My Favourite Quotes from "Hell Yeah Or No"

Derek Sivers' writing style is incredibly terse and pithy. And frankly, it's a pleasure to read. The book is very short, and I would recommend you read it in full.

Still here is my favourites quotes. Titles are chapter titles, and what follows are quotes (mostly) and paraphrases from that chapter. Sometimes the chapter title is enough!

What if you didn’t need money or attention?

Why are you doing?

You can’t diffuse your energy, trying to do a little bit of everything, or you’ll always be in conflict with yourself.

Imitate. We are imperfect mirrors.

Your imitation will turn out much different from the original. Maybe even better.

Small actions change your self-identity

If you’re not feeling “hell yeah!” then say no

I’m a very slow thinker

People say that your first reaction is the most honest, but I disagree. Your first reaction is usually outdated.

You don’t need to answer.

You can say, "I don’t know," and take your time to answer after thinking.

How will this game end?

Before you start something, think of the ways it could end.

Sometimes the smart choice is to say no to the whole game.

Relax for the same result

So apparently all of that exhausting, red-faced, full-on push-push-push I had been doing had given me only a 4 percent boost. I could just take it easy and get 96 percent of the results.

[...] Then I notice that I’m all stressed out about something or driving myself to exhaustion, I remember that bike ride and try dialing back my effort by 50 percent. It’s been amazing how often everything gets done just as well and just as fast, with what feels like half the effort.


All the best, happiest, and most creatively productive times in my life have something in common: being disconnected.

Silence is a great canvas for your thoughts. That vacuum helps turn all of your inputs into output. That lack of interruption helps you flow.

People often ask me what they can do to be more successful. I say disconnect. Even if just for a few hours. Unplug. Turn off your phone and Wi-Fi. Focus. Write. Practice. Create. That’s what’s rare and valuable these days.

You get no competitive edge from consuming the same stuff everyone else is consuming. It’s rare, now, to focus. And it gives such better rewards

Think like a bronze medalist, not silver

Instead of comparing up to the next higher situation, compare down to the next-lower one.

I assume I’m below average

To assume you’re below average is to admit you’re still learning. You focus on what you need to improve, not your past accomplishments

Obvious to you. Amazing to others.

Everybody’s ideas seem obvious to them.


It’s easy to think I need something else. It’s hard to look instead at what to remove. Most of us have too much baggage, too many commitments, and too many priorities.

Seeking inspiration?

The word “inspiration” usually means “something that mentally stimulates you.” But “inspiration” also means to breathe in.

The meanings poetically combine when you think of yourself breathing in thoughts, filling your body with ideas. But don’t forget to breathe out.

Possible Futures

I've got seventy-two different futures in there as of today.

A few times a year, I read through them all. Some seem stupid now, but some get more and more enticing with time.

When I finish a big project and I’m feeling ready for a new future, I open this folder and pick one to make real.

Whatever scares you, go do it.