Derek Sivers

Interviews → Your Own Way Out documentary

Tom Libelt and Till Carlos ask questions about self-employment for their documentary film

Date: 2014-10

Download: mp4 or mp3



Do you think higher education is necessary, or is it better to find different path?


I think it is a great place to go and think and punch out for life

I think it is great for 18 year olds that do not know what they want to do and they can just go be in a intellectual environment for a few years but I don’t think it is necessary for almost anything.


What needs to be in your environment for you to be most productive?


I am most productive when I am completely alone. Nobody is around.

Total solitude and to me I feel that if there is one person anywhere else in the room, I feel like it drains my energy a bit. I think that is kind of the introvert way.

It is interesting living this nomadic entrepreneurial life leaving some people needed to be in a busy café even with their headphones on but in a busy environment to get something done

I am jealous of those people because it is easier to find a busy café than it is to find solitude

I am always on the search for solitude


Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to change your mindset and how did you do it?


There are 4 categories we can look at.

Most people think about going from being an employee to being self employed and they think that it would be easy to take a step from being an employee to being self employed

There are two more steps that come after being self employed

Number 3, you are a business owner

Number 4, you are an investor

Self employed means that you are the one doing the work. If you ever break your leg or get really sick, and you do not work for three months, you are broke because your income is dependent on you working

That is not real freedom yet

Real freedom comes from the third category being a business owner. You know you are a real business owner when you could leave your business for a year and you come back and then it is doing better than when you left. That means setting up systems and being the owner and maybe the designer of the system that works without you.

Number 4 is just being an investor and it is where you can invest another business

I think more people should really consider not just going from employee to self employed but going from employed to being a business owner to even from the beginning try to set up these systems in place that you already know from the start would not require you personally to be doing everything.

It is really hard, but it so much more rewarding because of this infinite scale. Once you design a great system, you have no limit at all.

Your time is not the bottleneck anymore.


If you could go back to the beginning, what would you do differently?


For me, the biggest achievement was as my company was growing, everybody wants you to do other things

To me I think my biggest success was staying focused, say NO to everything and stay focused on the one thing that I started out doing

I saw a lot of startup companies get distracted too fast trying to get their fingers into too many pies and they ended up bringing them down


What was your biggest mistake and how did you deal with it?


I think there is the emotional response that is usually what we call the nature response but you can have your initial impulse which is kind of emotional and reactive to it

If you stop and think about the books that you have read, the advice you have heard, you are going to tap into a deeper, wiser part of you that is disconnected after you finish your initial reaction and then usually, what you need to do I think is pretty clear

I think most people at any point in their career in their life know what they need to do

Learn the gap between knowing and doing.