Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.
The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster - by Darren Hardy

The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster - by Darren Hardy

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Rar! My heart rate is racing as I tear through this riveting book. Darren captures and spreads the entrepreneurial spirit better than anyone I know. I've been a successful entrepreneur for 25 years but The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster just got me more excited and enlightened than I've been in a long time. You must read and USE this immediately!

my notes

It’s really hard, and you have to do it over a sustained period of time, so if you don’t love it, if you aren’t having fun doing it, and you don’t really love it, you’re going to give up.

If you don’t love it, you’re going to fail.

Elon Musk said that starting a company is like “staring into the abyss and eating glass.”

“Looking for my passion” is just an excuse in disguise. We use it to cover up for the fact that we’re not progressing, growing, and taking action in life.

What about Bono, Branson, or Oprah? If you saw their schedules - the day in, day out demands they are under, and the pressure they shoulder - you wouldn’t think what they do 95 percent of the time is that great at all. The rest of their days are spent in endless meetings, negotiations, contract reviews, lawsuits, makeup chairs, rehearsals, travel, and transportation.

I don’t care what you do, it’s going to suck most of the time. Tell yourself, “This work is going to suck 95 percent of the time.”

I do not love what I do. But I sure as heck love why I do it. I am passionate about my mission of empowering entrepreneurs.

Bring passion to how you do even the most (seemingly) mundane tasks. I’ve seen mechanics, gardeners, toll takers, cab drivers, project managers, CPAs, lawyers, and CEOs execute the “hows” of their work with great passion and joy. Their passion was in the quality of the activity, the execution, and the outcome.

Refocus your mind and attention on who is being served by what you do, why and how you do it.

Being successful in business requires an emotional charge.

If that charge comes from your desire to right a wrong, fight the good fight, or seek justice, then it’s just as good as love and often even better.

Don’t get involved with functions that are not in your circle of competency or strength. It doesn’t do you any good, and it certainly won’t make your ride any easier.

If you’d rather be anywhere than doing your great work on a Saturday morning, then you’re probably doing the wrong thing or looking at it the wrong way.

A belief in inborn gifts and limits is much gentler on the psyche. The reason I’m not a great musician, leader, communicator, parent, spouse, athlete, salesperson, or whatever is because I’m not “wired” to be one. Thinking of talent as “innate” makes our world more manageable, more comfortable. It takes away the burden of expectation. It relieves people of distressing comparisons.

Define freak: a person who is obsessed with or unusually enthusiastic about a specified interest.

If one crab realizes there’s nothing keeping him in the trap and tries to leave, the other crabs will do anything they can to stop him. They will repeatedly pull him from the side of the cage.

What does success mean to me? Have you ever asked yourself the question? Have you actually written down your answer?

If I ever felt myself getting caught up in or brought down by what other people thought of me, whether or not they approved of what I was doing (or wearing), all I had to do is ask myself if they would be one of the ten people to cry at my funeral. Instantly their rejection would lose any power over my emotions.

If you’re going to get better, you have to push yourself. If you push yourself, you’re going to fall. If you’re not falling, you’re not pushing. Falling is part of getting better.

What’s the number one restaurant in the world? Answer: McDonald’s. What’s the number one wine in the world? Answer: Franzia. It’s not a whoever-has-the-best-product-wins world.

The one thing that matters most in determining whether your business succeeds or fails miserably is sales. The ultimate success of a product or service is 10 percent product quality and 90 percent sales.

The person who knows how to get, keep, and cultivate a customer gets paid the most.

Everything starts with sales. Nothing matters until you sell something. Nothing. You can vision cast, dream board, but there is no business until a sale happens. A sale tells you if you even have a business.

I always have to laugh a little when someone says, “Oh, I’m not a salesperson.” Then they launch into a ten-minute, detailed “sales” presentation - complete with bullet points and case studies - selling me on the fact that they’re no good at selling.

Whereas before I had always thought of sales as a way to get something, I could now see it as a tool for giving.

Sales isn’t about selling at all. Stop selling. Help instead.

The number one quality of the most effective sales and marketing messages? Empathy.

Your best sales and marketing language in those words - language that shows you know who they are, who they are trying to become, and what they are trying to do.

Bad dating: “He was a nice guy and certainly nice to look at… but he didn’t ask a single question about me. He just kept talking.”

Effective sales is about finding a perceived need and helping someone fulfill it. If the customer doesn’t perceive the need, there is no need. The misguided drive to “create” a need is why we see so much chest-beating, egocentric marketing out there. It’s obnoxious, exhausting, and what’s worse, it’s ineffective.

If you want to master one skill that will skyrocket your sales success, learn how to ask better questions.

Guy that sold a bunch of condos: “I sold a $4 million parking space, a $2.8 million gym and spa access pass, and a $6 million closet.” He discovered what was most important to each client.

Instead of trying to sell candy bars one by one, sell them box-by-box. Parents’ friends who had access to offices filled with candy lovers. These well-connected people emptied boxes of candy for him. Mark has never sold accounts one by one. Looked instead for influencers: people with their own large networks who, if sold on his idea, venture, or opportunity, could potentially generate entire volumes of transactions for him.

“I lose one out of five for being too aggressive.” She paused for effect, then added, “But I get the other four!”

SUCCESS magazine had a record-breaking launch: over a million copies sold. With the help of eight believers. Just eight people who saw the vision and got on board.

Entrepreneurs are hopeless romantics. Which makes us terrible hiring managers. Get help!

HIRING MISTAKE: Someone shows belief in our grand plan, we want to believe in them. We are major suckers for someone, anyone, who shows enthusiasm for our cause. Entrepreneurs see the potential in everything and everyone, and we are happy to hire on hope alone.

You can’t hire enthusiasm. You need to hire evidence. Recruit people who already have, by evidence. This means being extremely rational and pragmatic. Hire evidence, not hope.

The average “good” employee simply isn’t all that productive. The average cost of a bad hire is about 6 to 15 times the person’s annual salary.

Great employees can set you free. Free from the things you aren’t good at. Free from the things you hate. Free from the daily “emergencies” and decisions that shouldn’t consume your days, but always seem to.

Great employees truly are incredible, and they make your life easier and your business better in every way.

A-players want to work with other A-players! You might be thinking you can’t afford to hire A-Players. Good news: they’re free! Because A-Players pay for themselves.

The single most important thing you need to do is pick the right people and keep them. There is NOTHING more important than this.

Know what you want.

Always be the dumbest one in the room.

“if I have a better idea than my Marketing Director, we are in trouble. If I solve a problem my CFO has been stumped with for a week, we are doomed.”

Don’t train your people to be successful. Hire successful people.

Warren Buffett looks for: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And he warns that if they don’t have that first quality, the others will work against you.

What attributes do you want?

Never even list the compensation plan. I always just say, “much better than market standard.”

What makes work fun is doing meaningful work.

Hire ahead of your growth. Hire to conquer new frontiers. Hire to launch new initiatives. But don’t hire to put out a fire.

The only constraint of a company’s growth and potential is the owner’s ambition. I am the constraint. The market, the opportunity, everything is there. It’s up to me to set the pace, clear the obstacles, get the resources, and create the conversations to grow the company faster.

As CEO, the most important thing I manage is myself. Do that right, and everything else falls into place.

As the leader, you ultimately have 100 percent responsibility for everything. When a widget rolls off the line with a broken thingamajig, it’s not the fault of the guy who was texting instead of quality-controlling. It’s your fault. When a customer is mistreated at a store halfway across the country, don’t blame the customer service agent with a bad attitude. You’re to blame.

Everyone hates bosses. Don’t be a boss. And managers are wienies. Don’t be a manager. Become a Twenty-First Century Leader. As the leader, you set the pace. You create the standards.

This string is like an army. Push it from behind, and it doubles up on itself - you get nowhere. To drive it forward you have to pull it from the front, and it will follow you in perfect order.”

Leadership lesson in preschool, where we learned to walk in a straight line. She walked in front, leading the way, and at every turn she called to us: “Follow me!”

Leadership in the twenty-first century is less about the words that come out of you and more about what exists within you.

Whatever you are doing in your business right now, your goal really is to find a way to quit it. You need to stop doing almost everything you do at the office. Be a quitter.

Get enough sales going so you can quit taking out the trash and hire someone else to do it. Get more sales going, then quit doing the accounting. Hire a specialist to do it. Get more sales going and quit doing customer service, too. You want to go from everything to nothing - except leading.

We are a team, not a family. Hire, develop, and cut smartly so we have stars in every position.

The big secret of how to get it all done? Don’t. Just do the vital functions (amazingly well) and build a great team of capable players who are excellent at the rest.

So I bought a stopwatch and wore it around my neck all day. I turned it on every time I did one of those vital three functions and turned it off the split second I stopped. Can you guess what that (evil) stopwatch said? Less than 20 minutes out of a 16-hour day.

Success has less to do with what we can get ourselves to do and more to do with keeping ourselves from doing what we shouldn’t.

An inbox actually is the modern day mailroom! (So don't work in the mailroom.)

Delegation requires humility. A recognition that you aren’t the only one who can do something well, quickly, and competently. Stop being a narcissist and let go.

He’s figured out his one vital function. What’s yours? What’s your one thing that contributes the most to your enterprise? What is your greatest contribution to making your rocket ship fly?

“The client will pay whatever it takes,” we said. “How much would it cost for Sir Richard to attend?” Here’s the response from his office: “No amount of money would matter. Right now, Richard has three strategic priorities he is focused on, and he will only allow us to allocate his calendar to something that significantly contributes to the accomplishment of one of those three priorities, and speaking for a fee is not one of them.”

If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.

Warren Buffett’s key to success: “For every hundred great opportunities that are brought to me, I say ‘no’ ninety-nine times.”

Make sure that the next time you consider saying “yes” (when you really should be saying “no”), it’s a “Hell Yeah!” or don’t even consider it.

“Why do you do what you do?” I was quick to respond, “Impact. To positively impact people’s lives and futures.” A: “Then measure that.”

Metrics. For instance: New database opt-ins. The three goals that if you achieved them, would make this year, undeniably, the best year of your life.

Tracking your habits prevents drift. You need to know if you’re on track.

It’s not what you learn or what you know; it’s what you do with what you know and learn.

Reading 32 books means you’re reading a lot, but does it mean you’re applying it?

We have a tendency to say, oh, that book, that CD, that program, that seminar didn’t work. Noooooo, it wasn’t the material that didn’t work. You didn’t do the work.

Each quarter I figure out what skill is most needed to advance my BIG 3 goals, and I then attack it. I buy the top five books on the topic, the top three audio or video programs on the topic, and sign up for (at least) one seminar focused on that skill. Then I spend the quarter studying, practicing, and tracking my improvement on that vital skill.

Every dollar you invest in your personal development adds thirty to your bottom line.

I made $150,000 that year, and I took $15,000 and reinvested it in my personal development. The following year, I grew tremendously, and I’ve followed his advice ever since.

The greatest athletes in the world hire the most expensive coaches, consultants, and advisors. The greatest companies do the same.

Once you dig (find someone or something you like), keep drilling - go deeper.

The fundamentals of success are simple and easy - getting yourself to stick to them is the difficult part. Don’t make it even more difficult by confusing yourself with too many arbitrary opinions and conflicting ideas.

Habituate yourself to fear. Do the thing you fear over and over again, until you train your brain that it’s no longer something to be feared.

Now his achievement on the tennis court meant something new. It was a means to fund his mission - a way to raise millions for a goal he truly believed in.

“I had houses. Too many houses. I invested money. Money! I should have been investing my heart. What I needed was more people. More relationships.”

“If you could come back and live the life of anyone, who would you want to come back as?” His answer: “I would want to come back as the man I could have been, but never was.”