Anything You Want

by Derek Sivers

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: February 23, 2024
 4 min read
Anything You Want
Anything You Want

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What are the big ideas?

  1. True fulfillment in business comes from pursuing passion and making a positive impact, not just chasing profits.
  2. Innovation and a strong focus on customer needs are essential for lasting business success.
  3. Starting small and simple can be advantageous, allowing for a stronger focus on solving real-world problems.
  4. Building a business that can operate independently ensures sustainability and growth.
  5. Designing a business should be about creating an ideal world that reflects your values and vision.


The Philosophy of Pursuing Passion Over Profit in Business

  • “Don’t be on your deathbed someday, having squandered your one chance at life, full of regret because you pursued little distractions instead of big dreams.”
  • “Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.”
  • “Never do anything just for the money.”
  • “Don’t pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help.”
  • “The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy.”
  • “In the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have.”

The Role of Innovation and Customer Focus in Business Success

  • “Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself.”
  • “Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working.”
  • “Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it.”
  • “Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers. Make every decision—even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone—according to what’s best for your customers.”
  • “It’s counterintuitive, but the way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.”
  • “Care about your customers more than about yourself, and you’ll do well.”
  • “Please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you.”

The Benefits of Starting Small and Embracing Simplicity in Business

  • “Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people.”
  • “Starting small puts 100 percent of your energy on actually solving real problems for real people.”
  • “There’s a benefit to being naïve about the norms of the world— deciding from scratch what seems like the right thing to do, instead of just doing what others do.”

The Importance of Self-Reliance and Autonomy in Business Operations

  • “Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business.”
  • “To be a true business owner, make sure you could leave for a year, and when you came back, your business would be doing better than when you left.”
  • “Trust, but verify. Remember it when delegating. You have to do both.”

Creating Your Ideal World Through Business

  • “When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design your perfect world.”
  • “When deciding whether to do something, if you feel anything less than ‘Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!’—then say ‘no.’”
  • “Any time you think you know what your new business will be doing, remember this quote from Steve Blank: No plan survives first contact with customers.”
  • “Necessity is a great teacher.”
  • “Set up your business like you don’t need the money, and it’ll likely come your way.”
  • “When one customer wrongs you, remember the hundred thousand who did not.”
  • “Never forget why you’re really doing what you’re doing.”


  1. Am I pursuing my passions and big dreams instead of just working for money?
  2. How does focusing on making others' dreams come true benefit my business?
  3. In what ways can I innovate and improve my business to better serve my customers?
  4. How do I know if my business decisions are truly what's best for my customers?
  5. What are the advantages of starting my business with limited resources?
  6. How can I make my business run efficiently without my constant involvement?
  7. When faced with a decision, how do I ensure it aligns with my vision of creating an ideal world?
  8. Why is it important to remember the majority of satisfied customers over the few who are not?

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