Derek Sivers

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

Articles → My heroes

We all have occasional self-doubt. The only cure better than recognition from our peers is recognition from our heroes. So please allow me this rare gloat, because I just had a very heartwarming 24 hours.

First, my hero Leo Babauta linked to my “HELL YEAH!” article. Then two of my other heroes Guy Kawasaki and Kathy Sierra linked to my Kurt Vonnegut explains drama article. (And then the the New Yorker, too!)

(The highlight of the year was Seth Godin using me as an example in his TED talk while I sat in the audience. And Chris Anderson quoting my “Reversible business models” article in his new book, “Free!”.)

So, like a musician names their musical influences, I think now’s a good time for me to tell you about my heroes:

My Heroes:

Seth Godin
Seth is my rabbi. My favorite thinker. A huge inspiration and mentor. I often ask myself, “What would Seth say?” I usually don’t even need to ask him, because I’ve ingested his books so thoroughly. But I’ve called him in rare times of huge indecision since 2003, and his advice has directly influenced my biggest decisions. (I’m being as succinct as possible, but even got a little teary-eyed thinking back about this.) Thanks, Seth!
Leo Babauta
First read his story, then read his book. Focus is required to have that level of effectiveness in whatever you do. In our crazy, distracted multitasking world, Leo’s approach to life is a role model to me.
Tim Ferriss
Read my intro to our interview for details, but this audacious punk and I are a lot alike. I admire his constant results-focused search for shortcuts and harmless cheating. (Why not gain an “unfair” advantage in education and self-development?) I admire how he throws himself completely into everything while treating it all as an experiment.
Ariel Hyatt
One of my best friends because I so admire the way she thinks. Most recently she dove completely into her own re-education about modern marketing, learning from the masters in non-music realms, and is applying what she’s learned back to the music world in an incredible way. She’s my online marketing guru. Also, because she was raised by high-society New Yorkers and I was raised by a pack of wild kittens, she is my consultant on manners and norms.
Richard Branson
Sir “Screw it, let’s do it”. AKA Sir “Ready. Fire. Aim.” I’ve read all of his biographies and autobiographies and so admire his approach of, “That sounds interesting. Let’s make it a business.” I love his non-MBA intuitive approach to business, and never forgetting the real point is to make people happy.
Hugh MacLeod
His book, “Ignore Everybody” is the absolute best I’ve read on thriving in the balance of creativity and business. I love his perspective and refer to it often.
Paul Graham
His essays were a massive influence on me, so I loved it when he compiled them into a book. A fellow programmer and entrepreneur, his clear thinking always resonates with me. I aspire to write, think, and code as well as he does. His VC firm is a big inspiration.
Kathy Sierra
See her Creating Passionate Users blog and click the “Past Favorites” on the left-hand side. Get one of the Head First books. Whichever one appeals to you. They’re all amazing. Such a great and effective way to learn anything. Her lessons in communication and teaching are in my head every time I write.
Guy Kawasaki
One of my role models in constantly sharing everything he’s learned. His new book “Reality Check” is a great collection of his top blog articles. Not just a talker, he walks his talk Garage, Alltop, and more.
Harry Beckwith
Harry’s book “Selling the Invisible” is what got me to start writing. If you haven’t read it, please do. Get into his mindset of considerate humanist marketing, so beautifully communicated. See my notes from his new book “You, Inc” for a sample. If Harry blogged, he’d be an online superstar.

Anyone want to give a shout-out to their heroes? Write a reply, below, or write it on your own blog then paste the URL in a comment, below.