Episode 210: Noah Kagan – How To Start A Business

Noah Kagan was the #30 employee at Facebook (started there in 2005), and the #4 employee at Mint.com.  He came up with the idea of real-time updates and executed with one engineer (Mark Slee) at Facebook.  He is now the Chief Sumo at Sumo.com (A domain in which he paid $1.5m to own.  We discussed why on this episode).

This episode is different than most in that it was more conversational, and less interview.  There was real-time coaching, and off the cuff conversation about how I should progress The Learning Leader.  If you are uncomfortable with creative use of the English Language (re: use of curse words), then skip this episode.  If not, I think you’ll really like it.

“You shouldn’t get a job… You should get a career.”

Show Notes:

  • Sustained Excellence = Getting feedback from professionals
    • Noah hired pros from NPR to review his interview transcripts.
    • “Most of the time we have too much.  Need to edit it down.”
  • How to create a narrative — The NPA producer changed his life
  • Employees — “They are not my people. They are people I work with. I don’t like the word employee.”
  • How do you hold others accountable? — Autonomy, coaching, help when needed.  Hire correctly.
  • “What I’m great at is starting…”
  • How the quest to India changed Noah’s life
  • “You’ll almost always push hard on the last lap.”
  • The impact Mark Zuckerberg had on him when he worked for him at Facebook
  • “When I was at Facebook, there was a singular focus: Growth.”
  • “You shouldn’t get a job, get a career.” — “I was a cubicle monkey at Intel”
  • Using a journal to plan your day/week/month
  • “Here is a story I’ve never shared before…”
  • Why you should always ask yourself…”What’s exciting for me?”
  • Why you should go on walks with your spouse/significant other
  • Instead of building something in a month, why not build it by Monday? — Do it quicker than you think possible
    • You need to constantly try and test it out… Don’t overthink it.  Will people pay me for this?  Keep evolving
  • Keys to building your audience
  • “Art of The Deal” is a helpful book
  • Noah’s salary?  Low 6 figures
  • “Good people don’t work for cheap rates”
  • The two ways to scale a business
    • Technology
    • People
  • What Noah learned about vision —
    • Initially didn’t believe in it… But he has matured and fully believes in it. “As I’ve gotten older…”
    • “It’s much easier to get what you want when you know what you want.”
  • The impact of Noah’s Dad dying had on him
    • “I’m much more protective of my time”

“Good people don’t ask for cheap rates.”

Social Media:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 071: NateBoyer – Green Beret, Texas Football, The NFL

Episode 179: How To Sustain Excellence – The Best Answers From 178 Questions

Episode 107: Simon Sinek – Leadership: It Starts With Why 

Episode edited by the great J Scott Donnell

The Learning Leader Show is supported by Rhone.  Use the code “Hawk” for 15% off.  Rhone… premium activewear engineered with principle, performance and progress for the modern man.  Rhone builds clothing around 3 main tenants: Cutting-edge Performance, Premium Comfort, and Simplistic Style.


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