Derek Sivers

Interviews → Ozeal: No Permission Needed

Networking, saying yes, what a business really is, how musicians can thrive now, finding your core.

Download: audio (mp3)

Link: http://www.thinkozeal.com/2-2/


Ozeal:

We did not meet at WDS. I wasn’t able to talk to you, man, unfortunately so.

Derek:

Yeah that was my first time. I mean I’m from Portland, kind of, I mean, ya know. I’m like sixth generation Oregonian, so that’s where my family’s from and everything. So Portland is old hat to me, but I’ve never been to that conference before.

So I’ve known Chris for years, before he even started that conference. When I was living in Singapore he came to just visit, and hang out, and say hi, and so he’s been telling me about this conference for years so it was nice to finally do it.

And holy shit what an amazing audience as far as from my point of view and being on stage, like, oh my god! It was just, you know, it was like stand-up comedians talk about, you know, having a good night, and I just felt like a stand-up comedian on a good night. It was like the audience was in the palm of my hand. It was awesome.

Ozeal:

Yeah it was a great, great experience and I can just only imagine. It was a packed house, for anybody who did not attend. World Domination Set. It was my first time there. I’ve been hearing about it, everybody was raving about it, I was like I have to make sure that I attend this conference. It was tailor-made for me as a creative and for entrepreneurship, and everything. It was just great. It was like entrepreneurs with a purpose and I really, really dig that. You know, just all the speakers, and it was just real deep, and you came out there, man, and you knocked it out the park, so. They definitely got the right person to end it off. It was so inspiring and it was really, really cool. You know, speaking of conference, and I talk a lot about this when it comes to just podcasting, and I always tell people the importance of getting out there to these conferences. It seems like now they’re blossoming. It’s a thing now. I see more and more meet ups, more conferences that are more niche-oriented and for entrepreneurship and for creatives. It’s just an amazing time to build relationships. I wanted to talk about the importance of just attending these networking events, and just building relationships. When you were starting off, did you attend networking events? When you were out there and about just trying to start? And what are kind of your views on just getting out to these conferences? How important is that?

Derek:

Sure. Conferences…So I think when you’re first starting out and you don’t have a lot of connections, then conferences can be really useful as a way of going and just getting started and meeting people. The biggest challenge with them is to break the ice.

Everybody wants someone else to break the ice, right? We all wish that we could just show up and have everybody else come up to us and say “Hi! What’s your name?” You know, “nice to meet you, oh!” and, you know, be fascinated with anything we have to say. Of course, that’s what everybody wishes, but that almost never happens. So I think the big challenge with conferences is you have to go, and whether you want to or not, you just have to make yourself into that person. Even if it’s just for an hour or two, you have to be the person to walk up to strangers and say, like, “Hey! My name’s Ozeal, what do you do?” And just help break the ice to get to know people.

Then the second biggest challenge is to follow up afterwards because what would blow my mind is that I would go to a conference like South by SouthWest and, (now I’m talking about after I started CD Baby and people wanted to know me), like a hundred different people would give me their business card, right? And I’d walk away with this big stack of a hundred business cards and nobody would ever follow-up! And I thought, wow! You just blew it! You kinda wasted your money! You spent, whatever, $900 and you flew all the way to Austin and you spent 4 days of your life doing this thing, but if you didn’t follow-up, then it was all for nothing. Like, you blew it.

I think the follow-up is just everything!

So, you can tell them that when I went to conferences for 10 years, ever since I was, I don’t know, like I think I started going to conferences when I was 19 or 20, I would just go to every conference I could and I would meet everybody I could and the most important thing is I would take every single business card back to my hotel room that night and type it all into my computer and send them a follow-up email with like a little, like, “Hey James, it was really nice to meet you today. That was really funny, the story you told me about the, whatever, the monkey that took your phone” or whatever! Just something to kind of help them remember who I am. I’d tag them in my database as what he does, you know, I’d tag him as whether he’s a guitarist or a lawyer, or whatever, and then follow-up every three months. Like it’s just a systematic thing; like you get a system where you go through everybody you met and you make sure that you’re keeping in touch. And that’s the real job.

Sorry this was a long answer to your question

Ozeal:

No, no, that’s great. That’s great, I agree.

Derek:

Attending a conference does absolutely nothing for you. Nothing. There’s no reason to spend a single dollar or a minute of your life attending a conference, unless you do the work of walking up to strangers and getting to know them. Listening to them and not just using them as a sounding board for you to spew your crap into, but actually, you know, opening your mind and ears and listening to them and getting to know them and then following-up afterwards. If you don’t do that, it’s a total waste of time.

Ozeal:

That is a key point. It’s funny, I created and did an audio of like this, kind of like, five tips for networking and for building relationships, essentially, and you just nailed it. I think that was one of the key things that I pointed out was to follow-up because so many times a lot people, yes if you can buy your ticket and spend so much money to go out to a conference, and then you’re just hanging out, listening to the keynote speakers. But yeah, I would say 9 times out of 10, people don’t do the follow-up. And I think that if there’s anything that people can get out of this, it’s that that follow-up is so, so important, especially if you want to cultivate that relationship after. So yeah, great point, man. I wanted to revert to the talk that you mentioned because there were so many things that you mentioned and that you talked about during that talk, (which was amazing). And one of the things that really stood out -one of the many things that stood out- you talked about just the kind of simplicity of just launching a business, man. One of the things when I discovered you, when I discovered your blog: everything’s so simple starting something. And it was just a massive- seemed like it was just this massive accident of success with CD Baby and everything that you did with it. And almost, it was funny because when I was in the audience I was looking at people's’ faces and I was just like, “oh!” It was just like they were just astonished; it was like “oh it’s that easy!” And as a matter of fact there was a girl who was next to me and she was like “he’s making it sound so easy, can all businesses-” you know, but it’s so true! And a lot of the things was just in the doing and just experimenting and just going for it and I just wanted to kind of talk to you about: Do we all just overcomplicate things when starting a business in this new online/entrepreneurial/creative world? When it comes to just starting a business, does it seem like we just don’t know enough? And we kind of paralyze our own movement not to get started? I mean, what are your thoughts on that? Because you really nailed it during your keynote talk.

Derek:

Thanks! And yeah, it sounds like you already know the answer.

If you look at the classic little shack on the beach that will rent to you a snorkel and flippers. Alright, like if you’ve ever been to one of those little beach towns and you wanted to go snorkeling, there’s a little shack on the sand that for $5 they’ll rent you a mask and fins and a snorkel. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that, right? Like, guy buys 10 masks, 10 pairs of flippers, and 10 snorkels, puts a shack on the beach with a sign that says “$5”, and then people pay him for the mask and fins and snorkels, and you return them later that day, and that’s it. That’s a totally valid, profitable business. And anything on top of that is just, you know, details. Like that’s just the essence of what a business is.

You do something that people need, and they pay you to do it, and that’s it.

So I think that this whole mess, like a movie like the Social Network, and talk about you know “a million dollars isn’t cool, man. A billion dollars!” All that stuff, it just is unnecessary complication. I think first you just have to get to the essence of what a business really is. It’s when people need you to do something for them, or they need something that you’ve got, and they pay you for it. That’s it.

And I think this even gets lost with a lot of people’s lifestyle business ideas. They have some ideal about the way that the world should be and they say something like “I’m gonna create a business to help bring empathy into the workplace. To help people realize their dreams and follow their visions!” And you say, “Okay, well, who’s paying you to do that?” “Oh I have people” “You do?”

Ozeal:

Yeah there are a lot of those.

Derek:

“They’re paying you to tell them what their dreams are?” And they say, “Well no, man, but I just have a feeling that-“ No. Look, you don’t do something unless people are paying you to do it.

Okay, so I’m coming from the point of view of a professional musician. Like as much as I love music and I’m passionate about music, I wanted to be a full-time musician paying my rent playing music. So the way you do that is that is you just do the hustle. You’re out there looking for who’s going to pay you to do things.

Somebody says, “We need a jazz piano player for this art opening”, and you say, “Well, what does it pay?” And they say “300 bucks”, and I say, “Alright, then I’m a jazz piano player. I can do it.” And then I’ll quickly just go study jazz piano quick for two hours before that date shows up. Somebody says, “We need a heavy metal guitarist for this thing”, and I’m just like, “Yep, I’m a heavy metal guitarist” and you just get out there and you find who’s willing to pay you.

I think that that gets lost in all of this dreamy talk about trying to make the world a better place and all that, which I think maybe comes to me a lot because when you read my book it’s called ‘Anything You Want’. It’s kind of the 40 little lessons I learned along the way of starting, building, and selling my company.

Yes I talk about “making the world a better place”, and “your business is not a place to make money as much as making dreams come true” and all that, but that’s starting from the point of view that it’s a given that the definition of what a business is is a place where people give you money.

So I do think that people complicate it a lot by thinking first about themselves and the lifestyle they want, and they read ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’, and they think “I wanna make my muse business that will run without me”. And I think my final point on all of this is that it doesn’t matter what you want as much. That comes secondary. First and foremost is: What do your customers need? What’s best for them? And what are they happy to open up their wallets and pay you for?

Ozeal:

You know that’s one of the things that, you know, there’s definitely a big contrast for. You know, ‘Four Hour Work Week’ was a great book by Tim Ferris, definitely loved it. It was a game changer for the simple fact that I think it showed a lot of people that it could be done. The possibility. But I think a lot of people definitely misconstrued the essence of the book and made it definitely a lifestyle. Would you, I mean you nailed it. I mean, I totally agree with that. And then you read a book like ‘The Hundred Dollar Startup’, and then your book, which is simple, it’s very simple and it basically it breaks it down the fundamentals of what a business is and how, Chris mentioned in ‘The Hundred Dollar Startup’, about just putting out a PayPal. And I think you talked about that as well how in CD Baby, how you just said, “Hey, I just put it up there. Did a PayPal.” And it was so simple! And I think a lot of people- And do you think, Derek, another reason, aside from this lifestyle business approach that a lot of people are kind of buying into, is all this online email funnels, and you know, marketing, and facebook, and you gotta learn, you know, a copy, and you know. Are all those things, do you feel, are kind of bombarding this idea of business? Where it’s like it’s way too much damn work for us to be able to do something when we’re being. “Webinars! And you can do coach-“ And everybody’s a coach these days. I mean, do you think that also has a lot to do with paralyzing a real business approach? What do you think about that, man? What’s going on with that?

Derek:

Yeah well, don’t forget that before that, I mean even before the internet, people would obsess about what font to put on their business card, and what thickness of paper their stationery should be, and whether to do embossed or plain ink on their letterhead. You know, people have always found things to obsess about that have nothing to do with the core value that you’re offering to people, right? There’s always the stuff around it.

So, what you need to do as a resourceful entrepreneur is to constantly ask yourself with everything you’re thinking of doing: Is this really of clear benefit to my clients? Like, clear benefit meaning something they’re going to pay me for. And if not, then you can just let it go. Maybe procrastinate it for somebody.

Maybe you feel like making really nice business cards for the fun of it. Or using some fancy new CSS in JavaScript on your blog where the menu goes “whoosh” and slides in and out. If you want to do that for your own personal sake, the same way that you might want to make a nice guacamole for dinner tonight, then go for it. But you gotta understand that that’s not what you’re clients are paying you for.

Ozeal:

Right on. I dig that. Yep! So true, man. You know, I wanted to transition into your CD Baby hit, man. And one of the things that resonated with me is that, you know, you’re a musician and your journey was very similar to mine. You were very successful as a professional musician. You hustled, you did your thing. I’m also a musician and I remember going through the same struggle, which by the way I wanted to personally thank you because my first band demo, or album, was on CDBaby.com. So we were able to put that on there and yeah man it was an awesome site. And you talk about your journey as a musician. How you, you know, you were waiting to get picked, right? By record labels, and you were pitching, constantly pitching your demos and you were focusing all of your energy into this one goal. And then of course you stumbled onto this idea of helping musicians and putting your music out there to sell music online. I remember holding on to, you know, having this dream of having a record label, being a record label, touring, and that didn’t happen. And I remember with you, I wanted to talk to you from musician to musician, you know, was it difficult? Because I know it was for me, and I’m pretty sure- I’ve spoken to a lot of musicians out there to just kind of abandon the music aspect, and that pivot that you made between the transition from musician to an entrepreneur, and what was going on in between as far as from the emotional perspective? Yeah.

Derek:

Good question. At the time that I started CD Baby, I had been nothing but a full-time musician for 15 years. Like, every waking thought was just about me and my music. Like that’s it. My whole life was optimized for that one single goal. And I had actually done pretty okay, like, not a huge success but I sold a couple thousand CDs and I toured a lot. I was doing a lot of gigging that was actually paying pretty well because I tapped into the university/college scene and was doing good paying gigs. So I actually bought my house with the money I made touring.

Ozeal:

Nice.

Derek:

So, that in itself was kind of a musician dream come true, right? I was a full-time musician. In fact, last time I had a job was 1992. That’s when I quit my last job.

Ozeal:

Oh snap. Oh wow. Okay. Yeah.

Derek:

And I’ve been a full-time musician ever since then, and so in many ways I was living the dream, right? Of course I still had a long way to go before, you know, world-wide fame and success, but it was good!

Ozeal:

Right!

Derek:

I ran my recording studio, I was producing people’s demos, playing on people’s records, touring a lot, I was living the life. So CD Baby was just a little hobby that I was doing on the side as kind of a way of giving back to the community by helping a few of my friends, right? Like I really just built the site for myself, but then a few friends asked if they could use it to sell their music. I was like “yeah, sure” and did it as a favor.

So, when you talk about the pivot, I was actually really reluctant. I didn’t want to start a business because that would just be some damn thing getting in the way of my music. Really I just wanted to be spending all of my time on my music, but then it just took off anyway. Even though I was trying to keep it small, it kept growing. I was trying to prevent it from growing and yet it kept growing so clearly it felt like this is something the world really needs and they’re beating down my door to do this for them so I think I need to answer these cries for help, right? So I built that business quite reluctantly, you know? I didn’t want to but I felt like I needed to. For them.

So, when you talk about the pivot, right around this time, because I had already been doing full-time music for 15 years, I actually welcomed the change. Once I accepted it and once I realized, like okay, like it or not I have started a business and it’s totally taking off, I accepted that fate and kind of welcomed it because it was a nice change of pace. I had been touring for 12 years or something, so the idea of staying home and learning programming and working on this website and not having to get in the van everyday was actually kind of nice, right?

But, lastly the reason I started this little story answer by saying for 15 years all I was focused on was me, me, me, and my music, it was also kind of nice to turn the attention to others for a change. It’s kind of like, whether you have a kid or not if you can imagine, most people will tell you that when you have a kid, it’s the first time in your life your attention changes from being entirely on yourself to being on someone else. Your kid is now more important than you. And that’s a big change for a lot of people to make. And I think, for me, that change happened in 1998 when I started CD Baby. That’s the time in my life when my attention went from myself to others. Like suddenly I didn’t care about me and my music anymore, all I cared about was my clients and their music.

Ozeal:

Talk about a big win, I mean I could just only imagine being in that position. I mean, because you toured, you were a professional musician, and then being that spark, you know? That- to help others, you were catapulting other independent musicians to their success and giving them the platform. I think that’s, I mean that’s just a big win on your end because you help so many independent musicians put their music out there, which wasn’t available, right? It was not available. We’re constantly just pitching our stuff to record labels, but now you gave us, the independent musicians, that opportunity to expose our music to the world, man, so I think that’s pretty amazing, my man.

Derek:

Thanks.

Ozeal:

Yeah absolutely. I wanted to talk to you about something that, you mentioned this earlier, about saying yes, to the meeting a jazz pianist and jumping on that opportunity. This contrast between, you know, saying no and yes. You know, the empowerment of the say now, and the empowerment of saying no sometimes, and, you know, saying yes to the work flow. And then you said earlier that you were saying yes in the beginning to everything and just jumping on opportunities. I wanted to get your thoughts on how do you personally maximize your time and just getting things done from that philosophy? And, you know, just kind of your idea, when do you start saying yes? When do you start flipping the to? Especially now when you’re so busy?

Derek:

Okay.

Ozeal:

Yeah.

Derek:

It’s a simple rule. I think it’s important to switch strategies at different points in your life. You don’t want to just start out in life with one philosophy and then just decide like, “Well, this is me. This is who I am. This is how I approach life,” because at some point in your life you need to switch the approach to your work or what you’re doing.

So it goes like this: When you don’t have enough opportunities in your life, when you want more opportunities, then you need to say yes to everything. And I mean like go to Craigslist and look at every classified ad and just answer every help wanted, go meet everyone, go to every single conference you can, follow-up with every single person, collaborate with everyone, just say yes to everything until you’re just overwhelmed with opportunities.

And of course you keep your natural filter at the time to work towards things that are paying and rewarding, you know, don’t just waste your time forever on things that aren’t rewarding, but you just say yes to everything you can. You make a name for yourself, word gets around, people start to know you, you get better at what you’re doing, you build a reputation, you build your connections, and eventually you hit the point where you’re overwhelmed. Where there’s just so many opportunities coming your way that it’s overwhelming. There’s so many people that want to meet you and pick your brain that you just can’t meet with all of them. You can’t do everything that’s coming your way. And this is when you need to switch strategies. And that’s the one I wrote up in a popular blog post called “Hell Yeah or No!”

Ozeal:

Mhm I love that, man.

Derek:

Thanks! The big idea there is that when you’re looking at things to say yes or no to, “Hey there’s this conference in Sydney, Australia about the music business. They want you to speak on a panel there.” If you’re looking at the situation, and you’re going like, “Hmm, yeah maybe. Yeah, I’ve always wanted to go to Sydney. Maybe I could do that. I don’t know, I’m kind of busy...but maybe.”

My point is that you should say no to everything that you’re feeling less than like a 10 out of 10 “Hell Yeah!” kind of feeling to, because once you get busy like that, you’ve got so many things coming your way and there will always be more and more coming, that you need to say no to most of them. Otherwise, your life is gonna get filled with little things and little clutter that are going to keep you from being able to throw yourself into the occasional great opportunity that comes your way.

Whereas if you say no to almost everything, but then occasionally when some amazing deal comes along, like something that would just be like a dream come true, (which is usually something that you already really wanted to do, not something that somebody’s trying to convince you to do, but something that you have always wanted or really want to do), then when something like that comes your way and you’re feeling like “Oh hell yeah! That would be amazing!” Then you get to say yes to that thing and let it fill up your life, because now you’ve got space and time because you said no to a hundred other things.

Ozeal:

Love it. What is your personal, like, do you have a system now? Obviously you’re saying no to a lot of things. I’m sure you’re busy, but I remember last year you mentioned that you were real busy. You were focusing on coding and all that, but how do you structure now on how to maximize your thing? You know, your time, and get things done? I’m always interested in that; your productivity.

Derek:

Well, right now, yeah I’m saying no to everything because if you would have asked me that question 2 or 3 years ago it would have been a very different answer. Just 2 or 3 years ago I was living in Singapore saying yes to everything because I had just, even though, yes, I had a lot of opportunities out there. I had just moved to Singapore and I wanted to get to know my new neighborhood, get to know my neighbors, get to know my community. So every single person that wanted to meet me, or wanted something from me, or wanted me to come speak, or wanted to pick my brain over coffee, or whatever, I just said yes to everyone and everything. And I sat down and met with 500 people 1-on-1 over the course of 2 years, and, you know, whatever, spoke at 20-something conferences and schools and all that.

I just said yes to everyone and everything, but I got nothing done for those 2 years. I met a ton of people, I helped them with their dreams a little bit, I hope, I let everyone pick my brain, but got none of my own work done. So after 2 years I was just feeling kind of exhausted and drained, and I was like, “Alright, I got things I wanna do for myself,” and it did not involve other people picking my brain.

So, that’s when I moved to New Zealand to just be somewhere that was completely remote. An island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Don’t know anybody here. It’s a great place to sit and focus on my writing and my programming and saying no to absolutely everything.

Ozeal:

You know, speaking of which you talked about Singapore and you talked about, you know, New Zealand now, I wanted to ask you and pick your brain on travel, man. How has travel just kind of influenced you personally? Because that’s been something that’s kinda poking at me for quite some time. Just even travelling a little bit more than usual, you know, even within the states. But now, just this curiosity to kind of get out and you, you’ve lived in New York, you’ve lived in LA, you know, Singapore, New Zealand. I’m not sure if I missed one or not, but how has- I mean I’m just curious, man, what has travel done? Because I feel like a lot of people, and even myself included, would stay within our comfort, you know, and we don’t get out and explore. There’s always been this kind of curiosity for me to reach out and go and meet other people. When I go to other cities, I love this encounter with strangers and just talking to the locals, and there’s something that really makes me feel alive, and when I was listening, and I was first, you know, started checking out your blog I was like, “This brother likes to travel!” You know? “He’s living the life and getting out!” Has it always been like that? And again, how has that influenced you personally and from a business perspective, man?

Derek:

It hasn’t always been like that, in fact just a few years ago I had no interest in travel. I was living in Santa Monica, California on the beach and I felt like that was paradise, man! That was the end of the rainbow. There was no reason to go anywhere else in life. “This is the best place in the whole world. Why would anybody else want to be anywhere else in the world but Santa Monica, California? This is just the best.”

But I caught myself thinking that way and I have a strong belief that we should keep learning and growing for life. You don’t want to just hit a certain plateau and just decide that you’re done growing, you know? So I started challenging myself. Like, “Alright, I already know and love Santa Monica, California. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I know it as well as a person can know it. So it’s time for me to head out and do things that I haven’t done yet and go places I haven’t been yet.”

So the biggest benefit that comes is from finding out the different philosophies in life that are all correct. You start out going to a place feeling that other people are wrong for the way they do things, because you think of the way that you do things as the right way. And you go somewhere else and they’re doing things a “weird” way and you think like, “Oh, some day they’ll learn to do things like we do because that’s the correct way. So they’re just kind of backwards because they don’t do things our way.” And it takes a little while to realize that there isn’t a right and wrong, and in fact, you don’t even realize your own culture until you step out of it.

So here’s a little example: Say there’s a contract between a company in Japan and a company in America, and the company in Japan breaks the contract. Well, the American is thinking, “They’re wrong! They’ve just completely wronged us. They have broken the contract. You do not do that.” And the Japanese company completely believes to the core that the Americans are wrong for imposing the terms of the contract once the situation has clearly changed. They think that is so wrong of them. That is just morally wrong that they would be trying to enforce a contract when the situation has completely changed. And each one feels the other is wrong and each one feels they are right. Same thing with what we call “common sense”.

Say if you live in Switzerland and you’re waiting for the bus, then it’s “common sense” to just queue up and a line of 10 people will form waiting for the bus to arrive. And then when the bus doors open, 10 people get onto the bus in the order at which they arrived at the busstop. In a nice orderly queue. That’s common sense in Switzerland. Of course, that’s just the way things are done.

But if you’re in Brazil or India, well it’s just common sense that you push onto the bus and you get on as fast as you can. It doesn’t matter what time you got there, if you get to the door of the bus first, and you squeeze on first, well then you’re first! It’s just common sense! What are these idiots doing make a silly little orderly line? That’s ridiculous, you know?

And both people feel they’re right and there are just hundreds more of these, right? That, I think, that’s the biggest thing that happens when you really get to know a place and really internalize it. Like, I don’t mean visiting Paris and looking at the Eiffel tower and talking with a French girl late at night, that’s not really internalizing the place. I mean like when you move somewhere, and you live there for a while, and you really get to know it, and it really feels like home. And you understand the local philosophy, and you actually get it, and you stop thinking that they’re wrong.

Ozeal:

Yeah I think that even if you go to, for Americans, you know, if you just go to New York. I just got back from New York yesterday, and I go there frequently (I have a lot of friends there), so when I go there, I don’t get the sense that New Yorkers- and I mean, people say they’re rude and I don’t see it! When I go there, it’s just the way they are. It’s their culture. They’re fast-paced. They’re moving. When you walk, you gotta walk faster. I took my family there, and of course I’m in Houston, Texas, and when they go there, they walk slow, but that’s because it’s a Texas- everything’s laid-back. That’s just their behavior because of the vibe here in Texas. Very slow-paced. So when they go to New York, I even told my mom, and it was crazy, Derek, ‘cus the East Coast got a lot of rain, there was a storm out there, and I told my mom, I was like, “Hey listen mom, we’re staying in Manhattan. We’re staying in the city,” and we had umbrellas and it was just pouring down, and I said, “Ma, this is gonna be a different experience. You’re gonna be amongst tourists and New Yorkers in Time Square right now, but it’s raining and you have umbrellas and you have to make sure that you don’t walk slow because they’re gonna blow by.” And sure enough! It was just a crazy experience seeing my mom, a little old lady (she’s 5 foot even), and she had an umbrella and she was just like dodging. It was a tough experience for me walking in the rain in Times Square with tourists and New Yorkers, but I said, “Brace yourselves it’s gonna get a little nuts!” But, you know one of the things, my whole moral of the story is just, you know, even when you go to cities like New York and LA and they’re always talking about the notion of, you know, in LA they’re stuck-up, they’re this, you go to New York, they’re rude. You know, I mean just point made it’s what you just said. Once you go there, it’s common sense the way they speak to each other. They’re loud. They’re not yelling at each other, it’s just that that’s just the way they are. I mean I’m pretty sure you can relate to that because you lived in New York, right? So.

Derek:

Right well, with each- so I lived in New York for 10 years and I lived in LA for 10 years, and you have to understand the reason why each place is the way it is, or why it has the approach it does, right? So, in New York- So people from California think that people from New York are rude, and people from New York often refer to people from LA as “total flakes”. “They flake out. They say they’re gonna do something and they don’t. They say they’re gonna be somewhere, they don’t show up. They’ll stab you in the back. You can’t rely on them, they’re flaky.”

But, say for example if you get to know the California, especially the LA, perspective. California is all about optimism. That it’s a culture of massive optimism where everybody actually believes, like if you say, “Hey, I’m doing a show on March 12th, can you come?” The person says, “Totally! I’ll be there!” And in the moment they absolutely mean it. They think they will be there. And every other person that asks them to be somewhere on March 12th, they say, “Yes! I’ll be there!” And they mean it to them, too! And then March 12th actually rolls around, they say, “Oh....I think I can’t.” And so they say, “Oh sorry, man. Can’t be there.” And the person from New York is like, “But you said you’d be there! You flake!”

And so vice versa, in New York there’s this attitude of “say what you mean, mean what you say”, and saying no isn’t a bad thing. In fact I think it’s healthy to be pessimistic because it’s more realistic. Everybody thinks they’re a realist, right? So they might be a little more unpleasant upfront, but they follow-through more, right? So that’s- each side has its own justification for its philosophy, and you can’t just fault them and say, “New Yorkers are rude. California people are flaky”. You gotta, like, get to know it. And of course, every time you get to know someone’s philosophy, you realize they’re not wrong. It’s just a different way of looking at the same situation.

Ozeal:

Yep, yep. What city did you enjoy living in the most? New York, or?

Derek:

Well, all of them! For this reason! That I love- I mean, New York is totally home for me. I mean, it is my total comfort zone. I absolutely love New York. I feel as comfortable there as I do anywhere in the world, and same thing about LA. Absolutely love LA. That’s my home. I feel as comfortable there as I do anywhere in the world. Those are my people. And I feel the same way about Singapore! And now I feel the same way about New Zealand! And I’m working on it for Belgium.

Ozeal:

Yeah, oh Belgium? Okay right on. Yeah that’ll be nice, man, wow. Did, you know speaking of which, because I mean you mentioned before that, you know, you coin yourself as an introvert. How was being in New York an introvert? Because that’s something that I was contemplating on moving there and I’m also- I’m the kind of person that, I’m, you know, I’m social. I love when I’m out there, I love talking to people. Obviously that’s the reason why I do a podcast. I’m okay with talking to complete strangers I’ve never met before. A couple emails and we can chat it up not a problem, but there’s also times where I like to pull back a little bit, you know what I mean? Have my own space and just get away from people. It was like that too, yesterday. It was just like I got back home and I was like, “I just need to get away. I just don’t wanna.” I was getting calls from friends, like, “You wanna have Happy Hour?” And I was like, “No! Let me just chill. Let me just, you know, decompress a little bit.” How was that experience? DId that affect you living in New York? Because, I know you, you're, also, you’re an introvert. How was living in New York? Because it seems like you’re constantly around people. Most of the times you have roommates. As soon as you walk out you’re around people. How did you balance that out? Being out in New York?

Derek:

I think every place is just as social as you want it to be, you know?

Ozeal:

Boom. True. True.

Derek:

I know plenty of New York introverts, and plenty of Portland, Oregon introverts, you know? So, I think the- the introvert/extrovert thing, I think, gets misinterpreted sometimes to think that introverts are totally shy shut-ins, or something, right? But I think it just comes down to one thing.

I actually used to think that I was more 50/50. If you would ask me if I am introvert or extrovert, I would say both. Neither, both, totally equal, 50/50. But then one time a psychology major asked me an interesting question. He said, “Alright, let me ask you this, then,” like he asked me and I said 50/50, and he said, “Alright let me ask you this: Where do you go to recharge your batteries?” And I said, “Well, alone of course!” I just think that that’s what you do. When you need to recharge your batteries you need alone time. And he said, “Aah,” he said, “Then you’re an introvert,” he said. “Because guess what,” he said, “I’m an extrovert.” And he said, “The way I recharge my batteries is by going out.” He said, “If I’m alone for too long, like more than a few hours, I start to get exhausted and, like, miserable. I need to go out to recharge my batteries.” And I went, “Aah, see I’m the opposite.” Like I’m great around people. I love good conversations, I love meeting strangers, I’m a total confident mother-fucker. I can walk up to anybody and say anything, I can talk to anybody on Earth, but I can only keep it up for a few hours, tops, before I need to retreat and be alone.

So, yeah, I think most people who meet me think I’m a total extrovert because I’ve learned social skills, but I can only keep them up for a few hours. Then it’s just like, ahh, I just need to go be alone. And then being alone is something I can just do for days and days on end without needing any other people around. I love it. But if I’m- I need solitude more than I need food, right? Like, I could go without food longer than I could go without solitude. I need it.

Ozeal:

Yeah, me too. I’ve never heard of that put in that perspective, man, as far as the way he explained it. That’s pretty interesting, because yeah, I was like, yeah, how? ‘Cause, like, my best friend is like that in New York. He loves, I mean, he gets antsy. He needs to be around people. And I’m like you. I’m like you. When I’m around people, I’m like, just like I said, I can talk to anybody but when it comes to recharging the batteries, I definitely need those moments of solitude to be able to get back to it. So I’ve never heard it like this. That’s really interesting. Dig that, man. I wanted to talk to you, Derek, also about your website, dude. Which, by the way guys, Sivers.org and also on Twitter, Twitter handle @Sivers. The site is awesome for the simple fact- it’s a total reflection of who you are, brother. Like it’s just simple. It’s not flashy. It’s not like the new modern website that you see, or new blogs. But they’re just- it’s just simple and even your blog, you just have so much love in there, man. It was amazing even back then when I would go and check out your blog and I would read, then I would come back later on that night and just read it again, just see what’s going on. And I was always fascinated by just the comments! Some of the comments were really insightful, too. There was a lot of great people just giving some great feedback and you’re very great at just encouraging people to share their thoughts and experience, and I would go back and just spend another hour just reading everybody else’s. And I say an hour, ya’ll, because Derek has just this insane, like, just loyal tribe that follow his blog and you’re not- I don’t think you have a schedule, brother, right? You’re just kind of random like when you hit, you hit. And it’s just amazing. I wanna talk about your blogging style and just kind of you blogging. I’ve noticed you’ve been doing it a lot more, ‘cause I subscribe to your email. Is it something to where- are you, just, an idea pops up and you just write? Or do you, you know, do you have something scheduled? Do you have a system when it comes to blogging? I was always curious about that, man.

Derek:

No schedule. No system.

Ozeal:

Yeah? Just flow with it, huh?

Derek:

But you gotta understand, I’m not doing it for any ambitious reasons.

Ozeal:

Sure. Sure.

Derek:

So, I mean at this point in my life I’m somewhat retired. I’m not doing anything for the money. The things that I’m pursuing in life mostly just require me sitting down for a thousand hours and working on something. So, I’m not like really actively out there trying to make new connections and new opportunities, I’m just sitting down focused on stuff that I started 5 years ago.

Ozeal:

Oh, okay.

Derek:

So, but let’s talk about instead, then. In 2009 when I had decided to start blogging, that’s when I had just been doing nothing but music and been in no industry but the music industry for my whole life. And in 2009 I had sold CD Baby and I was thinking about what’s next, and I got inspired by the whole TED Webs Conference scene, and I decided I wanted to be more of like a writer/speaker/thinker kinda guy.

So I thought, “Wow, how do I make that transition?” And I got really inspired to focus on my writing and my communicating, and even just my whole process of coming up with ideas that are counterintuitive, that are true but not obvious, and then how to communicate them in a very succinct way so that they get spread widely. So that people can read that idea and get it in a minute and not need to put aside 25 minutes to sit-down and read this thing. Because, you know, what we all do, then, is procrastinate. And you go, “Oh wow that looks kind of interesting, I’ll read that later,” and then you never do. So, I wanted things that could be read in a minute so that people can read them while they’re having a quick sandwich or a sip of their coffee, you know?

And I worked at it, yeah, back in 2009 I would, I’d say like every morning from 8:30 to 12:30, I would do nothing but write. I would shut off the internet, shut off all distractions and I would just write. But not just writing, but more like digging into an idea. Like I would take 1 little idea and I’d look at it from different angles. Like, I’d state my case and then I’d argue it. And this is all just with myself just in a text file.

I’d state an opinion and I’d say, “This is true and this is the way things should be,” and then I’d say, “Well, is it really true? I mean, couldn’t somebody argue the opposite? Well, they could argue the opposite.” Then I’d argue it from the opposite for a while and explore it from different points of view. I’d try to find other angles and then I’d- so I’d have, you know, 10 pages of thoughts, and words, and sentences, and then I’d whittle it down to 2 pages, and then I’d whittle that down to 1 page, and then I’d whittle that down to 4 paragraphs, and be like, “Okay, I think this is the shortest I could possibly make this point. I’ve cut out every unnecessary word. Every sentence here is absolutely required to make the point. Now it’s ready.”

And even then with the title. I’d do that with the title. At first I’d have these vague titles that were clever or something and then I’d say, “No, that’s too ambiguous. People won’t click on it if it’s too vague.” And I would just- so yeah, I would spend, well, 5 or 10 hours sometimes over the course of 2 days to write a single 4 paragraph blog post.

Ozeal:

So you put some diligence out there. That was definitely some diligent work in that. Yeah, ‘cause I mean just the blog, man, and one of the things that I’m a big fan of, brother, which I want to thank you personally is, man, the way you just compress all of those books, man. Over 200 books. As a matter of fact, you’re probably responsible for me just, like- there were some books that I’d be like, “I wanna go to Derek’s site, man. I think Derek read it.” And I would look it up and I’m like, “Oh Derek did read it!” And I was like, “Okay, I don’t need to buy the book. Derek just rocked it out right here. He has all the bullet points and some of his thoughts,” and I would go to your site and see if you read it and 9 times out of 10 you had the book listed. So I wanna thank you, man, for just putting that together for us. And, you know, like I said, guys, you guys can check Sivers.org/book to hear and to see what I’m talking about, man. Over just 200 books from self-improvement and psychology to entrepreneurship. It’s pretty awesome, man. What inspired you, and how- what do these book habit/reading habits look like, Derek? Are you still pumping out? Are you still reading out these books as much as you used to? Or, I wanted to talk about a little bit about that and what inspired you to do that for all of us.

Derek:

It comes in phases. There are times in my life, say if I’m travelling a lot, sitting on airplanes or in hotel rooms a lot, that I’ll read more than usual. And then there are times like right now where I spend all of my waking hours just writing and programming, and so I’m not doing a lot of reading lately. So, it’s nothing that I really do systematically or for other people.

The main deal is that I wanted to learn. I wanted to keep learning and improving and expanding my mind. Like even right now the book that I’m doing is not even a reading book, it’s actually a workbook about algebra. I realized, like, I stopped algebra when I was, I don’t know, 13 or 14 years old, and I mean I stopped all math studies around that time. Like I think I finished algebra but then didn’t carry on to trigonometry or calculus or anything like that, and now that I’m older I just thought, “You know? I don’t like that I don’t know that stuff. I’d like to understand calculus.” And so I looked into it and found out that in order to understand calculus, I really need to understand trigonometry. And then I found out that in order to understand trigonometry, I need to refresh my algebra knowledge. So now I’m doing an algebra workbook.

So it’s just the constant pursuit of learning. Sometimes for its own sake like that, sometimes for another purpose. Like I just, I realized I don’t understand France and so I read a book about explaining the French mindset because I was spending time in Belgium, which is right next to France, and kind of the southern half of Belgium is quite influenced by French because they speak French there. And I just realized, “I don’t really know what makes the French French,” and I just read a book called ‘Oh Contraire’ about the French mindset and it was fascinating! It was really like the psychology. Kind of like what we had talked about earlier, you know, the Japanese contract or the Swiss bus queue or whatever, it’s like understanding the mindset of the French. I think it’s that. Those are some of my favorite kind of books. It’s just understanding a different point of view.

So yeah, I just tend to read for that kind of purpose. Expanding my mind.

Ozeal:

And it seems like that curiosity has been kind of imbedded in your hustle, man, from the beginning, right? I mean, it seems like you talked about, you know, what we were talking about earlier. How you, you know, when you were saying yes to anything. It was just, “Hey yeah, you wanna learn how to play the jazz? And do you wanna do this?” And it seemed like you were just always willing to just jump in there and learn, and I think that’s really important, you know? For entrepreneurs and creatives out there listening.

Derek:

Yeah! I mean, well that’s where the new stuff comes from, right? I mean if you want to expand your life in any way, you start by expanding your mind! Or your connections, or even your observations about the world. You expand your abilities. Things like that. Like it’s actually what you want in life.

I mean, some people, I don’t understand them, but some people just get out of college and get a job somewhere and they think, “Yep! I got my job now. So just gonna do my job and I come home and I’m just gonna sit and watch TV. Watch other people play a game and I’ll say we won if they win. And that’s my life.” You know? So yeah, those people should not be reading books. I guess they should just be eating dinner and dying.

Ozeal:

Right right, that’s sad, man. You know it’s crazy, when I was listening to you and it seems like the people that I’ve admired the most have been people that, like yourself, who are kind of like a cocktail, like they pull from different- during they’ve evolved with all of these different ingredients with pulling from this and pulling from that. And it kind of defines a person as somebody, you know. I read a great book called ‘Zag’, I’m not sure if you’ve read it, but it was talking about when everybody’s “zigging” you “zag”. And if you look at like, you know, some of the people that are respected in the music industry, there are people who pull from different influences and it seems like you’ve kind of embodied that trait of learning different things unknowingly, you know? And just, because you’re so curious, and then making it into your own. Everything from your philosophy to the way you treat your business, to travel, all your close travel, gives you the advantage, don’t you think? For people that are listening, I think it’s very, very important to be able to constantly expand your mind by reading books and exposing yourself to different cultures and other things because those ideas will subconsciously, you know, will kind of seap into your business and kind of give you something like a new perspective on how you approach things in life. And personally, and for an entrepreneur, what do you think about that?

Derek:

Yeah! Well, I mean it’s, I don’t know if this is a musician thing, but you know like in- say if you’re a hip-hop producer, it originally started out like the way you make a name for yourself is by finding different influences. Like you’d go comb old LPs that other people didn’t have and didn’t even know about and you’d find these samples and you’d mix it and people would say, like “Whoa! What is that?” Or, you know, even just coming up with different beats or doing different things with the arrangement that nobody had ever done, you’re always trying to find a unique angle. Finding a different angle.

Part of it is just for personal challenge, like you’re just constantly challenging yourself to do something different. You don’t want to just get one thing and just stick with it your whole life. I mean some people do, I mean musically the comparison I think of is like AC/DC, right? They came up with their sound in 1973 and they’ve just been doing the exact same thing ever since and, good for them! Right? I mean, because now we still have AC/DC whatever 35 years later and they sound exactly the same. They didn’t go turn into a synth-pop or dabble with hip-hop. Nope, they’re just AC/DC.

But I think for the rest of us, you keep challenging yourself. Keep looking for a new angle and then you just find the competitive advantage that comes from finding the unique angle, right? So like my sampling example I just gave, finding the different source material. Even not sampling, but even as a musician, if you say were a rock guitarist but you got really into Thelonious Monk and studied his piano style and you applied that to your rock guitar, well then you would come out sounding like something different than any other rock guitarist and that would be your competitive edge.

I think even in this field that I started moving into of being more of a writer/speaker kind of guy, it’s not just reading the same old books that everyone else is reading and just, you know, reading ‘Four Hour Work Week’ and doing a lifestyle blog, you know? It’s- if you’re just doing the same thing as everybody else, you’re not gonna have exceptional results. You gotta stretch out and find different influences and take a different approach and look at what everybody else is doing and do the opposite.

Ozeal:

Yeah that’s a- yeah, I see that in your blog. I see that in your blog whenever you definitely zag when it comes to your blog because your blogging style and just kind of the tone and just your humor and just the simplicity of it all. When I read blogs, man, they’re just way too long and it’s just like, “Man I’ve read this thing like 2 or 3 times earlier today!”

Derek:

Well, I feel like I just have an aesthetic think. Like here’s what bothers me: It’s like, the text of an article, like the actual words from the first sentence to the last sentence of an article, is- let’s say that’s like 1k of information. But then people fill their sites with so much JavaScript and CSS and bloat and images and stupid stuff that makes their little menu slide in and out and makes the text fade into the screen. And also that, people take like 10 seconds to load up a webpage on your phone when all you really want is that little 1k of text, but yet they’re sending 450ks of information downloading into your cellphone, using up your data plan, or, whatever, taking longer for it to load and I, argh I hate all that crap! Because it’s just from an aesthetic point of view. I don’t care, even if I’m on a super fast broadband, man, it’s just wrong.

It’s just the falling of the view and it bothers me. And luckily I’m technically savvy enough to go through and erase everything that isn’t necessary. Like, you know, I used to start out by using WordPress and I just found all the stuff that WordPress was bloating up my web page with and I removed all of it at first from the template, and then I started looking at all the bloat they were putting into the database and I removed all that, and I ended up just ditching WordPress altogether and just making a static HTML site and just constantly just stripping, and stripping,and stripping out everything that isn’t necessary.

So, yeah, if you want articles 1k worth of words, well then you’re getting a 1k download and it’s gonna load in half-a-second.

Ozeal:

Right, yeah. You taught yourself stuff, right? You taught yourself coding and programming and all that? Obviously? Right?

Derek:

Yeah I love it.

Ozeal:

That’s crazy, man! How was that? Because I’ve always been curious about that. How long did it take to take care of that? Because it seems like it would be like- it’s like math. Like how did you-

Derek:

Oh it’s just necessity is the best teacher, man. If I would’ve tried to learn that stuff while I was at school, like if I would’ve had a required class called “Programming”, I would not have done well with it, right? But I started I started CD Baby and it was growing out of control and I was spending like 4 hours a day doing manual labor of copying and pasting things. LIke orders would come in by email and I would highlight my mouse over the first name, hit Ctrl-C, Alt-Tab, go to my database, hit Ctrl-V. Alt-Tab, highlight my mouse over the last name, hit Ctrl-C, Alt-Tab, over there, Ctrl-V, Alt-Tab. Highlight my mouse over the address, you know, you get the idea.

I would do that for hours and hours to process orders and then somebody said, “You know, if you had a server-side database, all that could be automated.” I was like, “What?! I need to know this! Like, if I do this, this will save me 4 hours a day over the course of a year. I am talking about saving myself over 2,000 of time over the next year or 2. I need to learn this.”

So I had the ultimate motivation to stay up all night and read these books and do whatever it takes to figure out how to make this stuff automated. And then, honestly man, it just kept going on that path, so I learned how to automate this stuff, now there’s this other stuff, and I’ll learn how to automate that.

And then customers were constantly complaining about a single problem they were having because they didn’t know how much longer they had until the cut-off were sending things to FedEx, so I figured out how to put something on the website that would tell them how many minutes it is until we do the cut-off for FedEx deliveries. You know, you just keep learning out of necessity because necessity is just the best teacher.

Ozeal:

Yeah, yeah no I dig that, man. Mad respect for that. I want to, because you know my people who are on an audience set are musicians, I wouldn’t let you go without talking about this new economy that we’re living in, Derek. I’ve been curious to ask you if you’re a musician now, brother, 2015, much has changed. Like drastically. It seems like everything is online. Even like the live shows. I was talking to a cat in New York and I was like, “Hey where’s the live shows here, man? I want to check out, you know, some jazz”, and he was like, “Oh jazz musicians? They’re always working,” you know. There’s still live shows but if you’re an independent artist or musician it’s kind of tough now. Nobody’s coming out the show. So my question to you, man, is for musicians out there listening, if you were a musician now, how can musicians make music in this new economy and survive as an independent artist? Is it now online? Is it shows? Is it a mixture of both? I mean how would you do it if you were right now making music?

Derek:

Aah good question, okay. Let’s tie this together with the other most common question that you’ll hear at music conferences, like if there’s a panel of experts up there they’ll always ask them, “What is the future of the music business? Where is this going?”

And the real answer doesn’t matter what the future holds, because the fundamentals don’t change. And so this is still the answer to your question, which is kind of related about like, “How have things changed?” or “What is most important now?” The question seems to imply that what’s most important now must be different than what was important 10 years ago, but I’d say that no! It’s the fundamentals don’t change.

Like for example, well, we know that there will always be gravity, water will still be wet, there are laws that don’t depend on predicting the future. These things don’t change. So let’s look at what doesn’t change in music:

You know that people love a memorable melody. That will always be true. I mean cavemen started singing melodies and the only ones that got repeated and passed around were the ones that were memorable. So starting with that, people will always love a memorable melody. So if you were really good at making memorable melodies, that is it. That will always be a valuable skill to have. Other stuff, may change, I mean instrumentation may change, production values may change, different styles come and go, but the ability to write a great melody is always valuable.

Let’s see, you always know that people prefer people who make an emotional connection with them, right? So, and I’m talking about for music, right? It’s the form that you use to make an emotional connection, whether it’s rapped lyrics, or whether it’s your visual style that you’re communicating in a music video, or maybe it’s the angst in your scream, you know? These things have different forms, but really the essence is always the same: That people are attracted to those who make an emotional connection with them.

Even the technology may change, you know? Whether you reach people over YouTube or over a vinyl LP, it’s still the same point. It’s “Are you touching them emotionally?” So if you focus on what it takes to make an emotional connection with other people -- I mean getting back to the fundamentals, you read books on psychology, or you can study poetry through the centuries, or whatever it takes to focus on the core fundamental values of how to make an emotional connection with others -- you’ll always be valuable.

And even, let’s say that creating lots of output increases your chances of success. Write 1,000 songs, well, write, record, and release a thousand songs, you will have a greater chance of having a hit if you write, record, and release 8 songs, right? So, that will always be true for all future time. You’ll never know which song will be a hit, you’ll always try your best and try to write a song that people love and is a big success, but always the more you write, the better.

So, I think instead of focusing on what’s changed, focus on what doesn’t change. So focus your time on getting to be one of the world’s experts at writing memorable melodies. And try to be one of the world’s experts at making an emotional connection with others. And be one of the most prolific music creators you can ever be. You focus your time and energy on those things? And just forget about whatever the- I mean, Facebook will disappear, you know, MP3.com, you know. If we would’ve had this conversation what, over 10 years ago? MP3.com was it, man! They were everything! They were on bilboards, they were MP3.com/MyName, that was people’s only website, was MP3.com/YourName. That was, like, that was people’s entire band site. They would put it into their album art, they would get billboards in Hollywood with their MP3.com website. That was like everybody had one, and you had to you have one, and everybody went there, and then whoop! They went out of business. They’re gone.

And Twitter will disappear, Facebook will disappear, all of this will disappear and, you know, you can learn your SEO techniques or whatever and your WordPress blahblahblah, and it’ll all disappear, but these fundamentals won’t disappear. They will always stay the same. So, I’d say, focus all your time on these fundamentals and take the long term view, and don’t worry about the details that come and go. Everybody else seems to be focused on the details anyway, so you will always find somebody else to take care of the details while you work on the fundamentals.

Ozeal:

Dig it. You gotta be like Prince, man, and put out like 4 albums a year.

Derek:

Right, well, it’s funny, though, he’s kind of missed one core point is that he doesn’t, I don’t know, he’s like blocking his stuff from getting out on the channel that everybody’s using. He won’t let his music be on the internet.

Ozeal:

Yeah he’s pretty hardcore about it.

Derek:

Yeah, so because of that I think that he’s really hurting himself. I mean whatever, I used to be that way.

Ozeal:

Yeah, well, you know what, me too! It was funny, I was talking to a friend of mine a couple days ago and we were talking about Prince and we were talking about how, like if you notice how like after- I mean Purple Rain was it! I mean, you know musicology, and he’s released a dozen of albums after that and there was a conversation I recall that Questlove, he was interviewed on a TV show “Questlove of the Roots”, and they interviewed him and they were like, “Yo” and he said he asked Prince and he was like, “Man what’s been the key to your success? Like what do you do? And you know, it’s like all this pressure, right? After Purple Rain,” And he’s like, and Prince even understood this and basically echoes what you just said, he’s like, “Just output, you know.” And he’s like, “I understood after Purple Rain that was mine, that was my moment, I said but, you know, I’m a musician so I just create.” And he’s like, “Everything that I put out is gonna be golden.” And I think once an artist understands that then you kind of go ahead and detach yourself away from this notion of success. And you just, you’re an artist and you create and that is it. And I think, you know, I love that. I think there’s definitely a great lesson to be learned is that if you’re a constant creator, if you’re a podcaster, if you’re a blogger, it goes back to what you were saying, Derek. It’s just create. Just blog. Blog without any notion, without expectations because then it always leads to disappointment. So just create, create, create. If that’s that’s what you really, really wanna do, so. But I agree with you, man, I agree with you that Prince definitely shot himself in the foot by being a little bit too Primadonna when it comes to his work.

Derek:

On the other hand, that is the creator’s prerogative, right?

Ozeal:

True, true, true. You’re right.

Derek:

That when at music conferences I used to go to, the subject would come up, like: “Should music be copied for free on the internet? Yes, or no?” And they would make it as if they were trying to get to the correct answer, and my answer was, “It’s always up to the creator, man.” Like, everybody that paints a painting gets to decide whether that painting is going to stay in their studio, or going to a museum, or go to a friend’s house, or be displayed in the subway, you know? It’s up to the creator.

So, hey, if a creator like Prince decides that he’s not going to let his music on the internet, well then that’s his prerogative. That’s not the wrong answer, that’s just his answer.

Ozeal:

Right, right, very true. So, I wanna, man I could talk to you for hours, Derek. I’m definitely mindful of your time, my man. We’re gonna have to go back and I’ma have to hit you back later on and come bring you back to the show for round two, but I wanna mention for audience, and, just this is something I was gonna mention before, that, you know, you wrote a book, you published a book called titled ‘Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur. I wanted to ask you first, what was that experience like? Do you have any plans to write another book? (Which I hope you say yes. If not, no offended. I won’t be offended). I really think that we should get another book! Or, or do you, and I wanted to ask you about, speaking of The New Entrepreneur, there’s a lot of pressure for these creative entrepreneurs, for online entrepreneurs, etc. that we’re kind of now like a bunch of hyphens, now. You know, it seems like we have to wear so many hats. And you mentioned earlier, you know, you’re a “thought leader”, and writer, and speaker, you know, and then you have this other philosophy that is telling us that we should just focus on one thing. So this is kind of a two part, man, I wanted to ask you about just the book. Which by the way guys, everybody who’s listening, pick up the book. It’s an amazing book. I got it when it first came out. Awesome. I have the audiobook version. So, wanted to talk to you about that, and then the second half of being a bunch of hyphens and how important is it to be able to now manage so many things, now, when it comes to this new online entrepreneurial world?

Derek:

Okay, the book- I never meant to write a book, but Seth Godin-

Ozeal:

Really?

Derek:

Yeah I never wanted to. I never had a dream of being an author, I don’t really care.

Ozeal:

That Seth Godin.

Derek:

But, yeah, Seth Godin asked me to tell my tale. And I said, “Nah, I don’t wanna tell my tale.” And he said, “Well, can you extract the lessons you learned along the way that others can use?” And I said, “Aah, now that I can do. That’s interesting.”

So, yeah my book is just a tiny little thing you can read in under 1 hour, or I think the length of the audiobook is just I think 80 minutes of me talking. And it’s really as succinct as can be and it’s the lessons I learned from starting, growing, and selling CD Baby.

So it’s really, entire, it’s not me going on and on about my story, it’s just extracting some lessons I think you can use for whatever you’re doing.

Another book? Yeah, probably.

Ozeal:

Good.

Derek:

I like reading. I like writing, so I’m sure there will be more.

Okay, so, onto the big question about the new modern creative having multiple roles. I think that you need to know what is your core and understand that these other things are multiplying skills. So what I mean by that is the core is the thing that people actually pay you for. Then being a good speaker, or writer, or marketer, or publicist, these are just the multipliers.

So, for example, think of a doctor who is a good public speaker. Well if a doctor is a really good public speaker, that’s going to be really good for his career. He’s going to get much more attention, more opportunities, get higher profile listing, be in the media more often, if he’s a good public speaker, but really people aren’t paying him for that. What they’re paying him for is being a doctor. So a speaker, being a good public speaker is something that multiplies your success at your core.

Say if somebody is a good chef; they’re good at cooking food but they’re also really good at being a TV personality, right? Well then- well, never mind that’s actually a bad example. People do that. They get paid to do that.

Okay, let’s say you’re a chef and you’re really good at psychology and marketing, say for example. Like, you understand the psychology of why people go out to a romantic restaurant, or even what makes us think of a certain restaurant as romantic, or a certain dish as beautiful. If you understand that, you’re going to be a more successful chef than somebody else who might make equally tasty food but not have those multiplying skills of psychology and marketing.

So, yeah, make sure that you’ve got a core that people are paying you for and that’s how you know it’s a core, is people pay you to do it. And then the other stuff is just multiplying.

The ones that I worry about are the people that are just trying to be a writer, or a speaker, or, you know, a lifestyle blogger. Like those aren’t things that people pay you to do, those are things that can multiply your other efforts. You can be a computer programmer that is also really good at blogging, and if you’re a good computer programmer and a good blogger, you’re much more valuable than a computer programmer that never blogs, right?

People hear about you through your blog, but it’s really- there’s this core that is what people actually pay you to do. So, yeah, make sure that you’ve got a core that people are paying you for and don’t just try to take one of these multiplying skills and think that you can just do that. You have to multiply something.

Ozeal:

Very good advice. Dig it, man. Dig it. Well listen, man, I’ve taken some of your time, and which is much appreciated, Derek. Thank you so much, my man. I know from a, again, you reached out, I reached out to you, I really do, and you’ve been very, very responsive. You’ve been great at replying with Email, I just, much, much, I’m so grateful, man. I’m so grateful for this conversation. Definitely lived up to everything. I was just so excited to be able to get on and pick your brain and talk to about your experience, and you’ve done a lot, man. I’m a big fan of what you do, again, much respect with everything you’ve done with CDBaby.com and to all the work you’re putting out now. What’s next, man, on the menu for 2015? What do you got?

Derek:

Lunch! I’m gonna go to lunch.

So, hey! Anybody, if you’ve made it all the way through this interview, the main reason I do interviews like this is because I really tend to like the people that I meet when I do them, you know? I mean, I’m not really here to plug anything, you know. I think I get a dollar if somebody gets my book, I don’t care.

So, no really, the reason I come do shows like this is that I do, I really like the people that I meet doing them. So if you made it all the way through this interview, send me a little Email. I answer every single Email, or just introduce yourself. And that’s all!