Ranjana TN

Your Music and People – by Derek Sivers

My notes

I first heard about Derek Sivers on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. It was one of the best interviews I’d heard; there was something refreshingly minimalistic and unusual about him which I appreciate. Here’s the link to the interview if you’re interested to take a listen. I signed up on his website to be notified about the books he was planning to write.

He released his newest book, Your Music and People a few days ago to his list. It was an interesting synchronicity that I was doing my 7-days of following the joy experiment when his email popped up. Almost impulsively, I bought the book. To my delight, he had shared both the ebook and the audiobook. I started listening to the audiobook right away.

It’s a short listen – about 2 hours 40 mins. There are 88 chapters, all of them bite-sized. Being used to longer audiobooks, I was curious to see how this would turn out. Is it possible to have such short chapters and go deep enough into a subject? My suspicion was that it was possible, but I was keen to find out nevertheless.

The book delivers. Every chapter is packed with insights and drives home the point in a memorable way. The length of the chapters actually helped assimilate the content in a better way. In fact, I found myself hanging on to every word because it was succinct and had no fluff.

Although it’s written with musicians in mind (Derek is a musician himself), I found it very relatable as a writer. The chapters are relevant to anyone who’s pursuing a ‘creative career’ such as writers, musicians, dancers, actors, designers, painters, etc.

Here are a few things he says that stood out for me personally:

  • The concept of being the ‘competent novice’ and not an expert in things you don’t need to be an expert in (such as business-related stuff)
  • The mindset of a resourceful artist (the comparisons he gives are great)
  • The security of no security; how relying on learning to ‘live in the wild’ helps you develop the skills to fend for yourself under all circumstances
  • Releasing expectations by deciding that your creative endevours are only for you. This one was particularly relatable because that’s exactly how I’ve been thinking these days.
  • Focus on the fundamental stuff. The things that don’t change. As a writer, what that means is that I need to focus on writing great stories. There will always be a demand for them. Everything else – all the unpredictable stuff – is just details.
  • You have an internal compass. Always follow it.