Derek Sivers is a man with his own mind. To describe him as a musician, circus clown, entrepreneur, programmer, author, speaker, philosopher, and Dad might whet your appetite but it would only be a part of the story. Whatever Derek does, he rarely does it on auto-pilot. He has a knack for questioning things, for doing something different. Don't try and put Derek in a box.

This conversation is about beliefs, comfort zones, different places, different people, experiences, auto-pilot, curiosity, ruts, and the difference between being AC/DC or Bowie.

It's a conversation about beliefs and the difference between what's true and what's useful and how we can all benefit from letting go of what we believe to be our truths.

Show Notes

Derek Sivers is a man with his own mind. To describe him as a musician, circus clown, entrepreneur, programmer, author, speaker, philosopher and Dad might whet your appetite but it would only be a part of the story. Whatever Derek does, he rarely does it on auto-pilot. He has a knack for questioning things. His beliefs are less likely to be a story he's inherited and more likely to be a useful experience. He listens to himself and when what he does fails to resonate, he notices it and explores the alternatives. He's learned to be unafraid of hierarchies, unafraid of complimenting people and understands the considerable benefits of doing things differently when things don't feel quite right. 

Don't try and put Derek in a box.

I discovered Derek's 'How to start a movement' Ted Talk over 10 years ago and have been recommending it ever since. It was a real pleasure to speak with him. He seems very clear that he learns from the people he respects and the material they recommend but it seems to me the lessons unlock something he already knows. He's not a man to change his mind because someone simply tells him something.

I've enjoyed every conversation on this podcast (at least all those we've released) but this was a little bit special. There are some useful take-outs - the power we all have to influence others if we're respected. The influence of negative motivation in our lives or put another way "I'm not going to be like him or her". In Derek's case he was driven to not be like the best musicians at school, who very early on traded the chance of doing what they loved, for a day job. There are many other take-outs for me but the biggest was sort of left hanging which is understandable given it's the subject of the book Derek's in the middle of writing. 

It seems to me his thesis is that we can benefit from adjusting the threshold for beliefs from 'being true' to 'being useful'. To me, this makes huge sense. "True" sounds permanent, unwavering, and inflexible. "Useful" sounds impermanent, adjustable, and flexible.

Our beliefs are a product of our history. Growing up we inherit them from the people around us and if we're awake and noticing and not on auto-pilot, our experiences provide us with the opportunity to shape or change them. But . . . what if we understood that the key is behavioural flexibility which simply explains that taking risks is often useful but sometimes playing it safe is the way to go, being assertive is useful and sometimes letting others assert themselves is the best approach, planning ahead is useful and sometimes spontaneous is . . . and so on. 

It seems clear to me that Derek's next book is a step on from his last book "How to live", which he describes as a book of conflicting philosophies. If you're into the world of polarities or duality you'll recognize the link. 

Derek describes himself as a pop philosopher but he's just a philosopher. He didn't consider the academic route and we're all the better for that. The constraints would have choked him before he got to the first corner. 

As with all good dialogue, this conversation left me with as many questions as it did answers. I hope we get a chance to continue the conversation.

Enjoy "Derek Sivers: The usefulness of opposites" 

Links from this Episode

Creators & Guests

Neil Witten
Entrepreneur, Business Advisor, Podcaster @lifedonediff, Co-Founded @StoryStreamAI now building & You only get 1 go, live consciously 🏂
Ray Richards
Converting small steps into the unknown, into the known
Derek Sivers
See for all about me. Newest book “HOW TO LIVE: 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion” at
Home of the podcast. Inspiring interviews with people who go against the grain & live their lives differently. @nwitten & @rayrich

What is

Do you wonder whether there’s another way?
Another, more creative, more meaningful approach to living your life. Well there is and there’s a growing movement of people from all kinds of walks of life who are proving that the way we end up doing what we do in life is often a side effect of external forces. Rather than a deliberate, conscious and authentic set of choices that have come from you and your unique needs. What are you chasing? Success? Safety? Fame? Fortune? Recognition?
Have you stopped to think recently why you’re doing what your doing with your life? Are the stories that you're creating today the ones that you hope your grandchildren will be telling to their children? Are you creating your legacy?

Hello, welcome to the Life Done differently podcast with me, Neil Witten and my co-host Ray Richards. Join us on our journey to find out what separates the doers from the thinkers. Derek Sivers is a man with his own mind. To describe him as a musician, Circus Clown, entrepreneur, programmer, author, speaker, philosopher and dad might whet your appetite, but it would only be part of the story. Whatever Derek does, he rarely does it on autopilot. He has a knack for questioning things. His beliefs are less likely to be a story he's inherited and more likely to be a useful experience he's gained. He listens to himself and when what he does fails to resonate, he notices it and explores the alternatives. He's learned to be unafraid of higher arcades, unafraid of complimenting people and understands the considerable benefits of doing things differently when things don't feel quite right. Don't try and put Derek in a box. I discovered Derek's how to start a movement TED Talk over 10 years ago and have been recommending it ever since. It was a genuine pleasure to speak with him. His voice seems so familiar. He seems very clear that he learns from the people he respects and material they recommend, but it seems to me the lessons unlock something he already knows. He's not a man to change his mind because someone simply tells him something. I've enjoyed every conversation on this podcast, at least the ones we've released, but this was a little bit special. There are some useful takeouts, the power we all have to influence others. If we're respected, the influence of negative motivation in our lives or put another way, I'm not going to be like him or her. In Derek's case, he was driven to not be like the best musicians at school who very early on traded the chance of doing what they loved for a day job. There are many other takeouts for me, but the biggest was sort of left hanging, which is understandable given it's the subject of the book that Derek's in the middle of writing. It seems to me his thesis is that we can benefit from adjusting the threshold for beliefs from being true to being useful. To me, this makes huge sense. True sounds like permanent, unwavering and inflexible. Useful, on the other hand, sounds impermanent, adjustable, flexible. Our beliefs are a product of our history, growing up, we inherit them from the people around us. If we're awake and noticing and not on autopilot, our experiences provide us with the opportunity to shape or change them. But what if we understood that the key is behavioral flexibility, which simply explains that taking risks is often useful, but sometimes playing it safe is the way to go. Being assertive is useful and sometimes letting others assert themselves is the best approach. Planning ahead is useful and sometimes spontaneous is and so on. It seems clear to me that Derek's next book is a step on from his last book, How to Live, which he describes as a book of conflicting philosophies. If you're into the world of polarities or duality, you'll recognize the link. Derek describes himself as a pop philosopher, but really he's just a philosopher. He didn't consider the academic rule, hammer all the better for that. The constraints would have choked him before he got to the first corner. As with all good dialogue, this conversation left me with as many questions as it did answers. I hope we get the chance to continue the conversation. Enjoy Derek Sivers, the usefulness of opposites. Anyway, I got my cup of water. I'm ready. Okay. Right. Okay. Derek, it is an absolute pleasure. Actually, I'm going to start by just saying, I really appreciate the fact that we've been emailing on and off for quite a few years actually, really sporadically, but you've always been so good at coming back and entertaining me. But it's amazing that you do that. Then I read something on your blog and I made a note of it because I thought it'd be interesting one to just start with. I think this was 2019. You answered 92,000 emails from 33,000 people in the year of 2018. I was probably one of those people. How do you do that? How? Okay. Well, you have first actually, I want to start to say that I was actually looking forward to meeting you. We were talking about you guys coming up from Brighton to Oxford. That's right. I'm sure we would have by now. If COVID hadn't hidden, sent me back to New Zealand. I loved living in Oxford. I was planning to stay there for at least 12 years until my kid was 18. I was going to come to mind it was saying my son, it was there at university. That was a while ago. Not the Oxford University, but the other one, the one that wins the boat race. But yeah, so then COVID hit and sent me back to New Zealand. So sorry, we didn't get the chance to meet. But so yeah, back to your question. I find that emails, you can make shortcuts for yourself. There are programs that can help you do what they call macros. So if you find yourself typing certain sentences or entire phrases, you can assign them to a hotkey. So I found that I don't use big generic form letters ever, but certain sentences and paragraphs I have assigned to hotkeys. So for me, going through my emails, just going to like, scans, scans, scans, scents, send, send. So it takes me about five or 10 seconds each. And I enjoy it because honestly, most of them are really nice. Almost no complaints. I mean, God, like one a week. I get like one nasty email a week. I don't mind that. And I meet the most interesting people. Like people introduce themselves to me, saying that they saw my video or read my book. And I'm a guitar builder in Slovenia or I'm a, I build fishing boats in Darwin, Australia. And I think how cool that I'm like, you know, talking with the guy that builds fishing boats in Darwin, Australia. That's badass. And it's just so rewarding for me. I just, I really love when people introduce themselves to me from around the world. Have any interesting friendships or interesting adventures come about from from you answering those emails? Infinite. Romances, friendships, God, yeah, like two or three of the big loves of my life came from a cold email. You know, somebody saying that she heard my stuff and was moved. And this is me. You should not be saying this. You should not be saying this. But you know, so it actually goes the other way too. So I have this page on my website where I show all the notes from the books that I've read. And so my favorite books, I always contact the author. And I'll say, hi, my name's Eric, I read your book. I absolutely loved it. I love this about it. I love that about it. Thank you for writing it. This is so good. And a few times that started a friendship with the author. Whether it's a book or sometimes even just an article. So I met Mark Manson years ago because I just loved his writing. This is before he had his book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. So I just loved his articles and just contacted him just saying, I just love the way you write. You're one of the best writers have ever read. And he said, oh my God, I love the way you write. So we like we met up in Thailand and hung out. And so on the back of his book, well, actually before he even got the book deal, he and I were talking about publishers. And I introduced him to my publisher at Penguin. And he ended up not going with Penguin, but that helped that he had multiple publishers. And so on the back cover of that Subtle Art book was a big blurb from me because we were friends before the book. And yeah, same with Tim Ferris after reading the four hour work week, I just contacted him. I was like, dude, this is great. It's made a big difference. And he said, hey, you're in San Francisco. Let's hang out. So that's amazing. But that's interesting, isn't it? Because it's just about not being afraid. It's not a thing. It's about not thinking that the you know, the pedestal. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. You got to kind of break down the pedestal and say, right, this is just another writer who put their ass on the line and sharing their soul with the world. And everybody loves to hear the acknowledgement that that this reached me. You know, so every time I read a great book, I always contact the author to say and they will know whether it's genuine or not. Of course. That ain't no straight away. Reading what you've, you know, the email that you've written to they will know whether you're blowing smoke up there, you know, or not. But why would anybody? I mean, it's the only reason somebody would blow smoke is if it's like, hey, I really loved your book and I'd love to have you as part of our program that you can join for a thousand dollars. That's what I mean. But other than that, you can tell that somebody's, that's right. Quite sincere if they take the time to read an email. Really quickly. Yeah. We had, I guess, years ago, you'll probably know him Bruce Dazley. He was, he was the CEO of Twitter UK for quite some time. And I think YouTube before that, really interesting guy. And he talked about this idea of using the middle lane. And what he meant by that is that he had found that there were ways of reaching certain people achieving certain things, doing things in the world by taking a route that most people wouldn't take. So the example he gave was that in an early job that he really didn't have the qualifications for and didn't stand out for, he drew a CV. So the CV was pictures with some explanation. Yeah. And it's kind of, it got him noticed and that was enough for a conversation that sort of led from one thing to the next thing to the next thing. Feels like there's a sense of that in, it probably doesn't feel like that for you today. But in what you're describing, it makes me wonder how long have you been doing this? And is it something you learn? You know, did you pick it up somewhere? Can you, can you take it back to, to some moment maybe? Hmm. I think the D hierarchy, I'm really glad that you brought that up. It's, I think it all comes down to that that years ago, maybe because I was running CD Baby and I had the contact information of the musicians who were sending me CDs, whenever I'd hear an album that I loved, I'd just find a way to contact the musician and say like, I love this album. I love what you did with the chord changes in the middle of this. I love how you kept going back from major to minor to major and minor again. Like that's so cool. I love what you did in the production of this song and like I'd give really specifics, like tell them what I loved about it. So that, that's, that's about transparency, right? It's just about, that's what you're feeling. That's what you're thinking. Why not share it with them? Yeah, which probably zooming out, it's a mix of two things. We've all heard that we're supposed to have a gratitude journal or, you know, feel gratitude, not only acknowledge your gratitude, but I think I also have this belief that if you're thinking something nice about somebody, you should tell them. So every now and then I may just think something nice about an old friend that I haven't talked to in years and, you know, laugh at something he said years ago or something like that. And I'll just ring up an old friend, like just, you know, just call out of the blue, you know, phone rings. It says Derek Sivers, you know, phone number that hasn't wrong in five years. And just tell them that I'm thinking something nice about them and it even goes with strangers. If I see a stranger on the street that's got a great hat or amazing freckles, I've always had freckles every then I'd fracked as a kid and I didn't want to have freckles. I know it's, that's a thing, right? It's like people with freckles go, oh god, I wish I didn't have them. I've never had freckles. I'm Swedish. I wish I had freckles. So what you're just doing is, anyway, so I just thought it was, I should always tell them. You should tell, if you're thinking something nice about somebody, you should tell them. So here's the key lesson. Most people don't hear enough nice things. Yeah. It's a, it's a, it's a, it's a beautiful trait. And I, and I, I say that in a deliberate way because it is and most people don't do it. Do you think, have you learned to do it? Well, can you track it back to CD Baby and go, yeah, maybe there was a moment where, what does it, does it start earlier than that? Was it embedded as a child? Where, where does that sort of trait come from? Probably when I was a teenager, I read the old book by Dale Carnegie called How to Win Friends and Influence People. Influence people. Yeah. But that was such a terrible title. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's really, audience, if you haven't read the book yet, just imagine it's called How to Be Considerate. I think How to Be Considerate would have been a much better title for it. But it's, it's a masterpiece. It's a classic. I mean, it's old. It's written in the 1930s. So the, it's usage of English and its examples it gives are a little corny, you know. So you just kind of have to imagine somebody speaking it like this, you know, because that was the, the parlance of the times. But if you can get through that, everybody should read that book called How to Win Friends and Influence People. But my guess, my guess is that didn't transform, it just reconfirmed what you probably were already thinking anyway, that this is a good way to behave in the world. It didn't, I think it probably transformed, I think it transformed my actions. I don't think I would have done it before reading that book. I think it made me go, oh, people, that's a good point. People do need to hear more nice things. Everybody loves it. I, you know, I'm a guy. I never get compliments. Guys don't get compliments. Although I do like your red polo neck there. That's looking, that's a little figured. And we love the sounds that I practice. Yeah. I love the sound, but yeah. So let's just zoom in on books for a second. So you are a fanatic reader. You've got 200 odd books that you've written about on your website. You've reviewed and given them, is it something like that? But be fair, that's since 2007. I'm not like a fanatic reader. I know there's some people that just read two books a week or whatever. Those are all the books I've read since 2007. So I think I read it maybe a little more than average, but definitely not a fanatic reader. I heard another podcast conversation. I think that you read Tony Robbins book Awakening, The Giant Within at a relatively young age. And I think I remember hearing you talking about that being quite a transformation moment for you. Can you talk to that for a second? What I'm particularly interested in is it sounds like books are acting as a lever of change for you. I don't know if they do that for everybody, but I'm really interested to hear a bit more about how do you think about the role that books play in not just learning and thinking, but doing. I mean, let's not over focus on books themselves, you know, bound paper. All that really matters is getting the ideas from one person said into another. So some people these days, a friend of mine is only 22 and just doesn't read books, you know, only watches YouTube. And to me, YouTube is trash. But damn, he's like, no, there's a lot of good stuff out there. You got to know how to find it. You just ignore the trash. And I went, wow, okay, like I'm trying to open my mind to the idea that YouTube can be an effective communicator of wisdom from one head to another. For some people, they just read lots of articles. They won't sit and read a book, but they'll read many, many articles. And of course, and clearly for lots of people, it's podcasts that podcasts have changed people's lives. But yeah, for me, it's books maybe because, well, let's just say my age. It's what I had at the time. It's now you grew up, you grew up with books with the thing. That's how you found information out. You went to the library, you, you know, school, your parents, maybe, I don't know, where they were into books or not. But yeah, that would have been the, it was before the internet. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, so maybe I just got used to the idea that the best wisdom is in books. Also, I really appreciate even now that how commercial free they are. Right? So even if you say there's a lot of good wisdom on YouTube, you've also got to be bombarded by the interruptions and the ads or even the, the in video sponsored thing, you know, hey, everybody. So, you know, let me tell you some wisdom. But first, today's talk is sponsored by So I like how commercial free books are. It just commercialism just doesn't enter into it. But that's interesting, isn't it? Because you can pay for YouTube and not get the sponsor, you know, the advertising, but we don't. But we actually did that book for my kid. But yeah, I'm, I do, it's interesting seeing commercial free YouTube. But still there's the, um, actually, it's a distracting point. I was going to say, but even just the way that they're made, you can tell that they're made in order to get the sponsored views or just like, you know, they make sure that the length is at least 10 minutes so they get more income. But then as soon as I was going to say that, it's like, well, a lot of publishers make sure those books are 300 pages. So you can see the spine on the shelf. So maybe I should shut up about that. Okay. But let's get back to the real point that no matter what medium you use to get ideas from one person said into yours, then it's about just how motivated or driven you are to act on it. So I read 20 Robins awake in the giant within at a really formative age of 19. And it was recommended to me by somebody that I loved a lot. It was really like a deer mentor to me said, you should read this. This changed my life. You are going to love this. And so with that weight behind it, I poured over every word. Like, this is it. And also I was at the time extremely driven to be a successful musician. Like, I was a single focused mission in my life. I'm going to be a successful musician. So I thought that reading this Tony Robbins book could help give me what it takes to be that one and a million successful musicians. You know, that's something that everybody wants. Everybody wants to be a rock star, but only one and a million get it. And I was like, I'm going to be the one that gets it. So yeah, I poured over every word and really ingested every idea to take it seriously. Like, I'm going to do this. I'm going to learn this mindset. I'm going to learn this mentality. I'm going to do it. And that's that's the next dimension of what we're interested in around how and why people change and how that's how that's happened with you. So I'm just going to play back what I've heard. It's not the book. It's the ideas that makes a ton of sense. But then from there, it's not just the ideas. It's how motivated you are to do something with them. And the fact that a mentor had given you that with real weight behind it probably helped with your motivation, but it also sounds like there was a lot of motivation dormant ready. Is that fair? Yeah, exactly. So can we can we go there for a minute? Tell us about that motivation. So let's let's start as the version of Derek that was looking to be a musician. Sure. Where did that star? What were you feeling? And how might that have been different to other people around you at the time? Do you guys ever talk about negative motivation? Like the motivation of moving away from something? So yes, at the age of 14, I picked up a guitar and stepped on a distortion pedal and went, oh, fuck yeah. Like I love this sound. You know, the sound of a teenage soul coming through that distortion pedal. But also I just maybe it's just like an introvert. I just I loved sitting alone in my room for hours practicing finger exercises, our pedgios and scales and this was like, you know, late 80s. I was doing the heavy metal guitar thing. And I just loved that. I got social reward from it immediately because I was really good at it. So after just one summer of practicing, I showed up at school again in the autumn and every time I said, dude, you fucking rock. Everybody check him out. Derek's fucking awesome. So I got the social reward and I just love to doing it. So I'm like, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to be a musician. But yeah, that's just my tale. But I think like the take away lesson from this is it doesn't really matter what you pursue. It helps. Everything though to have something you're pursuing, whether you just want to be great at chess or you want to be great at parkour or you want to be a heavy metal guitarist or whatever it may be to have something that you're pursuing that you're kind of focusing your energy and ambition on. Because if you don't, it's driving you forward. Because if you don't have that, anybody will get you there. You know, it's right. And then you're just a drift. And exactly, you're a drift. You're lost. And it doesn't matter. It doesn't, I mean, we've talked about goals before. And you know, goals, they're not everything, but they allow you to take the next step. Yeah. Hmm. I like the physical metaphor of thinking of a mountain peak in the distance. You know, that if you can actually imagine one of those places, if you live in a place that has mountains, I think most of us don't. That'd be interesting to find out like the percentage of people on earth that live within sight of a mountain or not. I think most don't. It feels kind of rare to have like an actual mountain in the distance. But when you do, you can see it from everywhere. No matter where you are, you can always just turn your head, you know, unless there's a tree in the way. But for the most part, you have a few steps. You can see that mountain in the distance. And metaphorically, then that can become the thing that's your, like, that's where I'm going. So no matter what else happens in life, something pushes you astray. You know, there's a road closed here. You need to go a bit west, even though you know your headed north, like there it is. There's the mountain that I'm going towards. It keeps you focused and driven. Whereas on the other hand, if you're just like, I don't know, I just want to go somewhere. But that's my, but that's my motivation, isn't it? Just a very good now wondering around his booth. So, so yeah, I think that having anything that you're shooting towards, then makes you filter all of the incoming information from the world through that mission. So that's me reading a Tony Robbins book at 19 that has nothing to do with music. But everything I'm reading, I'm applying it to like, how can I use this to be a successful musician? And it kept me focused on that. Yeah, can I just take you, so, no, go on. I just want to take you back to that. Was it 14 year old version of Derek? And you've learned some finger technique in your room and then you go into school and you get some social reward. And, and that's spurs you want a bit more. So many other kids would have done a lot of the same things and still not ended up pursuing that. Like they wouldn't have, maybe they saw that they saw the mountain peak and they imagined it. And maybe they got a bit of social reward, you know, maybe they went so far along the journey, but maybe they got distracted. Who knows what it was, but they didn't continue. They didn't get to a point where they felt like a cool themselves, a musician. And you did. What was different? Thanks for coming back to that. That was the negative motivation that I had a couple other, I won't even say friends. There were a couple other guys in high school that were great musicians, but then got sucked into the domestic life, that the guy that used to be like the best guitarist in school, I saw him like as soon as he graduated. He's like, yeah, well, you know, got to get a job. You know, and my girlfriend and I are going to move in together. So, you know, I want to start to save money to have a baby. And, you know, I play guitar every now and then, but, you know, got a job laying pipes for the village of Hensdale. And then there was another one too that had a similar path. And these guys were my massive, massive, massive negative motivation. I'd say like all the way from the age of like 16 to God, probably well into my early 20s, I was so driven to not be them. I was like, no, never. And so, you know, no wonder I didn't have like a steady girlfriend because I had negative associations with that. Like, oh, no, that's the beginning of getting sucked into that domestic life. Like no wonder I didn't have a pet or a house or a god, even a job. I had negative associations with having a job. Why? What was wrong with that? What was wrong with that path? Because that would get you sucked in to depending on the job. You know, so I, I mean, I had like, okay, most people don't have this terminology, but it's a musician or probably anybody who's hoping to make a living with creative stuff. There's this term day job. Day job is meant. I was like, yeah, I'm doing this from nine to five just to pay the bills, but like it's just for now, my real life is this stuff after five o'clock. That's what you know, music, the writing would be great. So the music, let's call it career, maybe it's the wrong word, but the life as a musician was something you... Why did you want to be a musician? Is it because it gave you freedom? Is it because you made you popular with girls? Is it? You know, why was it because you just loved lying? I think it was self-actualization. Yeah, okay. In hindsight, I mean, it's funny, you know, you guys must have this. Like anytime you ask somebody why, you can't really trust their answer. Most of us don't even know why. Exactly. Why did I get a dog? I mean, I can tell you some answer, but it's probably bullshit. So now you ask about, you know, me back in 1985. Why did I do something? No, no, no. But in hindsight, or maybe in my little storytelling, it feels like it was the drive of self-actualization, you know, how tall does a tree grow? As tall as it can, everything in nature has an unspoken drive to just be all it can be. Every plant grows as big as it can. Every animal gets as healthy as it can be. To me, it was just that drive. So it was, I don't want to put words in your mouth and you won't let me know. I know. But, you know, it's sort of something about curiosity, something about adventure, something about stepping into the unknown. It's challenge. Challenge. That's self-challenge. Yeah. Yeah. It's give yourself a mission. Like, I'm going to do this thing and then it's like, let's see if I can do that. It's not safety, comfort zone, the known stability. So hell no. So was there something you were reacting to? I mean, what was it? What, what, what, you know, what, what did your parents do? Did you grow up with your parents? Yeah. I mean, they weren't a big influence on my life. I think it helped that I grew up thinking we were rich, but rich in the definition of, you know, like upper middle class fine. Only found out later that we weren't. I thought we were. So I point is I thought there was a safety net that I there wasn't a fear of, you know, being destitute if I didn't get rich. I thought I'd be fine. I could fall back on the grandparents or whatever. So that helped a lot. But no, I think it was a lot of that drive with just the negative motivation from not wanting to be those musicians that gave up and joined the regular world. It's like, no, I'm going to challenge myself to be that one and a million that actually does this thing. Let's, I'm going to park Old Derek and come to today, Derek. And I'm going to move backwards and forwards if that's okay. So let's go back to to the Derek of now. When you meet people for the first time and they ask you that horrid question of what do you do? How do you, how do you answer it today? It depends if I want to engage them in conversation or not. My favorite short answer. If I don't want to talk to somebody, they say, I'm a programmer. And most people at that point will go, oh, that's nice for you. Let's move on to the next door. Yeah, exactly. But what's fun is if they actually know their stuff with tech and they're just like, oh, what kind of programming do you do back end? You do database. You do. And like, oh, really? Are we going to talk tech? Okay. Now this is fun. Because I actually really enjoy talking tech. I got, you know, programming is a huge part of my life. I spent a massive chunk of my life programming in SQL and Ruby. And I love it. Love it, love it, love it. So somebody actually wants to talk tech. That's great. But for most people, it just shuts down the conversation right there. But if I'm talking to somebody that I care about, or let's just say that I say, it's interesting to have a real conversation with, then I'll tell them I'm an author. Then I have to get ready for the next question, which is, oh, what kind of books do you write? And so my short answer now is pop philosophy. And that makes them go, pop philosophy. What does that mean? And then I have to say, you know, my one book was on creative and considerate fame. One book was about what's worth doing. My last book was about how to live. My next book is about beliefs that are useful, not true. And they go, wow, okay. And then that's, you know, then you just look at their blank look of like, oh, hell, what do we talk about now? So, that's how it usually goes. Do you remember when you started to, if you wanted to engage to answer as an author? Think about two years ago. So that was when I released, when I put out those two books in a row, your music and people and hell, yeah, or no, I put out those two books at the same time, thinking they would just generate a few thousand dollars to help pay for the cost of printing, but they did really well. And something like, oh, damn, I guess I'm officially an author now. But am I right that you'd written a number of other books before that? Not really. No. There's, there's the book called Anything You Want that I wrote in 2011 and was republished by Penguin in 2015. And then I just bought back the rights and re-released it this year, 2022. That was my first book. Then I have your music and people and hell, yeah, or no, which I wrote a few years ago. And then how to live, which I published last year. So those are my four books so far. If you go to, there used to be a, like a 32 other books on Amazon that was, I was the producer of a series of books I called Wood Egg, which is about, I was trying to understand the culture of 16 different countries in Asia. So I was the producer that hired like 185 writers and researchers to put together the information. It was my name on it because I was the impressario that made it happen. But I didn't write those books. I just kind of produced them. Go ahead. Okay. When you started to make that transition towards writing, because you've always written as minus standing, well, certainly for a long, long time, but not necessarily as booked, but online and etc. When you, when you started to think about writing the first book, what was driving you towards that? Easy answer. Seth Gordon asked me to. I thought you were going to say that because I've actually written down. I've got a copy of the book. It came in the post literally the other day. And it's nice to have it in my hands. I've read it online, but it's nice to actually be able to read it in a physical physical version. But it says dedicated entirely to Seth Gordon. This book only exists because of his encouragement. And I was really intrigued by that. Tell us more. Sure. I had no interest in writing a book. I don't put any ego into the idea of being a published author. I didn't care about that at all. I was really happy to just get thoughts from my brain to yours by using the internet. You know, just blogging. That's enough. It's very friction free. It just puts the words from my head into yours without even you needing to buy anything. Just here. Here's some words. Read it. There you go. So I'd never intended to do a book. People had asked me for years to do a book. I always said no. But then one day I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. I picked up the phone and Derek. It's Seth Gordon. Oh my god. Hi. And he said, look, I'm starting a new publishing company. And I want you to be my first author. I went, okay. He said, yeah, it's going to be short, just 11,000 words. Maybe not the story of how you started and built in sold CD baby. I said, all right. So you're in. I said, yeah. Is it okay? Great. Thanks. So I wrote the book in 11 days. And he handed it to him. He said, this is great. He said, I'm going to call it anything you want. I said, all right. It's a weird title, sure, whatever. And he released it in one later. And that was that. So did you know Seth before that? We had met a couple times. Yeah. I went up to, he lives about an hour north of New York City. And I had gone up and shared a meal with him and met a couple times. And is it fair to say then that his input is similar to the input that we were talking about from the mental that you described before? So there was an amount of gravitas to his nudge in the direction. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I guess we all have a version of that, right? Like we all have, there's somebody that could call you up and say, I want you to do this. I mean, you'd say, okay, I'm not sure we do have that. Oh, come on. No, it's somebody like, like if, you know, the, the president of, you know, some country called you up and said, I want you to be in charge of this. You'd go, okay. But that doesn't actually happen. There are a lot of, you know, there are a lot of people around the world. And I'm not talking about necessarily the people, even the people that all listen to this. But there are lots of people out there who don't have that in their life. They don't, they never get that phone call. They never say, try reading this book. No, I think, no, I, that's why I was so surprised at it too. I mean, that's why the story is almost laughable. You know, why did you write a book? Because a WMFG, Seth the Golden Colton said, I'm starting to publish a company. I know what you'd be my first author. So I guess the message, how do you say it? It's a note of that. I guess the message to all of us in a way is to be that person. You know, be that, be that person that recommends that book or ask somebody to do something, somebody believing that could do something that maybe hasn't done it before. To be that, you know, what is that person? I don't know. Is it a mentor? Is it, uh, you know, it can, you're right, we're talking at this level, like Seth Godin was, is a hero to me. I looked up to him for so many years, loved all of his books, poured over every word he wrote. I just look up to him as a person, you know, not just his first books. Um, but it can happen on a medium scale too, you know, like when I was in a band, uh, in New York City and like asked this guitarist, I heard playing this is like, you are awesome. I want you to be in my band. He's like, really? It's like, yeah, you're amazing. I love the way you play. I love the way that you do this with a little, you know, the, and it like got really specific and told him what I loved about it. I said, I'd really like you to be in my band. Yeah. And that goes back to what exactly what you were saying earlier, you know, you, you will stop a lady in the street or a guy in the street and say, I love that hat, you know, you look, you know, whatever it is, you know, it's what comes into your mind. That positivity that's in your mind, you share it. Yeah, because there's this core belief, most people don't hear enough nice things. And so if you're thinking something nice about somebody you should tell them, yeah, why not? Yeah, get over your, it's not about you. That's right. You know, or just leave it. Leave, you know, I don't know, hand them an envelope with something scribbled inside it. And don't, you know, and they're loping it later. But it's, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's, it's not about you. It's about sort of encouraging, it's about us encouraging each other and to go out and, you know, maybe do the stuff that we want to do, but fear failure. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, at any time you give somebody a compliment like that, you're really being vulnerable. Yes, that's right. And that's why when you receive a compliment, and sorry, this is a very un-English opinion, that you should just take it by saying thank you. Hmm. Because when somebody gives you a compliment, you have to acknowledge how vulnerable that was of them to come up and say this to you, even if it's just by email. So I know the very common thing to do if somebody says, you know, wow, I love that song you wrote. And we all immediately, you know, do the self-defacing kind of like, oh, now in a way, you know, that's, it's not normal. You know, God, I, you know, I should have done it better. You know, yeah, yeah, that's, it's really not one of my, not my best work. Which then is kind of insulting the person that just vulnerablely came up to you to give you this compliment, to tell them that they're wrong. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. When somebody gives you a compliment, you just say thank you. And what you're really doing is just saying thanks to them for having the, the bulls, the courage. Yeah, the bulls, the technical term, to come up and say this to you. Yeah. And Ray said earlier, when we were talking about this point, confidence, you know, building up the confidence to do it, and you describe yourself, I think, as an introvert. So you have learnt the confidence to do this. I'm really interested in understanding a bit more about where, where do you think that confidence came from? Again, did, were you born with some natural flair? Or was it learnt? No, definitely learned. Experience. I gave myself a mission as a teenager, just scribbling in my notebook one day and I wrote down this sentence, whatever scares you go do it. But with the follow on thought being, because then you won't be scared anymore. I've followed that ever since. And in fact, I love that idea so much. I even made it a lullaby for my kid that I would sing him every night. It's like whatever scares you go do it, because then you won't be scared anymore. And I follow that for both little and big decisions in life. So little decisions like the ones we're talking about right now approaching a stranger through any medium to tell them a compliment, a sincere one. That's a little like, oh, this scares me. Oh, therefore I should go do it. Right? Like it's just this rule of thumb. That's what rules of thumb are good for. There's like little things that you keep in your pocket that you carry with you everywhere. And then even in the big life decisions, you know, like huge decision, like my decision to leave America and never go back was the scarier option to me. I could have just stayed in my comfort zone in Los Angeles or New York City, two places that are big comfort zones to me. Or I could challenge myself like when I thought about like, what if I were to leave America and just keep pushing out into the world and never come back. I was like, oh, that's scary. So it's like, there you go, whatever scares you go do it. That was a very bright statement to write again at that kind of age. And again, I know I'm asking a lot because it's hard to go back there and it's hard to remember what's going on. And there's all the stories and all the rest of it. But what was driving you to think like that at that age? It might have helped that, I remember sitting in the back of a psychology class, like a basic psychology 101 where we learned about Abraham Maslow. So while Freud was studying sick people trying to find out why they were mentally deranged, Abraham Maslow was studying the world's healthiest people trying to find out why they were so damn healthy. Remember, he studied Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt and people like that to figure like, how do they succeed? You guys couldn't relate to this at all. So he made this pyramid of self-actualization that he used to describe like, okay, we have these foundational things, food and shelter. As you move up, it's a sense of belonging, love. And at the very tipi-top of the pyramid, he called that self-actualization like this drive to be your ultimate self, your best self. And, okay, so I loved that. I mean, like basically, you know, slumped in the back of a class listening to stories of BF Skinner's box and Pavlov's dogs. And none of that was interesting. But when they started talking about Abraham Maslow, I went, oh, okay, this is interesting. Like, trying to be all you can be. This is, I like this. So Abraham Maslow had this great phrase that he was kind of a guideline that he shared with the world from what he had learned from studying healthy people, which is he said every day, or a hundred times a day, you're presented with the choice between safety and risk. And he said, make the growth choice a hundred times a day. And I liked that idea, which is like every single day, just little tiny moments that decision to speak to somebody or not. Decision to raise your hand and say, yes, all volunteer or not. The decision to leave your comfort zone to get out of a rut or not. We have these choices a hundred times a day. So I think maybe just as like 15 or 16 year old, I read that. And it was probably tied in with my desire to be a successful musician. That's why I strongly like prescribe this to anybody, even in my kit, like my kids only 10, but someday really soon, like he needs to pick something. And it doesn't matter what it is, you know, to be a gymnast or a gardener or whatever. But like to, when you've got something that's driving you like that, you start to like look for things to help you be your best self so that you can achieve this thing. And when you step out of your comfort zone, when you've gone into the unknown, when you've taken risks, however you want to describe it, I'm assuming that there have been moments, periods, maybe even long periods where you've gone, what the fuck am I doing? This is hard work. Why have I done it? Oh, not. Hmm. Now I think I always know why. I don't ask. Why? I think when it's hard work, it feels like, like, ha ha, this is the shit that separates the men from the boys, you know, like, yeah, this is the stuff that would knock off the competitors. This is the stuff that most people won't go through, but I am. I'm going to do it. And I think I would get excited at that. And you know that because you've been there, done it and each time you've been through it and it works out. Maybe that stuff is like, I hear that from books. I hear that, or just kind of using your hunch. Like most people, anybody can say like, hey, I think I want to make an app. I have an idea for an app I want to make. But most people won't go through the slog work of the hundreds of hours of coding and wireframes and A B testing and all that stuff. They won't go through it. They just want to just like have an idea and then go hang out with their friends and, you know, because I get they get a chemical hit from the idea and just talking about it. Right. So I think any time you're doing the slog work, I think I, I've just associated the slog work with, um, this is the stuff that most people wouldn't go through. And so I get this even when it's hard, I know why I'm doing it is because this is what's necessary to get where I want to go. So actually, you know, we really get a bit of joy from it. Like, yep, I'm doing the labor, you know, like somebody who's building a house and I can keep going. This is what your senses are. I can keep going. I know that you're, you know, the others are not going to keep going, but I'm going to keep going. And each time you've done that, it's worked out. There's a book by Erica Lemay spelled E-R-I-K-A-L-E-M-A-Y, called Almost Perfect. She's this gold medal-winning acrobat contortionist aerial artist, I think it's the term she flies through the air and does this gorgeous like bodywork in the air. So she wrote a book about her mentality in training. And it's part of this. It's like, I have a vision for where I want to be and all of this hard work I'm doing and all the pain that I'm feeling is the path to get there. When I'm feeling the pain, I know I'm on the right path to get where I want to go. So she describes it better in her book. She's also kind of a hero to me in her approach to this stuff. So I highly recommend that book. And if you guys like it, you might, she's, yeah, she's out there doing it. She would probably be a really interesting guest for you guys because her book called Almost Perfect really went into a lot of the kind of questions that you're asking me today. That's a lot of what her book is about. Yeah, great. Well, definitely about. It sounds like from that early age you've started playing this game with yourself. And so you're sort of treating life as a game where you're, but they're your rules. And so the idea of go towards the thing that scares you is part of the game. And the idea that there is the mountain and I can see where it is. And I'm going to keep going to get to the top of that mountain because that's where I'm going is part of the game. Have there been elements where the game hasn't served you where you've really had to rewire the game, rethink the game? I'll give you, I'll give you an example of what I'm thinking. So you sold your business. And often when people sell their businesses, they go through a period of someone was describing it to me as the tunnel. They go into the tunnel and it normally takes five years or so for them to come out the other side of the tunnel. I mean, I think that's going to be really different for different people, but I've experienced lots of people that have sold their businesses and have gone through a tunnel of sorts because they were so. What is the, can you, what is the, what is the, I think it's a metaphor, but it's you, you were so, you knew who you were and you defined yourself so much by what you did, how you did it. Even what you did every day, you know, that business became a big part of you. And then once it's not there, you have to start looking at yourself and figuring out who you are again without that ingredient. And the tunnel is you going through that process. Okay. Some metaphors are self-explanatory some aren't. Yeah, sorry. You asked it, was there it, so yes, I went through that too. When I sold CD Baby, I chose to deliberately scramble it though. Like literally the day after I sold CD Baby, I started my next company called Mukork and I got right to work on it. And after a few months, I said, wait a minute, if I keep doing this, I'm just going to be doing the same thing I've been doing for the last 10 years, but with a new company name over my head. I don't want to do that. I want to make a real change in my life. So I deliberately scramble it. And I spent a couple of years reversing all of my usual decisions. Sorry, reversing, maybe inversing is what I mean. Meaning wherever I used to say yes to, I'd say no to whatever I used to say no to. I'd say yes to. And at any of those dozen times a day where you've got a little decision to make, I would take the fork in the road that felt the most unlike me. You know, like, well, usually I do that. So therefore I'm going to do this instead. And yeah, it sure did make a scramble in my life. I did a bunch of crazy stuff for a few years that scrambled all of my existing patterns and sent me off and suddenly I'm living in Singapore attending a Mongolian chamber of commerce meeting and things like that that I never would have done. And it was, yeah, it was a wonderful scrambling. So you started my work because that's what you would, that's what you were kind of programmed at the time to do. You know, you've created a business, that business sold, you know how to create a business, so you start another business. And that idea that you're climbing climbing the mountain is maybe what you weren't feeling at the time is I reached the top of that mountain. I might have actually reached it some time ago. And now there's another mountain to pursue. But this idea of scrambling in order to reprogram yourself is really fascinating. Because again, you're talking about that now as though it was a very deliberate act. Was it was it a deliberate act? And was that because you felt felt something? So did you just notice that something wasn't feeling right and you responded to that and again, again, in a kind of gamified way? Yeah, I felt that I was doing the same thing I had been doing for 10 years, which is Oh, an autopilot. No, not autopilot. Just like I mean, sometimes it's admirable. Paul McCartney keeps writing songs. Exactly right. Yeah. And so some people want that path. They want to keep like that would have been a completely valid path for me to take. That in 2008 when I sold CD baby, I could have started muk work. And I could have grown it into a big company. And there were some people that did similar companies at the same time, Task Rabbit came up shortly after that. And some others like that I'm forgetting the names right now. And they sold for hundreds of millions of dollars to bigger companies. Like I think Task Rabbit sold to Ikea, I think, which is a surprise. So yeah, muk work could have gone that path. And I could have made more money. But you know, so what? So but for some people, that's their values. It's okay. This is what I'm good at. So therefore, I'm going to keep doing this thing. And I just have a slightly different value system. I said, okay, my values to this more like been there, done that. I'll try that. Now let me try something else. I want to know the challenge. And that's what that's the kick you get is that of learning. Expanding. I really like expanding my sense of self. I like expanding my self identity to include other countries to include other skills to include other beliefs and paths taken. Even, you know, even with beliefs, if you guys saw my last book called How to Live. Yeah. It's 27 different answers to the question of how to live your life. Each chapter conflicting with all the others. So some of those come very naturally to me. There's a chapter on mastery. You know, pick something difficult and master it. That chapter was very much like that's Derek. Like that's very much me. And there are other chapters in there that are very not me, but I've learned to adopt a different approach to life. And that is a deeper joy to me is that expanding my self identity to fully adopt other ways of thinking about life. So what's the polar opposite to how to mastery? Probably do nothing. My girlfriend of the last two years read the book and that was the chapter that she related to the most. She's like the opposite of me. And really values doing nothing. Almost in this, what do we call that thing? Where do you go? Is it be pasta now? Where you go? Sit for 10 days? Yeah, did it recently? Did it earlier this year? Oh, we did. Oh, wow. Okay. So she values that. Yeah. And I don't. You know, so learning to value doing nothing or just being hedonistic and just filling your senses with everything to say, you know what? Future is just our imagination. The past is just a memory. All that really exists is right now. Yeah, so just go fill your senses. So do you think in any way that you're in a relationship with her because she is the the young to your, no, yin to your yang? Is that why we get into relationships? Because somebody else is sort of providing that other, you know, and you are to her. Yeah, that was the appeal. We broke up a few months ago. Okay. It's two different. Sometimes they were there. I think sometimes it can work. I think opposites can be intriguing. And sometimes opposites can balance each other out. Well, but if you're, if you're not feeling, if you can't relate, yeah, yeah, if you can't speak the same language, you're so, you're so, um, well, you can't relate. That's it. Yeah. I was often lonely when I was with her. Yeah. And she felt the same. And so after two years, we broke up. But it was fascinating getting to know her. I mean, at almost every level, her values were completely different than mine. Yeah. On almost every subject, including this since you asked, like the opposite of mastery. Yeah. This is interesting, isn't it? And I think that's a real, um, I think that's why it's so wonderful to put yourself in a position where you're hanging out with people that are so very different to you. Because you can, you can, you don't have to, you don't have to hang out with a mood, time, or forever. But my God, you can really learn from each other. I, I loved that about living in Singapore. I still wish I lived in Singapore. My ex who I have a kid with, uh, doesn't like it there. And so that's the only reason we're not there. But Singapore is such an interesting melting pot of Asian cultures. Um, everybody's from somewhere else, you know, just this tiny little island that just, I think, only 200 years ago had basically no people. Um, and so everybody's come in from around the region. So you have the people from the, uh, the South China, but also the Malaysians, the Indonesians come up with the Philippines come in and people come in from Bangladesh and India and they're all together in this little melting pot of a tight island. And it's a fascinating place to, uh, be confronted with very different value systems every day. And in fact, that's why if any of you listening, if you've ever heard the, the jokes, the kind of mean jokes about Singapore saying that it's a, uh, a city full of cruel rules and high fines and all that, the reason Singapore has to be like that is because it's a small dense place with so many massively different cultures in one place that there's no agreement on common sense. Yeah. What somebody, uh, deeply ingrained in a Chinese Confucian culture would believe his common sense is very different to what somebody that grew up in Indonesia would believe his common sense, which is very different to what somebody from the Philippines or India would believe his common sense. This is, this is playing out at the moment with the World Cup, you know, Qatar, you know, it's just, it's so, you know, it's what, what is just incredible that, you know, we have very different understands about what is right and what is wrong. And that's interesting because I remember spending time in Singapore and, you know, seeing, you know, sign saying no durians on the underground. Thinking, why would anybody take a durian on the underground? It smells so awful. But yeah, for some people that would just make come in Malaysia, it would make a lot of sense, you know, why not? It's a Malaysia, as soon as you cross the border in Malaysia, it's a much looser culture. But then more of a monoculture, I've known some people that a lot of people, in fact, that had to leave Malaysia because they felt oppressed by the monoculture of Malaysia. So yeah, Singapore is just fascinating for that. So, you know, if you understand that the tight rules are there, because there's no sense of common sense, we have to follow written rules to the letter in order for us to all get along. I think it's actually governmental genius and it works. But as long as you understand that's why it is the way it is, it's such a great place to get to know a lot of people with very different points of view. Yeah, I mean, we know, and I've talked about this in many occasions, but we sort of think that if you want to become in our language more behaviorally flexible, you know, if you want to expand your comfort zone, you know, go to new places. If you get a new place, you're going to meet new people. I mean, by all means staying the same place and meet new people, but if you go somewhere else, you're going to meet new people. And then also, if you're going somewhere else, you have got this incredible opportunity to experiment with your own personality. You know, you can't. You leave New York, you leave Los Angeles, and you go to New Zealand or Singapore. Anyway, you know, you don't know anybody, nobody knows what you've been like in the past. You've got an opportunity to just be different. Yeah, I love that. It's very American because America is such a big country with such a big variety in those states. You know, life in Florida is very different from life in Maine. It's very different from life in Wyoming. But you're allowed to just move to any of them. No questions asked, you know, so a lot of people do that in America. It's actually when my ex and I broke up two or three months ago, this is the first time in my life. I haven't moved the day after a breakup. Like literally every other breakup I've ever had in my entire life, I've literally moved to a new place the day we broke up. You know, you break up on a Tuesday, move on a Wednesday. That's what you do. That's super interesting, isn't it? I mean, I say you're you're really reacting. You're you're using it as what do you do? You're running away or are you sort of saying, but this is not opportunities. It's a springboard. I can go off and do what I want. Yeah, yeah. Opportunity to springboard. It usually just kind of coincides with say the living situation. Neither, you know, I was living in her place. She was living at my place. We break up. Just but somebody moves out. So I always just say your boy is your boy's mum lives in New Zealand. Yeah, just down the road. Yeah, I have to stick with it. We're both within every week. So those those decisions where you live, you know, you're making them together. So it's not as if you're completely free to make the decisions you want. There is a there's a conversation that goes on, right? For the next seven years, yeah. Yeah. And we have to make these decisions together because we both want to be with him every week. Yeah, yeah, right. He both he wants to be with both of us every week. So yeah, we have to agree on where to live. Yeah. And so did you buy the puppy? So he spent one to just spend more time with you or no, fuck you. It's awful. No, it's no, we'd actually we had a dog in England that we loved when we lived in Oxford. We had a dog that we loved dearly. And when when COVID hit and we moved back to New Zealand, we had to let go of the dog. Oh, that's hard. So yeah, we had to so we gave gave the dog away. And so for the last two years, two and a half years, my boy said no dog. And he's just like, could we please be dog and so like finally, like yeah, the time was right. I own a house here in New Zealand now. It's got a big yard. It's it's December, which means summer is just beginning. So he's about to have a lot of free time on summer holidays. I was like, all right, actually, now's the right time to get a puppy. So, um, and we're about so you're about so you're in the North Island or the Wellington. Yeah, bottom of the North Island. Yeah, Wellington Dead Center. Yep. Okay, so you're not too far from the South Island. No. Nice short ferry ride. Yeah. The the pop psychology, Derek, when and how did that come about? Oh, um, wait, you mean the pop philosophy of my books or my interest in psychology? Yeah, yeah, yeah. The the well, you described earlier that you said I'm an author. What kind of stuff? Pop philosophy. Yeah, but I just realized that um, I think about a year ago, I think I realized that that's the the gist of my book. See, even when I was writing about, um, starting and growing and selling CD baby in my book called anything you want, uh, it was really in a way. It was like a different philosophy of running a small business. Um, yeah, I kind of approached, I approached it philosophically. I don't even I don't have a I as you can tell, I'm extremely not academic. I went to a music school, you know, all of my interest in everything since getting out of music school has all just been self directed from books. I've done nothing in academia. So I don't have a very robust, uh, defendable definitions of things like this, but to me being philosophical usually means to me to like break something down to its essence and question it to its core, uh, and get get down to the root of it. So I think that I did that a lot with my business kind of asking myself constantly like, why am I really doing this? Like what's the real point? The real point is to help musicians. Does it help musicians more if I do a bunch of advertising? No, it doesn't. So why would I do it? Okay. And I won't. Does it help musicians more if I put advertising on my site? No. So I won't do it. Does it help musicians more if I, you know, ta ta ta ta. So like I'd keep using that as a guideline. But then I'd ask myself for then, why do I want to help musicians? Is that because I think it's a fun challenge? Because I think that they need it because I think they don't get enough help from the world because a lot of independent musicians are not very profitable. And so at every stage, I'd ask myself, why am I really doing things? And I break it down to its essence. And so because of that, I'd often make a decision that most people wouldn't make because it's not the norm. I don't usually just follow norms. I very often break things down to their essence and question why and come up with an answer that feels congruent to me or at least interesting. So then it's the same with my next two books. So there was my book called Your Music and People was actually a collection of advice I'd been giving to musicians for years about reaching your audience that in, in a way, does the same process. It's like, what is marketing really? Marketing is helping people connect with what you're doing. Well, what's a good way to do that? It's to be considerate to first understand from their point of view, why are they going out on a Thursday night for drinks to hear live music? What are they really hoping to get out of this? Is it to hear your chord changes? Or is it to forget about their day? Right? So even speaking with musicians about understanding things from the other person's point of view, from your audience's point of view, and then you can start to see marketing as just another way of being considerate. That marketing means being considerate. You're helping them connect with you and the better that you can help them connect with what you're doing, the better your so-called marketing. It doesn't mean spamming and advertising. And then in my book, Hellyard, No, I would spend quite a few years asking myself what's worth doing with this same kind of thought process. And so all at all, it's like, I think that's like the common thread behind all of my books is they're kind of philosophical, but not in any way that like what most people associate with philosophy is like, well, now let's talk about what Aristotle said about, you know, logic, you know, Plato said, you know. And what all of these dead men said, that's how most people think of philosophy, including me. I still think like when I hear the word philosophy, like, you know, it sounds academic, but pop philosophy to me is just a very day-to-day useful way of breaking things down to their essence and questioning them. It sounds like you were talking about it earlier, the way you make decisions is about understanding the sincerity of it. You know, it's really looking inside yourself and you know, you were talking about advertising, you would come and read it with you saying earlier about, you know, the emails you would write to Mark and people like that, it just has to be sincere. And I think it's such a lesson when we are sincere, people understand it. You know, and they buy into it because we're sincere. If we're doing something because somebody's told us that's how we can generate revenue, it's just fucking out. You know, it's not much fun, is it? Well, but then it's, I think it's about getting to the core of why you're really doing anything. Yeah, you know, it's, that's right. This is why, sorry, scratch that last sentence. But even if you're reading a book on marketing, you've got to know why you're doing this in the first place. Like, I know some people that are rich and are still pushing to get more money. And I just made more money. They're just doing stupid investments into cryptocurrency for no other reason than they think that they can turn this $2 into $12. And they're not questioning why they're doing that. Yeah, well, yeah, they're just like because, you know, because I want more money. And I can get a big return from this as my ego is being saved by this idea that people think I can make money. Great. Fantastic. But I think it's, I think it's coming from people. They don't even get to that because my ego will be fed. No, it's like they're just kind of not questioning it. They're just doing it because, well, that's what you do. You know what? I've never put these two things together before. It's the, the not questioning it thing that I have a problem with. And that's why I stopped yeah, in 2008 with my new company, Muckwork. I sold CD Baby. I started doing Muckwork because that's what you do. Yeah, yeah, that's right. I have an idea for a service. I think it'll help people. And after a few months, I was like, wait a second. Hold on. Why am I doing this? Just because you good at something because it'll help people. Yeah, just because you good at something doesn't mean that's what you should do. Right. Yeah, at that point, I was lacking variety in my life. Yeah, I was not lacking social praise. I was not lacking money. Yeah, I was not even lacking altruism. You know, I was doing a lot of things to help a lot of people. Yeah. But you maybe felt altruistic. It was profitable, but I was doing it for the musicians. Everything I was doing. You understood why you doing the service. Yeah. Yeah. So it's so at that point, I realized what I was lacking in my life was a sense of expanding myself identity and a variety. So at that point, once I dug down to the core, it made more sense to stop doing my quirk and do something different. Yeah. Yeah. You were in a form of a rot of some description. A positive rut. I mean, yeah. A lot of, you know, it's funny to me, seeing the difference between some popular musicians, let's say both of these. Actually, you know what? I'll be used to expired examples, but you'll both get the reference or anybody listening. We'll get the reference. The difference between ACDC and David Bowie, right? So ACDC was good at a certain sound that they came up with in the mid 70s. And they just did that damn thing for like 15 years. They get it again. Fair enough. But but some people love them for that. And apparently, the guys in the band have this kind of personality that they were thoroughly happy to just do that one thing for their whole life. They're like, this is it. The audience loves it. We love it. It pays well. People love it. Just do this. Yeah. But then you have David Bowie. It was like, I'm going to play this character for a year or two. Now I'm going to completely change my thing and I'm going to do a complete, I'm going to push myself to do a different style of music. I know nothing about and do this thing for a couple years. Now I'm going to collaborate with this weird ambient music electronic artist and do this kind of thing for it and kept pushing himself to change constantly. It's just two different personality styles. Yeah. And and and we got a little bit about ourselves. And he's so, I mean, I don't want to get on tape because he's you know, he said, oh, different but he at the end he lived it as well, didn't he? But he's lost out me. It was it was him. Yeah. He carried on so then he was I think doing it for any other reason than he just got such a massive kick out of what he was doing. He did it for himself. So I think you know, you need to know this about yourself that if you are the ACDC type, that's okay. You know, if you found something you love doing and you just want to keep doing that one thing forever, congratulations. You know, that's that's great. You don't have to feel that that's wrong. You should have more variety in your life. You just have to kind of just dig in and ask yourself what drives you. I got to ask you a question about how to start a movement because that's when I first that's when I first discovered Derek Sivers and I have to tell you, I showed it so many times. That's so many workshops. And how did that come about? I read Seth Godin's book. Purple cow? Tribes. Oh, tribes. Now tribes. Seth Godin had a book called Tribes that I read. And then I read Malcolm Gladwell's book called Tipping Point. And then just later that year, somebody was sharing this little video of a guy at a concert that started dancing and then lots of people joined him. And the first time I watched it and just kind of laughed and went, huh. And then I thought about it later. It's like God, that was actually a visual representation of what Seth was talking about in tribes and what Malcolm Gladwell was talking about in the Tipping Point. Like I watched a movement happen. So that's kind of what the Tipping Point was about. It's like how do how do things get started? How do they tip over into something that catches on to the public interest? And and Seth was tribes was like, what makes a leader? What helps people follow? So all I was really doing was taking what I had learned from those two books. And and pointing out that what happened in this video of the dancing guy was like a visual representation of what these two guys have talked about in their books. Yeah. But I mean, the way. Oh, sorry. I'll go ahead. Go ahead. I only noticed one thing that I can take credit for. I like stumbled across one unique realization on the way. It's like, wait a second. It was actually that first follower because if you search YouTube, there's that guy had been dancing for a long time. He'd been dancing for like an hour just with everybody looking at the stone guy, the stone shirtless guy dancing like crazy. It wasn't until one guy got up to join him. Yeah. Yeah. That's what made it okay. And so you know, as I looked at it like a third and fourth and fifth times, like, ah, that's really the key isn't it? It's really the first follower that made all the difference. That's the reason everybody else joined was because that one guy joined. And wow, what are the implications of that? So yeah, I just posted that on my blog. Any got some attention, but not that much. But then the Ted conference was, um, they were putting on another conference. So they put out the call for speakers. So I just tossed my hand in the ring and said, uh, I could talk about this. And they said, yes, talk about that. So I went on the main stage, uh, Ted's, yeah, conference. Yeah. It was absolutely brilliant. So I loved it. Yeah. I bet it was. Yeah. I mean, I loved it so much. And you know, if you're listening to this and you haven't seen it just, you know, Ted told Derek, see if there's how to start a movement. Absolutely. Just actually the better version. Go to us. You go to slash ff. Has it first follower? That's like the master version of the talk. The one I gave on stage at Ted is, is not quite as good. I stumbled a bit. But if you want to see me really nervous on stage, then yes, why? Derek, I think I've learned loads and it's been really intriguing learning about the way you think about scratching away and understanding what's what's actually driving you, what's actually making you do stuff. Bringing that to today, you are, you've spent a lot of time focusing on being a parent as I understand it. And you've been as thoughtful as we would expect you to be about transitioning into that role. Where is your head around the next re-invention of Derek? How do you think about that today? I don't. I don't know. I necessarily don't know. Yeah, right now, all that's driving me is my next book. It's my next book is called Useful Not True. I'm just at the beginning of stages of writing it right now. It's an idea that fascinates me. So that's workwise. That's all I'm interested in is that I'm not thinking in terms of re-invention right now and not even thinking in terms of big picture of what's next. I'm very head down and focused on this book. Can you tell us a bit more about the book? Yeah, sure. If you want to preview, it's actually the newest blog posts on my website. If you go to, at least right now, it's late 2022. My newest blog posts are all around this theme of believing things because they're useful, not because they're true. And so the argument goes, first you have to break down and point out how little of what we believe is actually true. So much of it is just social invention, right? So first you have to define true as something that's a physical fact so that an alien from another galaxy or a ladybug right now would both agree on it. That's to me my qualification for true meaning remove human interpretation out of it in order for something to be called true. So by this measure, countries aren't true. There's not a physical border right there that defines this country. It's just companies aren't true. Companies aren't true at all. It's this social thing. So we have these social agreements in order to get along. But once you start popping that bubble, it can be really a huge relief if you've stressed yourself out over concepts like obligation or loyalty or even regret. The past isn't true. The past is a very, very fictional tale you've told yourself. The future isn't true. If you're scared about the future and you're really convinced that it's all going to hell and you're really freaked out about this, well, you're acting like the future is true. But that's just the future is just what we call our imagination. And so it really helps to me to have somebody point out that none of this is true. And if you if you're freely anxiety, it helps to realize it. You're just you're just having a bad dream. No, it's not true. You can't say that it's like, damn it. Brexit is wrecking everything. It's all going to help it now. You're just that's not true. You're just scared. You're imagining you're having a bad dream. So, yeah, so the book is basically breakdown to show how many things in our life are not true. But then that we can choose to believe things because they're useful to us not because they're true. So if you're if I'm I've been programming computers for 18 years now, and if I want to learn a new programming language, it really helps for me to think I'm a total idiot. I know nothing. It helps for me to be an empty cup and receive the wisdom without feeling like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I got this. I know this like, no, no, no, I know nothing. I'm an idiot. Teach me. But on the other hand, if I was going for a job interview, I would want to believe, I'm a master. I got this. I am going to help your company so much. Like, that's the belief that it would take that would be a useful belief if you're going on a job interview. So, useful belief if you're learning something new is the opposite of a useful belief a week later, if you're going on an interview, we choose to adopt these beliefs because they're useful to us. And if anybody would have pointed out like, that's not true, you're not an idiot. Or that's not true, you're not going to help this company. It's like, well, shut up. I don't care if it's true or not. It's useful for me to believe. And so I think that that's that applies in so many other ways in life. And then right now it's useful for me. Go ahead. So all I was going to say was that I mean, that is just popped into my I mean, that's it means we can stop believing those stories if they're not useful. The threshold is much lower. Right. Yeah, you have to see we don't have to be attached to them anymore because actually, I don't think he's going to be useful to me anymore. So let's forget it. Yeah, exactly. So that's what the next book is about. It's a fun, fun, fun subject. In fact, I've it's something I've been thinking about and writing about in between the line for years, like years ago, I posted an article saying men and women are exactly the same. I say, okay, well, even if they're not, this is a compensatory compensating, it's a compensating belief because we all tend to exaggerate the differences between men and women. When in fact, the differences between men or let's say the differences among men and the differences among women are much, much, much greater than the differences between men and women. So therefore, as a way to compensate for your bias, it's better to just assume that men and women are exactly the same. Yeah. And so when I posted that, somebody said in the comments, you know, but it's not true. They are different. I'm like, I don't care. That's the whole point. Yeah. That's the point. Yeah. I love that way. So this has been between the lines of my other writing for years. Yeah. You could even say it about you could go back to any of my books and say anything I've written has an element of this useful not true through it, which is also why, you know, you're not an academic in a way. Yeah. Yeah. I have no interest in that. I'm really pleased to hear that you're writing that book. One of the conclusions if we've ever got to a conclusion in the podcasts that we've done so far is the importance of narratives, driving behaviors, belief striving behaviors. And it's really interesting because what I think you're saying is that you can change your beliefs because most of the beliefs are made up anyway. And beliefs can exist to serve you. So if you change the belief to something that serves you well, the behaviors will follow. Yeah. Which feels really powerful. It feels like that's your lived experience as well. Yeah. What an absolute pleasure, Derek. I've thoroughly enjoyed it. It's been great. I've learnt loads. It's just been fantastic. We normally close up with where do people find you? How do they find out more? You are you're right in the corner of the internet there owning your peace, aren't you? Not in a bad way. It's not in a bad way. It's cool of me. No, it's it's a I just keep everything on my site. I come from that early days of the internet where we all had our own website and and once Facebook came along, they just had nothing they could offer me because I already hosted all my own photos and I was already connected to all of my friends. So yeah, you won't find me on social media. I mean, I might have an account there that echoes something that's on my site, but really everybody, you know what I'm going to say is not just go to Go to my website. Yes, but everybody here going back to the beginning of this conversation and send me an email and introduce yourself because honestly that's one of my favorite parts of my job and it's the reason I come on these podcasts is because of the people I meet when I do. So I really love hearing from people that like are a fan of you guys that have never heard of me till now and they go to my website and they send me an email and say, you know, hey, I'm a course shoemaker in Scotland. We have loads of people loads of all shoemakers. I know you guys are the biggest torsion maker podcast. What is that called? What's the name of the job of somebody who makes horseshoes? It's a barrier. It's a barrier. Is it? I think so. A barrier. I think so. Nice. Good word. We and slitsure is the name of the person that puts the feathers on the back of the arrow. I learned that one this week. Oh, that's my dream is that we send you a barrier. That's my dream. And I'll send you a letter and return. Yeah, okay. Fans has to. Thanks so much, Derek. I really do hope we get to meet in person at some point in the future. Obviously, if you find yourself in the UK, then give us a shout. We'll do the same if we're in New Zealand, but absolute pleasure. Thanks, Derek. Really appreciate it. That's it folks. Show notes. Head over to the website at, where you'll find links, a quick summary, and you can also explore other conversations. If you're enjoying this podcast, then please tell your friends, give us a good rating, and remember to subscribe. We're also really keen to hear your feedback. So please do let us know what you think and give us your ideas over on Twitter. You can tweet us at Life Dundiff. That's double F.