TechZing 70 – Derek Sivers / The Sivers Effect

Justin and Jason speak with Derek Sivers about how and why he created, and ultimately sold, CD Baby, his transition from being a musician to being a coder and entrepreneur, how he was able to run an 85 person company by working remotely for most of its existence, why even as the CEO of CD Baby he wrote all of the code himself, how he was able to build such a large following on the web (almost 300K Twitter followers and an email list of approximately 200K), why he finds stories to be the best way to impart insight and why keeping his posts short has helped to magnify their influence, why he feels the need to be transparent and openly share his ideas for new businesses, why minimalism and solitude make him happy, and whether or not he’s the real word version of Caine from the 70’s TV series Kung Fu.

20 Comments
  1. Robin says:

    What a great interview!! It was humorous and insightful and interesting.

    Jason, I think you only asked one question in the whole interview that ended in “yes” although I though it was funny that sometimes you started talking and then came back around to get a question out of what you just said.

    Justin, it’s great to hear your questions over the last two interview shows, questions from both of you really seems to balance out the interview. In the last two interview shows you had great rapport with both Derek and Gabriel and that defiantly added to the conversation.

    Another great show!

  2. Jason says:

    @Robin – Thanks so much for the positive feedback. 😉 Lately, I’ve been really trying to work on my technique and it’s nice to know that someone has noticed. Hopefully, I’ll continue to improve and will at some point not sound like such an amateur. 😉

    By the way, next week Justin and I are going to start doing five fifteen-minute discussion shows (recorded and posted Mon – Fri) instead of a single longish discussion show recorded and posted over the weekend. Our plan is to do it for two weeks as an experiment, and one benefit I think is that I’ll be able to focus on improving my “broadcasting skills” on a daily basis.

  3. Justin says:

    Of course I was already perfect 😉

  4. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    I love how Jason says “Hey, I’m just like Derek!”

    I know just how you feel man, I see a lot of myself too but the difference is he just doesn’t GAF 🙂

  5. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    One other thing I’ve noticed is that you guys can talk to your guests like buddies. I can’t remember a guest with an ego.

  6. botj says:

    15 minute shows??? You might want to do 15 minutes apiece since we may never get to hear Justin talk again. I don’t think Jason is capable of talking less than 15 minutes about ANYTHING! I wish I had his knack for conversation….

    btw, great show guys.

  7. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    Haha, once he started saying “Looking for a place to live…” I knew he’d settle on Singapore.

  8. Jason says:

    @BAMS – Wow, did I really say that?! That’s funny, I’ll have to review the show.

    In terms of talking to our guests like buddies, that probably has a lot to do with the quality of our guests. I can’t remember anyone we’ve had on that wasn’t friendly and easy to talk to. It think it also helps that it’s Justin and me together, which probably helps to loosen things up a bit.

  9. Jason says:

    @botj – I know, I know – I’m really going to try to back off the monologuing. Justin and I have had a few long discussions about that exact issue, but I think the time constraint of the shorter form shows should force me to tighten things up a bit. If not, then you’re right – the only time you’ll hear Justin’s voice is when he does the intro. 😉

  10. Chris says:

    I would like to proudly say I have been a listener to your show without fail ( 48hour window for release ) for over a year.

    This was another great interview.

    Interesting side note…
    I submitted your link to news.ycombinator.com to be redirected to someone else who had already done so. A great new feature for that site!
    End of Side Note.

    Having seen you guys evolve from the one show a week to the two shows format, one of which being interviews. Im vary excited about the “Daily dose of J & J”, JJ a day keeps the doctor away.

    I have a sneaky feeling after a few days your content source for the 15 minutes a day will mostly come from HackerNews, which is a curious thing. As I have always thought a small chat show discussing a little in depth some of the posts would bring similar levels of interest as the actual post.

    With that blurb done, your goal of 1000 downloads in a 48 hour window by the end of the year will be in your grasps far quicker than you think 🙂

    Justin, even tho your words are far less than Jason’s your input is almost always top notch. I really liked the fact you asked Derek about his “thoughts.pro” and how you and I were both impressed by content of the site.

    A few suggestions.

    1)
    “add your city” to where you listen to techzing.

    2)
    Via the wiki, ( should exist ) gaffes / funnies / quotes from the shows. and then pick 1 from each show to tweet out to twitter, as a semi long tail strategy.

    3)
    “I jest”, Justin… release something. Even if its a fish back into the river, Jason is 2 – 0 up.

    Thank you for your show.

  11. Justin says:

    @Chris – I think you mean…

    Jason… release something. Even if its a fish back into the river, Justin is 2 – 0 up.

    😉

  12. Jason says:

    @Chris – Thanks so much for the encouragement. We’re hoping the more regular content will help us grow and I’m really looking forward to doing it.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean exactly by “add your city” under #1. Do you mean in the wiki or for the comments or for the mailing list or are you talking about something else entirely? #2 is a clever idea. For #3, I think you have us reversed. Justin is up 2-0. I definitely need to release something and in fact I’m beginning to feel a little constipated. 😉

  13. Thanks Jason for bringing Derek on the show! (correct me if I’m wrong here ’cause I had the impression that it always Jason who sources the guest for the show 😉

    So far I really enjoyed the interview shows because both of you had the knack of asking questions that brings in that extra personal dimension of the guest involved which always leave me with an impression of having a more intimate understanding of the guests.

    And man I’m totally blown away with this interview. Keep up the great job guys!

    Thanks Derek for such powerful insights and take aways and letting your warm personality shine throughout the interview!

  14. Jason says:

    @Felix – I’m glad you enjoyed the interview with Derek Sivers. I really enjoyed meeting him myself and I only wish that we had had more time to ask him about some of his stories. He’s a very interesting and generous guy and I hope we get a chance to have him on again in the future. One of the great benefits of doing this show is that I can just invite some random and semi-famous person to be on the show and actually have a fair shot of them agreeing to it. It’s very cool. 😉

    You’re right, I’m the one generally responsible for finding and inviting and coordinating with guest (along with coming up with show titles and writing show descriptions), while Justin does all the heavy lifting with the audio post production. For the most part it seems to be a pretty reasonable division of labor.

    It’s nice to hear that you enjoy our interviewing style. While I still need to do some work on my interviewing technique, I do think that Justin and I have some kind of weird chemistry that seems to set our guests at ease making the interviews more fun and open than they might otherwise be.

    Thanks so much for the positive feedback. We’ll keep doing our best. 😉

  15. Yes, this was a great show. Derek is an awesome guy, and his stories are always fun to read or hear. I think this one and the one with Gabriel from DuckDuckGo are your best interview shows so far. Jason, your interview style definitely improved on the last couple of shows. And it was nice to hear several questions from Justin, usually it’s all Jason, Jason, Jason 🙂

    Thank you guys and thank you Derek for the great interview!

  16. William says:

    Great interview guys! Somewhere around 1 hr, 38 minutes, my audio cut out briefly…For happiness in the US, it was around $70K/year….

    William

  17. It’s not just you, William. I noticed the audio cut as well :). The conversation later sort of filled in the context of the missing part so I’m not that bothered. (I think it’s something about limiting how much food one could buy a day as a policy of curbing obesity or something. I’d be *horribly* wrong here :LOL:)

  18. Chris says:

    @Jason little constipated is something I can relate to in the “release of a product” context. Hoping to beat you to the post, who knows 😀

    @Jason @Justin Damn it, I thought I had got the names right. This I will fix! Sorry guys.

    “A listeners map of the world”

    I the listener, using your logs or google analytics, put markers on the cities of where your listeners are from. Could lead to others from the same city meeting up. ( Oslo for me )

  19. I very much enjoyed the interview with Derek due to the relaxed style of the conversation and of course because of the great content. 🙂

    I thought Derek’s Muckwork’s section was pretty interesting. I wonder if has ever considered BDD-styles specifications (e.g. >Cucumber, see also this, or RSpec and others).

    I liked the suggestion of writing short posts also I really enjoy reading really meaty posts on subjects I care about.

  20. Guys – another great show. LOVED Derek. He sounds like a great guy. Now about to try and catch up on 4 days worth of Daily TZs!

    Now I feel really far behind!!