Startup Roots Speaker Series #3 Recap – Derek Sivers

If you missed out on last Thursday’s Startup Roots talk by Derek Sivers at Hackerspace, you’ll have a chance to hear him at next week’s Echelon 2011. Still, I’m sure the folks who made it to our event would attest that it couldn’t get any closer at Hackerspace than coffee with the man himself. Derek spoke about lessons learnt from his wonderful journey working on and subsequently selling CD Baby, and kept the crowd engaged for 30 minutes with his down-to-earth yet witty and humorous truths.

"CD Baby began simply as a website to sell my CD." - Derek Sivers

"CD Baby began simply as a website to sell my CD." - Derek Sivers

I thought Derek’s personal tale mirrored much of Joi’s – a good decade-plus of nothingness trying to do what they love, until they stumbled upon their big break. Derek never planned on becoming an entrepreneur, and from his presentation, appeared to have stumbled into it. Few can claim a near-instant leap to fame like Mark Zuckerberg. Even Steve Jobs had to endure heartbreak from an ouster and meander around before finding success. All roads may ultimately lead to Rome, but you certainly won’t have an easy time walking the talk before that.

Some personal favorites that I jotted down in my notebook:

  • Know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t be convinced by others to do what they want you to.
  • Know your goal.
  • Ask instead of answer.
  • Learn instead of preach.
  • If people aren’t loving what you’re doing, stop! Don’t persist, don’t push it.
  • Idea/Execution multiplication matrix (see below, slide 65)
  • Be “shockingly unique“. Use “uncommon sense“.
Panorama of Hackerspace during Derek's talk

Panorama of Hackerspace during Derek's talk

And here’s Derek’s slides:

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.