Derek Sivers is probably best know as the founder of CD Baby, a company serving independent musicians which sold to charity for 22 million dollars. But the thing that makes Derek notable is his lifelong drive to learn, or in his words, personal improvement. Prior to founding CD Baby Derek trained him self obsessively for 15 years to become a professional musician, and since selling his company to charity he taught himself to become a speaker and “thought leader.” These days, Derek is a citizen of the world, currently living in New Zealand, and studying level human and software development languages.
This interview was a real delight to record, but also difficult. (I had sweaty palms as we began the interview.) Once we got rolling, though, I found Derek playful, sincere, and very thoughtful about his careers and successes. He relates his story to Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk where she describes how her biggest success, the book Eat, Pray, Love, is almost certainly behind her. Derek explains that for him, as for Gilbert, the practice of his craft is what sees him through.
We talk about his desire to be a musician and how he spent his teens and twenties spending every waking hour practicing his craft. We talk about how his first company, CD Baby, began as a way to give back to his fellow musicians. And, most of all, we discuss Derek’s life-long drive for resilience and growth.