Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, entrepreneur, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Books you need to read first!

My top recommendations from my book list:

Understanding the world we live in:

Stumbling on Happiness - by Daniel Gilbert
Not at all new-agey, as the title might suggest. Harvard professor of psychology has studied happiness for years, and shares factual findings that will change the way you look at the world.
The Wisdom of Crowds - by James Surowiecki
Mind-blowing examples of how groups of diverse people acting independently are smarter than any one person in the group. Has huge implications for management, markets, decision-making, and more.
The Paradox of Choice - Why More is Less - by Barry Schwartz
Faced with many options or decisions in your life? This will change the way you look at them. We feel worse when we have too many options.


Small is the New Big - by Seth Godin
My favorite author, by far. I'm a massive fan and disciple. A collection of his short insightful posts from his blog, all thought-provoking and inspiring for anybody marketing anything, even music. (Seth was a CD Baby client and fan.)
Made to Stick - by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Actually analyzing what makes certain ideas or stories more memorable than others! Fascinating. Apply this wisdom to your songs, bio/story, communication with fans, etc.

Getting your life under control

The 4-Hour Work Week - by Timothy Ferriss
Brilliant reversal of all of the “how to manage all your crap” books. This one tells you how to say “no” to the crap, set expectations on your terms, and be just as effective in a fraction of the time. This is perfect for musicians with other responsibilities (day jobs) that need more free time to actually make music!

Own your own business?

E-Myth Revisited - by Michael Gerber
Everything needs to be a system. Think of your business as a franchise prototype. You should be able to hand the “how-to” manual to just anyone, to do it as good as you.
The Ultimate Sales Machine - by Chet Holmes
After reading E-Myth Revisited, this is the best book I've seen on how to turn it into real results, step-by-step. Not ambiguous. Very “do it like this”.
The Art of Profitability - by Adrian Slywotzky
25 different models of profitability presented in examples you can relate to your own business, making you realize profit-sources you'd never thought of before.

Dealing with people

What Got You Here Won't Get You There - by Marshall Goldsmith
Stinging counter-intuitive insights into how most of us are dealing with co-workers completely wrong. Great specific suggestions for how to do it better.
You, Inc - The Art of Selling Yourself - by Harry Beckwith
One of my favorite authors, and a massive inspiration for my e-book. This is his newest, but read anything he's done. It's all top-notch insights on making life easier by being more considerate, whether you call that marketing or just life.