CD Baby founder Derek Sivers interviews Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek. Fascinating stuff. Below are some of the most interesting Ferriss bits from the interview.
Why you shouldn’t view changes as permanent:
So what would happen if you eliminated this? Let’s just say 48 hours, seven days, one month? What would happen if you did the opposite? Those are two very, very useful questions. Most people avoid certain actions because they view changes as permanent. If you make a change, can you go back to doing it like you did before? You can always reclaim your current state in most cases. If I quit my job in industry x to test my artistic abilities in a different industry, worst case scenario, can I go back to my previous industry? Yes. Recognize that you can test-drive and micro-test things over brief periods of time. You can usually reclaim the workaholism that you might currently experience if you so decide to go back to it.
He tested titles for his book via Google Adwords campaigns:
Then I ran a Google Adwords campaign, where your ad appears based on keywords that people were searching for. I ran a dozen different ads with a dozen different potential titles as the advertising headline, with the potential subtitles as the ad text. The click-through page was nothing, but I wasn’t concerned with the conversion or cost per acquisition. I was only concerned with the click through rate – which of those dozen headlines was most popular. So for less than $150 in one week using keywords as a fixed variable, I was able to identify “The 4-Hour Workweek, Escape 9-to-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich” as the most successful title by far.
On scratching your own itch:
If you have something that you would like to make and you just don’t know how to test it, make sure you’re scratching your own itch. Like Twitter: Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey created it in two weeks as a way to scratch their own itch. He said, “At least that way you know that one person is interested in having it.” It’s amazing how many otherwise smart, well-funded companies will use awful statistically-invalid focus groups, then say, “Well, no one in this room likes the idea, but our focus groups tell us that we should make it,” so of course the product comes out and it fails.
You can’t fix an overwhelmed feeling with more work:
That’s a good point – recognizing you can’t fix an overwhelmed feeling with more work. Overwhelmed is not due to lack of time – it’s due to lack of priorities, right? Another flaw in most time management systems is they focus on filling your time – every minute of every day should be filled with a work vision of some kind. Or they don’t instruct you on how to minimize the work. Especially if you tend to wear overwork ethic as some kind of badge of honor, which I know many artists do. Laziness is not less action. Laziness can mean blurred priorities and indiscriminate action. You can be very busy running around with a cell phone to your head 24 hours a day and still be very lazy because you’re not taking the time to prioritize.
Don’t try to make everyone happy:
Polarizing is very important. Don’t try to make everyone your customer and don’t try to make everyone happy. Be very, very honest. Don’t be offensive for the sake of being offensive. Don’t start problems for the sake of starting problems. Be honest, like three glasses in with a group of friends. If most people presented their opinions as they do in that environment to the public they would be much more successful in everything they do, because they’ll polarize people. People will say, “Damn that guy’s a riot.” So few people are honest and direct.
And below are a couple of Sivers’ most interesting comments…
Give yourself a 10-day deadline:
When friends talk about starting a business I say if you’ve got idea you want to do, don’t sit there for a whole year trying to raise funding or whatever before you can put it out in the world. Just give yourself a 10-day deadline. If there’s something you think the world wants, try it within 10 days. If you don’t have a programmer, do it with a piece of paper and a telephone. Start it even with only one customer, because then you can start the feedback loop, finding out what your customers want. Then you can incrementally improve it over the months. A year down the line you’ll be doing so much better than the guy who is still being secretive in his second round of VC funding. Just get it out there and start to get feedback.
Pick the one or two most important things and then stop:
I heard this beautiful bit of advice once that said, “If you’ve got a list of 20 things you should be doing, pick the most important one or two and then just let go of the rest. You will never upload your music to every one of these sites. You will never contact every person. You will never enter every contest. Just take the one or two things that would make the biggest difference in your career, do those one or two, then stop. Turn your attention to the next one or two most important.”