Derek Sivers

Interviews → Live Your Mission / Peter Awad

Great interview with smart questions. How to make the difficult things fun, my thoughts on money, failure, finding your mission

Date: 2020-04

Download: audio (mp3) or video (mp4)

Link: https://missionmeats.co/blogs/news/lym-019-derek-sivers-founder-of-cd-baby-on-closing-chapters-to-start-new-ones


Peter:

Derek, welcome to the show.

Derek:

Thanks, Peter. Good to see you again.

Peter:

It’s really great to talk to you again. It’s been about four and a half years. The last time we chatted was on the Slow Hustle podcast.

We’ll dive right in. First question – what do you say when someone asks you what you do? Is that your current mission, or is it something different?

Derek:

You know how to dive right in [laughter].

For 15 years, I was a musician, and my mission was to be a great songwriter and performer.

For 10 years after that, it was CD Baby. So, my mission was to help musicians by building a great distribution system for them.

But then I sold CD Baby. So now, I’m a writer of pop philosophy, and my mission is to see different perspectives on life.

I never think that one perspective is correct and the others are wrong. Instead, I try to find different ways to look at this multi-faceted life, and I try to write about it in an interesting and memorable way.

Peter:

And why are you the right person for this? Why are you the right person for the job?

Derek:

Because I’m retired. I don’t work for money anymore. I haven’t earned any money since 2008. Everything I do, I do for intrinsic reasons. I pretty much do everything at a loss. I’ve been losing money since 2008. That should be my proud slogan [laughter].

I feel that it’s the right time for me to do something like this. I feel that most people are too busy to be thinking almost worthless thoughts. What’s another way to look at the question of how to live? Most people have to get on with their lives. They have stuff to do. They don’t have time to sit around and ponder that. But I do.

Peter:

I have a couple follow-ups on that. One is, how are you able to do that? You say you’re retired. You can financially afford to do that, but mentally, how do you get over the hang up of not having to produce in that sort of way?

There are plenty of founders that have exited for hundreds of millions of dollars and almost immediately jumped into another venture. They have to produce. They have to make money. And they haven’t allowed themselves to think the way that you’re thinking.

What is it about you that’s different? What thought process did allow yourself to have?

Derek:

I almost did that. When I sold CD Baby, I almost moved to Silicon Valley and thought about being an angel investor. I probably would’ve made a lot of money if I did that because I would have moved there in 2009 when things were at the tough. It would have been a very profitable 12 years.

But as soon as I took one little step into that world, I went, “Eh. I don’t like this.”

The reason I created CD Baby was to help musicians. I was a musician helping other musicians. I feel like I got incorrectly categorized as an entrepreneur. When I meet other entrepreneurs, I feel like we don’t have much in common.

When I meet other musicians, I’m like, “Oh, yeah. Now we can talk.” I have more in common with musicians and authors and artists. When I talk to other entrepreneurs and they start talking to me about investors and “doing our second round series,” I actually have no idea what they’re saying. I never learned what that stuff means.

And I don’t want to. I hate that world of maximizing shareholder return. I took one step into that world and then ran the other way. It made me question “What do I really want?”

Also, when it comes to money, when we see those people who have a car or a house that’s overflowing with junk, we call them hoarders. We know that that’s a mental disorder. But yet, if somebody has 100 million dollars and they feel that they need 100 hundred million more, we go, “Hey, right on!” [Laughter]

It’s a disease. Why would you ever need more? What are you going to do with that money? You can’t spend it. Everyone has a comfortable set point where it aligns with their self-image. There’s somebody out there who is a billionaire and feels like it’s not enough. Their set points don’t match their self-image.

To me, I hit a few million dollars and I thought, “Yeah, that’s enough. I’m never going to spend that.” I would be a fool to try to earn more.

Peter:

Do you think that you have this certain perspective and mindset because you’ve kept your mission at the forefront and that is what has allowed you to say, “No, I don’t need to go that direction. I don’t need to move to Silicon Valley. I don’t need to be an investor. That has nothing to do with my mission in life.” Is that what it is?

Derek:

Yeah. Part of the reason I answered your first question the way I did in these three parts – I was a musician, then I was the CD Baby guy and now, I am a pop philosophy writer – is that the mission is ever-changing. We have to admit when our mission has changed. It can be tough to realize.

Sometimes it’s very slow and creeps up on you. You notice it as a lack of enthusiasm for a while. Then you have to realize, “I think that I’m following an expired path.”

That’s what I mean when I said as soon as I sold CD Baby, I originally started the typical plan of moving to Silicon Valley. But right away, I went, “No. Hold on. This is kind of my old path. Something’s expired.”

I had to see what my new mission was. It took me a while. The answer that I gave you, “I’m a writer of pop philosophy,” only occurred to me a few months ago. Up until a year ago, if you would have asked me, I would have said, “I’m a programmer and entrepreneur.”

I was still using my expired identity. When somebody says, “What’s your name?” You say, “Peter!” You don’t rethink it every time. So, if somebody asked me, “What do you do?” I said, “Programmer and entrepreneur.”

It took me a few years to realize that it’s not what I’m really doing anymore.

Peter:

What did it feel like when you realized that that wasn’t who you were anymore?

Derek:

Liberating. The question that changed my mind is when I asked myself, “Who are my heroes?”

When I wrote down my heroes in my journal, I looked back at the list, and they were all my favorite authors. My favorite authors are my heroes. There’s not a single entrepreneur or programmer on this list.

Although programming is still my top hobby. I actually spend as much time programming as I do writing. But it’s just a hobby. It’s not a profession. I’m not trying to be great. I just enjoy it.

It was liberating because I went, “Oh yeah, this is what I really love. This is who I really am. I love ideas and communicating and writing and thoughts and learning and creating. I like that more than business. Yeah!”

Peter:

And you’re excellent at it, by the way.

I ask that question because I know that when you identify with a profession and you’re really good at it, when it comes to an end, you feel like a failure.

It feels like, “Oh, I was supposed to be good at this forever and I’m not anymore.”

Derek:

Yes!

Peter:

“Now what do I do? Did I just fail?”

It’s weird because jobs come to an end and businesses come to an end. You lose your work and then you find a new job. It’s a little bit painful, but it’s not an identity crisis.

But for some reason, as a founder, or an entrepreneur, or writer, or a musician, if that expires, it feels like you failed.

Richard Branson said, “It was good while it lasted,” which is completely different. It was great while it lasted, and now I don’t do that anymore.

Derek:

I’m going to make even one more comparison for you. I was married for six and a half years, and it was great. Then one day, the two of us, went out to a movie on a Saturday. After the movie, we looked at each other and one of us said, “Do you want to break up?”

The other one said, “Yeah, do you?”

“Yeah. Let’s break up.”

“Cool. You’re not upset?”

“No. Are you?”

“No.”

“Cool.”

We walked home arm in arm thinking, “Wow, we just broke up. That was a good marriage. It was great while it lasted.”

Honestly, we never even fought. It was the perfect relationship for six and a half years. But we were going different directions in life. It was the most beautiful ending. Most amicable. I actually left that night. I was so excited to move on with my life that while she was asleep that night, I packed the car and I left. I haven’t seen her since.

And there were no hard feelings. It was the perfect ending. In our six and a half years together, we fought once about four years into the relationship. We had one fight ever about whose turn it was to clean the bathroom. I’m saying all this because was that a failed marriage? No, it was a great marriage.

Peter:

I love that you said “expired” because things have an end date. The danger we feel about who we are, is tied to what we’re presently doing. When it comes to an end, it feels like you have come to an end, versus viewing it as a chapter.

We can acknowledge that it was a great chapter, but now, there’s a new one, and that’s okay. Chapters coming to an end doesn’t mean the book is bad. It means there’s more to say.

Did you have any idea that you’d end up being where you’re at now?

Derek:

Yeah, it was really deliberate.

When I sold CD Baby, I was a little lost. I couldn’t see any future because I really did think I was going to run CD Baby until I died.

NPR did a story on me back in 2004 and in that interview, my answer to the closing question was, “Oh, yeah. I’m going to be doing this until I die. I’ll be doing this someday in the distant future when nobody buys CDs anymore. It’ll just be me here alone in the warehouse shipping one CD a day to that freak who wants one.”

I fully meant it. That wasn’t some kind of posturing. Then weird life circumstances happened, and I sold the company. Selling the company felt like a bit of a failure. Partially because of what we’re talking about and partially because I messed things up at the end and that’s why I had to sell.

Afterwards, I was at a loss. I couldn’t see any future. I was just drifting. I was reading interesting books. I was learning a lot. And at the time, this is back in 2008-2009, I was watching TED Talks a lot. While sitting on a plane on the way to a friend’s wedding, all of a sudden, I had this flash of inspiration.

“I know what I want to do! I want to be one of these writer/speaker/thinker kind of guys. I want people to want to hear my thoughts and read my articles. And I want TED to invite me to speak on stage! This is my mission. I’m going to make this happen.”

I dove into it with an intensity. I practiced writing every single day for hours a day and found out how I could get into TED. Within a year, I had done it. It was very deliberate.

Peter:

That’s incredible.

Why should our listeners care about expiration dates in life?

Derek:

Everybody applies it to their own life, right? [Laughter].

People only want to listen to somebody who’s had success. I found out that’s kind of why I got invited to speak at TED. The opening line of my bio said, “he built and sold this company…”

It’s kind of ridiculous that people would listen to me because of something I’ve done in the past.

One of the things I love about books is detaching the author from the message. There are some books where they put a picture of the author on the cover. When they do that, I rip the cover off the book because I think, “This isn’t about you, dude. This is about me.” I’m reading this book for me. I care about what you’re writing.

I don’t care who you are because I do believe that you should be able to get some amazing wisdom from some terrible failures. People that are terrible failures probably have great wisdom to share. But most people don’t listen to it because we want to listen to successful people spout platitudes that are meaningless.

I always assume that people shouldn’t care what I have to say about anything unless the content of what I’m saying is useful for them.

Peter:

My friend and mentor always says that early failure is much more powerful than an early success. Because when you fail, you know what went wrong and how to fix it in the future.

Derek:

Yes! It’s so useful to share your failures.

People don’t do that because they have an ego that’s fragile. They want to look good, or they want to get hired for consulting gigs or something. They don’t want to admit that they’ve had failures. But admitting your failures and sharing the lessons learned from your mistakes is way more powerful than just talking about what you did right.

Peter:

Many times, things go right, and you don’t even know why. It could have been luck or good timing. You have no control over either one of those things. It’s hard to measure.

Google’s had plenty of products that they’ve killed off. They just couldn’t work. And if they had things that didn’t work, do you think that you shouldn’t have things that didn’t work out?

It’s very interesting that we don’t want to fail, and we don’t want to share our failures.

Out of all the things that you had to get better at in your journey, what was the hardest?

Derek:

The hardest? I really don’t think anything was hard. And sorry, it makes it sound like I’m not talking about my failures. I’ve got a metaphor for you.

At the ripe, old age of 44, I lifted weights for the first time. I was living next to a local weight lifting gym and I kept hearing that especially as you age, it’s really good for your keeping your bones and skeleton strong.

I went to the local weightlifting gym and talked to the owner who is an expert. I said, “Can you show me what I’m supposed to be doing here?”

He told me something really surprising and interesting. I told him that I was a little scared of this because a few times in the past, if I was staying at a hotel, I would use the gym in the hotel and I would lift too much or do too much .Then for the next three days, I’d get so sore for days.

I told him that I was scared of weightlifting because of that soreness. It’s miserable. He said, “Look, even those guys that you see that are giant and massive, most of those people have never been sore a day in their life.”

I was like, “How is that true? Are you kidding?”

He said, “No, I’m serious. You only do a workout every day or two. Every time you lift, you never add more than two to five pounds over what you did last time. It’s always incremental. You can go all the way up from being able to squat 70 pounds to 400 pounds. If you did that in increments of 5 pounds, you will never be sore.”

Sure enough, he’s right. I’ve been doing it ever since. With everything I’ve done in the past, even with my business, and even with a few giant mistakes, nothing was hard. It was all just fun. I enjoyed it.

Peter:

And incremental – one foot in front of the other?

It never felt like there were huge inflection points? You were simply making progress? Slow and steady.

Derek:

You break everything into tiny little tasks that are interesting. If you do come upon something that seems like really hard, you stop and break it down into smaller projects. That’s why nothing ever felt hard to me.

Peter:

That’s huge. Excellent advice.

Whether you’re a new founder or you’ve been in your business for forever, you feel like you want to do everything right away. It feels daunting and it feels impossible. Then, you try to do them all at the same time and you get incredibly sore. Very painfully sore. [Laughter]

Derek:

Thank you for continuing the metaphor. [Laughter]

That’s a great one. I try not to hurt people’s feelings, but I laugh a little bit when somebody has started a new business. They’ve been at it for a few months and they say, “It’s not going well. It’s not taking off like I wanted it to.”

It’s been a few months. CD Baby didn’t really start going well until I was four years into it. The first year was just me doing it in my spare time. The second year, it was me and one guy doing it full-time. The third year I had two employees and it was still “eh.” It wasn’t until the fourth year that it really started doing well. And then it took off. It takes time.

Peter:

It takes so much time. If your mission stays pure, then you can have clarity on the decision making. You can take it one step at a time in the right direction because you don’t become impatient. You don’t get driven by the money. You don’t get the soreness and get off track and find yourself expired.

Derek:

You’re using all of our past references here. I like that.

You’re an expert. [Laughter]

Peter:

Knowing what you know now, how would you have done this differently?

Derek:

Probably the thing that I mentioned about how I called myself an entrepreneur and programmer for eight years. Even though really in my heart I was actually an author, I wasn’t admitting it. I would have changed that sooner.

I wish that I would have realized that earlier because I spent 10 years not writing. I would spend hours a day writing privately in my journal. But because I didn’t think of myself as an author, I never shared that stuff.

Now, I’m taking it more seriously and I’m finishing my third book. I plan to keep making lots of books now.

Peter:

Do you think that if you had that financial motivation, it would have changed the way that you had proceeded?

Derek:

Oh, God. Yeah.

I want to be clearer. When I say taking it seriously, I’m not actually talking about the money at all.

So even when I say I have three books coming out, it means I’m taking it seriously the way that I used to take my music seriously. Even though nobody ever bought my music, either, I took it very, very seriously for 15 years. It wasn’t about the money.

It’s more just about asking myself, “Is this my real thing or not? Am I taking this seriously and aiming to be great at this or not?”

Peter:

If you had to sustain yourself on your writing, would you have taken it more seriously? Would it have changed?

Derek:

Yeah. A friend of mine is a very professional author, and it’s fascinating how detached she is from it. She looks at Amazon search results and keywords and what people are looking for and runs test advertisements and stuff like that to see what the most desired e-book subjects are.

Then she will quickly go write an e-book on that subject in order to get maximum profits and she’s doing really well. I mean, she’s making very healthy six figures per year just writing e-books. They’re not bad. They’re not great. And she knows it. She knows they’re not masterpieces, but they’re pretty good. She researches a lot and tries to write it well and then enlists editors and ghost writers to help her make it the best it can be.

But that is somebody who’s doing it for the money. That’s an approach.

Even in music, most songwriters we know write from their heart. They write from their feelings. But there are professional songwriters where this is their business. They analyze the top charts. They see what keys and what tempos are selling the best right now.

And they specifically craft a song to match today’s zeitgeist. They sell it to current pop stars in a very crafted, calculated way that will make them the most money. I’m glad I’m not doing that with writing, because honestly, I probably wouldn’t do it anymore. That would take all the fun out of it for me.

In fact, I know some programmers who are surprised how much I love programming.

After they ask me a couple of questions, it becomes clear that the reason I love programming is because I’m not doing it for the money. I’m doing it as a hobby. If I suddenly had to write software for some bank, I wouldn’t love programming anymore.

Peter:

My favorite, and probably my most quoted, article of yours is “Balance: How to do what you love and make good money.”

You write, “There is a compulsion to take and find your purpose or your passion and then make it your job. If you can do that, that’s great. But the majority of people, unfortunately, who are really good at things that will pay the bills, aren’t exactly jumping out of bed excited about it.”

I love the way you put that. You can have a separate job that finances your art. You can keep the art pure and you can do it for fun. You could do for free. You can do it for people’s benefit. You can give it away and you can still have a roof over your head. Those can be two separate things.

If you had to use your writing in order to finance your life, would that have been the kick in the rear you needed to say, “Oh, yeah, I’m not a programmer anymore. That role has expired and I’m going to take writing seriously now.”

Do think you would have discovered writing sooner? Or do you think it would have poisoned the purity?

Derek:

I’ve never talked about this publicly. My short answer is no, and here’s why. Money can mess with your head. You could define what you do by who you are professionally or whatever it is that pays you. Because if you’re not getting paid for this thing, are you really this thing, or is that just your hobby?

Your professional title is whatever pays you. At the very beginning, I said that I haven’t made any money since 2008. From my point of view, that’s true. I haven’t earned any money since 2008. But the money I made selling CD Baby is sitting in some Fidelity account invested in passive mutual funds.

And for about five minutes a year, I log into that account and I re-balance the asset allocation and that’s it. My savings from selling CD Baby pay me out the only income I’ve earned since 2008. If somebody says, “So what do you do?” In a professional sense, in a weird way, I could say, “I’m an investor.”

But if they said, “Where do you invest it?”

I’d say, “Well, actually, I only work for five minutes a year.”

Technically, that is the only thing that has paid me since 2008 – the five minutes a year I spend investing. Money messes with your self-definition of what you do. I’d rather get into the more intrinsic motivations.

Who are your heroes? Which direction are you facing? What do you aspire to? What fascinates you the most? What do you want to do most? My favorite one is, what do you hate NOT doing? For those of you wondering, “I don’t know, what do I love? I’m not sure what I love.”

Stop everything and see what you hate NOT doing.

Peter:

And what do you hate not doing? Is it writing?

Derek:

Writing. That’s my thing. I would miss programming a lot too. That’s my strong secondary thing, purely a hobby.

But writing’s the thing that I really hate not doing. That’s my number one.

Peter:

Do you think we, as a human race, have this disease of chasing the money?

That’s how we find ourselves two decades down the path wondering, “How the hell did we get here and when did I stop loving what I did? And when did life stop feeling invigorating? When did I stop feeling alive?”

Derek:

Actually money is a fascinating, neutral representation of value. If you want to do good in the world and be valuable to the world, money is a pretty good indicator of how valuable you are being to the world.

There’s the classic case of the starving artist scenario. A starving artist is somebody whose art is valuable to them but not to others. They spend all their time doing something that means a lot to them but means almost nothing to anybody else. And that’s why they’re the starving artist.

But following the money can be a good compass within reason. Of course, there are those jobs, like a middle level management where you’re pushing papers from left to right, that pay you well. That’s an exception.

But for most jobs, the world rewards you according to how much value you’re actually contributing. So, following the money can be a good compass.

Peter:

OK. Alright. Now, this is where we typically switch gears to THE REAPER ROUND.

Derek:

Sorry, everybody. I’m in Oxford, England. It would have taken a long time, if ever, for meat to cross borders during these times.

Peter:

I would have had to ship it to you illegally, quite frankly. [Laughter]

Derek:

Yeah, sorry. Peter and I decided that I’ll have to skip the actual eating part of THE REAPER ROUND.

Peter:

You’ll just have to feign like your mouth’s on fire.

First question: Favorite book?

Derek:

One I’ve read in the last year is The Courage to be Disliked. Fascinating book. I think everybody should read it. Don’t let the title throw you. The book is about many things. Being disliked is one of 20 things that the book talks about. It’s radically different look at human interactions and responsibility.

It’s written in a really different, unusual way. It’s a Japanese book that was translated into English. It’s a conversation between a cranky student and a wise master.

Peter:

Any quotes you live your life by?

Derek:

“What’s great about this?”

I learned that one as a teenager from Tony Robbins. Whenever things go bad, you ask yourself, “What’s great about this?”

Your instinctive answer will always be, “Nothing! Everything’s bad about this. This is terrible!” But keep asking and eventually you’ll find something that’s good about this.

No matter what bad things happen to you in life, ask yourself, “What’s the upside?” And eventually you’ll find an answer. And I like the effort it takes to find it. You have to flex your brain to find the upside.

Peter:

Switching perspectives in the midst this Corona crisis. What can we benefit from this?

How are we going look back and feel about this inflection point – personally, or for your business, or for the economy? How are we going to look back and flush out some of the positivity?

Derek:

I think the biggest benefit to humanity from all of this is they will be buying more meat online. [Laughter]

Peter:

I appreciate that. And it is not a bad time to be selling meat online. That’s hilarious. Thank you for that, Derek.

Biggest business blunder and how did it set you up for success? Or not?

Derek:

Biggest business blunder. I accidentally signed away 90% of my company without realizing it. If you want to hear the full story, it’s in my first book called Anything You Want that Seth Godin published in 2011.

I accidentally signed a document without reading it and signed away 90% of my company. I didn’t realize it for years to come until one day, I was talking to my accountant and he said, “You know you don’t own 90% of your company, right?”

I said, “No?!”

But how did it set me up for success later? It didn’t. It was just a mistake. It was just a big, damn stupid mistake and nothing better ever came out of it. I think about this sometimes with regret. When you tell your big regret story to a friend who really cares about you, they’ll often say, “Oh, that’s OK. Look at the upside. It’s not so bad.”

Lately, I’ve had to stop and think, “Wait, is this something that I want to sugarcoat and put a silver lining on or is this something that I actually really need to feel the pain from this?” No sugar. No silver lining. I need to feel the pain from this in order to not make this mistake again.

Details don’t matter. But, three or four years ago, nothing to do with business, just in personal life, I made a big mistake. I did something that I really regret. And my friends told me, “Oh, don’t worry.”

I said, “No, no, no. I need to regret this. I need to feel that pain.” It’s important to remember that not all mistakes and business blunders will set you up for success later. Some of them are just big, damn mistakes that you should feel bad about.

Peter:

I frequently think about how you have to lean on past pain. It’s good to feel it because you’ll know when you’re about to make that same mistake again. Yu have that muscle memory.

I had a bad business partnership in the past. I can feel when something feels like that. You can identify it quickly and can actually see when other people are about to go down the same path.

You can say, “Hey, I’ve done this before. These are some of the things you want to be wary of because that looks very similar to something I went through.”

You’re able to use that wisdom for others. And you can only do that if you don’t sugarcoat it. You can use that to your benefit in the future.

Best under $100 purchase that’s impacted your life most recently?

Derek:

Besides this [holds up stuffed animal]. I went to the zoo with my kid and I thought this red panda was so cute. It’s got a great big teacup [laughter].

Besides that, I’m going to vote for something that is actually a negative amount, something that was less than zero dollars!

Recently, I sold everything I don’t need in my house on eBay. I systematically went through the house and looked at everything that I haven’t used in a few weeks. “Can I do without this? I can. Can’t I?”

I took a picture of it, wrote a little paragraph, put it on eBay for a dollar. Somebody came and took it.

I did that for a bunch of things. It made me so happy. It made them so happy. Oh my God. They got this $400 thing for a dollar. They’re happier. I’m happier. That was my best under hundred dollar and under zero-dollar purchase.

Peter:

That’s incredible. Why the dollar versus just give it away?

Derek:

On eBay, you actually have to set a price. So just a dollar. I didn’t ask for the dollar when they came. I just want to find somebody who actually wanted this thing. That’s the idea.

Instead of leaving it on a street corner and getting somebody who just happens to be driving a truck to throw it to the back, I wanted to find somebody who was specifically looking for this thing.

Peter:

We recently had a yard sale. Initially, I thought, “Let’s not have a yard sale. Let’s just donate this crap. This is a waste of time. I don’t want to spend my Saturday doing this.”

But I realized very quickly that it wasn’t about that. My family wanted to see someone who was excited about what they were getting rid of.

We sold stuff for 50 cents. It didn’t even matter because we ended up donating most of the money to a charity. That’s what they wanted to do. It was nice for my kids to see, “I really didn’t want to part with this, but I also don’t have any use for it. Someone else is excited about it and they’re going to put it to use.”

Sounds like a very similar psychology.

In the last five years, what is one new belief, behavior, or habit that has most improved your life?

Derek:

You don’t know what you want until you try it.

Until you’ve actually tried something, anything you think you want is just a theory. You have to actually go do it in order to know.

A couple of years ago, there were a few things that I thought I wanted to do – a way that I wanted to live, where I wanted to live, how I wanted to live, – and it wasn’t until I went and tried it, that I knew for sure.

I went, “Oh, never mind. I don’t want this.”

I spent hours and hours and hours thinking I wanted that in theory, but when I actually did it, no. I didn’t want to at all.

Here’s an example. This would have been a good example up until a month ago. I don’t think anybody is going to quitting their job now. But if you think you want to quit your job, give it a test run first. Go take a two-week vacation or a sabbatical to see if you actually want to. To see if you think you want to get into this new field.

Do you think you suddenly want to get into robotics or 3D printing or whatever it is you think you might want? Do you think you want to be a programmer? The only way to know is to actually try it.

Peter:

I call it the MVP, Minimum Viable Product. It’s low stress, low risk. I’ve got friends who decided they wanted to move to Hawaii. They sold everything and moved there. Then, in two months, they realized, “I don’t really want to live here.”

And all I could think of was, “You could’ve taken a vacation there.” You could have rented a house for three weeks and found out that you didn’t like it. That would’ve been a lot easier.

Derek:

I used to live in New York City and a lot of people in New York would do that. New York would stress them out. They’d freak out and say, “I want to move upstate.” They’d move to the rural forest of upstate New York, four hours from anything.

After two months, they’d go, “Oh, never mind.”

You have to do it to know. Try things before you decide it’s what you want.

Peter:

Try before you buy.

What is something that a regular follower of your work wouldn’t know about you?

Derek:

I am a citizen of India and a resident of Portugal.

Peter:

Just for fun?

Derek:

Basically, yeah. I have much more to say about that. That’s something nobody knows.

Peter:

What should have I asked you but didn’t?

Derek:

Oh, sorry, [laughter] I hate that question. I don’t know.

If I had something I wanted to say, I would say it. I don’t need to wait for you to ask me to say something.

Peter:

You’re probably the only person who that’s true with. I love that.

I usually end with your favorite Mission Meats flavor, but I don’t think you’ve tried our stuff yet because we can’t get it to you.

Derek:

Sorry. Someday.

Peter:

What’s your guess?

Derek:

Where in California are you?

Peter:

I’m in Southern California. South Orange County.

Derek:

Oh, nice. I miss L.A. I lived in L.A. for years. In fact, I’m curious what you might think of an article I wrote at sive.rs/LA. It was actually a long email to somebody once on my advice about moving to L.A.

When I was done, I thought, “This is a good article.” I posted it and I emailed it to a bunch of people in L.A.

As for your question – I’m not a super spicy kind of guy. I like things that have an interesting flavor, like my tea tastes right now. My favorite tea right now is a Singapore tea that’s a combination of black tea, green tea, coconut, and toasted brown rice. It’s so good because it’s complex. Many flavors going on in there.

That’s much more interesting than a typical English breakfast tea.

I’d probably pick the same thing with meat flavors where you almost have to stop and think as you’re chewing. I like that.

Peter:

We’ve got a new flavor coming out called Moroccan spice. It has golden raisins in it.

Derek:

Oh perfect!

Peter:

Derek, man, it’s been a pleasure. I super appreciate chatting with you again.

Derek:

It was fun. Anybody, who made it all the way to the end, go to sive.rs and send me an email to say “Hello.”

Peter:

If someone wants to keep track on what you’re working on, is that the best way?

Derek:

Yeah. Go to my site. I’ve got a little private email list. You can join if you want, but I don’t really care either way. [Laughter]

Peter:

I love that about you, man. Well, Derek, it’s been a pleasure. I appreciate it.

Derek:

Thanks, Peter.