The conundrum of Derek Sivers

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post by Derek Sivers….

Three decades ago, when my three children were infants, people encouraged me to connect with twins and triplets organizations. Apart from not having the time for such efforts, I also didn’t see the point.

After all, what did I have in common with these people — apart from the dubious distinction that we’d all given birth to multiples. It didn’t seem like enough to build a friendship on, particularly when I was so busy.

Derek Sivers explores a similar conundrum in a recent blog post under the headline What I did belies why. As the founder of CD Baby, an organization that offers digital music distribution, Derek Sivers (briefly) became exceedingly wealthy when he sold the company for $22 million in 2008.

But here’s the deal. He wasn’t a typical entrepreneur. He wasn’t even interested in money and he gave most of it away. So, he doesn’t do interviews any more — people kept asking him for business advice and he’s not interested in the topic, nor does he feel himself to be an expert on it.

As Derek Sivers puts it:

“You can’t assume the reasons why people are doing what they do….

  • Don’t confuse the medium with the message.
  • Don’t confuse the tool with the goal.
  • Don’t confuse the vehicle with the path.”

Writers would be smart to keep these distinctions in mind, especially if they’re interviewing others and making a pile of assumptions as they do so.

I’ve written about Sivers before, here and here. I like the way his brain works and his outside-of-the-box thinking.

An earlier version of this post first appeared on my blog on Nov. 11/19.

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