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Anything You Want review [Jul. 23rd, 2011|11:34 pm]
Greg
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Anything You WantAnything You Want by Derek Sivers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I have a secret desire to found a technology startup, which probably comes from reading too much Hacker News. I'm pretty happy with my current job, and I don't think I'd actually handle the stress of doing a startup very well, so I doubt it will ever happen. But reading books like this push me towards it. It makes running a startup sound so exciting! (and skips over the long discouraging parts)

This is a collection of anecdotes about founding, running, and eventually selling CDBaby. It's a very quick read, and it's entertaining. My favorite section:
My friend Sara has run a small online business out of her living room for twelve years. It's her whole life. She takes it very, very personally.

Last week, one of her clients sent her a ten-page-long scathing email, chopping her down, calling her a scam artist and issuing other vicious personal insults, and saying she was going to sue Sara for everything she's worth as retribution for the client's mishandled account.

Devastated, Sara turned off her computer and cried. She shut off the phones and closed up shop for the day. She spent the whole weekend in bed wondering if she should just give up. Thinking maybe every insult in this client's letter was true, and she's actually no good at what she does, even after twelve years.

On Sunday, she spent about five hours - most of the day - carefully addressing every point in this ten-page email; then she went through the client's website, learning everything about her, and offered all kinds of advice, suggestions, and connections. Sara refunded the client's money, plus an additional $50, with gushing deep apologies for ever having upset someone she was honestly trying to help.

The next day, she called the client to try to talk through the situation with her.

The client cheerfully took her call and said, "Oh, don't worry about it! I wasn't actually that upset. I was just in a bad mood, and didn't think anyone would read my email anyway."

...and later...
When we yell at our car or our coffee machine, it's fine because they're just mechanical appliances.

So when we yell at a website or a company, using our computer or our phone, we forget that it's not an appliance but a person that's affected.

It's dehumanizing to have thousands of people passing through our computer screens, so we do things we'd never do if those people were sitting next to us.

It's too overwhelming to remember that at the end of every computer is a real person, a lot like you, whose birthday was last week, who has three best friends but nobody to spoon at night, and who is personally affected by what you say.

Even if you remember it right now, will you remember it next time you're overwhelmed, or perhaps never forget it again?

Anyway, I'd recommend it if you're at all interested in startups, or reliving the dot-com era. (which is kinda coming back these days! so...yeah)


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Comments:
[User Picture]From: quijax
2011-07-24 07:32 pm (UTC)
Erica and I talk sometimes about the stress of having your own business. She says that an unhappy customer can do a lot of damage because the customer will complain to her friends well before she complains to Erica. This past week, Erica mistakenly distributed watermelons that weren't quite ripe and she had do a lot of damage control. Working for yourself just means that you have more bosses - all your clients and customers want a piece of you.
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[User Picture]From: gregstoll
2011-07-25 08:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah...that sounds like a lot of unfun stress.
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