Hell Yeah or NO Book Summary

Hell Yeah or No by Derek Sivers: Book Summary

What’s worth doing.: building a life around values like learning, growth, and exploring freedom to its extremes.

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Hell Yeah or No: Book Summary

This is my summary of the book Hell yeah or no by Derek Sivers. This summary contains my own thoughts, reflections, and direct quotes from the book. With the small nuggets of knowledge and ideas, this book can change your perspective towards certain things in life.

What would you do if there was no money

We all do things to get attention, to feel important, to be praised, and to earn money. What if you had it all and you no longer desire any of these things. Would you do continue doing what you are doing or do something else?

You don’t have to be local

With the evolution of technology and the internet, you no longer have to focus on the local market only, you can target globally too. Neither of them is wrong but you have to be aware of the trade-off.

If you focus on the local level, you have less time to focus on the rest of the world. While if you focus on the global scale, you have less time to focus and socialize in the local community. Neither of them is wrong. You just have to be aware to choose the local or global balance that works best for you.

Actions, not words, reveal our real values

No matter what you say, your actions speak for you. They reveal your true identity. You either have to stop lying to yourself and admit your real priorities or start doing what you say you want to do and see if it’s really true.

Why are you doing

Knowing your why is an extremely important factor in determining your success. Most people just don’t know. They just go with the flow. Knowing your why helps you to give a sense of direction and guidance in the time of adversity.

The public you is not you

When you write online and produce content online, you expose yourself to many people and you will be criticized often. Many People will get offended but one way to handle this is to be aware of this fact: They aren’t talking about you. They are talking about the online you. 

They are criticizing the online avatar that has the same name as you. Public comments are something that you get on something you made. Take it as feedback to improve yourself.

Character predicts your future

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Fish don’t know they are in the water

When you are surrounded by something, it is impossible to see it. That’s exactly true about different cultures across the world. Just because something is not in the culture doesn’t mean it is not true.

Most people live in this illusion. They are just fish who don’t know they are in the water. And, in some aspects of your life, you are too.

Are you present focused or future focused?

Delayed gratification is the key to success, many scientific studies have proved it. But, you need both present-focused and future-focused mindsets. You need a present-focused mindset to enjoy your life. But too much focus on the present can prevent you from deeper happiness of future achievement.

Say no to everything else

You can use a filter called ‘hell yeah or hell no’. It’s one decision that can save you from all future distractions. Say ‘no’ to everything else until you finish your current project.

The secret to success is to say yes to one thing and no to everything else.

How will this game end?

Even before something starts, you have to think of the ways it can end. Sometimes the smart choice is to say ‘no’ to the whole game.

Getting out of a bad state of mood

If you are really in a bad mood, here are some steps the author suggest to use:

  • Ask yourself what’s wrong in this very second
  • Observe now. Act later
  • Raise standards. say no to anything less than great
  • Focus on your goal
  • Do all the necessary stuff

There’s no speed limit

The standard pace is for chumps. The system is designed so that anyone can keep up. If you’re more driven than most people, you can do way more than anyone expects. You can be better in life faster than everyone. You don’t have to go with the social norm.

Disconnect from the world

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

Disconnect, that’s what you should do if you really want to succeed in this addictive world. Every business wants you to get addicted to their product, messages, notification, and news. If you really want to create something out of your life, then all of these are obstacles for you.

When you’re extremely unmotivated

We all have times when we don’t want to do anything. The author, Derek Sivers has a plan to do things when you are extremely unmotivated. 

Have a list of boring chores that you need to do but are putting up because something more is exciting.

When you start doing these boring tasks you move from doing nothing to a state of doing something that can make you feel like doing something important again.

Think like a bronze medalist, not silver

The secret to happiness is to focus on things you have and being grateful for them. We all end up burning ourselves with envy and resentment sometimes. If you think life is a bronze medalist instead of silver, you will solve this problem.

Comparing up vs comparing down: Your happiness depends on where you are focusing.

Instead of comparing yourself to the next-higher situation, compare down to the next lower one. You need to be more grateful for what you have got, for much worse could have happened.

There are often more than two options

You have to remember this: You always have more than two options. People start comparing the pros and cons of the two options and forget to think of any more.

Great insights only come from opening your mind to many opinions. Brainstorm and find new solutions or options to your problem.

Beware of advice

When you ask advice from other people, the advice they give will be a reflection of their own current situation. The advice has nothing to do with what’s best for you.

You don’t have to take anyone’s advice seriously. Only you know what to do, based on all the feedback that you have got.

Don’t be a Donkey

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years. Don’t try to pursue different directions at the same time, you will end nowhere. The solution is to think long-term.

Do one thing for a few years, then another for the next few years, and then another. You can do everything you want to do, but you can’t do it all at once.

Don’t be short-sighted. Think long-term.

Obvious to you. Amazing to others

We’re bad judges of our own creations. We should just put them out there and let the world decide. Everybody’s ideas seem obvious and ordinary to them. But, you will be amazed at the responses you get from others once you start getting viewed more often.

How to do what you love and make good money

The lifestyle of the happiest people who pursue art is this:

  • Have a well-paying job
  • Seriously pursue their art for love, not money.

Don’t expect your job to fulfill your emotional needs and don’t taint something you love with the need of making money from it. Balance these two and live a great life.

What do you hate not doing?

The answer to this simple question is a good indicator of what’s really worth doing in your life: What makes you feel depressed, annoyed, or like your life has gone astray if you don’t do it enough?

Let pedestrians define the walkways

Resist the urge to figure it all out in the advance. You are the dumbest at your beginning and the smartest and know the best at the end. Let your customers or audience decide what you really should do. You can go without making concrete pathways for a year.

Time is Precious

We all have limited time. We can’t pretend it’s not. Time spent doing one thing is time spent not doing something else. You have to stop wasting time doing stuff that’s not important, not really fun, and not useful to anyone, not even yourself.


If you still hold the beliefs and ideas that you had five years ago without tweaking them even a bit, then you haven’t been growing.

John Carge said, “I can’t understand why people are so frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”

The illiterates of the 21st century will not be the ones who can’t read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Smart people don’t think others are stupid

There are no smart or stupid people, just people being smart or being stupid. Being smart means thinking things through to find answers that are not the easier ones.

Being stupid means avoiding thinking by jumping to conclusions. When you say someone is stupid, you are not thinking through. You are saying so because it’s easy to jump to conclusions. So, deciding someone is stupid is not being smart.

The mirror: It’s about you not them

I often tell people about a great book I think will help them, but sometimes they dismiss the book because they heard something they didn’t like about the author.

The act of reading a book is really about you and what you get from it. All that matters is what you do with the ideas, no matter the source.

What matters is what you get out of their work, not the person who made it.

Learning from the lesson, not the example

When you read something or get advice, learn to see past the example and focus on the lesson and apply it to your own life. Nobody else knows your exact situation.

Don’t focus on the example itself. Use it as a metaphor, and apply the lesson to my situations. It might sound obvious, but most people don’t look it this way.

Goals shape the present, not the future

If you have a goal that you are putting off to do someday, it’s a bad goal. If the goal doesn’t excite you to jump into action, it’s not really a great goal.

Judge a goal by how well it changes your action in the present moment. Some goals may seem great but unless it changes your action, right now, it’s not a great goal. Find goals that excite you.

Seeking inspiration?

Inspiration means something that mentally stimulates you to do something. Most people don’t feel inspired enough. They are always looking for more, thinking that something else out there will truly inspire them.

The truth however is nothing is truly inspiring unless you apply it to your work. Inspiration is not receiving information, it is applying what you’ve received. Use inspiration to amplify your work.

If you think you haven’t found your passion

‘Passion’ and ‘purpose’ sound like overwhelming things. Just notice what excites you and scares you at the same moment, that’s your calling.

Whatever scares you, go do it

It can be scary at first, but this is the truth. Fear is just another form of excitement and you should do what excites you. As you go through in life doing everything that scares you, you fear less and less in the world. And confronting our fear is the path to growth.

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