“We’re prepared to offer $22 million dollars,” he said over the phone.
I said, “That sounds fair as long as it’s free and clear, and I don’t have to do anything for it.”
And with that, I had a verbal agreement to sell my company, my single focus of the last ten years. The paperwork completed a few months later with a wire transfer.
That $22 million was all mine, with no strings attached, since I had no investors and no debts. I didn’t want or need it. I already had $4 million from running the business, so I’d already satisfied any shallow desires years ago.
I was a youthful 37, no kids, no debts, a light-weight life with hardly any possessions, wasn’t tied to any location, and had recently broken up with my girlfriend. And now I had signed a non-compete agreement that said I couldn’t do the one thing I’d been doing since I was 27.
So it got me thinking:
What am I going to do next? What should I do with $22 million dollars? How can I be smart about this? Based on what values? Altruism? Hedonism? Conquest? Legacy? Personal growth?
But what is personal growth, anyway? Being more of who I already am, or re-defining myself into someone different? Expanding my horizons, or narrowing my focus?
It made me question everything.
What do you do when you don’t have to do anything? Where do you go when you don’t have to be anywhere?
The next morning I woke up with a great idea for my next business. I called it Muckwork, got the domain name, incorporated a company, built the database, started programming it, and even announced it. But after a few months of building it, I realized that I had this great opportunity to make a real change in my life, but here I was doing the exact same thing I’d been doing for the last ten years — just a slightly different business. If I launched this, I’d be committing to many more years of the same.
So those questions came back.
What else could I be? Where else could I be? How can I make a real change?
For the next ten years, I wrote for hours a day in my private journal, asking myself questions and answering them, then often taking experimental and radical actions based on these thoughts. I sold my company, got rich, moved to Singapore, got famous, had a baby, and moved to New Zealand. I created a new life.
When my diary thoughts seemed useful to others, I’d turn them into articles, which are now the chapters of this book. It’s mostly about what’s worth doing, fixing faulty thinking, and making things happen. The title is “Hell Yeah or No” because that’s one catchy way to decide what’s worth doing, but it’s just one of many tools in here.
I write succinctly because I’m only introducing ideas. You can apply them to your life better than I can. But if you want to hear more thoughts or talk about them, go to the URL at the end of each chapter. (sivers.org/_____) There you’ll find many interesting comments about that idea, and can post your own.
Or just say hello at sivers.org/contact
I love hearing from people who have found my work. I reply to every email.
— Derek Sivers, Oxford, England, 2019