look, I know you must be incredibly busy." And I always think like, "No, I'm not because I'm in control of my time. I'm on top of it." Busy, to me, seems to imply out of control. Like, "Oh my God, I'm so busy. I don't have any time for this shit." To me, that sounds like a person who's got no control of their life. My commentary. Lack of time is lack of priorities. If I personally am busy and I'm inclined to say, "Ah, busy," and answer the "How are you?" question that way, it's because I've made choices that put me in that position. So I've forbidden myself to reply to, "How are you?" with busy. I have no right to complain and if that is the case, if I am too busy, instead it's a cue to reexamine my systems and rules to additional 80/20 analysis and so on that I've talked about ad nauseam before. What would you put on the billboard?


What would you put on a billboard? (23:23)

I really admire those places. Like, I think Vermont and Sao Paulo, Brazil, that ban billboards. But I know that that wasn't really what you were asking. So my better answer is, I think I would make a billboard that would say, "It won't make you happy," and I would place it outside any big shopping mall or car dealer. Ideally, actually, I think, you know what would be a fun project? It's to buy and train thousands of parrots to say, "It won't make you happy. It won't make you happy," and then you let them loose in the shopping malls and super stores around the world. That's my life mission. Anybody with me? Let's do it. Take 45 minutes instead of 43. Is your red face worth it?


How 2 extra minutes changed 45-year-old Derek's life. (24:10)

So, yeah, I've always been very type A. A friend of mine got me into cycling when I was living in LA and I lived right on the beach in Santa Monica where there's this great bike path in the sand that goes for, I think it's 25 miles in the sand. No, hold on. Something like that. The exact number doesn't matter. But what I would do is I would go onto the bike path and I would get like head down and push it as hard as I could. I would go all the way to one end of the bike path and back and then back home and I'd set my little timer when doing this. Huffing and puffing, red faced. Red faced huffing. Just pushing it as hard as I can. Every single thrust of the leg. Of course, that made me quite fun if somebody was in my way on the bike path. I'm sure. That guy's got places to go. But I noticed it was always 43 minutes. If you know Santa Monica, California, you know the weather is about exactly the same all year round. Unless it was a surprisingly windy day, it was always 43 minutes is what it took me to go as fast as I could for that on my bike path. But I noticed that over time, I was starting to feel less psyched about going out on the bike path. Because just mentally when I would think of it, it would feel like pain and hard work. Sounds like pain and hard work. Yeah, it was. But I guess at first that was okay. And after a while, I just felt like, I don't know, riding the bike. Why don't I just hang out? So then I say, you know, that's not cool for me to start to associate negative stuff with going on the bike ride. Why don't I just chill for once? I'm just going to go on the same bike ride. But just, you know, I'm not going to be a complete snail, but I'll go at like half of my normal pace. So yeah, I got on my bike and it was just pleasant. I just went on the same bike ride, but I was more like standing up and I just noticed that I was looking around more. And I looked out in the ocean, I noticed that day there were these dolphins jumping in the ocean and I went down to Marina del Rey to my turnaround point. And oh no, actually it was when the breakers at Marina del Rey, there was a penguin that was flying above me. I was like, no way. Looked up, I was like, hey, a penguin. And he shit in my mouth. Is it a penguin or a pelican? Oh, sorry. Pelican. I was like, what did you take before your ride? So you had to see it a pelican, pelican shit in your mouth. What was that's incredible accuracy. Was that from like, how far away was it? Uh, like 20 feet up. Wow. I don't know if he was accurate or I was, you know. I had such a nice time. It was just purely pleasant. There was no red face. There was no huffing and puffing. I was just cycling. It was nice. And when I got back to my usual stopping place, I looked at my watch and it said 45 minutes and I was like, no way. How the hell could that have been 45 minutes as compared to my usual 43. It's like, there's no way, but yeah, it was right. 45 minutes. And that was like a profound lesson that I think changed the way I've approached my life ever since. It's because I realized that, I guess, you know, what percentage of that huffing and puffing then we could do the math or whatever, uh, would a 93 point something percent of my huffing and puffing and all that red face and all that stress was only for an extra two minutes. It was basically for nothing. I mean, you know, of course we're not talking about me competing in something where the huffing and puffing might've been worth it, but for life, I think of all of this optimization and getting the maximum dollar out of everything and the maximum out of every second of the maximum out of every minute. And I think I just take this approach now of going like, Oh, or you could just take the lesson, take most of that lesson and apply it and be effective and be happy. But you don't need to stress about any of this stuff. And so honestly, that's been my approach ever since I do things, but I stop it before anything gets stressful. Is there any particular way that you remind yourself of that given a lifetime of hard charging? I do find that I sometimes lose track of that type of truth, which I think is a truth in almost every aspect of the endeavors that I partake in at least. Are there any particular ways that you remind yourself of that or keep it present for you? I think it's just noticing the pain. I luckily I live in a world where I there's more psychic pain than physical pain, right? So you have to notice the psychic pain that you're feeling, of whether it's doing things you don't want to be doing and feeling the pain and regret of that, or the frustration. Just when you notice this internal, that always, that's my cue that I treat that like physical pain. Like, what am I doing? I need to stop doing that thing that hurts. What is that? And it usually means that I'm just pushing too hard or doing things that I don't really want to be doing because I was asking the wrong questions and following the wrong path, the wrong outcome. On Lack of Morning Routines Not only do I not have morning rituals, but there's really nothing that I do every day except for eating or some form of writing.


Derek'S Beliefs And Life Hacks

Why you don't need a morning ritual to have a good day. (29:48)

But here's why. I get really, really, really into one thing at a time. For example, a year ago I discovered a new approach to programming my PostgreSQL database that made all of my code a lot easier. So I spent five months like every waking hour just completely immersed into this one thing. I would bounce out of bed at five in the morning and programming SQL code for like 19 hours from 5am till midnight. I'd stop maybe an hour or two a day to go for a run or talk on the phone with a friend. But after five months, I finished that project. So I took a week and I went hiking in Milford Sound in New Zealand, totally offline. But when I got back from that, I was so like Zen Nature Boy that I spent the next couple weeks just reading books outside. What's something you believe that other people think is crazy?


Five of Derek's offbeat beliefs (30:50)

Oh, that's easy. I've got a lot of unpopular opinions. I believe alcohol tastes bad and so do olives. I've never tried coffee, but I don't like the smell. I believe all audio books should be read and recorded by people from Iceland because they've got the best accent. I believe it would be wonderful to move to a new country every six months for the rest of my life. I believe you shouldn't start a business unless people are asking you to. I believe I'm below average. It's a deliberate, cultivated belief to compensate for our tendency to think we're above average. I believe the movie Scott Pilgrim is a masterpiece. I believe that music and people don't mix. That music should be appreciated alone without seeing or knowing who the musicians are and without other people around. So just listening to music for its own sake, not listening to the people around you and not filtered through what you know about the musician's personal life. Treat life as a series of experiments.


How to avoid bad bounces (31:55)

So my recommendation is to do little tests. Like try a few months of living the life you think you want, but leave yourself an exit plan, being open to the big chance that you might not like it after actually trying it. The best book about this subject is Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. His recommendation is to talk to a few people that are currently where you think you want to be, and ask them for the pros and cons, and then trust their opinions since they're right in it, not just remembering or imagining. Even when everything is going terribly, and I have no reason to be confident, I just decide to be.


You Are Whatever You Pretend to Be (32:38)

There's this beautiful Kurt Vonnegut quote that's just a throwaway line in the middle of one of his books that says, "You are whatever you pretend to be." The most successful email Derek ever wrote. At its largest, Derek spent roughly four hours on CD Baby every six months. He had systematized everything to run without him. Derek is both successful and fulfilled because he never hesitates to challenge the status quo, to test assumptions, to question legacy belief systems, or any type of system really, that others are saying he should use. It doesn't have to take all that much to test these assumptions or to do a lot with a little. And the following email, which is his most successful email he ever wrote, illustrates this beautifully. And I'm going to read what he has written about it and the email itself. Enter Derek. When you make a business, you're making a little world where you control the laws. It doesn't matter how things are done everywhere else. In your little world, you can make it like it should be. When I first built CD Baby, every order had an automated email that let the customer know when the CD was actually shipped. At first, it was just the normal, "Your order has shipped today. Please let us know if it doesn't arrive. Thank you for your business." After a few months, that felt really incongruent with my mission to make people smile. Side note from Tim Ferriss, this is very true. Derek takes making people smile very seriously. He does a pretty good job, I think, too. Back to Derek. I knew I could do better, so I took 20 minutes and wrote this goofy little thing. This is the email.


Dereks Most Successful Email Ever (34:32)

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized, contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "bon voyage" to your package on its way to you in our private CD Baby jet on this day Friday, June 6. I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on the wall as customer of the year. We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to, in all caps, CDBaby.com! That one silly email sent out with every order has been so loved that if you search Google for "private CD Baby jet" you will get more than 20,000 results. Each of those results is somebody who got the email and loved it enough to post it on their website and tell all of their friends. That one goofy email created thousands of new customers. When you are thinking of how to make your business bigger it's tempting to try to think all the big thoughts, the world changing, massive action plans. But please know that it's often the tiny details that really thrill someone enough to make them tell all of their friends about you. Hey guys, this is Tim again. Just a few more things before you take off. Number one, this is Five Bullet Friday. Do you want to get a short email from me? Would you enjoy getting a short email from me every Friday that provides a little morsel of fun before the weekend? And Five Bullet Friday is a very short email where I share the coolest things I've found or that I've been pondering over the week. That could include favorite new albums that I've discovered, it could include gizmos and gadgets and all sorts of weird shit that I've somehow dug up in the world of the esoteric as I do. It could include favorite articles that I've read and that I've shared with my close friends, for instance. And it's very short. It's just a little tiny bite of goodness before you head off for the weekend. So if you want to receive that, check it out. Just go to 4hourworkweek.com. That's 4hourworkweek.com all spelled out and just drop in your email and you will get the very next one. And if you sign up, I hope you enjoy it. This episode is brought to you by FreshBooks. Back in 2003, a busy freelancer named Mike McDermott, who I've actually had dinner with, accidentally saved over an invoice and lost all of his work. To make sure that never happened again, Mike set out to create FreshBooks, which is now the number one cloud accounting software designed exclusively for self-employed professionals around the world. It is used by now 10 million plus folks in total who need to send in voices, get paid fast and track their time. A lot of you fall in that category. In September of this year, Mike and his entire team relaunched an all new version of their platform built from the ground up, doubled down on what made it great in the first place, namely simplicity and speed. So I can't cover all the features in this particular sponsor read, but you can set a branded invoice in under 30 seconds. You can see when a client has looked at their invoice and you can enable online payments in two clicks. If you need customer support, you will get a real human being on the phone in three rings or less.


FreshBooks (38:04)

And there are many other things you can do. Take pictures of receipts on your phone using their iOS mobile app and make expenses a million times easier, et cetera, et cetera. It is a rad service. A lot of you have recommended to me. That's how this came to be as a sponsorship. So to claim your 30 day unrestricted free trial, that means no credit card needed and see how the brand new FreshBooks can change your freelancing game. Go to freshbooks.com/tim and enter Tim, T I M in the how did you hear about us section. That is freshbooks.com/tim. This episode is brought to you by audible, which I've used for years. I love audio books and I have two to recommend right off the bat. Number one is perhaps my favorite audio book of all time. And that is the graveyard book by Neil Gaiman, the only audio book I've wanted to immediately listen to a second time.


Book Discussion

The Graveyard Book (38:53)

As soon as I finished, it's amazing. You will thank me the graveyard book. The second is vagabonding by Rolf Potts, which had a huge impact on my life and formed the basis for a lot of what became the four hour workweek. So while you need to do to get your free 30 day trial is go to audible.com/tim and you can choose one of those two books or you can choose from more great options than you can possibly imagine.


Travel Perspectives

Vagabonding (39:10)

So that could be a book, that could be a magazine, that could be a newspaper, could be a class. It's that easy. Go to audible.com/tim. That's audible.com/tim and grab a book. Enjoy. Thank you for watching.


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