Derek Sivers Directives
Compressing 220 books of wisdom into directives
When I’d tell my friends about a great book I’d just read, they didn’t want to read it. They didn’t want 300 pages of anecdotes, explanations, and supporting arguments. They’d say, “Just tell me what to do.”
I realized that for some things, I also don’t want the full 20-hour explanation. I’d be happier with just the conclusions — the actions — the directives.
I spent the last few months going through all my notes for 220 books.
First I extracted just the most essential and counterintuitive points.
Then the hardest part was turning observations into advice.
I’ve now got hundreds of these wise directives.
How to be useful to others | How to get rich | How to thrive in an unknowable future | How to like people | What to do when you get successful | How to stop being rich and happy
Directives Part 1:
How to be useful to others
1. Get famous.
Do everything in public and for the public.
The more people you reach, the more useful you are.
The opposite is hiding, which is of no use to anyone.
2. Get rich.
Money is neutral proof you’re adding value to people’s lives.
So, by getting rich, you’re being useful as a side-effect.
Once rich, spend the money in ways that are even more useful to others.
Then getting rich is double-useful.
3. Share strong opinions.
Strong opinions are very useful to others.
Those who were undecided or ambivalent can just adopt your stance.
But those who disagree can solidify their stance by arguing against yours.
Even if you invent an opinion for the sole sake of argument, boldly sharing a strong opinion is very useful to others.
4. Be expensive.
People given a placebo pill were twice as likely to have their pain disappear when told the pill was expensive.
People who paid more for tickets were more likely to attend the performance.
People who spend more for a product or service value it more, and get more use out of it.
How to get rich
1. Live where luck strikes.
Live where everything is happening,
where the money is flowing,
where careers are being made,
where your role models live.
Once there, be as in the game as anyone can be.
Be right in the middle of everything.
2. Say yes to everything.
Pursue every opportunity.
Nothing is too small. Do it all.
Like lottery tickets. You never know which one will win. So the more, the better.
Follow-up and keep in touch with everyone.
3. Learn the multiplying skills.
Speaking, writing, psychology, design, conversation, 2nd language, persuasion, programming, meditation/focus.
Not pursued on their own, they’re skills that multiply the success of your main pursuit.
(A pilot who’s also a great writer and public speaker.)
(A chef with a mastery of psychology, persuasion, and design.)
These skills multiply the results of your efforts, and give you an edge over others in your field.
4. Pursue market value not personal value.
Do what pays well.
Follow the money. It tells you where you’re most valuable.
Don’t try to make a career out of everything you love. For example, sex.
5. Shamelessly imitate success.
Imitate the best strategies of your competitors.
The market doesn’t care about your personal need to be unique.
It’s selfless and humble to use the best ideas regardless of source, to create the best service or product for your clients.
Get great at executing other people’s ideas as well as your own.
6. Be the owner, not just inventor.
It’s tempting to try to be the ideas person, having someone else do the dirty work of making those ideas happen.
Ideas don’t make you rich. Great execution of ideas does.
A rule of capitalism: whoever takes the most financial risk gets the rewards.
The biggest rewards will always go to those that fund it and own it.
To get rich, be the owner. Own as close to 100% as possible.
7. Benefit from human nature.
Instead of complaining about the downside of human nature, find ways to benefit from it.
Instead of complaining about the rules, just learn the game, then play it.
How to thrive in an unknowable future
1. Prepare for the worst.
Since you have no idea what the future may bring, be open to the best and the worst.
But the best case scenario doesn’t need your preparation or your attention.
So mentally and financially prepare for the worst case, instead.
Like insurance, don’t obsess on it. Just prepare, then carry on appreciating the good times.
2. Expect disaster.
Every biography of a successful person has that line, “And then, things took a turn for the worse.”
Fully expect that disaster to come to you at any time.
Completely assume it’s going to happen, and make your plans accordingly.
Not just money, but health, family, freedom. Expect it all to disappear.
Besides, you appreciate things more when you know this may be your last time seeing them.
3. Own as little as possible.
Depend on even less.
The less you own, the less you’re affected by disaster.
4. Choose opportunity, not loyalty.
Have no loyalty to location, corporation, or your past public statements.
Be an absolute opportunist, doing whatever is best for the future in the current situation, unbound by the past.
Have loyalty for only your most important human relationships.
5. Choose the plan with the most options.
The best plan is the one that lets you change your plans.
(Example: renting a house is buying the option to move at any time without losing money in a changing market.)
6. Avoid planning.
For maximum options, don’t plan at all.
Since you have no idea how the situation or your mood may change in the future, wait until the last moment to make each decision.
How to like people
1. Assume it’s their last day.
Everyone talks about living like it’s your last day on earth.
Instead, to appreciate someone, live like it’s their last day on earth.
Treat them accordingly. Try to fulfill their dreams for the day.
Really listen to them. Learn from them.
2. Be who you’d be when alone.
You could live in a crowd, pleasing only others.
You could live in solitude, pleasing only yourself.
But ideally, when in a crowd, be the same person you’d be when alone.
3. Assume men and women are the same.
Men think women are so different from them.
Women think men are so different from them.
So counteract your tendency to exaggerate the differences.
4. Always make new friends.
As you grow and change, old friends and family will be unintentionally invested in maintaining you as you were before.
Let go of people that don’t welcome and encourage your change.
5. Avoid harming the relationship.
For long-term relationship success, it’s more effective than seeking the positive.
A friendship that may take years to develop can be ruined by a single action.
6. Act calm and kind.
Regardless of how you feel.
7. Don’t try to change them.
… unless they asked you to.
Don’t teach a lesson.
Stop trying to change people who don’t think they have a problem.
8. Find wisdom in your opponents.
Really engage those who think opposite of you.
You already know the ideas common on your own side.
9. Purge the vampires.
Get rid of people that drain you, that don’t make you feel good about yourself.
They make you hate all people.
What to do when you get successful
1. Change yes to “Hell yeah!” or no.
Once successful, you need to switch strategies.
To get successful, you had to say yes to everything.
Now if you continue doing that, you’ll drown in all the opportunities.
Now say no to anything that makes you say anything less than “Hell yeah!”
2. Keep momentum.
The temptation is to take it easy.
But like swinging on jungle vines, if you stop that forward motion you can never get it back.
How to stop being rich and happy
1. Prioritize lifestyle design.
You’ve made it, so it’s all about you, now. Make your dreams come true.
Shape your surroundings to please your every desire.
Make your immediate gratification the most important thing.
2. Chase that comparison moment.
You have the old thing. You want the new thing. Yes! Do it! Be happy for a week.
Ignore the fact that the happiness only comes from the moment of comparison between the old and new.
Once you’ve had your new thing for a week, and it becomes the new norm, seek happiness from another new thing.
3. Buy, not rent.
Why rent a house, castle, boat, or car, when you can buy?
It’s not about the thing, it’s about identity. This shows who you are now.
4. Internalize your new status.
You worked hard to get here. Celebrate. Relax.
Admit you are in a different class of people now, with different needs.
Understand there is no going back.
5. Be a connoisseur.
Learn what others say is the finest.
Insist on only the finest.
You will now be unhappy with anything but the finest.
6. Get to know your possessions.
Now that you own the best, it’s time to focus on what you’ve got.
Learn all about the features of your new possessions.
Spend more time getting your surround sound and heated floor just right.
Work out the solar panel charging of your Tesla car. This is important.
7. Acclimate to comfort.
Eliminate every discomfort from your life.
Blame others when the world seems hard, and is not living up to your standards.