Book Review : HELL YEAH OR NO by Derek Sivers

Hell Yeah Or No‘ is a short, simple and sweet guide to living, decision making, and enjoying whatever you do.

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Like thousands of readers, I’m an avid fan of Derek Sivers and buy almost every book he writes as soon as it’s published.

That’s why I picked up ‘Hell Yeah or No : What’s Worth Doing‘ during prelaunch – and bumped it to the top of my rather lengthy ‘to read’ list.

What I most admire about Derek Sivers is how he is constantly on a quest to try out things that make sense, enhance effectiveness, and leave him happier than before.

There’s no dogma, or blind attachment to a position, or lifestyle choice that he won’t be willing to change or abandon, if it sounds as if the alternative may be a better option.

As a result, he tries extensive socializing and networking for a year, then follows it with another of near-total exclusion and asceticism while he concentrates on writing and coding projects.

In ‘Hell Yeah Or No‘, we get a glimpse into how his mind works. What drives the decisions he makes. How he decides upon the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of an experiment. And what lessons he takes away from each, to layer upon an already impressive set of best practices.

As the subtitle indicates, this is a book to know what’s worth doing. And what isn’t. Along with reasons.

Some of the thought-provoking ideas and questions resonated deeply within me. I furiously highlighted passages on my Kindle, to revisit later on and think about deeply – to discover my own answers.

“What if you had so much attention and so much praise that you couldn’t possibly want any more? What would you do then? What would you stop doing?”

Hmm… I’m still pondering this one.

Another favorite is this snippet to help creative artists distance themselves from the belief that critique of their work is a reflection upon their personality or character.

“Public comments are just feedback on something you made. They’re worth reading to see how this thing has been perceived.”


So if you don’t like my books, it doesn’t automatically follow that you don’t like… ME!

Obvious as this might seem, many creatives find it hard, even impossible, to make this distinction… because it isn’t clearly made by the person offering feedback.

And we tend to identify too closely with our work. The chapter title says it all: ‘The Public You Is NOT You‘.

One more that I loved is about mixing passion with profit.

“Don’t expect your job to fulfil all your emotional needs. Don’t taint something you love with the need to make money from it.”

True indeed.

In case these excerpts suggest this is a non-stop instruction manual for how to run your life, it isn’t.

I picked out some choice bits that moved me. There’s plenty of general stuff that’s designed to make you think about areas of your life and work that, maybe, you’ve not reflected upon deeply before.

And if you do, then this book will be well worth the asking price… even if it sounds a bit steep.

Which is another reason why I love buying Derek’s books and telling others about them. On a follow up blog post shortly after the book’s launch, he shared some information about it.

In 6 weeks, the 5000 limited edition hardcover copies he printed were sold out, raising $250,000 … and he is donating ALL OF IT to charity!

“Yesterday I wired the entire $250,000 to the Against Malaria Foundation. That will buy 125,000 malaria nets, protecting ~225,000 people, averting ~65,000 cases of malaria, preventing ~125 deaths.”

That is the mindset of an author whose every word I read avidly – because when I grow up, I want to be like Derek Sivers, too.

Should you buy and read this book, “Hell Yeah or No“?

Hell, Yeah!

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