Derek Sivers
Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. To reach me, email me: [email protected] (I don't check Twitter often.)
49 recommendations

Recommendations by Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers's Review:

Wow. A masterpiece. This is now the one “START HERE” book I'll be recommending to everybody interested in business. An amazing overview of everything you need to know. Covers all the basics, minus buzz-words and fluff. Look at my notes for an example, but read the whole book. One of the most inspiring things I've read in years. Want proof? I asked the author to be my coach/mentor afterwards. It's that good.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Aimed at already-successful people. The personality traits that brought you to success (personal discipline, saying yes to everything, over-confidence) are the same traits that hold you back from going further! (Where you need to listen to lead, and don't let over-confidence make you over-commit.) Stinging counter-intuitive insights that hit very close to home for me. Great specific suggestions for how to improve.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

The Compound Effect
book
by Darren Hardy

Derek Sivers's Review:

Classic self-help book, in the best sense. Inspired the hell out of me. Mostly fundamentals I had heard before, but put in a very energetic go-do-it way. As he says, “You already know all that you need to succeed. You don’t need to learn anything more. If all we needed was more information, everyone with an Internet connection would live in a mansion, have abs of steel, and be blissfully happy.”

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Mind-blowing anthropology. Great argument that the reasons that religions worship cows or hate pigs, that tribes wage wars, or Europe's 200 years of witch hunts, are all very practical economic reasons usually unknown to the participants or washed out of history. But they're revealed here in zoomed-out hindsight. My notes here can't describe it. You have to read the whole book. Riveting.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

In the same vein as his other books “Do the Work” and ”War of Art” - but a message that needs to be said again and again to really get through. It's all about the resistance, avoiding distractions, getting serious. Here he dives more into the mindset shift of thinking of your art as a hobby versus a real career. This stuff shakes me to the core, every time.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Masterpiece of cultural observations. I wish there were more books like this. My Wood Egg books were created with the same goal. Insights into different countries' cultures. Some amazing, like the reason for American's lack of manners, or Japanese procedures. My detailed notes don't do it justice because I practically underlined the entire book, I loved it so much.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Profound idea that everyone has a primary time focus: either Future-focused, Present-focused, or Past-focused. Fascinating implications of each. Because I'm so future-focused, reading this book helped me understand people who are very present-focused. Also great advice on shifting your focus when needed. I read it 7 years ago, but still think about it almost every day.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Forget Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and the rest. I really believe this is the best way to learn another language, by far. Using the most up-to-date techniques and insights, and a unique emphasis on getting the sounds correct first. It's not easy, but it's much more effective than any other program or guide. Highly recommended if you're serious, and ready to do it.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Psychology professor's digestible but deep insight into how our minds work, around the topic of happiness. Great metaphor of a rider on the back of an elephant. Rider is reasoning, elephant is emotions. Rider has limited control of what the elephant does. Surprising insights into ethics and morality. See my notes for great quotes, but read the whole well-written book.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Amazing book about willpower from Stanford psychology professor who teaches just this. Killer first point: The best way to improve your self-control is to see how and why you lose control. This is a better book than the other book on Willpower here on my list, because it's more actionable, better written, better presented. Really amazing (IF you act on it!)

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Rar! My heart rate is racing as I tear through this riveting book. Darren captures and spreads the entrepreneurial spirit better than anyone I know. I've been a successful entrepreneur for 25 years but The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster just got me more excited and enlightened than I've been in a long time. You must read and USE this immediately!

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Brilliant reversal of all of the “how to manage all your crap” books. This one tells you how to say “no” to the crap, set expectations on your terms, and be just as effective in a fraction of the time. This is perfect for musicians with other responsibilities (day jobs) that need more free time to actually make music!

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Almost too personal for me to give an objective review, because I found when reading it that the quirky philosophy I've been living my life by since 17 matches up exactly with a 2000-year-old philosophy called Stoicism. Mine was self-developed haphazardly, so it was fascinating to read the refined developed original. Really resonated.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what “Resistance” is. This book is about that. Read it.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Shockingly smart thoughts about your career. A MUST-READ for anyone who is not loving their work, wanting to quit their job, and follow their passion, or not sure what to do next. I'm recommending this many times a week to people who email me with these kinds of questions. Best book I've ever read on the subject.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

EVERY entrepreneur should read this book! Its methodology is the one I recommend the most. The stuff I preach is like a cute casual intro to the real deal: the Lean Startup methodology. (As an aside: this book is the one that pushed my book out of the #1 slot on Amazon's Entrepreneur charts. Quite an honor.)

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Great great great great GREAT psychology book about real ways to make change last - both personal and organizational. So many powerful insights, based on fact not theory. Inspiring counterintuitive stories of huge organizational change against all odds. Highly recommended for everyone.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Classic book on the psychology of persuasion. I read it 15 years ago, thought about it ever since, and re-read it now. How to get a 700% improvement in volunteers. How to sell more by doubling your prices. How to make people feel they made a choice, when really you made it for them.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Bold perspectives, unusual ideas, and surprisingly wise advice around an interesting subject of the “opposite of fragile.” Looking through that lens at health, education, governments, business, and life philosophy. Very inspiring, and sparks a lot of further discussion.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Thinking, Fast and Slow
book
by Daniel Kahneman

Derek Sivers's Review:

If you liked “Predictably Irrational” or “Stumbling on Happiness” or any of those pop-psychology books, well, this is the Godfather of all of their work. Huge thorough book gives a great overview of much of his work. Read the other quotes on Amazon about it.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Essential for all managers. Deep surprising study of motivation at work. Extrinsic vs intrinsic. Work vs play. When money is used as an external reward for some activity, the subjects lose intrinsic interest for the activity. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Many new brilliant insights, especially about over-estimating the differences between you and others, thereby separating into us-vs-them tribalism. Scan to the end of my notes, to see. If you know more books like this, please recommend them to me. I adore this subject.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Surprisingly deep and philosophical. The first book I've read in years that makes me want to read it twice. The title and cover make it seem like light pop, but it's a wonderfully-cynical British journalist diving into Stoicism, meditation, death, etc.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

An itty-bitty quick-read no-fluff book with the wisest succinct advice to investors: You can't predict the future, and neither can anyone else. Determine your asset allocation, stick with cheap broad indexes, and rebalance occasionally.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Any introvert should like this book. Wonderful info and insights about introversion. It'll help you defend your preference for low-stimulus environments. Since reading it, I feel better about insisting on my quiet/alone time.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Self-Reliance
book
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Derek Sivers's Review:

Pow! This punched me in the gut from page one. Takes a tiny effort to read the English of the 1840s, but what a reward. A masterpiece essay (manifesto?) on independence, non-conformity, and trusting oneself.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

The Wisdom of Crowds
book
by Visit Amazon's James Surowiecki Pagesearch resultsLearn about Author CentralJames Surowiecki

Derek Sivers's Review:

Mind-blowing examples of how groups of diverse people acting independently are smarter than any one person in the group. Has huge implications for management, markets, decision-making, and more.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Stumbling on Happiness
book
by Daniel Gilbert

Derek Sivers's Review:

Not at all new-agey, as the title might suggest. Harvard professor of psychology has studied happiness for years, and shares factual findings that will change the way you look at the world.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Everything needs to be a system. Think of your business as a franchise prototype. You should be able to hand the “how-to” manual to just anyone, to do it as good as you.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

After reading E-Myth Revisited, this is the best book I’ve seen on how to turn it into real results, step-by-step. Not ambiguous. Very “do it like this”.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Actually analyzing what makes certain ideas or stories more memorable than others! Fascinating. Apply this wisdom to your songs, bio/story, communication with fans, etc.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

The Art of Profitability
book
by Adrian Slywotzky

Derek Sivers's Review:

25 different models of profitability presented in examples you can relate to your own business, making you realize profit-sources you’d never thought of before.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Zero to One
book
by Peter Thiel , Blake Masters

Derek Sivers's Review:

Brilliant, bold, and clear thoughts about how to make a big Silicon Valley size company. Other great insights like definite/indefinite optimism/pessimism.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

A surprisingly great broad and unflourished look at all different aspects of self-improvement. Really great insights from someone who's read them all.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Faced with many options or decisions in your life? This will change the way you look at them. We feel worse when we have too many options.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

A true manifesto. A call to action. A kick in the butt for any creative person. Great thoughts on overcoming the resistance to creating.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Profound philosophy on facing the negative emotions head-on and getting to know them well, instead of trying to avoid them or escape.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

What Technology Wants
book
by Kevin Kelly

Derek Sivers's Review:

Fascinating historical and philosophical perspective on technology, where it's come from, where it's going.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Short inspiring book about sharing your work online. Really healthy perspective. Makes me want to do it much more.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Powerful thoughts on not running, distracting, or escaping, but sticking with something all the way through.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

My favorite type of book: pointing out and understanding all of the counter-intuitive things people do.

Derek Sivers's Review:

Pow! Love it. Great blunt advice about writing better non-fiction. So inspiring.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Inspiring study of how successful people took smart shortcuts and bypassed the long-slogging dues-paying process. Great insights on momentum. Read the whole book for specific stories of Jimmy Fallon, Skrillex, Elon Musk, David Heinemeier Hansson, and Michelle Phan.

Derek Sivers's Review:

How to do what you love and make good money :

Derek Sivers's Review:

“Ego is the Enemy” is a great book with such an important point. I wish everyone would read it.

Derek Sivers's Review:

Quitting something you love:

BOOKS | Derek Sivers
article
by @sivers

Derek Sivers's Review:

Great new book notes just posted from Seth Godin, Derren Brown, Ryan Holiday, and more. Go to

Derek Sivers's Review:

Updated my OpenBSD page to 6.1 :

Derek Sivers's Review:

Think like a bronze medalist, not silver :

Derek Sivers's Review:

Wow. A masterpiece. This is now the one “START HERE” book I'll be recommending to everybody interested in business. An amazing overview of everything you need to know. Covers all the basics, minus buzz-words and fluff. Look at my notes for an example, but read the whole book. One of the most inspiring things I've read in years. Want proof? I asked the author to be my coach/mentor afterwards. It's that good.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Aimed at already-successful people. The personality traits that brought you to success (personal discipline, saying yes to everything, over-confidence) are the same traits that hold you back from going further! (Where you need to listen to lead, and don't let over-confidence make you over-commit.) Stinging counter-intuitive insights that hit very close to home for me. Great specific suggestions for how to improve.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

The Compound Effect
book
by Darren Hardy

Derek Sivers's Review:

Classic self-help book, in the best sense. Inspired the hell out of me. Mostly fundamentals I had heard before, but put in a very energetic go-do-it way. As he says, “You already know all that you need to succeed. You don’t need to learn anything more. If all we needed was more information, everyone with an Internet connection would live in a mansion, have abs of steel, and be blissfully happy.”

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Mind-blowing anthropology. Great argument that the reasons that religions worship cows or hate pigs, that tribes wage wars, or Europe's 200 years of witch hunts, are all very practical economic reasons usually unknown to the participants or washed out of history. But they're revealed here in zoomed-out hindsight. My notes here can't describe it. You have to read the whole book. Riveting.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

In the same vein as his other books “Do the Work” and ”War of Art” - but a message that needs to be said again and again to really get through. It's all about the resistance, avoiding distractions, getting serious. Here he dives more into the mindset shift of thinking of your art as a hobby versus a real career. This stuff shakes me to the core, every time.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Masterpiece of cultural observations. I wish there were more books like this. My Wood Egg books were created with the same goal. Insights into different countries' cultures. Some amazing, like the reason for American's lack of manners, or Japanese procedures. My detailed notes don't do it justice because I practically underlined the entire book, I loved it so much.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Profound idea that everyone has a primary time focus: either Future-focused, Present-focused, or Past-focused. Fascinating implications of each. Because I'm so future-focused, reading this book helped me understand people who are very present-focused. Also great advice on shifting your focus when needed. I read it 7 years ago, but still think about it almost every day.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Forget Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and the rest. I really believe this is the best way to learn another language, by far. Using the most up-to-date techniques and insights, and a unique emphasis on getting the sounds correct first. It's not easy, but it's much more effective than any other program or guide. Highly recommended if you're serious, and ready to do it.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Psychology professor's digestible but deep insight into how our minds work, around the topic of happiness. Great metaphor of a rider on the back of an elephant. Rider is reasoning, elephant is emotions. Rider has limited control of what the elephant does. Surprising insights into ethics and morality. See my notes for great quotes, but read the whole well-written book.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Amazing book about willpower from Stanford psychology professor who teaches just this. Killer first point: The best way to improve your self-control is to see how and why you lose control. This is a better book than the other book on Willpower here on my list, because it's more actionable, better written, better presented. Really amazing (IF you act on it!)

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Rar! My heart rate is racing as I tear through this riveting book. Darren captures and spreads the entrepreneurial spirit better than anyone I know. I've been a successful entrepreneur for 25 years but The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster just got me more excited and enlightened than I've been in a long time. You must read and USE this immediately!

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Brilliant reversal of all of the “how to manage all your crap” books. This one tells you how to say “no” to the crap, set expectations on your terms, and be just as effective in a fraction of the time. This is perfect for musicians with other responsibilities (day jobs) that need more free time to actually make music!

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Almost too personal for me to give an objective review, because I found when reading it that the quirky philosophy I've been living my life by since 17 matches up exactly with a 2000-year-old philosophy called Stoicism. Mine was self-developed haphazardly, so it was fascinating to read the refined developed original. Really resonated.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what “Resistance” is. This book is about that. Read it.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Shockingly smart thoughts about your career. A MUST-READ for anyone who is not loving their work, wanting to quit their job, and follow their passion, or not sure what to do next. I'm recommending this many times a week to people who email me with these kinds of questions. Best book I've ever read on the subject.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

EVERY entrepreneur should read this book! Its methodology is the one I recommend the most. The stuff I preach is like a cute casual intro to the real deal: the Lean Startup methodology. (As an aside: this book is the one that pushed my book out of the #1 slot on Amazon's Entrepreneur charts. Quite an honor.)

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Great great great great GREAT psychology book about real ways to make change last - both personal and organizational. So many powerful insights, based on fact not theory. Inspiring counterintuitive stories of huge organizational change against all odds. Highly recommended for everyone.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Classic book on the psychology of persuasion. I read it 15 years ago, thought about it ever since, and re-read it now. How to get a 700% improvement in volunteers. How to sell more by doubling your prices. How to make people feel they made a choice, when really you made it for them.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Bold perspectives, unusual ideas, and surprisingly wise advice around an interesting subject of the “opposite of fragile.” Looking through that lens at health, education, governments, business, and life philosophy. Very inspiring, and sparks a lot of further discussion.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Thinking, Fast and Slow
book
by Daniel Kahneman

Derek Sivers's Review:

If you liked “Predictably Irrational” or “Stumbling on Happiness” or any of those pop-psychology books, well, this is the Godfather of all of their work. Huge thorough book gives a great overview of much of his work. Read the other quotes on Amazon about it.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Essential for all managers. Deep surprising study of motivation at work. Extrinsic vs intrinsic. Work vs play. When money is used as an external reward for some activity, the subjects lose intrinsic interest for the activity. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Many new brilliant insights, especially about over-estimating the differences between you and others, thereby separating into us-vs-them tribalism. Scan to the end of my notes, to see. If you know more books like this, please recommend them to me. I adore this subject.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Surprisingly deep and philosophical. The first book I've read in years that makes me want to read it twice. The title and cover make it seem like light pop, but it's a wonderfully-cynical British journalist diving into Stoicism, meditation, death, etc.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

An itty-bitty quick-read no-fluff book with the wisest succinct advice to investors: You can't predict the future, and neither can anyone else. Determine your asset allocation, stick with cheap broad indexes, and rebalance occasionally.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Any introvert should like this book. Wonderful info and insights about introversion. It'll help you defend your preference for low-stimulus environments. Since reading it, I feel better about insisting on my quiet/alone time.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Self-Reliance
book
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Derek Sivers's Review:

Pow! This punched me in the gut from page one. Takes a tiny effort to read the English of the 1840s, but what a reward. A masterpiece essay (manifesto?) on independence, non-conformity, and trusting oneself.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

The Wisdom of Crowds
book
by Visit Amazon's James Surowiecki Pagesearch resultsLearn about Author CentralJames Surowiecki

Derek Sivers's Review:

Mind-blowing examples of how groups of diverse people acting independently are smarter than any one person in the group. Has huge implications for management, markets, decision-making, and more.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Stumbling on Happiness
book
by Daniel Gilbert

Derek Sivers's Review:

Not at all new-agey, as the title might suggest. Harvard professor of psychology has studied happiness for years, and shares factual findings that will change the way you look at the world.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Everything needs to be a system. Think of your business as a franchise prototype. You should be able to hand the “how-to” manual to just anyone, to do it as good as you.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

After reading E-Myth Revisited, this is the best book I’ve seen on how to turn it into real results, step-by-step. Not ambiguous. Very “do it like this”.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Actually analyzing what makes certain ideas or stories more memorable than others! Fascinating. Apply this wisdom to your songs, bio/story, communication with fans, etc.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

The Art of Profitability
book
by Adrian Slywotzky

Derek Sivers's Review:

25 different models of profitability presented in examples you can relate to your own business, making you realize profit-sources you’d never thought of before.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Zero to One
book
by Peter Thiel , Blake Masters

Derek Sivers's Review:

Brilliant, bold, and clear thoughts about how to make a big Silicon Valley size company. Other great insights like definite/indefinite optimism/pessimism.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

A surprisingly great broad and unflourished look at all different aspects of self-improvement. Really great insights from someone who's read them all.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Faced with many options or decisions in your life? This will change the way you look at them. We feel worse when we have too many options.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

A true manifesto. A call to action. A kick in the butt for any creative person. Great thoughts on overcoming the resistance to creating.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Profound philosophy on facing the negative emotions head-on and getting to know them well, instead of trying to avoid them or escape.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

What Technology Wants
book
by Kevin Kelly

Derek Sivers's Review:

Fascinating historical and philosophical perspective on technology, where it's come from, where it's going.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Short inspiring book about sharing your work online. Really healthy perspective. Makes me want to do it much more.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Powerful thoughts on not running, distracting, or escaping, but sticking with something all the way through.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

My favorite type of book: pointing out and understanding all of the counter-intuitive things people do.

Derek Sivers's Review:

Pow! Love it. Great blunt advice about writing better non-fiction. So inspiring.

Ref: https://sivers.org/book

Derek Sivers's Review:

Inspiring study of how successful people took smart shortcuts and bypassed the long-slogging dues-paying process. Great insights on momentum. Read the whole book for specific stories of Jimmy Fallon, Skrillex, Elon Musk, David Heinemeier Hansson, and Michelle Phan.

Derek Sivers's Review:

How to do what you love and make good money :

Derek Sivers's Review:

“Ego is the Enemy” is a great book with such an important point. I wish everyone would read it.

Derek Sivers's Review:

Quitting something you love:

BOOKS | Derek Sivers
article
by @sivers

Derek Sivers's Review:

Great new book notes just posted from Seth Godin, Derren Brown, Ryan Holiday, and more. Go to

Derek Sivers's Review:

Updated my OpenBSD page to 6.1 :

Derek Sivers's Review:

Think like a bronze medalist, not silver :

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