Hell Yeah Or No
by Derek Sivers

  • Business
  • Ashto = 8/10
  • Jonesy = 6/10
Hell Yeah or No

Derek Sivers said to an old coach of his that he really wanted to start a new company.
But the coach said: “no you don’t”.
Sivers: “Yeah I do! This is really important to me.”
Coach: “No it’s not – just saying it doesn’t make it true”
Sivers: “You can’t just ignore what I’m saying – I know myself well and I understand my priorities, and I’m telling you this is important to me”
Coach: “Yes I can ignore what you’re saying and just look at your ACTIONS. Our actions reveal our true values”.

Sivers pondered this for a while. He thought about the people that say they want to learn a new language but never do, or the people who say they want to start a new hobby but never start, or the people that say they want to quit smoking but never try.

His coach said: “if they REALLY wanted to do what they say they do… they would’ve done it already”. Sivers had been SAYING that he wanted to start his new company for almost two years at this point. But he still hadn’t. Clearly it’s not because he’s lazy or incapable – he’d already started one company, which he later sold for $22m. He definitely had the ability to start a company – it may or may not succeed, but there was nothing stopping him from starting. As it turns out, he quite liked the “simple” life he’d enjoyed since selling CD Baby. He was focused on learning, writing, and playing with his kid. Deep down, he knew that starting a company could put all of that at risk and add a lot more complexity to his life. So even they he said he wanted to start a new company, he kept putting it off.

“No matter what you say, your actions reveal the truth”. There are two smart reactions to this. One is to stop lying to yourself and admit your true priorities – stop saying you want something that you clearly don’t. The other is to actually do what you say and see how you like it.

Episode Rundown

In this podcast episode, we cover the following sections and ideas


  • Action, Not Words, Reveal Our Real Values (set up story to the episode – framing the idea of the tension between what you say you want and what you actually do)


  • Loving What I Used To Hate (you can change your mind, in either direction)
  • Keep Earning Your Title Or It Expires (Admit what is past, and what is present – or future)
  • Character Predicts Your Future (Focus on improving your character by taking positive small steps)


  • Why Are You Doing? (we go through the motions, never stopping to think WHY we’re doing what we’re doing)
  • Some Will Always Say You’re Wrong (know up front that whatever reasons/values you pick, someone will say you’re wrong)
  • There Will Always Be More Than Two Options (finding options – based on the values chosen above, what options are in front of us)
  • Don’t Be A Donkey (great fable to paint the picture of the failure of choosing)
  • What’s Worth Doing: Happy, Smart, And Useful (something worth doing fulfils all three criteria)


  • Seeking Inspiration (importance of learning, but also doing and applying what you learn)
  • If You Think You Haven’t Found Your Passion (how passion is cultivated rather than ‘found’)
  • Whatever Scares You, Go Do It (say YES to everything in the beginning)
  • Switching Strategies (once something starts working or something becomes extra rewarding, start committing all of your focus onto this one thing and say no to a whole bunch of other stuff)
  • If You’re Not Feeling “Hell Yeah” Then Say No (this is a strategy to use only when you have reached the point when you’ve got massive opportunities from having said yes to everything early on)
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