CD Baby Founder Derek Sivers on Stoicism and Writing Your Own Autobiography

Published on January 10, 2020

Derek Sivers has been many things in his career, from being a professional clown to founding CD Baby, one of the largest and first online music warehouses.

I first discovered Derek’s work back in 2007, when Tim Ferriss mentioned him in the 4-Hour Workweek. When I launched the Create Your Own Life Show in early 2015, Derek’s unique philosophy was one I was anxious to dive into.

Finally, in 2020, I’ve gotten a chance to sit down with Derek and dive into his unique philosophy on life.

Enrichment in a Life Abroad

In our teens and early twenties, we are constantly growing and changing. However, after that point, we end up where we no longer challenge ourselves and end up a bit complacent.

Derek found himself feeling that way many years ago in Santa Monica after a relationship ended and wanting personal growth.

“To keep growing intellectually, I need to keep being surprised,” Sivers stated. “If we’re not surprised, we’re not really learning,” he continued.

Derek found that growth in travel and experiencing new cultures, learning the philosophy of living in each new one. “To me, places have a living philosophy,” he said. The strategy is to live in one place for a time. Then, once that place begins to feel like home, it’s time to move.

Through that idea, the personal development of travel continues to enrich his life.

Stoic Ideas of Life

Derek has always viewed life through his own lense “I’ve always had an approach to life that my friends find strange,” he stated.

When Derek was introduced to Stoicism by Tim Ferriss, it was a bit of a shock to him; not for the reasons, you may think.

Rather, when he discovered Stoicism, it summed up what had been his belief system his entire life.“I’ve always aimed to make life hard on myself to prepare for a tougher future,” Sivers said.

Stoicism is a nearly 2,000-year-old philosophy created by Zeno of Citium, and focuses on the endurance of hardship and a focus on divine reason.

It was popularized by philosopher, Epictetus, and Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who authored his work Meditations on the subject.

Writing Your Own Autobiography

How will the world remember you when you’re gone? Will they remember what is uniquely you? That’s why Derek believes that we should all write our own autobiography.

” I can’t be reduced to a sentence and neither can you,” Sivers laughingly stated.

It allows you to share your quirkiness and own unique opinions. For so many of us, what will be remembered will not do justice to the life lived.

The method starts with writing the after you’ve died portion, then goes back to the beginning and filling it in sequentially.

“Start to write your own autobiography now. Add to it occasionally, write the last chapter first. Then, keep filling in the previous chapters until you die. Tell your family where to find it on your computer so that when you’re dead, they can release it to the world. Tell your story, share your thoughts and Your personality lives on in the thoughts of others. The people who encountered you got to understand your personality, right?

They get to understand your thought process and the way that you see the world. This is this is the uniquely ‘Jeremy Ryan Slate’ way of seeing the world. When you’re gone, That stays with them. They’ll continue to smile at the things that you said. They’ll continue to find some of your insights useful. They’ll remember you’re weird opinions. They’ll remember what you loved and why.

I think we should each share our personality, share your thought process, share the way you think, because that is you are afterlife.”
– Derek Sivers

After we’re gone, what people will forget is our personality as we become a shadow, but by writing our autobiography, people will remember the experience of our full self.

Write your autobiography now; that’s your afterlife.

Derek Sivers sits down with me, Jeremy Ryan Slate, on the latest episode of the Create Your Own Life Show.

Jeremy Ryan Slate a Contributing Editor at Grit Daily. Based in New Jersey, he is the founder of the Create Your Own Life Show, a podcast that studies world-class performers. He studied literature at Oxford University, and is a former champion power lifter turned new-media entrepreneur. Specializes in using podcasting and new media to create celebrity and was ranked #1 in iTunes New and Noteworthy and #26 in the business category. Jeremy was named one of the top 26 podcast for entrepreneurs to listen to in 2017 by CIO Magazine and Millennial Influencer to follow in 2018 by Buzzfeed.  The Create Your Own Life Podcast has been downloaded over one million times.

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