Hell Yeah or No: By Derek Sivers

‘Hell yeah or No’, the title hasn’t caught me by surprise because I initially came across it in Derek’s first book called Anything you want.

I picked up this book because it echoed my interest in making decisions instead of dwelling on them. This book has expanded upon various ideas and stories that were presented in a manner that looked familiar through my personal experience. But, the unfamiliarity of others seemed intriguing to learn about.

Please note:

  1. This is my summary and interpretation.
  2. My bias perceptive is a means to reflect the message I acquired from this book and will be paraphrased. Please assume all other substantive ideas are from the book.
  3. I hope this summary encourages readers to reach out and read the book for themselves.


The abstract concepts that are highlighted within this book give light to what we could do versus what’s worth doing. The difficulty in optionality it makes us open to choices. Within the norm of deciding which option to proceed with we become confused or suffer from decision fatigue. However, there are advantages in practising optionality; it provides insights that opens our mind to new information. We brainstorm information and begin to understand the pros and cons of our options to avoid sunk cost bias.


Derek raises an intriguing notion – advice given from a perceptive of one-directional thinking can never be assumed correct or incorrect. The advice provided from one’s point of view is based on what has been experienced by that individual alone. Such advice is just another option. To broaden the spectrum of advice we should listen, talk and attract ourselves with people of all walks of life and jump into action that brings us the most joy. Advice should be like echolocation. Bounce ideas off of all of your surroundings, and listen to all the echoes to get the whole picture.


Focus all of your energy onto one thing. I have divided my energy into various activities. Targeting my week to create a YouTube video, managing ideas to write about a blog post and assembling my thoughts for the next issue for my weekly newsletter. And, recently, I become part of a network marketing company. Derek highlights the solution is to think long term. Do just one thing for a few years, then another for a few years, then another because most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years. Think long term. Use the future. Don’t be short-sighted. I realise my energy is divided within the scope of writing and creating, the solution to managing my focus is to be able to manage my time more effectively. 


This approach draws on Feynman technique learning with a mindset of a beginner. Learn as you are doing it for the first time. There is benefit in such transition:

  1. You ask a lot of questions.
  2. You stop assuming people are stupid or smarter than you.
  3. You make it your mission to assume what you know isn’t enough so, you drive to learn more. Your focus is directional, it’s based on improving continuously and not be held up with past accomplishments.
  4. You cherish the fact that you love being wrong, which highlights you have more to learn. And, that’s where true learning takes place when you come across new information.

Derek advocated a go-to rule in his life, which I’ll highlight below as a quote. It’s important to consider this rule in every facet of our lives. 

Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.


A predictable pattern is witnessed whenever we suffer from an atrocity. We question ourselves:

  1. Why did this happen to me? 
  2. What was my fault?

Our instinct to adopt victimhood when we suffer from people lying, cheating, misguiding us. Derek highlights the way to avoid victimhood is to accept that it’s our fault. We accept victimhood by forgiving those who have wronged us. By accepting it’s our fault, we wouldn’t need to adopt victimhood. Ultimately, we gain back that power and wouldn’t need to apologise anymore. This chapter was a revelation to me because it provided clarity on two factors: a. that I have control over on how I choose to work against my atrocities and b. blaming is easy; accountability is hard.

Some examples to consider:

  1. My broker cheated me on my investment. I should have taken control by doing rigorous research on the broker.
  2. My relationship plateaued with an ex-girlfriend. I should have taken control by investing more time into her. 
  3. Rogue teenagers vandalised my garage. I should have taken control by placing a gate and security cameras to protect my asset. 


There are three things to consider when making life-size decisions:

  • What makes you happy
  • What is smart—meaning working for long-term
  • What is useful to others

Derek highlights that we tend to forget one of these. For example: just happy from the parable of the Mexican fisherman. You might want to check out this post if you haven’t come across the story before. I originally came across this in the the 4-hour workweek by Tim Ferriss.

What’s smart is highlighted by Aesop’s fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” you’ll be full of regret if you think of nothing but today and don’t prepare for tough times.

Here’s the story:

The Ants & the Grasshopper 

One bright day in late autumn a family of Ants were bustling about in the warm sunshine, drying out the grain they had stored up during the summer, when a starving Grasshopper, his fiddle under his arm, came up and humbly begged for a bite to eat.

“What!” cried the Ants in surprise, “haven’t you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?”

“I didn’t have time to store up any food,” whined the Grasshopper; “I was so busy making music that before I knew it the summer was gone.”

The Ants shrugged their shoulders in disgust. “Making music, were you?” they cried. “Very well; now dance!” And they turned their backs on the Grasshopper and went on with their work. 

There’s a time for work and a time for play.

What is useful to others can be highlighted in service of those who need your help. It could be anything from helping through volunteering to helping a friend get a job. Taking time to serve others is a rewarding activity because you are providing a service that can elevate the troubles of someone.


You have something you want to change: a thought process or habit you want to fix.

Let’s use the metaphor of a bunch of bricks on a seesawRight now all the bricks are stacked on one side. This is the way you have been. To make a change, most people don’t do enough.

And to correct such thought process one must consider the behaviour model of change. It is based on four elements: cue, craving, response and reward.

  1. Cue – the idea of making a habit obvious.
  2. Crave – the motivation to complete that habit.
  3. Response – to perform a habit through action or thought.
  4. Reward – if a habit is attractive, it is worth remembering and hence it acts as a feedback loop.

If you do something small and sensible, it’s like moving one brick to the other side. You’re still unbalanced. You think you made the change, but it’s not accounting for.

When considering to refine your habits or to shift your bricks to the other side, consider the following questions:

  1. How can I make it obvious?
  2. How can I make it attractive?
  3. How can I make it easy to follow?
  4. How can I make it satisfying

To make a change, you have to be extreme; you must crave it. It will feel like overcompensating, but you have to stack a huge pile of bricks on the other side.

I would love to get your feedback or any thoughts on this summary. So, please leave a comment below 🙂

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I am a writer and a graduate engineer working in Leicester, UK.

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