Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

The mirror: It's about you, not them.

If you see a gorgeous painting that fascinates you, does it matter if you find out the artist hasn't paid her taxes? Would you stop enjoying the painting?

If someone shows you a great way to memorize names, does it matter if you find out that person is an alcoholic? Would you no longer trust their memorization techniques?

From 1967 to 1976, James Brown made the best funk music ever heard. (You owe it to yourself to get In the Jungle Groove if you haven't.) He was my biggest musical influence. I'm such a huge fan, I named my band after him. But when working at Warner/Chappell Music in the early 90s, they told me he was coming to the office, I went home early to avoid meeting him. I didn't want the complete flawed man to taint that flawless music that changed my life.

When I bought the book “Getting Things Done”, it had the author's picture on it, so I ripped the cover off. I don't care who David Allen is. This book is about me getting things done, not him and his stupid face.

Maybe both seem silly, but it was important to me to always remember that what matters is what I get out of their work, not the person that made it.


After I interviewed Tim Ferriss, some people said, “But he comes across too cocky.”

After I interviewed Amber Rubarth, some people said, “But she's only successful because she's so pretty.”

After I interviewed Tom Williams, some people said, “But there's some controversy about his new company.”

I hear that as, “Now that I've proven they're not perfect, I don't have to apply any of the lessons from their story.

But that's missing the point that those articles are really about you, not them.

You would benefit from micro-testing the effectiveness of your actions, or interning to understand your gatekeeper, or persisting every day for a year and a half, no matter who was sharing those lessons.

All that really matters is what you do with the ideas there. Apply them to your own life in your own way.

It was never about them. It's about you.

Picasso: Girl Before a Mirror