The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Noah Kagan — How to Launch a Million-Dollar Business This Weekend (#717) - The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss (2024)

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Noah Kagan

Noah Kagan(@noahkagan) was #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint, and has since created seven million-dollar businesses (Kickflip/Gambit,AppSumo,KingSumo,SendFox, Sumo,TidyCal, andMonthly1k).

He is the CEO, the #1 software-deals site for entrepreneurs, and has a popular YouTube channel,Noah Kagan.

His new book isMillion Dollar Weekend: The Surprisingly Simple Way to Launch a 7-Figure Business in 48 Hours.

Transcripts may contain a few typos. With many episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!

Listen to the episode onApple Podcasts,Spotify,Overcast,Podcast Addict,Pocket Casts,Castbox,Google Podcasts,Amazon Music,or on your favorite podcast platform. Watch the interview on YouTube here.

#717: Noah Kagan — How to Launch a Million-Dollar Business This Weekend


Tim Ferriss owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as his right of publicity.

WHAT YOU’RE WELCOME TO DO: You are welcome to share the below transcript (up to 500 words but not more) in media articles (e.g., The New York Times, LA Times, The Guardian), on your personal website, in a non-commercial article or blog post (e.g., Medium), and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include attribution to “The Tim Ferriss Show” and link back to the URL. For the sake of clarity, media outlets with advertising models are permitted to use excerpts from the transcript per the above.

WHAT IS NOT ALLOWED: No one is authorized to copy any portion of the podcast content or use Tim Ferriss’ name, image or likeness for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books, book summaries or synopses, or on a commercial website or social media site (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that offers or promotes your or another’s products or services. For the sake of clarity, media outlets are permitted to use photos of Tim Ferriss from the media room on or (obviously) license photos of Tim Ferriss from Getty Images, etc.

Tim Ferriss: Noah Kagan

Noah Kagan: Tim Ferriss.

Tim Ferriss: It’s been a minute. Nice to see you.

Noah Kagan: It’s great to see you. It really is.

Tim Ferriss: So our last rodeo, from an audio perspective, was ages ago, number 75 on the podcast. Now close to 700 episodes.

Noah Kagan: Wow.

Tim Ferriss: And at that time it was how Facebook’s number 30 employee quickly built four businesses and gained 40 pounds with weight training. I feel like my headlines have deteriorated over time. They’ve become very set of pedantic and pedestrian and descriptive. That is better copy. So I need to work on that copy. Maybe you drafted that copy yourself actually. For all I know, that could have been the case. We have a lot to talk about, but for people who don’t have any context, could you give a little self intro?

Noah Kagan: Great to see you, first off.

Tim Ferriss: Great to see you too.

Noah Kagan: It’s been great to see you. Now we’re at $8 million businesses, which is pretty amazing. I was number 30 at Facebook, number four at I was a cubicle monkey at Intel for a very brief moment, which sucked, which led me to this entrepreneurship journey. And then I’ve started so many different businesses that failed, some worked, and now I help run, number one site online for software deals who do about $80 million a year, which is unreal. It started bootstrapped in a weekend.

Tim Ferriss: I couldn’t believe it when I saw that.

Noah Kagan: I can’t believe it.

Tim Ferriss: I remember just day one of AppSumo effectively back in the day.

Noah Kagan: It’s been crazy and you were a big help with it. You were a super big help with getting it going, so thank you.

Tim Ferriss: You’re welcome.

Noah Kagan: YouTube channel’s done pretty well, a million subs. Got a book, Million Dollar Weekend coming out to help people. Very similar, complementary to 4-Hour Workweek, and we’re here today.

Tim Ferriss: So let’s do a little trip down memory lane because ages ago, 2011, so this is going back a ways. We’ve known each other a long time. I remember we first met, I want to say at a coffee shop in Mountain View, California on Castro. I remember that and a lot has transpired since. We’re going to cover quite a bit of it and get into a lot of tactics in this conversation. Noah always is able to deliver specifics, concrete, recommended actions, scripts, you name it.

So we’re going to get into all that juicy stuff. But you had a guest blog post on my blog in 2011, and it’s easy for me to forget, it’s easy for some people to forget or just not realize that the blog, for me, was really the connective tissue that permitted everything else, including the first book because the blog came out before the book. And what was that blog post that you put together?

Noah Kagan: “How to Create a Million-Dollar Business [This] Weekend…” featuring chihuahuas. And that started this book, that started a lot of me sharing my approach and that was wild.

Tim Ferriss: And it resonated incredibly well. Funny sidebar also, if you’re curious about some of the ingredients in the co*cktail that contributed to Ryan Holiday becoming the face of modern Stoicism way back in the day, I think it was called “Stoicism 101” on the blog. So people can take a look at for that. But let’s start with a completely oblique question, which is a geographic question. So we’re sitting here in Austin, Texas, and before we started recording you said something along the lines of, “Barcelona is the new Austin.” Can you expand on this?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. In our last show, you were talking like, “Hey, you’re in Austin” — you were living in San Francisco — “tell me about it.” And you’re like, “Yeah, I thought about it.” And now we’re here living in Austin.

Tim Ferriss: Now we’re here.

Noah Kagan: And I do think in my life, I’ve been able to pick things a little early. Facebook a little early, Mint a little early, social games a little early, Groupon, early, SaaS businesses early. And so even choosing Austin early.

Tim Ferriss: Super early. When did you get to Austin?

Noah Kagan: 14 years ago.

Tim Ferriss: 14.

Noah Kagan: Which people were like, “What are you doing out there?” And I was like, “I don’t even know where it is in Texas, but it’s great.” And for me, six years ago, my buddies, Dan and Ian from Tropical MBA, they’re like, “Just come out to Barcelona for a month.” And I got there and I was like, “It’s okay.” It’s very hot here in Austin. So I was like, “All right, I’ll go out there.” And after a few weeks, I’m really into cycling, I’m into the spandex — but really the cycling out there, it’s world-class. It’s where Lance Armstrong got famous. It’s what he made famous actually, in a city called Girona. And so I got out there and we started training, started drinking at night, started eating. The prices are amazing. There’s a beach right there. It’s basically California without all the bullsh*t and a lot cheaper.

Tim Ferriss: It’s a good sales pitch.

Noah Kagan: People are like, “Do you want to go to California?” I’m like, “No, thank you.” I do love California. It’s definitely one of my homes. And so I just started going there every single summer. And now this year I spent 143 days and it’s just amazing. And then what’s even wild is my girlfriend who I met there and now she’s pregnant, which is insane, she was saying that the life expectancy of Spaniards is actually higher than Americans.

Tim Ferriss: I believe that.

Noah Kagan: And then I was talking to her about this and that’s interesting. It’s like, “Well, wouldn’t you want to live where people live longer?” I was like, “Yeah.” You have fresher food, everything is walkable. So you’re going downstairs, you’re like, “Well, I’m going to go get a tomato,” and there’s a vegetable store and then there’s a meat store and a cheese store. You have community there. She lives in my house here, we live out in the west. She’s like, “Do you see anyone ever? Do you ever talk to anyone?” She’s like, “Where is everyone?” And so all these factors combined, plus the cost of living is cheaper, it’s just been where now we’re spending at least half a year out there.

Tim Ferriss: A lot more social fabric too, I would imagine. I haven’t experienced Barcelona much. I’ve spent a little bit of time there. Great tango scene for people who may be interested. But in Madrid where I spend a bit more time, people are out, they’re socializing, groups of friends, families. You just see more cohesion. And at least it seems, maybe technology has changed this and people are more Ready Player One now in Spain, it’s possible, it’s true most places, but less self-imposed isolation than I observe in the US normally.

Noah Kagan: Less isolation, better looking people. Straight out, it’s got a higher density of really gorgeous people.

Tim Ferriss: Austin’s a pretty attractive town.

Noah Kagan: It’s okay.

Tim Ferriss: Depends on what you’re looking for.

Noah Kagan: It depends, yeah. But it’s just for cycling, it’s world-class. I like men with man-buns and leg tattoos.

Tim Ferriss: That’s Austin.

Noah Kagan: Okay, so you’re at the right place. But just everything about it, it’s been such a blessing to be able to find that and be able to live my life there and here, you can do both.

Tim Ferriss: So we’re going to move on to other things, but before we do, Barcelona, let’s start with a contrast. So Austin, for a host of different reasons, has become a nexus for a few things that I think we could have expected. Looking back from say five years ago, we could have expected tech. Tech was already here from a taxation perspective, et cetera. It made a lot of sense. COVID accelerated all of that. So you’ve seen an explosion of tech. I mean within striking distance of where we’re sitting, there is an entire skyscraper, who knows how many floors? 40, 50 floors that is going to be exclusively Google, which has not yet been opened, commercially speaking. There are a few retail shops at the bottom. That, I think, is somewhat predictable.

The things I couldn’t have predicted or wouldn’t have predicted, Austin has become the mecca of Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the world, not just in the United States. It is, if not already, certainly becoming an epicenter for standup comedy. In many ways, thanks to Joe Rogan and his club that he has opened here. What do you think if anything, you were like, “The next five to 10 years, I bet Barcelona could be hot for X,” is there anything that comes to mind? Because I always looked at Austin as this highly diversified town that was not dominated by a single industry. That’s part of what appealed to me compared to say SF Bay Area. Now hasn’t quite worked out as I anticipated, but certain dominant communities and industries are becoming clear now in Austin. Any thoughts on Barcelona?

Noah Kagan: I would say with Austin, I’d also add content creators.

Tim Ferriss: For sure.

Noah Kagan: There’s a lot of pretty sizable YouTube podcasts that have become in Austin, I mean Holiday, me, you, definitely a lot of other people that have moved out here — I would say for Barcelona, for me specifically, I can see it being the remote working capital of the world. Where yes, the hours are a little off, so maybe you’d want to go South America. But potentially just for having a metropolitan city, especially in Austin, it’s hot here four months a year — so for four months —

Tim Ferriss: And to be clear, what we mean by hot, sorry centigrade folks, I don’t know how to convert this, but we’re talking 110 to 120 a lot of the time.

Noah Kagan: It’s 38 to 40 Celsius.

Tim Ferriss: Your dog cannot walk outside. My dog’s feet will literally turn into omelets.

Noah Kagan: Well you were showing me, your floor is literally burnt in your place from the sun.

Tim Ferriss: From the sun. The previous owner left the solar shades up and the entire floor was bleached by the sun.

Noah Kagan: But you go to Barcelona, I get a coworking spot. You go to one cowork, but there’s so many out there. 500 bucks a month, you get an awesome desk, you get really, really fast Wi-Fi everywhere. You can use, U-K-I-O dot com. It’s Airbnb but even cheaper, super sick apartments. Don’t use it yet because I need to book my place.

Tim Ferriss: Good luck.

Noah Kagan: And then you can go to all these amazing cities in a weekend. So you’ve got [inaudible], which is better than Lake Tahoe, bigger mountains, not as crowded. You’ve got Costa Brava, which is California coast but even better, it’s European style. You have naked beaches, both genders, so whatever you want. We were going to the wrong beach, depending on how you look at it, for a long time. Then my buddy says, “Let’s go down the beach.” All these varietal things that really make it a nice summer. And I like the balance of having both where there’s the intimacy of being here in Austin where you can go to Uchi, you have people like you and me and there’s a lot of interesting people here. But then also when it’s hot in summer, now with entrepreneurship, now with remote work, Barcelona is a great second home for the rest of the year.

Tim Ferriss: Tactical question for people listening, and I know this exists in some European countries, is there the equivalent of a digital nomad visa or is it something that’s more complicated?

Noah Kagan: It’s way more complicated than people [make it] sound. So I literally got off the phone with an immigration lawyer for US and Europe yesterday. I talked to both of them —

Tim Ferriss: And this just ties into our entire conversation, and I’ll make that connection in a minute, but please continue. So you got off the phone.

Noah Kagan: It’s not as easy as it seems. There’s a nomad visa for Spain. And to be clear, it’s taken me 18 months and I still don’t have it. And I have a pretty sizable company, I have a pretty sizable bank account. I went to a college, which you have to do, and I’ve used a law firm to follow all these papers, and I’m still not there. So sometimes when you’re dealing with other countries, even in America, there’s a lot of bureaucracy. So that’s one way to do it. That could take a lot of time. Second one is the Golden visa. So you spend half a million —

Tim Ferriss: In Spain.

Noah Kagan: — in Spain on a property and then you can be able to get a visa there. The other one that we’re going to be approaching, the way I’m going to do it it’s called a Pareja de Hecho. So if you can meet someone who is actually a citizen, you don’t have to actually be married, you just have to live with them and be with them, you can get your residency there. So that’s what I’m doing with my girlfriend.

Tim Ferriss: I see.

Noah Kagan: And so that is one approach —

Tim Ferriss: Getting your green card.

Noah Kagan: — to be able to get my green card.

Tim Ferriss: So to speak.

Noah Kagan: I’m coming through the border legally over there. But otherwise, it’s a three-month tourist visa. I think the nomad visa, it sounds great. It’s just literally 18 months and I don’t know, 1,500 bucks, still nothing.

Tim Ferriss: That’s a lift, I mean, in terms of energy commitment. And the reason I wanted to cover this and the reason it ties into everything is that I enjoy our conversations in part because I learn a lot about the latest and greatest whatever you’ve experimented with personally and professionally. And the personal part is not a small thing because you can create a business that is a monster of your own making, a jail of your own making.

It’s very easy to do. That is the default, I would say. And you can also design a business that allows you to do the type of thing that you’re describing, and those are fundamentally different approaches. They seldom happen by accident. So why don’t we hop into the Million Dollar Weekend?

Noah Kagan: I can do one more bonus visa thing that everyone can consider.

Tim Ferriss: Great. Bonus visa.

Noah Kagan: This is a little secret thing that it’s actually interesting. A lot of countries, if you can find your genealogy, use 23andMe or talk to your grandparents, you can actually get your citizenship through that. So my great-grandfather is from Poland, so that’s been one avenue I’ve been considering where if you can actually find documents, which we’ve been able to find some, I can get Poland citizenship, which is then part of the EU citizenship. So that is another way of getting in if I didn’t have a girlfriend. So for people out there, go look up your ancestry and see if that country will be able to give you a citizenship.

Tim Ferriss: And different countries have different degrees of leniency/acceptance depending on how far back you go.

Noah Kagan: My buddy Dan Andrews always says, he’s like, “Be mindful of marrying the passport.” My girlfriend is Venezuelan but lives in Portugal but we’re in Spain. So it’s just a lot of things now to get her in America, has been a nightmare.

Tim Ferriss: This is super challenging. Ridiculously challenging.

Noah Kagan: The people are trying to get across the border down south. I’m like, “If that’s easier, maybe we’ll just do that. I’ll put you on my back and carry you.”

Tim Ferriss: Side note, this is a whole separate conversation, but if we look at the plummeting birth rates, we are not meeting replacement rates for population growth, which is then correlated to GDP growth and so on in so many industrialized countries. The one advantage the US has really is immigration, attracting talent globally. So making it easy or easier is really mission-critical to the economic and national security future of the United States.

Noah Kagan: 100 percent. It’s also not as easy as people realize. I was talking with the lawyer to get her into America, the other visa lawyer. In 90 Day Fiancé, that show, it’s, you get a fiancé, boom, boom, boom — no, it’s not like that. You have to wait a lot of time. You have to spend a lot of money. You can’t leave the country. If you do it in America, she can’t leave for months. Or if we do it in Spain, she can’t come into America for years.

Tim Ferriss: It’s incredibly tricky. Incredibly complicated. So let’s zoom out for a second and we’re going to talk about starting. We’re going to talk about the initial stages and process for building a business or concepting a business in a very short period of time. So we are going to get to that and we are going to have a challenge/competition offer from Noah later that you’re not going to want to miss. So stick around for that. I absolve all responsibility. Noah has verbally committed to all the indemnities in the world for me. So this is Noah’s thing, but I want to talk about running AppSumo, because prior to doing the homework for this conversation, I had no idea that it had grown so much. It was wild.

Noah Kagan: I agree.

Tim Ferriss: So 80 million-a-year business, that’s bananas. And what I’m curious about is being the CEO of such a company. Could you give us an idea of what the company looks like first of all, just in terms of basic org chart, how many full-time employees, how you think about structuring the company?

Noah Kagan: It’s been interesting. And one thing, especially for Million Dollar Weekend, it’s the playbook I used and it started with just me in a basem*nt in Haight-Ashbury for 48 bucks. And that’s what’s crazy. Everyone doesn’t have to have a lot of money or time to be able to get to this point. And so that is wild.

Tim Ferriss: It’s incremental. There are playbooks for starting low-cost, starting low-risk, incrementally building something that can become the type of business that you’re describing or larger or not depending on your priorities.

Noah Kagan: Exactly. That’s why I left SF — I wanted to live. I’m not here just to work all day and that’s why I’m in Barcelona. I want to have a good balance of enjoying life and making money the way I want. So, today we have about 75 full-time teammates. I think the word employees is just archaic. And then maybe 25 full-time contractors. So that’s broken out about six different departments.

So we have Product Engineering Department, Sales, Business Development Department, Marketing Department, Operations. So we go get the best deals on the planet at AppSumo, negotiate insane prices, and then we have to get it on the website. So there’s a team that helps us do that. Customer support team, people team, and then a finance and business intelligence team.

Tim Ferriss: And are those employees distributed? Do they have locations?

Noah Kagan: I think they’re real.

Tim Ferriss: Do they all have locations with offices?

Noah Kagan: They could be real. We’ve gone back and forth over the years, man. I started in a basem*nt. I made every move to Austin and then we got an office here. Now we’re remote and we’re doing stipends for coworking spots for some of the teammates as an experiment to see if we can actually help them either get their home office set up or coworking set up. We’ve tried the office, it didn’t seem like people actually go. We have one now. I don’t know if people go. I literally have no clue, but we’ve definitely downsized from about 50,000 a month, I think our office now is 3,500 bucks a month.

Tim Ferriss: I was going to ask you about CEO frameworks that you use on an ongoing basis. So we are going to come back to that, but since you talked about downsizing, and I want to give somebody who’s listening something tactical right away because we want to front load some of those Scooby Snacks to keep everybody listening, you are a very proactive negotiator and that can range from asking for a discount on coffee, which I think we should revisit briefly —

Noah Kagan: Yes, dude.

Tim Ferriss: — to the 35 plan, I believe, that you had for COVID. I think it was maybe dropping sales goals, assuming a five percent profit margin. Something like that. And I’d like to know how you negotiate things down. What are some of the key approaches? So let’s say somebody’s looking at lease of a space for an office that’s not really being used or they’re looking at their credit card statement and they’re trying to tighten the belt because they want to take some swings in entrepreneurship but they want to feel a margin of safety. How do you approach this? What are some of the keys to that? Because this is something I know you have a lot of practice with.

Noah Kagan: I’m not going to do Jewish jokes, but I love a good deal. That’s is —

Tim Ferriss: No. It is Jewish, to be clear.

Noah Kagan: A few things of how I like to approach negotiating and getting better prices on things. First off, this is going to be counterintuitive, but I always say I’m really bad at negotiating. That’s my first line.

Tim Ferriss: You say that to the person you’re negotiating against?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. Every time.

Tim Ferriss: Got it.

Noah Kagan: And the idea here is, one, I am bad because what I’m interested in is I don’t really want to spend a lot of time, I want to understand what you want and if I know what you want and you’re happy with what you get and it’s within my circle, that’s it. I don’t want to spend so much time actually negotiating. And I think that lowers people’s defenses as well where I’m just not really good at negotiating, I want to make sure you get what you want. And then people are like, “Oh, great.” So that’s number one.

Second thing, no one really wants to be guilted. I have a Jewish mother, I know about guilt. There’s a reason Jewish chocolate’s called gelt. It’s not a coincidence. But the second thing is no one will be guilted into being excited to work with you. And the internet is a small place. The world is a small place. Me and you, how long we’ve been together? You started your book 2007?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. The book came out in 2007, started writing in 2005. So we met 2007, 2008, 2006. 2007, maybe earlier. It was before 2006.

Noah Kagan: It comes around. So when people try to dick you over or people grind you, you’re like, “Okay, I know. I’ll see you again.” And so for me it’s how do I have a positive experience where do you want to do another deal with Noah? Do you want to do another discount with Noah? And then lastly, I think a lot of time is pricing. So one, be positive, have a good experience because you’re probably going to do this again. Then I say lastly, what’s the actual value you’re negotiating around?

I think a lot of times it’s like, “I want five versus 10.” It’s like, “Why?” So have clarity about why you think it’s that price. Like, “Here’s comps, here’s something that you can actually base this on.” What we do at is we do a biannual review over every single contractor and every single software subscription. We don’t use software, we literally just have a list on spreadsheets.

Tim Ferriss: So twice a year, you go through the list —

Noah Kagan: Every single thing.

Tim Ferriss: — of your recurring costs.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. So our server costs and electronic costs a month, give or take is $250,000. Contractor, teammate cost is somewhere around one and a half million a month. So you add that up over a year, it’s a lot. So every biannual, Anna, who leads our people team, she’s amazing, goes over that. And then we basically have two columns, which is price of it and then we have the return on investment or how valuable we think it is to the company, low, medium, high. And then they literally go through every single one and see if they can contact anything that says low and then just get it canceled.

Either you get it canceled or you got to negotiate it down. Anything that’s high, we still ask for a discount as well. But we more or less leave those alone. Last tip I’ll give for negotiating prices, and again, I recommend everyone doing a biannual review personally or professionally, when you give the number, shut the hell up. I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but this is one of my favorite — I do this all the time. I literally did it two days ago.

Tim Ferriss: And when you say, “When you give the number,” that’s effectively what you’re asking for?

Noah Kagan: So Million Dollar Weekend and and life in general, everything is an ask. And so how I like to do it, I bought a sauna and they didn’t deliver it for six months and I was a little frustrated, so I did a chargeback. People in Europe don’t know about chargebacks, did you know this? Americans are like, “I’ll charge you back.” Europeans are like, “What’s happening here?” So I charge back and they contacted me —

Tim Ferriss: Define a chargeback. That’s basically you’re asking your credit card company to reverse a charge.

Noah Kagan: — yes, which everyone should do. Not all the time. And it happens at AppSumo and we do our best to rectify what customers think is wrong. But it’s a really nice way of getting a company’s attention because they get charged for it, they get $35 bill and they get notified like, “Hey, here’s a chargeback. You need to solve this.” And so I wouldn’t do it all the time. It’s not something I do lightly, but if I try to return something or they didn’t deliver for six months, I did a chargeback. Now I’ll talk to the negotiating part.

So the owner of the company three months later, after he notices it, is like, “Hey, I got a chargeback, man. What the hell?” And I was like, “On my integrity, I’m going to pay for your sauna, but let me just tell you about my experience.” And we have a chat, this is literally three days ago. And he’s like, “All right, man.” He’s country actually. He’s like, “All right, man. I’ve got you. I’m going to hook you up a little discount there, Noah.” I was like, “All right there, Craig.” He’s like, “I’m going to give you 10 percent.” I was like, “Okay, Craig.” I think sometimes when your’re negotiating, people, they go back and forth emotionally and it’s like, “Get off the emotion and get to the solution.”

Tim Ferriss: Get the result instead of being right.

Noah Kagan: 100 percent. You’re like, “Well, Craig…”

Tim Ferriss: Instead of being righteous.

Noah Kagan: Exactly. 100 percent. And so with Craig, he said 10 percent. And I said, “All right. Well, Craig, let me just walk through what happened. You guys charged me 13,500 for my sauna, which I love. It didn’t come for six months, you lied to me every week.” They lied to me that it was coming every week. I’d ask every week and they’re like, “It’s coming this week,” for six months.

Tim Ferriss: “Five minutes, Turkish,” for those people who’ve seen Snatch.

Noah Kagan: What is it?

Tim Ferriss: It’s a movie reference. There’s people who get it, it doesn’t matter. It’s a movie reference that people who get it will get it.

Noah Kagan: So the last negotiating technique, and this is in Million Dollar Weekend, we can talk about how to sell better and it’s a very simple framework everyone can copy. But with Craig, I said, “All right, Craig, let’s do 20 percent.” And this is the power move. You say your ask or your number and you shut up. That’s it. I don’t know if people already do this or know about this, but that is the power move. So at the final blow —

Tim Ferriss: Let the silence do the work.

Noah Kagan: Just be like, “20 percent.” And Craig is like, “All right. No, you got a deal. Let’s get it done.” And so then we got 20 percent. I was able to get an extra thousand bucks off the sauna. I’m happy, he’s happy, we can move forward. So that is a lot of how I like to negotiate.

Tim Ferriss: And if you flash back to earlier days. So smaller company, maybe it’s when you’re solo, maybe it’s what you did before starting AppSumo because this is not a new habit, this is a habit you’ve developed over a very long period of time. And I’m looking at a transcript of an interview from Mixergy, so I’ll throw in —

Noah Kagan: Oh, wow.

Tim Ferriss: — I know, going into the archives. And wanted to throw this out there just in case it’s helpful to folks or for just jogging other techniques in terms of tightening the belt, which is something I did also before starting my very first company, the sports nutrition company. I went through my credit card statements, I was like, “What can I cancel? What can I get rid of?” So I feel like I have more of a buffer. My burn rate is as low as possible.

So here’s what we have in front of me, fact check. Can’t trust everything you read on the internet, but here’s what we have:

“My most important thing is that when you’re emailing someone, I think you got to do a few things. Number one, tell them the exact price that you want to do.” So you’ve alluded to that. “Number two, say, ‘Hey, I can’t afford this right now.’ Number three, tell them, “Hey, this is what I need for now. We can revisit it in six months if the economy recovers. This is a great way to keep me as a long-term customer.’”

That’s a pretty good line. Any other thoughts on negotiating prices down or out, just deciding what to cut?

Noah Kagan: I think the bigger concept that I reflect on for everyone out there is that you can actually ask for discounts, and I don’t think people realize that. I think that’s actually one of the bigger things. It’s not the only biggest thing, which is I went to, you know Ali Abdaal?

Tim Ferriss: I do, yeah. I don’t know him personally, but I’ve had a little bit of contact.

Noah Kagan: He’s awesome. He’s a beautiful person. I love this guy. And I went to hang out with him in L.A. two weeks ago. I go into his hotel —

Tim Ferriss: Seems like he’s done a very good job on a whole bunch of different levels.

Noah Kagan: And he’s kind about it, which I really admire. And I go to his hotel room. I’m like, “Dude, sick hotel room. Really sick hotel room.” It’s literally corner Santa Monica, facing the beach. And me and Isaac, the videographer, were sharing a tiny one bedroom cuddling on a bed like poor people. Not poor people, but I call it small rich. That’s the new poor. That’s my new term, small rich because it means there’s still a chance to get rich soon or yet. So anyways, I asked Ali, I was like, “How much is this room, man? This must be a thousand a night.” He’s in London. He’s like, “You know what, mate? I just emailed them and said, ‘I’m doing videos and stuff in the room. Do you think you can give me a little discount on the room?'” They gave him the room for free just by asking.

Tim Ferriss: Doesn’t hurt to ask.

Noah Kagan: And so I think the bigger thing is not necessarily how to grind other people. And I don’t think that’s what we’re encouraging at all. It’s just thinking, if you can’t afford something, if you want something, how can you just ask for it? And I think what Tim said, I think what you highlighted from what we were talking about is I like the phrase WIIFT, What’s In It For Them. Just think WIIFT. How can I tell them I’ll be a long-term customer? That’s what you called out, which is great. Or like, “I can’t afford this, but I can afford this price so I could do something now.” And thinking about how you make it in their interest, like, “Maybe I’ll leave you a review.” And thinking more in that instance makes them more likely to do it.

Tim Ferriss: So let’s give an example of an optional practice. And I know we’ve talked about this and for any number of reasons, I’m just in love with it. And that is the coffee discount, because don’t practice your first round on the important stuff, that’s ridiculous. That’s asking for all sorts of problems and all sorts of self-imposed PTSD if it goes sideways and then you’re not going to do it again. So practice on things that don’t matter.

It’s like if you were going to have a really important job interview with your top pick, don’t make that your first interview.

Noah Kagan: 100 percent.

Tim Ferriss: Just go get a bunch of practice rounds with other companies where you don’t care about the outcome. So in this case, what is the coffee discount?

Noah Kagan: The coffee discount, it ties all into starting a business, which people are like, “Really?” I’m like, “Yeah, it really does.” It is the thing. Any time you buy coffee, tea, any time you go to a store, even a restaurant, you can do it anywhere. You go up to the counter, you make your purchase, and you say, “Can I please have 10 percent off?” And then they look at you really strange, and you say, “Well, Noah Kagan, Million Dollar Weekend. I’m doing this course, I’m trying out this book. They said I should do it.” And they keep looking at you weird. They go, “Let me talk to my manager. Okay, fine. You get 10 percent off.” Or they come back and say “No,” and you get your coffee and you move on.

And then I always love asking people, “What did you learn about yourself?” And everyone’s always like, “I was scared. I had courage because I faced my fear and I realized I can do more things and it’s not as scary as it actually seemed.” And now you can start applying that frankly in everything. In your jobs for raises, with your dating, asking someone for a date. And especially in business, which is, “Hey, will you come on my show? Hey, will you be my customer? Hey, will you give me feedback? Hey, can I interview you?” That’s all this whole life is, is asking people things. And if you ask, guess what? You can get.

Tim Ferriss: I don’t know when I originally said this or wrote it, but it resonated so much that I was like, “Maybe I should think about this even more myself.” I can’t believe I’m quoting myself for god’s sake, save me. This is what the internet does to you. I haven’t started quoting myself with my name signed. I haven’t started doing that yet.

Noah Kagan: Let’s do it.

Tim Ferriss: But the, “Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask.”

Noah Kagan: That was good.

Tim Ferriss: And this ties into my earliest beginnings prior to The 4-Hour Workweek. And I don’t know if I’ve actually talked about this publicly, but when I was giving the guest lectures in high tech entrepreneurship at Princeton twice a year from 2003 to ’13 I think, and I was invited by a professor. I didn’t have any special credentials other than everyone else he invited in as a guest speaker was venture-backed and traveled that route. They had some type of external financing. I was one of his students. We kept in touch, we got along really well. Ed Zschau, I’ve had him on the podcast and he wanted me to come back to share my experiences on the front lines because I was a recent grad also, I wasn’t decades out, bootstrapping it.

So I went back, and the crux of my presentation every time, and it modified, it grew and it evolved. And the notes for that ended up becoming the backbone of The 4-Hour Workweek as I ran all these experiments. But the opener was effectively, “Who here wants to be a salesperson?” And no hands would go up, nobody would raise their head.

Noah Kagan: That’s so good.

Tim Ferriss: Especially because this is Princeton, and they’re like, “Sales? Makes my skin crawl.” So you had people who were maybe going into entrepreneurship, more likely investment banking or management consulting, probably. But a lot of them had aspirations to be an entrepreneur. And I said, “Whether or not you want to be a salesperson is irrelevant. And if you don’t like that label, that’s fine. But you have to become a really good dealmaker. You have to become a good dealmaker.”

Noah Kagan: Love that.

Tim Ferriss: And a lot of those presentations focused on the kind of stuff that we’re talking about, asking for what you want, deciding how to position it, deciding how to really determine what the other person wants because maybe you are causing a fuss over something that is just an indicator of what they actually want. You know what I mean?

Noah Kagan: 100 percent.

Tim Ferriss: And there are books that help with this. Getting Past No is one of my favorites. There are many others, and that is why we’re spending some time on this. Are there other, let’s just call them comfort challenges let’s say, besides the asking for a discount on a cup of coffee? And I want to make one modification to what you said, which is maybe the first time you do this, we’ll make it softball, fine. So you can ask for the discount and then you can mention you’re doing it as an exercise for a book or something else. But then when you’ve tried that once or twice, now you can’t say that. Make it more uncomfortable. Are there other small challenges like that where people can build their tolerance to discomfort in a similar way?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, and let me give you two. One you could do right now. And so this is something from the book, and it’s the only book I think that you actually make money in the first few pages. And this is something that literally everyone can do right now. Ask one friend to invest a dollar in you right now. Literally get on your phone, Venmo, PayPal, crypto, whatever it is, and just message someone on WhatsApp, whatever it is, and say, “Hey, I’ve got this idea for a business,” or, “I want to start a business, but I’m looking for one person to be on my board of advisors or my investor. Will you Venmo me $1?” And I did this with a guy named Jake about a month and a half ago, and his hand was trembling. He was like, “Aah.” And even, you want to make it harder, call the person, don’t just text message them, call them, and it’s silly. And I think business should be fun, I don’t think we should have these day jobs that we hate all day, that seems horrible. But this is a fun thing that you can do to get just a little dollar, one tiny little dollar. But guess what? Every billion-dollar company started with a dollar. So building up that practice where you just ask for the dollar and then you get it, you’re like, “Oh, sh*t, that’s the beginning.”

Tim Ferriss: This is going to be such a mundane, procedural, stupid question, but I’m going to ask anyway. If they’re like, “What am I getting for my dollar as an investor?” what do you say?

Noah Kagan: Exactly. So the line I like to use is, “I love your support as I’m starting my business and I’d love for you to be on my board of advisors, so I can keep you informed as I’m working on my business.” And it’s a way to have people that care about you are just a part of your journey. And I think people are surprised how much people want them to succeed. So Jake called his brother, Jake called his other friend, Tom, and they’re both like —

Tim Ferriss: Who’s Jake?

Noah Kagan: Jake is a guy who read Million Dollar Weekend and lived at my house for 48 hours. I wanted to see if the book worked.

Tim Ferriss: So he read basically a prototype gally, something like that.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. So he called these two people, he said, “Hey, Tom, I’d really love for you to support me. Can you send me a dollar right now?” And he was shaking. Tom sent a dollar live, we saw it on Venmo and Jake was like, “Aah.” And everyone can do that right now, especially if you want to start a business and you want to get going. Or guess what? If you have a business, just do it to one friend, do it to a colleague, do it to your significant other. So that’s one I highly recommend. This is stuff I still do to this day and they’re silly, but this should be fun. And guess what? As you called it out really well, practice on the small stuff, so when you get to bigger stuff it’s not as big a deal.

I’m going to people’s houses and knocking on doors, that’s pretty scary. Most of my videos on YouTube are me going up to someone’s door. I don’t know them, and I ask them, “What do you do for a living?” That’s a very big ask to a stranger. Imagine me knocking on your door here, you’d be like, “Get the hell out of here.” So the other one that I’d recommend, and again, these are universal. You don’t need money, it doesn’t matter your gender, it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, you can practice these and build your skills up and your confidence up to be successful in business. Because as you said, sales is the basis of billionaires. A lot of billionaires were really good at sales. Just a footnote, don’t lose track.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I got you.

Tim Ferriss: If you’re not selling customers, you’re selling people on your ideas. You’re selling people on why they should use your design specs instead of something else. You’re selling them on why you deserve, or at the very least, it’s okay that you take a week of paid time off. You are persuading, you are going to be in the persuasion business, even if you are the most antisocial of coders. At some point, you have to interact with these bags of flesh called humans, and this is part of the game.

Noah Kagan It is. The other one that’s universal and I do it, I did it last week and it was actually pretty fun, is the compliment challenge. The compliment challenge it’s what it sounds like. So specifically what I like to compliment people on is clothing. I’ve never been a good dresser. You grew up in California, you know Mervyn’s. I know you grew up on Long Island —

Noah Kagan: I grew up in the East Coast.

Tim Ferriss: But you know clothing.

Noah Kagan: But you moved to the Bay Area. You know Mervyn’s, remember that store?

Tim Ferriss: Mervyn’s, vaguely.

Noah Kagan: No man, it was bad. That’s the only place my mom bought us clothes from and it was rough most of my life and as I got older, I was like, I kind of want to dress well. And so the compliment challenge is, anytime you see anyone with something nice, that you’re like, “That’s kind of a cool hat, cool jacket, cool shoes.” So two weeks ago I was at the Best Western and as I like to call it, it’s the Okay Western Hotel. It’s definitely not the best, they should rebrand it. This lady had shoes on and I was like, and then the way I like to think about it specifically with these challenges is you have a three-second rule. And the way for me, personally, is I won’t negotiate with terrorists, I will not negotiate with myself. So within three seconds I have to make the decision to do it. Just go do it, don’t even think about it. And then by the time you do it, you’re like, that was never so scary.

And I still have the fear, it’s not like at points it goes away, just get a little bit easier over time. So this lady was sitting, having breakfast with her husband and I’m like, I’m bothering her. I’m definitely bothering her and that’s actually a really misconception in big in sales, we’re like, we’re bothering the other people. What’s fascinating, I go up to her, I’m like, “I’m really sorry to bother you guys, but I love your shoes.” She’s like, “Thank you so much.” I was like, “Do you mind telling me where you got them from?” She’s like, “Yeah, I got them from JC Penney’s.” I was like, “Awesome. I think my girlfriend might like those. Have a great day.” And she’s like, “Thank you so much, that was really nice of you.” I was like, okay, went back to my chair. And so that’s one of the misconceptions in sales is that we’re actually harassing or bothering people, when maybe it’s actually a good thing and people need to maybe reconsider their perception of what a sale is.

Tim Ferriss: Quick pause.

Noah Kagan: Sure.

Tim Ferriss: If the book title keeps coming up, we’re going to have to cut it.

Noah Kagan: Oh, no. Did I say it again?

Tim Ferriss: You’re good. We can mention it, but if there’s too much density, we’ll have to thin it out a little bit.

Noah Kagan: No worries.

Tim Ferriss: So back to the story.

Noah Kagan: By the way, great feedback. Thank you. That’s a superpower. I mean, that alone is great. I don’t know if you want to include that in your content, but —

Tim Ferriss: We could include it. I mean, if you’re okay with it?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. I think this is one of my superpowers at AppSumo, we could say is not just my super, one of our values is feedback is a gift.

Tim Ferriss: That is also on walls at, well, the artist formerly known as Facebook, “Feedback is a gift.”

Noah Kagan: Is that what they said in there?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: Oh, wow.

Tim Ferriss: That’s a thing, but it is and this is fun. If we can keep it in, that’d be great. As an example, when I was early on preparing for The 4-Hour Workweek, I went to media training. I’d never done real media before and they were like, you must say, as in my book, in my book, mention the title, and I did it. I got really good at it and what I would say to folks, if you’re on morning television and you have 45 seconds and they’re going to mispronounce your name and get your book title wrong, yes, it’s a good idea to get it in.

With longer format you have the time to work with nuance and I will tell people right now, look, I’ll keep it simple. Just go buy the f*cking book, because I’ve seen what the blog post has done. I’ve spent enough time with you, I’ve seen you in action. We’ve collaborated way back in the day on The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the TV show. Got to see a lot of this stuff live, got to practice a lot of it live. So you know what you’re talking about.

Tim Ferriss: So coming back to the sales, I will say don’t assume that complimenting someone or approaching someone is going to be bothersome or harass them. However, there are times when that can be the case, in the sense that I remember in Silicon Valley, man, this is part of the reason why I was like, I need to take a break from this place geographically. I would be at dinners — dinners — sometimes with my girlfriend, we’d be on a date and a dude, it was always a dude. It was always a dude, some dude in his mid-20s would come over and be like, “Hi, Tim.” And pull up a chair and just sit down and pitch me on a startup. And I remember on multiple occasions, there were times when I was not as delicate about it, but I would just be like, “John. Is your name John? You didn’t even mention your name. John, I’ll just call you John. And John, it does not matter how good your pitch is right now, it could be the best pitch in the world, the timing is not good.”

And I’ll just share one more that I thought was amusing, which is a counterpoint, although I will say, oftentimes it’s going to bother someone, it’s going to be rude, it’s going to be fill-in-the-blank negative label, is an excuse for us to avoid doing the thing that is uncomfortable.

However, one counterexample, we’re sitting here in Austin, I was here at South by Southwest. So that is a huge festival here in Austin, great fun and I was on an escalator and I was exhausted because I’m an introvert, which people may not realize because I have one-on-one conversations and then broadcast it to millions of people, but very introverted. I get depleted when I go to events and I do things like book signings, I’m toast for two, three days. So I’m on the escalator and literally putting my face, nuzzling into my girlfriend’s neck, because I’m trying to hide from the world and she’s above me in the escalator. A guy reaches over her shoulder and taps me on the shoulder to pitch me on a startup. So don’t do that. So don’t do that.

Noah Kagan: Dude, I got a guy, I was in Barcelona, I was in spandex, just to be clear. I just finished a bike ride and this guy pulls up a seat next to me and he’s like, “You’re Noah Kagan, right?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m Noah Kagan.” He’s like, “Dude, give me a hug.” I was like, “I don’t know you.” And then he’s like, “You’ve got to come meet my friend.” I was like, “Dude, I’m just getting a beer. Just let me get my Australia Dam and chill out, dude. And yes, I’ll come talk to you.” It was just a little bit too imposing, but —

Tim Ferriss: Just look, I don’t want to turn this into a total kvetch marathon, but I will say that for me, this is very much an Austin thing too. If you meet anyone for the first time and perhaps I’ve spent too much time in Japan, who knows? But if I stick out my hand and you say, “I’m a hugger.”

Noah Kagan: Oh, the worst, dude.

Tim Ferriss: Don’t do that.

Noah Kagan: And then they bear hug you. Those are always the bear huggers —

Tim Ferriss: Or they do Will Ferrell comedy extended hug, don’t do that, guys. Don’t do that, guys.

Noah Kagan: Do the fist bump, do the bow.

Tim Ferriss: Just about anything is fine, please don’t —

Noah Kagan: It’s so imposing, “I’m a hugger.” It’s like, “All right, I’m a kicker. Doesn’t mean I’m going to kick you, though.” “I’m a slapper.” Great.

Tim Ferriss: Pro tips.

Noah Kagan: I’ll drop one thing, especially in sales, we’re talking about challenges and by the way, all these challenges do lead up in what I think has helped me be successful, is asking and practicing. And so for sales, I have a little framework, it works super well, it’s called LOT — listen, options, transition. And this is the same thing in asking, just listen to the other person. So first off, I’m going to listen to Tim, talk to them about their problems. Especially if you’re starting a business, you’re like, “Let me talk to you about your shirts. What do you like about your shirts? What do you not like about your shirts? Tell me more about your shirts.” And just listen, just think of you’re doing a podcast interview and you’re just interviewing them and getting feedback.

Then you present an option to your person. It’s like, “Hey, oh, you like shirts? What about this shirt at this price?” And they say, “Yeah, that actually solves my problem.” Or if you can’t, you don’t and then you transition them to, “All right, pay me. All right, let’s move on to a next step. Let’s put it in the calendar,” which I’m always a huge, lock it in the cal. If you’re trying to get sales, always in the cal or —

Tim Ferriss: How do you lock it in the cal? In a case like this, what goes into the calendar?

Noah Kagan: So what I’m doing, I’ll give you an example. Yesterday I was talking to this woman at a company that I want to work with and it was like, “All right. Well, we’d like to do something together. Cool, I’ll follow up in an email.” And I’m like, “No, let’s just do it right now.” So my phrase is always this, “I have my calendar open. How does this date work at this time?” And that is such an easier decision for her to then make and say, “Actually, yeah, cool, let’s placeholder it.”

Tim Ferriss: It also saves so much bandwidth over time.

Noah Kagan: A hundred percent.

Tim Ferriss: You add that up over as a process, if you’re constantly doing follow-up emails —

Noah Kagan: Yeah, and I want to make sure I have the next step.

Tim Ferriss: Now 10 percent of your life is dealing with those follow-up emails.

Noah Kagan: A hundred percent.

Tim Ferriss: So let’s talk about what we left maybe 10, 15 minutes ago, just because I like to bookmark practices at different stages, because I do find that they inform a lot. And I’m also personally curious, these conversations are ultimately always personal to me. So CEO frameworks, things that you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. You mentioned the biannual, for lack of a better descriptor, sort of recurring expense review. You mentioned that already. What are some other things? Because you’ve had quite a bit of practice now.

Noah Kagan: Let me show you a few, I think it’s cooler when you get to see it. So every single day at, can I say the website or am I saying it too much?

Tim Ferriss: That’s fine.

Noah Kagan: Every single day at [mumbles] .com.

Tim Ferriss: Beep! .com.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, we’ll bleep it out. You can check this out, I think, and you can talk through it. I’m happy —

Tim Ferriss: Oh, wow.

Noah Kagan: You can share these numbers. So every single day, this is something Keith Rabois does.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, so this is in?

Noah Kagan: So every day we have a daily poll, so that’s what we call it. Let’s zoom out for one sec. Have one singular goal. That’s what I’ve learned from Zuckerberg and that’s what I do at And so with this year, our one singular goal is $45 million net revenue. That’s net, gross sales is definitely around 77 to 80 million, depending on how the year ends. And then every single day there is this Slack bot that posts all of our key metrics that lead to our number one goal

Tim Ferriss: And it’s tied into automation.

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So what are you using there?

Noah Kagan: We’re using Zapier and then we use Snowflake when we have a two-person business intelligence team. But anyone could do this on a spreadsheet, just every day you have one goal. How are you doing?

Tim Ferriss: Can I say this for a second?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. Oh, wow. You can talk out some of the numbers, it’s pretty interesting.

Tim Ferriss: Sure. I mean, so we have data updated through, this is a poll spot, so it’s being automatically posted, you’re not manually pulling this, but you could.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. And you can also, by the way, if you’re just starting out, just have a spreadsheet and check it every single day.

Tim Ferriss: So you have month-to-date actual as compared to goal. So that is in and of itself meaningful. So you got total gross sales, 4.3 million, let’s call it, versus 4.438 million total net revenue, gross profit. AOV, which is average order value.

Noah Kagan: Yep.

Tim Ferriss: And new buyers, total buyers, plus members, those are subscribers.

Noah Kagan: Those are our VIP customers. We’ve got VIP customers.

Tim Ferriss: Daily sales, which is broken out, new buyers, new buyer conversion rate, new versus existing buyer gross sales month-to-date. That’s an interesting one, and then daily KPI report with monthly projections. So the KPI, key performance indicator. So this is quite a bit of stuff, and I’m wondering if you had to 80/20 this for your business right now, because I’m not sure how Keith Rabois does this or describes it. There are, I believe examples at, say Y Combinator, of talking about the single weekly metric. Picking one or two weekly metrics that are tracked over time and you’re trying to get that to compound at 10 percent a week, or whatever the number might be. So what would you choose as your 80/20 priorities in that list right now?

Noah Kagan: So for everyone out there, it could be different. We’re more of an e-commerce site with our business. There’s three numbers that I would just look at, three numbers add up. So again, start with one goal. What is your goal and what’s your date for that goal? So our goal is from zero January, one, to the end of the year, how do we get 45 million net revenue? And the three goals, the three KPIs that lead to that, it’s basically just three for us. Traffic, so how many people are coming to the site, how many people actually buy, which is our conversion rate and then how much do they spend, which is our average order value.

That’s it, that’s all I would look at. Now that’s the most simplest version of it. So if you have traffic, times so much people buy, how much they spend, that gives you your revenue numbers. But then we have sub numbers, that’s where it gets complicated. But if I had to do 80/20, it would be that. Now what other people need to be thinking about though is what are the things that impact those three KPIs? That’s how you now get way more complicated.

Tim Ferriss: For sure. Just for fun, if you had to pick one of those three to optimize for 2024, which would it be?

Noah Kagan: With —

Tim Ferriss: Top of the funnel. So traffic, conversion, or average order volume?

Noah Kagan: If I only could pick one thing out of all of it, I would actually pick just number of deals for our business.

Tim Ferriss: Number of deals.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. So every business has a core —

Tim Ferriss: So the number of products that you’re offering, which should help with, I imagine the conversion end traffic.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. And so for every business out there, what’s the core input that leads to your main outputs? So let’s just take a lot of different examples. So YouTube, lately, and this has been a big transformation for me, is I’m setting unambitious goals.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, tell me more.

Noah Kagan: I think in Silicon Valley, if you’re not 10X, again, literally I was with our board a month ago. If you’re not 10X, you’re failing and I was like, “Okay, I’ve read that book.” And so —

Tim Ferriss: I’ve got that t-shirt too, guys.

Noah Kagan: 10X everything is written by people that haven’t 10Xed a business and the reality, there’s two parts there, but there’s cores for everything. So the core for my YouTube channel is two videos a month, that’s it. That’s what I found gets me to the main metrics that I need and they’re supporting metrics around it, but that’s my core there., as of now, it’s give or take around. I’d have to ask Seann, he runs the high level, but it’s about 35 deals a month. If we can do 35 amazing software deals a month, we hit our targets more or less. And so for your business, what’s the core numbers? We talked about this in the past, but what’s the core number you can really just, everything works backwards off of? And so for us it would be deals.

Tim Ferriss: So we’re going to talk about other frameworks and then we’re going to, at some point we are going to come back to YouTube, because I have questions around that.

Noah Kagan: Sure.

Tim Ferriss: Top three, bottom three. What is that?

Noah Kagan: You gave me feedback early in the show, which is great, that’s awesome. That’s how you improve. I don’t know if people don’t realize that, the only way you look at yourself is with a mirror. And that’s the same thing in your relationships, to ask your partner today, right now, “Hey, what am I doing well or what do you want me to improve on?”

Tim Ferriss: And we’re going to come back to this, but how much money have you spent on coaches, would you say in the last five to 10 years?

Noah Kagan: Myself and the team, easily over a million. Easily over a million. So we’ll get into that. I like feedback, that’s how I can get better. It doesn’t mean I accept all the feedback, but it means I can acknowledge all the feedback and make a decision. So T3, B3 or something, it’s from Travis actually at Uber. And so the idea there, and Andrew Chen, who’s one of my best friends and advisor brought it to me, he’s been on the show. Basically just every quarter it’s so light. I just don’t like sometimes feedback, because it’s these 18 pages that I’m like, I don’t know what to do. You have 18 things to do, it’s so much. Just tell me the top three things —

Tim Ferriss: You’re doing great. Don’t worry, we can cuss, it’s okay.

Noah Kagan: What are the top three things you love that I’m doing, so I know I can continue it and what are the bottom three things that I can improve on? Three things is definitely doable, if not three, just even do one, you can do T1, B1, and I just have it in my calendar. I think more things you can just have automatic in your calendar, the better. So I just have my calendar, ask the team T3, B3 every quarter. And so right now in your business, if you’re in the junior department, if you’re the leader of the company, or even in relationships, whatever it is, just go ask your partner, ask someone that you trust and respect, “Hey, what [are] the top three things I’m doing? What are the bottom three?” And do that regularly and you’ll be able to keep improving.

Tim Ferriss: What, can you give any examples of real T3, B3?

Noah Kagan: So on my desk, I print mine out, because I want to see it and I want to know what I’m — what you’re doing, well, you’re probably going to continue, but what you can improve is cool. So the team gave me feedback that they want more autonomy, that I’m too much up in their ass. And this is the funniest part, everyone’s like, “I’m not a micromanager.” I’m like, “Dude, everyone who says that is,” okay.

Tim Ferriss: It’s kind of like if you see on a dating app, anyone who says “No drama,” you’re like, “Oh, you love drama.” Huge red flag.

Noah Kagan: Huge red flag. So they wanted more autonomy, and then it asked for an example, what’s an example, or what’s a moment? Give me a solution that we make sure that, as it comes to it. So for instance, with, I love going through our credit card bill. Our credit card bills, sometimes November, because Black Friday it’s about a million dollars, almost a million dollars and normally it can vary between three and 500 —

Tim Ferriss: That’s on customer acquisition, paid acquisition?

Noah Kagan: Facebook or Amazon bill, 50k a month, a lot of different ads.

Tim Ferriss: Just so I understand, Amazon bill, you’re talking about AWS?

Noah Kagan: AWS, yeah. So I was going through every transaction and it’d be a $9 transaction —

Tim Ferriss: I would love if your Amazon bill is just sh*t your employees are buying as gifts. AWS.

Noah Kagan: I mean, well, as you get bigger you’ll also have checks and balances. So there’s different, someone actually tried to scam us for 30k a few weeks ago, which is super impressive. But I was going through these credit card bills and if we talked about coaches, we have a CFO coach for the VP of finance. She was the CFO of Mailchimp, pretty good job, pretty cool company. We’re in a meeting and she’s like, “Noah, we talk about autonomy, we talk about trust. Do you think going through the credit card transactions and messaging people about a $10 purchase is really autonomy and not trusting your VP of finance, Kevin, who can do this?” And I was like, “Good point.” I stopped looking at credit card bills. So that was one of them.

The other B3 from this quarter was around longer-term vision. I’m much more of a tactician and I like getting action, I like getting movement. And the team was like, “You need to chill out and think longer for us, and come back with some type of longer plan.” And so the last six months of the year, it was really thinking about what do we want to do in the next three years. I’ve been so focused in business and generally about one-year segments. So we spent so much time and now we have a 2026 vision.

Tim Ferriss: I think this is also very common, it’s not true for everyone, but very common for people who’ve done a lot of bootstrapping.

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: More so than people who’ve raised a bunch of money. Where a board understandably wants to know what the hell your long-term plans are, because they want to realize their return.

Noah Kagan: Equity. And that was the feedback I got from the team and they’re like, “Get out of the day-to-day, let us do it, we got it.” And just start moving the process forward. So it was thinking about talking to customers, talking to partners, thinking about ourselves. What do we like doing? What are we great at and where can we be in three years? And then bringing that back to the team, incorporating them, getting them buy-in. That was something I got feedback in the past like, “Hey, you’re just making decisions without us.” So by the end of the year, I think mid-November now we have a three-year vision and base camps towards that vision.

Tim Ferriss: Basecamp’s project management, you mean?

Noah Kagan: Not necessarily, but base camps, specifically, what are milestones. So our destination is to be able to distribute software tools for entrepreneurs. That’s what we love doing, I love promoting things. And so how do we be the number one place to distribute software tools, not just deals, but software tools and then what are the different key milestones numerically, as well as from what we want to do in the business within these separate years, to be able to get there in 2026? So that was feedback directly from the team, that they told me, and then we do this for everyone in the company.

Tim Ferriss: The top three, bottom three.

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: How do people track that or how do people keep it present? Because it is one thing having just come off of an off-site myself, and I actually think we did a good job with this, because we sort of assigned ownership next steps and then did working sessions during the off-site. Okay, let’s actually get these things in motion, because it’s great to have a bunch of meals, have some wine, walk around, talk about big ideas. Oh, we’re so excited, let’s take a team photo next to the paper on the wall and then right back to status quo. How do people keep these top three, bottom three present, or maybe a better way to word it is, how do they keep themselves accountable?

Noah Kagan: A few things that work for us, so one is scorecards. Everyone gets a scorecard. If you’re an AppSumo, you get a scorecard and so I can show you an example of it. I focus on the leadership scorecard. So I have a company scorecard. What are our top three things we’re trying to do in Q1? And Seann, he’s our head of revenue, Ilona, she’s our COO. They each have a scorecard with just what are your top three things based on what we’re trying to do in Q1.

Tim Ferriss: This would be for Q1?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. And so that is a helpful way where maybe it’s something they want to improve, or maybe it’s just something that they need to work on, or it’s just an outcome that we want and then we agree on what those are. They propose it, I review it and then we decide it.

Tim Ferriss: Got it.

Noah Kagan: It doesn’t mean necessarily, hey, it’s going to be one of their B3s, but that for me, is the three things that they want to get better at, or they want to accomplish. The other thing I would say, it sounded like you guys had a planning session and all this stuff. We had, I told you we have a three-year vision and then we have all this stuff.

But on Monday I was with one of my coaches, Dan Putt, from Reboot, and I was talking to Dan, I was like, “I don’t know if we’re all on the same page what we’re doing, because I’m not really clear.” He’s like, “Well, if you’re not clear, they’re definitely not clear.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” It comes from the top, how are you leading by example? If I’m not clear where we’re going to go necessarily in the next quarter, does everyone else know? So we had a meeting, so that day I was like, “Everyone needs to bring their top scorecard projects. We need to align on them, make sure they’re tied to the main thing and have a one pager around it.” Had a meeting the next day, everyone brought their stuff, and then we have a one-pager that ties all this together.

And so now being very, very clear, what’s our number goals? What’s our key projects? By the way, this is something that’s counterintuitive in businesses, is if there’s not fighting, you’re not really getting the best ideas. I want more people saying no. The best people at Facebook when I was there were always saying no to Mark. I was always like, “Yeah, Mark, that was a pretty good idea.” That’s maybe why I got fired. But over time I’ve realized that challenging respectfully is very healthy. And so you ask about scorecard, you ask about feedback and all that. It’s ask for feedback, really be clear in what success is. That’s what a scorecard is, it’s here is success for me with our work and then you can be able to measure against that in a very clear amount of time.

Tim Ferriss: We are going to come back to saying no pretty quickly, because a big part of enabling yourself to say yes to the things that matter is being able and equipped to say no. So I do want to come back to that. Other frameworks that you would like to mention?

Noah Kagan: The other one I do, this changed everything for me in the past two years, especially as a CEO, was a weekly review. And so I only have three questions and really noticing what you actually do. A lot of people are like, “I have all these frameworks.” And then you ask them a year later like, “Yeah, I don’t use it again.” So maybe they’ve evolved it, but really it’s not sticking. And so this is one that sticks with me and I could show you, it comes up on my phone. So every week I get a Slack bot, here it is, you can see. So it says “Complete your Friday weekly review.” So today’s Friday, as we’re chatting, you can click on it and there’s three questions. And the three questions are very, very simple. “How was the week, one through five, and why?” And this is you could do whether you’re a CEO or whether you’re a junior person.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, this goes to a Google Form.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. And so we track it, we track the ratings every week.

Tim Ferriss: So one is sucked, five is fantastic.

Noah Kagan: So this week was a five, this week crushed. And then that’s thinking about, okay, well, what made this week a five? What happened this week? I got to hang out with you. We had lack of clarity on Monday, on Tuesday, we dialed in our Q1 planning and everyone was super hyped on that. I finished executive compensation, which was challenging, about how much people get paid. So this week was a five and then explaining, line adding, all those different things. And it’s not always, I just bullet point, I don’t necessarily need to write stories. Number two thing, especially, is my leadership style, I noticed I was very inconsistent.

Tim Ferriss: Were you consistent?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. So my number two question is, “Was I consistent this week, one through five?” And basically because I’d go into a meeting and I would just start f*cking ripping on people. I was in meeting with Mitchell and Olman, and I’m just sh*tting all over them. I’m like, “Your ideas are sucky.” And I wasn’t coming with solutions. That week was a three. That was not a good idea, because as a leader you want consistent experience for the people you work with.

Tim Ferriss: And you’re being consistent based on feedback you’ve received from the team and your top three, bottom three? Is that sort of a —

Noah Kagan: A little bit, this is more my own subjective opinion.

Tim Ferriss: Got it. This is how you feel?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, and I found this really, really helpful. And then the last question is, “What are my top three for next week?” So it makes me be very more focused about, okay, I have a singular goal, we have Q1 priorities. Now I can break these down to smaller levels and say like, “Okay, this upcoming week, what are the three things you want to work on?” Then with my executive assistant and our chief of staff, we can help realign my schedule. Is that actually what I’m working on next week, or is it a bunch of other things? One tool we stopped using because it costs money, so we stopped paying for it. But there is a tool that does this T3, B3 and then follows up, and you can have all of it, but I was like, I think we can do it in Google Forms for cheaper, is Lattice.

Tim Ferriss: Lattice.

Noah Kagan:, it’s Sam Altman’s brother, Jack.

Tim Ferriss: Got it.

Noah Kagan: But it was 15,000 a year and I was like, I think Google Forms is for free a year, can do pretty equivalent, and it’s a little more work on the team. Shout out to Charlotte, and Anna, and Angelina for helping facilitate it. But that actually will do your tracking and then you could double check how you are against it versus honestly, Google [Sheets] is comparable.

Tim Ferriss: Q1 top and singular goal. Do you want to talk about either of these?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. So a lot of it, when you’re trying to go anywhere in your business is, where do you want to be by the end of the year? So right now for anyone who’s watching this, it’s coming out in January. Where are you going to be December 31st, 2024, and just pick a destination with the time. Most people don’t do either, they’re like, “Dude, you’ve influenced so many people on health. I just want to be healthier. What does that mean to be healthier?” So be more clear on your goal and your distinction. That’s something that Zuckerberg, I’ve talked to you about it, where he brought me in a room, he’s like, “I want to get a billion people.” I was like, “Wow, that’s pretty cool.” And this is when we had 10 million.

Tim Ferriss: That’s a big one.

Noah Kagan: That was amazing, it was exciting. And so have a very clear singular goal that you want to accomplish, but maybe it’s a thousand subscribers. And my goals lately are much more unambitious, because I want to focus on goals I can sustain.

Tim Ferriss: Could you give an example of what that looks like?

Noah Kagan: So with, in the past, if we didn’t 2X a year, I’m like, “Oh, well, it failed.” And you’ll hear this, you’ll say, “Shoot for the stars and if you’re end up at the moon, you’re good.” But also, that means I’m running really fast and people, you burn out, because you’re working really hard and you’re not getting where you want to go. And so now with AppSumo, our general growth range is five to 10 percent a year and so this year for 2024, I believe it’ll be around seven percent. And the reason that is, because if I could do seven percent over year, after year, after year, after year —

Tim Ferriss: You end up the Warren Buffett of AppSumo.

Noah Kagan: Exactly. And the other thing that I’ve noticed through these unambitious goals, and I’ll give more examples, is that it creates more freedom for taking 10X experiments. So we’re doing a lot more content this year, by the time this comes out, we’re going to be trying doing an alternative to product time and some of these other options. But if we’re so focused on having to grow revenue and do all these things, you don’t really have oxygen to experiment in a way that feels confident. So the same thing with my YouTube channel, I’m going from one million to 1.25 million this year, 25 percent, but we’ve been going 50 percent and that’s because I would say we’ve had less aggressive goals. And so thinking about that for everyone out there, I do think Silicon Valley and what they’re telling you, “Oh, you’ve got to 10X,” that’s because these investors don’t care if people fail. They want —

Tim Ferriss: I would add to that, this is super important. I’m glad you’re bringing it up, because I do like how some of these outrageous questions break your mental models, or your assumptions about what you can or can’t do. So how could you achieve your 10-year goals in the next six months? Love that, great. That’s an excellent thought exercise, but if you are applying to yourself as a bootstrapped entrepreneur, 10X or bust, and if, let’s just say, well-being or happiness is reality minus expectations, you can paint yourself into a precarious corner and you can paint your team and employees into a very precarious corner.

In the venture-backed power law distribution of startups and venture capital, there are a few things you’ve got to realize. The first is that investors are banking on that kind of power law return within tech. So they’re looking at huge possible multiples, so they can make 1,000X on something that breaks out, this happens and that pays for all the losses. Other invisible, I would say, invisible to the public factors include the incentives you may not see in the headlines. For instance, if a founder is able to take money off the table with large rounds of financing, they’re already in the black. And then for the company outcome to have a huge impact on their quality of life, they’re willing and able to make enormous outsized bets with ridiculous ambitions, because guess what? It’s not in the news, but they already have 20 million in the bank, they’re good.

And this is why I think what you’re saying is really important. The consistency matters and I want to tie this, because everything is related to everything in some respects, and I want to talk about YouTube briefly. We’re going to talk a lot about building, but guys, these are the ingredients that allow you to build and experiment consistently. You need to develop certain attributes and frameworks.

We can talk about KPIs and goals and what we want to achieve. There’s a survivorship bias in entrepreneurship where you tend to hear about the success stories.

Noah Kagan: 100 percent.

Tim Ferriss: One of the things you have done on YouTube, I’m not sure if this is going to be fertile ground for harvesting, so we’ll see, but you’ve asked a lot of millionaires, billionaires versions of “Was it worth it? What do you regret?” Et cetera. Are there any takeaways from that that were either non-obvious or that have really stuck for you, right?

Because it’s easy to find every year some version of the article that is like so-and-so talked to people on their deathbed and they all said, “I wish I had spent more time with my family and less time in the office.” It’s like, okay, fine. Don’t neglect your health. Fine, I get it. These are all kind of predictable things you would expect.

And no one on their deathbed, if they don’t want to be considered like a miserly c*nt, is going to say, “My family sucks. I really wish I’d spent more time in the office.” They’re just not going to say that as their legacy. So has anything really stuck with you from those conversations or lines of questioning, “Was it worth it,” if there were any regrets, things they would’ve done differently?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, so for context, for the listeners, I interviewed John Paul DeJoria, founder of Patrón Tequila, Paul Mitchell haircare, Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s. Sold that for 2.4 billion. John Paul sold Patrón for 3.5 billion. Founder of Qualcomm, a hundred billion dollar company. There’s a few things that have stood out from chatting with them.

One, none of them became billionaires within 20 years. Not one. Not paper money where it’s coming up and down super quickly or crypto billionaires where it can go away. It took a long time, long, long time. Number two, they all got rich and this is kind of, people know these things, just like you said, deathbed people know to spend more time with their family, but they don’t do it.

This is another one. They all got rich in one way, in just one thing. John Paul DeJoria, just Paul Mitchell haircare, then he’s able to do it again, which is, we can talk about that. There’s something there. Kinko’s, just copiers. Larry Janesky, just basem*nts, right? Michael Hudner, just ships. But all of us are like, no, I’m going to diversify. But then you think about all these people, it’s like, ah, they just did one thing. Two other things I would comment from billionaires, two to three, they’re all entrepreneurs.

They weren’t W2 employees. They hired W2 people, the richest people on earth, they hired W2 people. And so it’s realizing like, oh, maybe this entrepreneurship is, there’s some upside to that. The one that you commented on, another highlight there, and this is from John Paul DeJoria, which I thought was super powerful, and this is something you start noticing with billionaires, they’re actually all really good at sales, and that is a skill.

You’re like, oh, it’s asking. How can I practice it? And John Paul DeJoria, I don’t have hair, you don’t have hair, he was like, “Give me your hand. I’m going to put on lotion.” And he rubbed it on my hair. He is like, “How’s that feel?” I was like, “Feels actually pretty good.” He’s like, “How are your hands feeling?” I’m like, “They feel good.” I literally went home and bought Paul Mitchell haircare. I went home and bought it and he was just like, “What I like to do is find the best product that exists and make sure it’s a product people reorder.” I was like, oh, that’s smart.

And then I am really good at selling. And I was like, ah, that’s really interesting. So there’s something about selling I would say that stood out for me. And then lastly, yeah, I think I would say 50/50 seemed like they could be happier. I just don’t know if they all seemed as happy as I would’ve imagined. I’m like, dude, you’re a billionaire, you can literally do anything you want all day forever.

And I think John Paul DeJoria for me stood out where he was just very kind. He was kind with me. He was kind with the staff. He was kind where he sold Patrón and he sent a $50 million check that day and he felt like he had a good balance. I would say the Austin balance of, I’m not trying to be a Silicon Valley workaholic, but I’m trying to work, make a lot of money, and have a great life. And I admired that.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, he gives me that impression. I’ve had him on the podcast and what that proves to me is that it’s possible.

Noah Kagan: Yes.

Tim Ferriss: There are a lot of prick billionaires. A lot. But you don’t have to be a prick. It’s not a prerequisite. You don’t have to be Gordon Gekko. You don’t have to. And what I would add to that is that there are many different ways to be good at sales. When I first graduated from school and when I first moved to Silicon Valley and I was selling fiber channel storage area networks, and I was the lowest-paid sales guy, which I learned because of spreadsheet got emailed to the wrong place. And one of my buddies was like, “Bro, you’re going to love this.” And he showed me the annual salaries and I was like —

Noah Kagan: You’re the lowest.

Tim Ferriss: — barely above the receptionist, which I was actually okay with because it was commission-based, but didn’t love the fact that I hadn’t negotiated harder on the front end. But at the time I was pretty desperate because I had gone without a job for a while. My parents were like, “So you can stay here as long as you want, but what’s going on?”

The point I wanted to make is I had a desk and a chair in an emergency exit. It was like shoehorned into a fire exit. Totally not up to code. But I took a lot of opposite approaches from other sales guys who had come in from bigger companies like EMC. And there were some great salespeople from EMC as an example.

They had a really good training culture, really good hiring practice, generally competitive athletes or former competitive athletes. But the approach I took was two things. I’ll just mention this briefly because it might alleviate some of the allergic reaction that people have to this word, sales. The first is that I looked at the biggest block in the vein of the task that hinders your task is your task. And what I realized, I couldn’t get the deal makers on the phone. I couldn’t get the CEOs and CTOs who would have to green light a seven-figure investment on the phone because there were so many gatekeepers.

So I just did the opposite of what I saw around me, which was instead of making calls during nine to five, I just made calls before and after nine to five. And guess what? Those people who are working dogs, men and women who have really gotten to the top, still tend to work a lot by and large. And so they would pick up the phone.

The second was I studied the tech inside and out to the extent that when we got to the point of closing a sale, and sometimes they’d get handed off to accounting and the accounting department or the VP of finance would ask them, “Who’s your sales guy?” And they would say, “I don’t know who my sales guy is.” And then eventually they’d be like, “Oh, wait, is Tim my sales guy?”

Because I came in with not quite the knowledge of an engineer, but I spent all my time with the engineers. So I had technical conversations. I’d be like, “Oh, well, let me guess. You probably have this solar system and this and this and this and you’re using this and this. You might have problems with this, dah, dah, dah.” And you can approach it in a technical way as one example with certain products. It doesn’t have to be Glengarry Glen Ross, right? Yeah. So I just wanted to mention that.

Noah Kagan: The following, I’m curious for you, and this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about is how come immigrants are so successful and specifically I think one, you can control their attitude and I think they have good attitudes about like, “I’ve got to figure this out.” And the second thing is the effort. There’s no limit on effort. There’s only a limit on time.

So I was really curious, because especially with 4-Hour Workweek, I just remember your effort was insane. So I wanted to know, and this is sales, right? Sales is like, “All right, well, I’m going to put in effort to see if I can help this person if I believe I can.” So I wanted to hear more, I was curious to hear more about what effort you put in because I just remember at the time I was like, who is this guy and how hard — man, he’s working hard.

Tim Ferriss: Into the book itself, the writing, the launch.

Noah Kagan: The launch.

Tim Ferriss: The launch. Yeah. Let’s see, where to begin. So if I think back to the launch of that first book, I still approach my launches very similarly, believe it or not. As the tools have changed and the technology and the platforms have changed, the general principles that I used, I still use to this day, for instance, for every launch, book or otherwise, I have looked at the landscape and interviewed people. So for the book, for instance, I interviewed and you can interview people who might seem out of reach. Keeping in mind, I had no platform, no nothing at the time.

Noah Kagan: I know. I remember.

Tim Ferriss: But I just had to reach out and ask. And if you get somebody on a good day and maybe you take your hat off, put it in your hand and do a little begging. Best-writing authors were very forthcoming with their time. So in a number of instances, I was able to interview best-writing authors. What I mean by that is real prose masters and prolific nonfiction writers who had very, very high quality output on their writing process.

So I did that prior to writing the book. Then, seeing that the end was near and this was all on a schedule, although I faced a lot of hiccups and a lot of challenges along the way, so it wasn’t a straight line but when I knew that my book was probably going to be delivered, was scheduled to be delivered, in let’s just say three months, I started interviewing best-selling authors, which are not always the same as best-writing authors.

And the questions revolved around their most recent launches and specifically the vehicles or formats or people who seem to be diminishing in impact and those that seem to be ascending in impact. And those that were ascending in impact, I assumed rightly at the time, and this has been true almost every time would be uncrowded. So for instance, for The 4-Hour Workweek, it became clear even then that television and radio seemed to be, television especially, television seemed to be diminishing in its impact on sales.

Nonetheless, the dominant playbook included tons and tons and tons of say morning TV, but almost every best-selling author I spoke to said, by and large, not worth the effort. They said, however, there are a few other things that have been impressive and notable. Number one is that certain radio programs like NPR and so on move a lot of books. This is again, 2000, let’s just call it six prior to the publication in 2007.

And then towards the end of 2006, and I actually remember this because we’re recording this at the end of December, and I remember sitting at my parents’ kitchen table after Christmas and sitting down to really put together a plan for the first book. And another pattern that had emerged is people said, “I’m not really a tech person, but there are these things called blogs. And for whatever reason, these single author blogs move a lot of books,” and not a single person I recall in publishing gave a sh*t about blogs.

So what I decided to do, I also had a very self-imposed and also practically limited budget for the launch. So for me, it was like five to 10 grand. I can’t remember. I had a huge whiteboard and decided to make my target blogs. And there were many conversations that went into this, but decided to put my effort into blogs. What’s the most crowded channel? So I’m not asking it just about the formats, but also the means of reaching bloggers.

What’s going to be most crowded? Blog comments, email, these are the most crowded. So I took my budget and allocated it to in-person travel to events where in the hallways and at after parties and so on, I could have drinks around or with bloggers. And I spent all my time in the lounges. I spent all my time in the waiting areas, and that is where I committed my investment of time and money.

Who knows if that was the right thing to do, the only thing to do, maybe I just got lucky but it worked incredibly well. And I’ll just give one more recommendation and actually people can find a talk I gave ages ago at South by Southwest, which is called “How to Build Your Network in Record Time” or some click-baity sounding headline, but it does deliver. It explains a lot of this.

And also how I use South by Southwest similarly for the book, because South by was where the book really broke out, but there was a bunch leading up to it. So this is going a little long, but it might be helpful for folks. Rule number one, be nice to everyone, and this isn’t some feel-good Snow White hummingbirds landing on your hands kind of thing. This is the right thing to do, but it’s also the most practical thing to do.

And I’ll give a real example. I went to Blog World Expo or something, and I’m hanging around, didn’t go to any sessions. In this particular case, a lot of folks had pointed out Robert Scoble as a power broker, hugely influential, which he certainly was, and a super sweet guy as well. And at that time, I’d had no contact with him.

He was the hottest girl at the prom, right? Everybody wanted to talk to him. And I didn’t really know how to navigate the event, but I knew there would be people who were familiar with it. So I went to a lounge and I think it was a Seagate lounge or something like that way back in the day, and there was a woman checking people in and kind of handling the inbound traffic. And I just struck up a conversation.

I was like, “I bet you’re meeting everybody. I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m working on my first book. I’m kind lost here.” And we just talked. All of that was true, right? We talked and we talked and we talked and I was explaining, and I’m here. I laid out my whole plan. I was like, “Well, really my best option is to focus on the blogs because the publisher owns a bunch of different territory. This is not their first rodeo, but it’s my first rodeo. So this is kind of key.”

There were a bunch of things that I assumed were off limits for me. I don’t understand radio. The publisher is going to handle radio. I don’t understand television. The publisher or other publicists are going to handle that. So the one area I felt where I could play and potentially leverage things was blogs. So I’m explaining all of this. Well, guess what?

That woman who was checking people in turned out to be Robert Scoble’s wife, and she was like, “Oh, you should meet Robert.” And then that led to meeting Robert. I am pretty sure I gave him, sent him a galley, and I made it absolutely zero expectations. So first of all, I was like, “If it would be of interest, I can send you a galley,” after I described the book for certain facets of it, and I said, “What I can do also, because you’re not going to probably have time to read the whole book, I’ll just put in a couple of post-its for the four or five pages that I think you’ll find most interesting, most tactical.”

And he’s like, “Great.” Send it off. That turned into a blog post he put up about what I’m reading, something like that. Went nuts. I don’t recall the exact timing, if that was before or after South by Southwest and South by Southwest was in March. Talk about sales, right? I pitched myself to Hugh Forrest at the time, who I believe was director of programming just for South by Southwest Interactive, not music, not film.

At the time, it was like the redheaded stepchild. Nobody gave a sh*t about interactive or tech. It was just nerd-ville. It was small. That was also the year that Twitter launched publicly at South by. You could see all the tweets in the world on one big screen TV where they were scrolling through in real time. And Hugh, to this day, I feel a debt of gratitude. So part of the reason I come back to South by every year is because I feel like it’s just karmically the right thing to do, and Hugh is now running pretty much the whole show, I believe, at this point.

But I got a last minute-cancellation in the cafeteria, the Adobe-sponsored cafeteria. Somebody backed out. I took a last-minute spot. I gave a presentation on The 4-Hour Workweek. I was able to print up flyers beforehand, which I did very last minute. And I am blanking on his name, I feel really badly about this. But it was the developer behind Firefox. I think —

Noah Kagan: Blake Ross?

Tim Ferriss: Yes! He had very graciously given me a quote for The 4-Hour Workweek. He read a galley, and I can’t remember how that came together. I owe him a debt of gratitude as well. But I printed up flyers with that quote with a couple of other quotes based on galleys and encouraged people to attend this cafeteria.

Noah Kagan: Oh, you put up flyers for the event?

Tim Ferriss: I handed them out. I had people handing them out. I put them up all over Austin. Printed them out, I’m sure, at Kinko’s. And I practiced in my friend’s garage because I was crashing on a friend’s couch. And I remember practicing in his garage with his chihuahuas. You mentioned chihuahuas. He had three chihuahuas, and clearly the chihuahuas did not understand the content of my talk, but I used them as the gauge of whether I was engaging or not.

So if they started wandering around, then I had to change my mode. I had to be more Tony Robbins. And I prepped, I prepped, I prepped. I prepared my ass off for this thing like it was my first and last opportunity to nail it. And got up on stage. I had this entire presentation with all the visuals. Of course, what happens, laptop dies. And so I had to improv and just do voice only, which I think ended up being a very good thing and made autoresponders available. I gave people, this was key, and this is something you do very well, I gave people real-time challenges.

I was like, “Here’s something you can try today. You’re going to be going to a lot of sessions at South by, you’re going to take a lot of notes. Here’s what I suggest. Everybody gets busy. Things get lost. Here are a few things you can try today. Here are a few things you can try in the next week related to autoresponders. Send me feedback, let me know how it went. Go on my blog. Let me know. I will give you also feedback, like constructive advice.”

And it just went ballistic. It went ballistic, and that set the conditions such that I could execute on other things. But lest people think this was this home run international phenomenon from the get-go, that’s not what happened. It did hit the extended best-seller list in its first week, but keep in mind, the publisher only printed 10,000 copies. Nobody expected it to do anything.

And with those copies, sold the vast majority of them but that was not enough to hit the real print best-seller list for advice out too, especially, which was hyper-competitive at that time. It hit the extended list, so people in the business knew that it was on the list, but not in the print edition. It took an additional, I want to say five or six months until August of 2017, I’m sorry, it took an additional five or six months if I’m doing the math correctly, to get to number one on The New York Times for the monthly business list, and then it just stayed there for years.

But to answer your question, in terms of effort, effort isn’t enough. Effort is not enough. You need a means of focusing that effort. So for me, I used this, what’s uncrowded? What’s overvalued? What’s undervalued? That’s how I found podcasts for The 4-Hour Chef. That’s how I found other things for the earlier books, and that’s how The 4-Hour Chef sold whatever, a hundred thousand plus copies in its first week was because I jumped on these new things called podcasts.

That is also the impetus behind me then starting my own podcast in 2014. But you’re right, I put a lot into it because first and foremost, and now I’m getting on my soapbox again, but I really, really, really, really put everything into that book. I did not leave anything behind. I put it all on the playing field and, based on early feedback and based on also the many feedback forms, many questions I had asked, many revisions I had made for years, workshopping it in classes, I knew this stuff worked.

I knew it worked. I knew, in other words, talking about AppSumo and your metrics, I knew it converted. I just needed top of the funnel, and that led me to the blog. So very similar approach that I would take today with most things.

Noah Kagan: You seemed a lot happier when you were recounting that story. I was noticing earlier in the show, you were kind of like, I don’t know if you felt frustrated or, I don’t know how you were feeling, but you seemed excited and proud.

Tim Ferriss: It’s so tempting, and often the case when you’re in the weeds and you’re just running through this jungle with a machete trying to make sh*t happen and it’s hard and things are going wrong, you think about that as the thing you have to do to get to the other thing. But then you get to the other thing, meaning you reach some escape velocity with your business success and then you’re like, okay, this is the thing I thought that I was getting through other things for, and I’m happy with where I am, but I’m making trains run on time and that’s cool.

I’m like a Swiss operator on some type of transport platform. And I’m tweaking things. I’m pulling levers. I have other people doing a lot of the grunt work, but those early chapters, when I look back, that’s where so much of the juice is, so much of the excitement for me where you’re like, “f*ck, my computer broke, right? Got to fix it. Got to figure it out.”

Noah Kagan: I’ve got to print out flyers.

Tim Ferriss: f*ck. All right, flyers. I’m going to give out flyers.

Noah Kagan: Flyers.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, like, I don’t have anybody who’s around because my friend has to work. I’ll give the talk to the dogs. It’s like, all right, and you get a chance, this is true later too, but you really get a chance to prove how resourceful and creative you can be because you don’t have a huge bank account to play with. You don’t have tons of employees to delegate to things that oftentimes they shouldn’t do in the first place.

And for me, that is the real heart and soul of entrepreneurship. And the fun of it is making something from nothing because you are resourceful. You look at a set of tools or a complete lack of tools, and you see something different. You see a little gap, and you’re able to pursue that and manifest something in the world that otherwise doesn’t exist. And the later stages are amazing and there are people who are so good at the later stages.

I’m not convinced that I’m one of them, but the early chapters where at the time were like, it’s going to be great when at some point, I have X, when at some point when I cross my number, which is a moving goalpost, you cross a million and then you cross this, and then you cross this, and it keeps moving that when I think back to those early chapters, I get excited.

It’s like I remember how unknown it all was too, and how fun some of the unknowns were. There were definitely hard times. There were all sorts of difficult chapters that I’m sure I’ve blocked out from my memory, but I wasn’t frustrated earlier at all. I think it’s just the juice of thinking back to those very nascent stages, that’s my guess.

Noah Kagan: Well, it’s also, I think I try to remind myself that a lot of my nostalgia is a liar. I’m like, oh, starting up CMO. I would drink most of the days, which we were doing, I was just drinking with Neville, f*cking around, getting some deals, and then you remember, oh, I felt lonely. I felt really insecure.

Tim Ferriss: For sure.

Noah Kagan: I guess I’m wondering, is that something you’re exploring now to, what is that creation or thing that you can bite into?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I’m going to take two seconds just to boot back up, and then I’ll hop into it because I’m sure we’ll end up using a bunch of this, put in some lava lamps or something for the interlude.

Noah Kagan: Because that was something I was wondering for you in that obviously I’ve known you a long time, and I remember, it’s funny, when I’m doing this whole book thing, which I’m not talking about what the book’s called, I’m just — no, no, no, no, no, no, no, dude. No one knows. Don’t even look it up. And I think about you because I think that guy f*cking worked hard. I remember you working hard.

And it made me wonder where you’re at today because I see you not chasing, I think in my older age, we’re both in our early 40s, I think I was chasing a lot. I want to get famous or I want to get money, and then I was like, I wonder not what you’re chasing anymore, but what you’re enjoying or what you’re, not after is the right word and not what’s next, but I’m noticing, oh, Tim’s not really going aggressive on YouTube and chasing what other people are doing, and it’s not just YouTube, but I was like, I wonder how he’s evaluating things.

Tim Ferriss: Totally.

Tim Ferriss: I think to your point of nostalgia being a liar, oftentimes where we have this rose-colored picture of the past, if I look at the chapters around, say, the beginning of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, et cetera, I was very hungry. I was moving very quickly and certainly using processes and automation and so on, but there was a lot of uncertainty.

And I would say that as I have prioritized mental health and just overall well-being, which includes physical, but at the time I was in physical prime condition, I mean, I was in very good shape, I was still competitive in sports, I would say that looking back, a lot of those adventures were formative and I enjoyed them, but I, in retrospect, should have enjoyed them more for what they were, which are these seminal moments.

And I think part of what you’re reading in me in terms of less chasing is that I feel like, and I suspect many people feel like the dog that catches the car or the greyhound that catches the mechanical rabbit, and you’re like, “This is what I was chasing?”

Noah Kagan: That’s good.

Tim Ferriss: f*ck, that’s funny. That’s kind of like tragic comic, which is not to diminish money. It’s not to diminish financial success. It’s, I think, easier for us to have these conversations because there’s a degree of security and stability and comfort. So it’s not to diminish any of that because I know what it feels like to be like “f*ck, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about healthcare next month. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this next month.”

I know what that can feel like and it’s not a good feeling. Eating from Jack in the Box. I remember eating so many meals from Jack in the Box on Shoreline across the street from my sh*tty apartment with my terrible roommate who just ditched and almost got all my stuff yanked because there were all these eviction notices.

I remember those days. I don’t want to return to those days, but having caught the thing that I was chasing, I’ve realized that none of these targets are panaceas, right? They’re kind of placeholders to keep you motivated. And I’ve also, if you look at patterns in my life, I tend to do things, if I’m going to do something well, seems to be in the five to 10-year range. Books, startup investing predominantly, I focused on from say 2008 to 2015, and then I published this blog post on taking a long startup vacation and stopped that categorically. I stopped doing it completely for a period of time because the game got saturated, it got more complicated, much more competitive, much riskier from a terms perspective. So I stopped. And then you have podcasting. I’m coming up on 10 years next April, and it’s a good time to pause and reflect. And I feel like podcasting also, and I will have questions for you about YouTube because I go back and forth on my thoughts on YouTube.

But when I see best practices emerge or converge maybe is a better way to put it, with a lot of the algorithm-driven growth/lack of growth that we see, I really want to step back and see if I am in a position where I’m uniquely differentiated or have some type of competitive advantage. Not because I care about competition per se, but it’s like, am I in a red ocean that used to be a blue ocean? Or am I developing practices that are going to lead me to a point of not just uniformity with others, but are we all running towards a cliff, like a bunch of lemmings? In the sense that for instance, email, I’m going all over the place, I realize, but —

Noah Kagan: No. This is great.

Tim Ferriss: With email/blog, especially if you’re open source based on WordPress, you effectively own your audience. You don’t own your audience. You have a direct relationship with your audience. Your audience is portable. If you’re on a platform, that includes almost any platform, there’s some technical workarounds for these things, but you are renting your audience.

I’ve seen multimillion dollar Facebook pages back in the day when that was a huge thing, get turned off just like PG&E might turn off your power during a rolling blackout in California. It’s like one day you’re on and you have employees and a big business, the next day you are turned off. And I’ve seen that over and over again. I’ve seen, for instance, organic reach get throttled, now you have to pay. I think it’s foolish to assume that can’t happen to whatever platforms you’re using today.

And as we’ve seen a number of precipitating events, COVID, for instance, the writers strike another example, drive people to what they’ve realized can be a profitable model in the form of podcasting, YouTube. As the mimicry of TikTok has engendered a drive to video and short form video, I feel like I have fewer and fewer differentiators and advantages and the human basis of recommendation has been replaced by, in large part, kind of top-down corporate directives and algo modifications, right? So I feel like I’m in a transitional period right now potentially where I’m taking my foot off the gas because I’m not sure the car is going in a direction where I want to take it to 120 on the Autobahn, you know?

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: So that’s where I am. And I’m also not in a rush because maybe it’s just fatigue, frankly. I mean, I started the podcast 10 years ago and there are people with incredible longevity and not very many, but like Rogan as an example. I mean the guy’s a machine and he’s very good at what he does. 10 years is also a long time for me. That’s a long time to do one thing consistently. I’m going to continue doing the podcast, but from a growth perspective, I feel like YouTube is probably one of the more appealing avenues for growth currently. But offsetting that is a desire to increasingly be less publicly, visually recognized because there are compromises that have made related to that. There are safety issues, there are privacy issues, there’s lots of weird stuff that happens. I’m not sure I want to — actually, I’m quite sure I do not want to make my face more recognizable. On the counter argument side, I know we’re going all over the place.

Noah Kagan: No, dude. By the way, this is fire.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, good.

Noah Kagan: This is fire. Keep going. I want to know.

Tim Ferriss: On the counter argument side, and this is both a reason not to do YouTube, but also a reason maybe I’m over-evaluating the risks. And I’ve talked to some folks, I don’t want to name them, but very well-known iconic writers, photographers, creators who did one thing very, very well, one thing. Which also makes me question sort of the jack-of-all-trades approach that I think is in some respects a norm now where you’re present and growing on many, many different formats. But putting that aside for a second, the half-life of fame, I think, is going to drop precipitously as algorithm-chasing becomes more and more dominant and more and more determinant of what is surfaced in the sense that I would be shocked if there’s ever again someone as dominant as, say, Oprah was for effectively, let’s just call it who knows, a third to a half of all the women in the United States, right?

One person, one show. The sort of long tail of personalization I think has largely removed that possibility. And if you even think about the personal half-life, which I think we can extract like studying the micro to study the macro because the macro can seem super intimidating and abstract and ungraspable. If you just think about your personal experience, and I’ve talked to friends about this, 10 years ago, if you got sent some crazy video from friends, that video would stick around for a while. It might be the video that sticks around for a week. “Oh, my god, you see that crazy video of the thing?” How many of those do you get per day now? Something that would win the gold medal of the meme Olympics crushes all of the stupid things that you would’ve looked at 10 years ago. Infinitely more attention grabbing. And the half-life is what? 30 seconds, 60 seconds.

So I think fame as a phenomenon in most cases online will have a very, very short half-life. And that worries me a bit from a psychological adaptive perspective because I think that means that has supreme implications for this sort of dopamine hit like rat stepping on a cocaine pedal aspect of content creation. If what you do is less and less persistent, meaning it has less and less durability, what game are you signing up for and what does winning that game look like? These are really critical questions, right?

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, we’re all playing games right now. Beyond food, shelter, a handful of things at the lower rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we’re all playing games. What games are you playing? And just as important, what does winning that game or those games look like? And is that the life you want? And so looking at how things are developing, and maybe this is a very fancy way of rationalizing just being older and more fatigued, I don’t know.

But I find where things are trending super, super worrisome. So if I could be long a number of things, I’d be like, okay, mental health therapeutics, dialysis, which seems pretty dystopian, but like, I would be very long those things. I think we haven’t even seen a glimpse of some of the mental health challenges that are on the horizon. So probably a long answer to a very short question, but that informs I think a certain, it’s not just calmness, although there’s a lot that goes into that on my side compared to my earlier self. But a not wanting to rush into committing at high speed in certain directions that are very appealing right now at face value.

I’m like, “You know what? If you have…” Here we go. I’m going to shut the f*ck up in a second. But it’s like, here’s the thing, if I think about the authors I respect the most, if I think about the filmmakers I most aspire to be like or admire the most, they’re not playing a volume game. Miyazaki, who just put out, I think it’s The Boy and the Heron, the Japanese name is like, How Do You Live? It’s a totally different name, but they put out great work that is uniquely their own. You watch that movie and if you’ve seen other Studio Ghibli Miyazaki movies, you’re like, that is the signature. That could not be anyone other than Miyazaki, right? You see a Daniel Day-Lewis film, there’s so many examples of this. These people have unique capabilities they’ve harnessed, they don’t need to rush.

So if I find myself feeling compelled to rush, either it’s a false signal I should ignore or I’m about to do something that a lot of other people could do, and that for me is a cue to really chill the out and be like, wait a second, let me go back. Let me read Blue Ocean Strategy. Let me go back. Let me read The 80/20 Principle. Let me go back and read any number of things. I mean, I do like reading. Let me go back and watch these following documentaries about people who really took an unorthodox path. And then let me sit down and ask why do I feel like I am compelled to rush? So there you have it.

Noah Kagan: Wow, that one, that was f*cking fire.

Tim Ferriss: Thanks. This has been on my mind nonstop for the last couple of months.

Noah Kagan: I think people confuse inaction with patience.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, tell me more.

Noah Kagan: What I heard, and I’m curious how you approach it, is that instead of rushing really quickly, you’re understanding yourself and thinking patiently, okay, what is my right play for me to move? I think in the past, and maybe you can revisit it as, okay, let’s go rush and find things and maybe stuff will happen, but now you’re observing. You sound calm, you’re thinking about what’s happening, where are my advantages? What’s going on? And where is a place that you frankly want to play? And instead of rushing into, let’s say, YouTube world, which does feel like a lot of people are rushing into these kind of things, really thinking about what your play is. And I love that. I guess the question I was curious about there is what is your approach for thinking about what’s underserved? Because what you said I thought is powerful is you can put effort but in the wrong thing. When you did your book, you’re like, “Oh, blogging is it?” And then your second book, “Podcasting is it?” How are you approaching thinking about getting to even now you’re like, “All right, I like podcasts, I’m doing a podcast.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I love doing the podcast. I love doing podcasts. It’s going to get a lot harder as a business. It is already.

Noah Kagan: What do you mean by that?

Tim Ferriss: Well, I mean I’m very fortunate in this sense that, and this was not accidental, right? This podcast and the audience for this podcast, this podcast is intended to be long form, thoughtful, dense, and incredibly practical/tactical. And I’ll mention it because you’ve been very good at receiving feedback, but Million Dollar Weekend, we are going to get to it and talk about very practical steps. All of this is practical, though, if you look at it through the lens of making decisions, this has been positioned as high ultra premium as far as podcasts go, advertisers, audience, we’ve done all the polling and so on. So it’s like if you want to reach TED, this is the podcast. If you want to hit millions or at least, let’s just say, thousands of very, very well-known creators with one podcast, this is the podcast.

So the premium positioning means that for the next year we’re basically already sold out with advertising. So I’m in a very good position, but I think overall, this is true on YouTube too, and it relates to everything I just said, it is going to get and is getting harder to differentiate.

Back when I had Jamie Foxx and Arnold were sitting on the podcast —

Noah Kagan: I remember that, that was insane.

Tim Ferriss: — blew people’s minds, right? That was just not something that really happened. And now that you have incredibly talented people, comedians, entertainers, writers, that’s why I mentioned the writers strike earlier who, for a period of time, did not have the option of doing what they normally do. And they dip their toe into podcasting, they dip their toe into YouTube, and they’re like, “Wow, actually I’m really good at this and I can get paid. Interesting.”

There are exceptional, exceptionally skilled people producing things for podcasts and YouTube. I mean it’s what I’m saying is the bar for quality has gone up dramatically in all of these areas. But the possibility for originality, I would say, has diminished as a result of the sheer volume of entrance. So in terms of thinking about what’s unserved, I would say that Venn diagram, because if you ask any of the questions I’m asking myself in isolation, which I’ve done in the past, you can lead yourself to bad decisions. So if you ask yourself, “What can I uniquely do?” And that’s your question, and you use that to determine what you do, you can end up doing things that you dislike that are draining, that don’t have any type of market fit whatsoever. So that’s not enough. Although for me, that is necessary. What am I uniquely suited to do that will give me not only an immediate, say, first mover or early mover advantage? It gives me endurance.

So being uniquely suited to something doesn’t mean that you are the only person that can do it. Maybe you just love it more, right? With me, in language learning as an example. Now that’s not a business. I mean it did lead to me being one of the first investors in Duolingo, so that worked out. But I have infinite endurance for that in a way that most people don’t. That’s a huge advantage, even though other people could technically do it. So there’s what am I uniquely suited for? What can I do that other people find? What do I find easy that other people find hard? Then there’s what is underserved, but if you approach that by itself, you can make some really bad decisions. And I’ve done that in the past. What do people need now? I’m not the boss of myself. I’ve turned my audience into the boss of me.

This is also how people get shaped in horrifying ways by social media or their audiences on YouTube, your most extreme behaviors get reinforced. So you repeat those, you exaggerate them, and your stage presence, your social media presence becomes you. This is really important. You have to be careful about the masks you wear because you will become those masks. And I’ve seen that. I’m sure you’ve met people. It’s terrifying. You will be shaped by your audience and by these creative decisions. So not just asking what is the unmet need, but a question I might ask is, “What experiments can I run that I think will meet the needs intended by, say, the podcast in a different way?”

And also another question that I ask is instead of “What is the new new thing?” “What is something old that is being neglected?” It doesn’t have to be new, by the way. So for instance, that led me to start 5-Bullet Friday and the newsletter ages ago. People were like, “Email’s dead. Nobody’s going to use email anymore. Email’s dead.” You hear that every year. And that was particularly true when I launched 5-Bullet Friday because it was like social media, Snapchat, young kids are never going to use email. And I was like, well, it’s true until they get a job and then guess what? They’re going to use email. And so in that particular case, I wasn’t looking for the new thing. I was looking for something old that was kind of neglected and I wanted to also own my audience.

So that led to millions of people for the newsletter. So those are some of the questions that I ask. I think I’ve learned, for me personally, I make better decisions when it’s a bit of a Venn diagram. If I go after any one of those, which could include profit by the way, that’s one that gets people, boy, oh, boy. And I’ve succumbed to that too. If you’re like, what has the most leverage for revenue, profit, et cetera, that can lead you in directions that end up compromising well-being, end up compromising long-term growth, end up compromising in the blank, personal and professional and organizationally speaking. So anyway.

Noah Kagan: Someone said to me recently like, “Don’t trade your nine-to-five for a 24/7.” And it’s like the cool part about entrepreneurship is that you can create a life you want, whether you want to live in Austin, you want to live in Spain, you want to live wherever, Tokyo, but it’s then are you actually living the life you want. I think the two comments — one comment, one question — I love that you said experiments. I mean that was super early for you and how you developed a lot of your stuff. And I think for a lot of people it’s like, “Oh, well, I’ve got to make this big decision.” It’s like, well, how can you test it right now? How can you test for really cheap? How can you test it and see if that’s actually the case? So I love that you said that. The other thing I was curious, when’s the last time you read 4-Hour Workweek? You were talking about books you read that you come back to. I was like, I wonder, sometimes we come back to our own things.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, for sure. I was looking at 4-Hour Workweek a couple weeks ago actually, because my books I make, I mean they reflect things that I am doing and have done, but they also act as references for me. I go back to The 4-Hour Chef all the time for various things, 4-Hour Body, I go back to it all the time for various things. And 4-Hour Workweek, in this particular case, thinking about virtual assistants, which have really upleveled in the last handful of years with technology and also different companies and types of training. I’ve been thinking again about virtual assistants. And so I wanted to revisit scripts, principles, et cetera, because I’ve shifted from VAs to in-person full-time org chart type stuff. And I’m experimenting again. I have a full-time VA also on the payroll now. And I wanted to revisit some of what worked in the past because very often the things that worked then are still going to work.

And the principles are the principles for a reason. The tactics, the tools, the platforms, the hardware devices, those all change. But in terms of human communication, clarity, lack of clarity, the words are still words. And so I wanted to revisit some of that. And so as an example, I’ve been thinking about going back to text. I’ve been thinking about going back to blog posts. It’s so antiquated, it’s so out of fashion, and it’s so high labor too. I mean, because that is something where I do not feel comfortable delegating. If I’m putting my name to something, I want to be the one who has put those words on paper or on a screen in this case. But I’ve thought about it, I’ve thought about it quite a bit. We’ll see. I mean, that’s a heavy lift. It is a heavy lift. But that’s also something I want to be aware of or cognizant of. And that is, am I doing this because it fits into the Venn diagram or am I doing it because it requires less work?

Because requiring less work does not automatically mean elegant combination of things that leads to my goals. And if you don’t have those KPIs, like you mentioned, watch out for vanity metrics too, right? Okay, this matters. Why does that matter? Because it leads to this, why does that matter? Why does it because of this, okay, because of this. And ultimately it’s going to come down to, all right, you want this amount of money? Okay, why do you want that money? I want to trade it for this experience or this possession. Okay, why do you want those? Because you want this feeling. Okay, well let’s keep that in mind. You want to sleep well at night, don’t do all this other thing that is going to cause you anxiety. And so let’s come back to —

Noah Kagan: Can I highlight one thing?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, of course.

Noah Kagan: So two parts. One, I want to shout out for people looking for VAs, the site I use is

Tim Ferriss: Really?

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. All right, amazing.

Noah Kagan: So I’m not affiliated, no cuts, no nothing. They can sponsor my podcast or Tim’s podcast. But basically it’s moms who want to spend time with their kids that are super elite moms and they just don’t want to work full time though. And so you can basically get these super impressive parents at pretty affordable prices. So I hired someone recently who was the executive assistant for the Dallas Stars, the hockey team.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, wow, okay.

Noah Kagan: She has two kids. She wants to stay at home. She did quit last week, I’m telling you real. She quit. But it’s like you’re finding that level of caliber at, I’ll say it because she’s not working — she was 30 bucks an hour, which is insane for someone who’s a really impressive woman.

Tim Ferriss: Why did she quit?

Noah Kagan: She is an executive assistant and she thought I was asking her to do some assistant level work. So I asked her to schedule some appointments. I asked her to make some purchases and she’s like, “I just want to do the business work.” And so I really admire and respect when people know what they want. I was a little frustrated because I was like, you quit all of a sudden abruptly, send me a voluntary termination letter. I’ve never received one of those ever. But she’s professional. But you go back to it, and that’s part of business. I think a lot of people do it once and then it doesn’t work. It’s like, yeah, that’s part of business. It’s like, okay, I’m going to go and find another one and improve my process to understand, “Hey, in the hiring process here, you’re going to have to purchase something from a store. Is that going to bother you? Great. It doesn’t? Okay, we can move you forward.”

Tim Ferriss: My recommendation there, especially if you’re considering a full-time hire, test them for a few months and have them do that stuff. Because people know how to interview. And a lot of people will say absolutely no task too small, no problem. And that’s horsesh*t in the same way that they say they’re going to buy whatever you’re offering, ask them to pay you, then you know it’s real. If you can, try before you buy, especially on the EA, VA, PA.

Noah Kagan: Hiring in general.

Tim Ferriss: Hiring in general, make them do some of the grunt work. Not grunt work, but just smaller things. And by the way, anyone who’s got real chops, it’s kind like John Paul DeJoria putting the lotion on your hands. That guy has done every job. He’s done every job. And this isn’t always going to work, but it’s — you want someone with that same type of ethos.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, we will. And I mean, it’s how we hire — almost every person at AppSumo is a contractor to start. And it’s like, hey, and even with my YouTube channel, “I’m going to pay you to do your trial video. Great. You can see if you like me, maybe you hate me, maybe I don’t like you. Maybe we do like each other, but you’re at least getting paid. So there’s not really as much downside for both of us.”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: The other thing I thought was really cool is looking back on our old lives that you said, looking back on your old work. I used to live in this really — 800-square-foot, sh*tty house. And I went back at it.

And then I also look back to my photos. Every month that I do a month review. I look back on my photos and it’s nice to look at where we’ve been and where we are. So everyone, I do a month review, you can literally just scroll up in your phone, go to your photos, scroll up really far and almost every time you’re pretty proud of where you are now. So at times we’re frustrated. I went back to that old house and I felt, wow, man, I’m so proud of where I am now. But I didn’t really always notice that I do. But going back there helped that for sure.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, totally. Especially if you’re used to looking ahead, always forward.

Noah Kagan: Yes.

Tim Ferriss: And you’ve developed a certain set of habits and attributes being in sixth year, always being in the fast lane, it is a practice to augment that with other abilities.

Noah Kagan: A hundred percent.

Tim Ferriss: This is why a lot of people self-destruct when they quote, unquote “retire,” right? If they’re trying to go from Autobahn to park, it’s like, well, hold on, maybe we should get used to some other gears. Let’s see what happens. So let’s talk about tests, let’s talk about experiments. Let’s talk about small steps. Million Dollar Weekend. Number one, what is the, well here, let’s do the subtile, The Surprisingly Simple Way to Launch a 7-Figure Business in 48 Hours. So, for people who find this tantalizing, I guess number one, why should they believe it? Let’s start there. Why the f*ck should they listen? Because they’re going to come across a lot of promises, a lot of clickbait on YouTube and then they click on it and they’re like, “Oh, come on.” So why should they believe it? Maybe there’s a case study or two or example you could share. And then if somebody wants to test drive something from this podcast, are there things they can do?

Noah Kagan: A hundred percent. I’ve come up with a simple rule, because what’s crazy on YouTube and podcasts now, you can make whatever title up you want. There’s people saying, “Oh, I’m worth a hundred million.” I’m like, “Really?” You can just write that. So don’t trust any author that has gotten rich from — any business author, I would say, that’s gotten rich from their book or their course. I think that’s a pretty straightforward approach. If that’s how they got rich teaching you how they got rich, double check who they are. And maybe look for someone else that’s maybe, I worked for Zuckerberg. I helped start I helped start I helped start

Tim Ferriss: Somebody who has a very well-groomed mustache.

Noah Kagan: My Latina girlfriend loves the mustache. I don’t normally like it, but she’s like, “You’ve got to keep that.” I was like, “Yes, baby.” And running And so I’m not getting rich on the book. And I think that’s a very simple test to think about who you want to listen to specifically in business. And secondly, can you see their businesses. A lot of times like, “Oh, I’ve got these businesses. You’ll never see it though.” “Why not?” “Because you can’t know about it.” “Why not?” Never get to the answer. That’s probably why you don’t ever have them on your shows. Now, in terms of the surprisingly simple way in that — I’ll just give you a case study of Jake. So Jake lives up North Texas. He’s got three kids, got a day job, and he’s had dreams just like a lot of people have had, and he’s had it for two years.

And I was like, “Jake, how do we change you in 48 hours?” Because everyone has a weekend. And now I’m about to have a family, and I’m realizing family, YouTube, book, prioritizing my partner and our kid, it’s hard to have time to start a side hustle. It’s hard to have time to get going. And the reality though is we do all have weekends. We have 52 of them. So we can do something in a weekend, even if it’s a really small action. And by the way, it doesn’t have to be a million in a weekend. It’s through every weekend you compound it, over some time it can get there. Now, the things that people can do in a weekend right now, this is the thing with books. I think your book is phenomenal. If everyone gets two books, it’s yours, 4-Hour Workweek, and Million Dollar Weekend.

Your book has such a great recipe, such a great recipe. But what I noticed when I’ve worked through my course, which I’m not going to call it, I’ve worked their course, 10,000 people have gone through it. YouTube channel, millions of people. You can give them the recipes, but they still may not do something. And I was kind of like, what the f*ck is going on? You have a big dream. You have a dream. Hey, I want to work here. I want to make a thousand bucks a month. I want grocery money, whatever it is. But then you haven’t done nothing for two years, like Jake. And the reality is that most people are afraid of starting. They’re not ready. They feel they’re not ready. They’re actually all ready. There’s a lot of rich people who are really ordinary. I think people think it’s all like, oh, no, I grew up in Silicon Valley and Tim did these things.

No, there’s a lot of really normal people that are rich, but they all got started. And we got started over and — how many times did you do BrainQUICKEN? You’ve done all these things, Opening the Kimono, you’ve done a lot of things. And so how do we overcome the fear of starting, then? You could do that right now. That’s why I asked people, and we did it earlier, do the dollar challenge. Just get a dollar right now. Just go get going right now.

And we surveyed, just like you did with your book, and the number one takeaway from the book by far was “Now, not how.” I was like, “What do you mean ‘Now, not how?'” They’re like, “Yeah, no, you always just do right now.” I’m like, “What do you mean? Just right f*cking now, what’s the smallest action you can take that will get you momentum? So you want to be a content creator? Post a video right now with your phone.” My first YouTube video was with my phone, just shirtless in my little house, 800-square-foot house across.

Tim Ferriss: Did you say shirtless?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. It’s not impressive. It wasn’t like ripped shirtless, it was just like sweaty, just got off a bike in my spandex. I actually just watched the video a few weeks ago. I was like, “Is this true?” And I was like, “Wow, really?” It’s on the channel. And now my videos are, give or take, around 35, $30,000 to make per video from all the salaries.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, my God.

Noah Kagan: But that was a shortlist thing with an iPhone 10 that everyone can do right now.

Tim Ferriss: My most popular YouTube video of all time, and we’re sitting here with pretty nice video set up, got basically a studio, the whole nine yards. My most popular YouTube video of all time is me in my kitchen. Somebody was like, God knows what kind of old phone, the resolution’s terrible. De-shelling hard boiled eggs without peeling. That is my most successful YouTube video of all time. A bit sad about that, which effort goes into other things, but yeah.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, dude. I mean, one of your favorite videos of mine is microwaving eggs. We talked about it last. I love microwaves and I love microwaving my eggs. Sometimes I’ll use a stove. My girlfriend’s like, “Let’s use a stove, baby.” I’m all right. See? So what can we do right now? Let me give you a great example as well. I’m a big pinballer, so I have two pinball machines at home. And this morning, literally, I was watching how to make a pinball machine by Godzilla. It’s the number-one rated pinball machine in the world. It’s sick. It’s what I have at home. And when most people think I want to start a pinball business, what do they think? Holy f*ck, I’ve got to build this machine. I’ve got to go figure out software. I’ve got to probably get a website, maybe on Shopify — shout out to Shopify; they sponsor your podcasts — which you’ll eventually need. Maybe I need a lawyer, because I’ve got a patent idea.

And then that’s six months, 12 months, two years of nothing. Now, what’s crazy, Stern Pinball, the number-one maker of pinball machines, they put out this video behind the scenes of Godzilla. They literally took a board and then bent some metal and just kind of threw the ball. You could do that right now. You could do that in one day and go to people literally on your phone, in person, “Hey, we’re working on this pinball machine. Let me show it to you right now and see what you think.” And you could get people to purchase your pinball machine before you spent six months, six years doing nothing. Same thing with the Cybertruck. Six years and barely it’s getting delivered. And so there’s things that people can start realizing, let me actually see if people really want this and find out right away.

So that’s really surprisingly simple. There’s business models, there’s all these things you can do. It’s like, well, if I only have a weekend and I don’t have a lot of time, how do I break it down to the essence of the simplest form? And so in terms of the book, where I think a lot of the breakthroughs happen is, how do I get going right now, like with the pinball machine or with Jake? Jake had a dream to do golf trips. He wants to do golf trips like super bougie, high-end. Do you golf? I don’t golf.

Tim Ferriss: I have golfed. And I wouldn’t say I golf.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, I don’t golf. I like disc golf.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: You know disc golf?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, yeah.

Noah Kagan: I’m a cyclist, but he wants to do golf trips. And so he’s been thinking about it. It’s one of these people, I’m sure you’ve noticed them, they’ll talk to you about it at dinner. They’re like, “Ah, man, I hate my job, but I’d like to try this.” And so it’s like, “All right, we have 48 hours, Jake. How do we actually do right now to see if other people want golf trips? Because that’s what you think is a problem.” Now, I think the best problems in business are your own.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I agree.

Noah Kagan: Your show really — I mean, if you think about it, it’s you getting to talk to people you want.

Tim Ferriss: That’s what it is.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. And then, that’s a problem you have about learning different areas of business, science, health, fitness, and then you publish it and make a lot of money doing that. How cool is that?

Tim Ferriss: The best job ever.

Noah Kagan: Dude, it’s sweet work. It’s super sweet. In terms of the book, it’s one, how do we just get going f*cking right now? Right now. And then giving people more momentum, stories, actions like the dollar challenge. Now, not how. Freedom number, which is understanding what is the number you need to quit your job. For me, it was 3,000. Do you have a number?

Tim Ferriss: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Slightly different moniker, but same idea. Target monthly income, which was not just the replacement, it was a bit more part of this exercise called dream-lining.

Noah Kagan: Oh, yeah, yeah, exactly.

Tim Ferriss: But very similar idea.

Noah Kagan: Totally.

Tim Ferriss: Where like, figure out the basic math because maybe you need less — very often you need less —

Noah Kagan: Way less.

Tim Ferriss: — than you think you need.

Noah Kagan: 100 percent. I live in Barcelona. I think our apartment’s $1,000. Two bed. It’s not huge, to be clear. But you can live actually a lot cooler life than you think for a lot more affordable than you realize.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, for sure.

Noah Kagan: Part one is around that. And then again, the second — we can get into the recipe. And I think The 4-Hour Workweek recipe is fire. I shout out you in the book and honor how you approach it and that as one way. But even before that, it’s how do you understand the upside of asking and how do you become an asking machine? How do you build an asking muscle?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. What did Jake do?

Noah Kagan: Jake, I mean, first off, we did the coffee challenge. We drove over to Tacodeli and I was like, “All right, Jake, let’s go ask for 10 percent off.” He’s like, “Ah, dude…” He’d just done sales before. He’s like, “It’s easy.” It’s always easy until you do it.

And then guess what? It’s not as hard as he thinks. And that’s really true for a lot of life. We’re afraid of things and you know this. Almost every time we face the hard thing, it’s never as hard as we thought. Ayahuasca, for me, part of it, I was so afraid. And thank you for giving me time and coaching me around it before I went in.

But a lot of ayahuasca was just facing something hard, more than all the other stuff. It was just like, for me, it felt so challenging and being able to overcome it. Same thing with the coffee challenges. Go do it today. Commit to do it right now for yourself. Jake did it. Bam.

Tim Ferriss: Just to be clear, I wouldn’t do the — take ayahuasca today as a translation of that.

Noah Kagan: No, no, no. No, I would say the coffee challenge.

Tim Ferriss: Coffee challenge.

Noah Kagan: Coffee challenge. Then Jake did the dollar challenge. Just get a dollar. And he was so nervous, but then he was like, “Wow, I haven’t done sh*t in two years.” Literally in six hours, he already had a lot of momentum.

Now, once you get practice on those different things, really the book breaks down into two parts, which is how do you build and find something that people are excited to give you money for? Now that you’re better at starting and asking, all right, let me start swinging.

It’s thinking about, okay, how do I come up with ideas? How do I see if there’s a million dollars in money I can make on it? Check out a one-minute business model. And then the third part, grow it, is finding social media for customers. Email to actually, as you were saying, sell them and communicate with them.

And then the growth machine, which is the playbook I use at and, YouTube, the book, it’s the same marketing playbook I use over and over. These are all things, by the way, people are like, “Oh, I want it more complicated and I need it…” It’s like it’s 48 hours. And you know this, by having these limitations, bring out a lot more creativity, bring out a lot more resourcefulness.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I mean, I would go so far as to say, this is going to be a broad statement, but the best creativity comes from constraints. You need constraints. Those sound bad. They sound like restraints, like you’re strapped into electroshock therapy or something, but you need constraints. And weekend is a constraint. Less than $100 is a constraint. Next two hours is a constraint. These will all —

Noah Kagan: 4-Hour Workweek.

Tim Ferriss: 4-Hour Workweek, which is —

Noah Kagan: It’s a constraint.

Tim Ferriss: It’s a constraint.

Noah Kagan: And how is it an advantage? I think most people think, “I don’t have money.” It’s like, that’s a great thing. What do you do now that you don’t have money? How can you make it happen? And then you realize, oh, maybe there’s something here for it. Just like a pinball machine, which is crazy. No, you need to build it, engineer — no, take a piece of wood, bend some metal, see if you can get a three —

I generally say three people on the weekend. If you can get three customers, to me that’s validation. Meaning that this is something that you can invest in. That’s it. You can do that in 48 hours. And I think people give themselves so much time and so many excuses. That’s why the book starts with frequently made excuses.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, yeah. Frequently made excuses. Yeah.

Noah Kagan: To be able to get them past that so they can get going on their journey.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, totally. And there’s so many examples of low stakes, low cost, say prototyping, right? I’ll just mention one guy, people can look him up. Stephen Key, fascinating guy. And he has licensed tons of toys to huge manufacturers. And so his game is licensing, right? He’s not actually in the venturing business, he’s not in the manufacturing and the distribution business. He comes up with ideas.

He’s like, this is a great game. And he sells it to Hasbro or whoever it might be, these huge companies. He uses construction paper, some glue, Scotch tape, he’ll prototype it, take some photos of how it might work, and then off to the races he goes. And he just does that over and over and over and over again.

Noah Kagan: And there’s a lot of examples of this like Airbnb, $60 billion, $100 billion company that literally started in a weekend. They posted to the design conference like, “Hey, we have a couch. Does anyone want it?” There wasn’t some fancy website, there was no Marc Andreessen funding. There was none of that.

And now that’s a $100 billion business. The thing that we talked about a long time ago is that you only need to get lucky once, but to get lucky, you have to be doing things consistently every single weekend to eventually get to that point. And I think people miss out on that.

Tim Ferriss: Once Jake had a little bit of movement, so Tacodeli, etc. —

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: — what happens then for someone like a Jake, it doesn’t need to be Jake, but for someone like a Jake.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, let’s break it down. I think the more concrete tactical, I know that’s what we both appreciate. Now it’s like, okay, well, what do I sell? And so again, there’s a lot of different ways. I’ll just give you one. Literally just make a list of your day, do breakfast, lunch, dinner, and try to write everything that sucked. For you right now, you’ve already told me one, finding a VA, EA.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, yeah.

Noah Kagan: Opportunity. Jake his different ones. He has kids, so toys. He found it really annoying that his kids get older now to find toys. He’s like, “Oh, sh*t, I need to get rid of these toys and get new ones. Maybe there’s a toy rental business.” Oh, it’s kind of cool.

Tim Ferriss: Well, I mean, look at Chegg for textbooks, right? Huge business.

Noah Kagan: Chegg for toys doesn’t exist. So if someone does that — sorry, Jake. He didn’t end up doing it, but it was going through different problems that he was excited to solve for himself. He had a coffee problem. And what he stumbled upon is that he went on a golf trip with guys a year ago and he was like, “I really love that. I want more of that in my life. I want to have something to look forward to on my calendar.” And I didn’t want to do that business. I wanted to do the toy rental.

Tim Ferriss: So one additional approach I’ll throw in there because it’s actually how I started BrainQUICKEN in the first business, sports nutrition, et cetera, which is where I cut my teeth for all the things that followed. But as part of my calculus, I went through all my credit card statements. And at the time, I was making, I don’t know, base salary was like 40 grand a year in the Bay Area during one of the peak rushes, it partially explains why I was eating Jack in the Box.

But with California taxes and rent, it was gone before you know it. So I went through my credit card statements and I looked at what I spent a lot of money on, like what did I spend a lot of money on disproportionate to my income?

And that’s how I landed on sports nutrition in part. I also had some knowledge around it and the ability to find people involved with that. But another approach I’ve heard from several different entrepreneurs who ended up building huge businesses is they looked at where they were cobbling together solutions. Like where are they paying for multiple things or using multiple things to MacGyver some half-ass solution to a problem that they have. Opportunity, right?

Noah Kagan: Another one I’ve liked — and to be clear, you can have that and then still, there’s no business there, so we did that. We tried to compete with Klaviyo in e-commerce and we were cobbling together a solution.

Tim Ferriss: I don’t know what they do.

Noah Kagan: They’re Mailchimp or ConvertKit, but just for e-commerce.

Tim Ferriss: I see.

Noah Kagan: And so we cobbled together a solution and we’re like, oh, we could sell this to people. And then when we tried to sell it, no one wanted to buy it. And that’s what we get to later in the book. And so I think the other comment I would actually highlight that it’s great you called it out, is what’s on your to-do list that you’re just avoiding doing? That is actually a really interesting business. So for you, your to-do list is to find an EA. What else is on your to-do list that’s maybe been there over two weeks?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, that’s a good one. That’s a good one. Let me think about that for a second.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, what is — I can tell you one of mine.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, let’s do one of yours.

Noah Kagan: f*ck, dude. I need a house manager. I need someone to —

Tim Ferriss: Just handle property stuff.

Noah Kagan: My painting fell, my grass died because I put my car over it. It didn’t get watered. I have a cold plunge that needs to get refilled. And I have my girlfriend who’s pregnant, so I’m taking care of her and prioritizing her. I don’t have time to even find the house manager.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: That’s an opportunity.

Tim Ferriss: So there’s one. So in the case of — and if a better example exists that we want to run with, but since we’ve introduced Jake —

Noah Kagan: Yeah, we can stick with Jake and we can also do the VA one. But Jake’s thing was, “I want to do golf, let’s stick with that.” Next up, is it a million dollars of money that you can make in that? So how big is the market?

Tim Ferriss: Over what period of time? A year, or what period of time?

Noah Kagan: I’m more just looking at the market. I’m not necessarily looking at a timeframe on that. It’s just like, are there people now today that at least a million dollars? Literally what’s crazy is AppSumo’s success, I would say it’s significantly because the market just grew. We chose a great market.

When I started AppSumo, there was 10 software products, now there’s at least 10,000 software products if not more. And so we chose the right market. So with Jake, he was — basically, there’s two ways you can do it. One, just look at Google Trends, which is super basic, everyone — most people know this. Google Trends, is it flat, declining, is it growing? And look at relatively.

Tim Ferriss: In terms of search terms, right?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. Go to and just double-check it. And again, this is similar to — almost identical to the blog post we had. It’s just been evolved on your blog, on Tim Ferriss’ blog on And then the second part is, all right, is there a million people? Or not even a million people, how many people and how much do they spend on this? Same thing with chihuahuas, how many people have chihuahuas? How much do they spend on chihuahuas?

So for Jake, it’s how many people are golfing, how much do they spend on golf? And can you get any other data points? But that’s probably the most straightforward way because again, we only do it in a weekend to see is there at least a million dollars in there? Golf is a billion-dollar industry, multiple billions of dollars.

So you can look at the clubs, you can look at things, but simplest way to do it, go on Facebook, search — do an ad. How many people are searching golf? And then you can Google how much do people spend on golf a year? Okay, is there at least a million dollars in there I can make in it?

Tim Ferriss: I would imagine at this point too, I’m just throwing this out there, but that some of these tools, like ChatGPT or Bard, could also be incredibly helpful.

Noah Kagan: 100 percent, 100 percent. How much money do people spend on golf a year? How big is the market on golf? You could put that in right now. And again, people are like, “Well, I need to do more research.” It’s like, no, we really just want to understand generally, because we only have a weekend. Otherwise, that’s the thing that, okay, two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, 10 weeks and nothing’s happened.

So next up, how do we actually understand what the business model looks like? Again, not — I went to Berkeley, went to Princeton, there’s all these complicated discounted cash flows. You’ve done a lot more investing than I have. I just want to know, can I make a million dollars in the business? So the real simplest business model is one minute revenue, cost, expense divided by a million.

And I have a bunch of templates on the website, but really again, I’m trying to understand, is this realistic trying to sell a business that — let’s say a golf trip, that’s what he was excited about. $5,000, it’s like $3,000 to do it, $2,000, can I sell this many golf trips and how long will that take me? And that will help him adjust the business model. When I did Sumo Jerky and even when I’ve done AppSumo, I had to do the same change. When we did AppSumo, I did bundles.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: Remember?

Tim Ferriss: I do.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, because your productivity model, you helped put it on the map. We did these bundles and it was like, dude, I’m doing f*cking two months of work, selling for 50 bucks. I made $5. Andrew Chen came and he’s like a math genius and he’s one of my best friends. He’s like, “Let’s just do this quick model,” and that’s what we’ve replicated. “Stop doing bundles. Just do one and do one a week. What’s the margin?” I went from $5 margin to $25 margin.

Tim Ferriss: Can you say that one more time?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. So let me back up. So when you’re doing these quick models — and again, I don’t want people to spend a lot of time, people are like, “It’s so simple.” I’m like, “That’s the point.” Have a one-minute —

Tim Ferriss: By the way, not to interrupt, but the vast majority of incredibly profitable, elegant businesses are simple.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. Right.

Tim Ferriss: At their very core, they’re simple.

Noah Kagan: Yes. Beautifully said.

Tim Ferriss: At their core. Like Google at its core. I know there’s a lot of complexity that goes into delivering it, but as a business model, very straightforward. Uber at its core, very straightforward. Airbnb at its core, very straightforward and Patrón, right? I mean, at their cores, these businesses are — GEICO even, right? Very simple.

Noah Kagan: And one thing I want to take a step back on is entrepreneurship is awesome. It can create a great life for you. And that doesn’t mean you have to be a millionaire. That could be even grocery money. And I don’t think people realize they can change their life and have that option. I was fired. Have you been fired?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, from my first job. Fired, ice cream shop. It’s a long story.

Noah Kagan: You have to try to get fired there.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. Yeah. Well, it is actually kind of funny. My first job, the way this guy was doing stuff, the big boss, I was like 14, I don’t even know if it was legal, but I was working at this ice cream shop and I was the cleaner. I was cleaning the machines and doing this, that, and the other thing. And the way that I was taught to do it made absolutely no f*cking sense. I came up with my own system for cleaning and I did it in one-tenth the time.

The mistake I made was I stayed at work for the rest of the time and I read Black Belt magazine and I took the broom handle off of one of the mops and I practiced karate moves or something in the parking lot. And the boss understandably didn’t find that terribly inspiring. And so he was like, “I don’t care if you’ve already cleaned it, clean it again.” And I was like, “But it’s clean.” And that was early proof that I’m effectively unemployable. So yeah, I got fired.

Noah Kagan: I would agree with —

Tim Ferriss: I’m sure — maybe I got fired from other stuff, but I definitely got fired from the first job.

Noah Kagan: I was trying to wish I could see that, dude. I wish you could have some cameras that I could see you with your broomstick.

Tim Ferriss: There’s a good chance I had a rat tail or a mullet too. There’s a very high likelihood that I had a rat tail or a mullet at the time.

Noah Kagan: My point of going back and what we’ll stick with the Jake example is that I was fired and that was one of the most traumatic moments in my life. And then I was like, “I’m never f*cking again going to be dependent on someone ever f*cking again.” And so at that moment was very clear. I need to get to my own level of —

Tim Ferriss: It’s taken 30 years to —

Noah Kagan: It’s taken time.

Tim Ferriss: Of therapy to work on it.

Noah Kagan: It has. I mean, therapy has been an amazing thing.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, I get it. I’m laughing because also, I get it.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. But that was a realization that one person determined my fate and I never wanted that again. And so it doesn’t mean you have to quit. What’s crazy to have Sumo do, we have a lot of people with really interesting side hustle. Amy does flowers, she heads our customer support. Nick heads our growth, he has a teeth-whitening clinic.

Tim Ferriss: Amazing, yeah.

Noah Kagan: Olman and his wife have a facial clinic. I don’t know, it’s kind of cool, but at least they have the option. They seem to like their jobs at AppSumo, but they have the option that they can do that. And that’s why I do think people should consider it no matter what they’re doing. And it does take time to get to these places. My first sell at AppSumo was 12 bucks. Yesterday was $200,000. But that did me getting going to be able to get to that point.

Tim Ferriss: And I’ll throw this in there too that much like — despite everything that I’ve said and the fricking TED Talk that I gave earlier about all the things I’m thinking about, despite all of that, I still think everybody should start a podcast because you will learn a lot about yourself and your own thinking. You’ll need to get better at communicating.

And there’s a lot to be taken from that, even if you stop at after five episodes. I still believe that for improving your ability to communicate, identifying and verbal tics, cleaning up your thinking by going through that process makes it worth starting a podcast. Similarly, I think everybody should start a business, does not mean everybody should be a lifelong entrepreneur.

There are upsides to 9-to-5, like the ability to just turn off your work, go home, throw on the TV, or watch some YouTube and have a couple of beers with your friends or family. There are arguments to be made that, in the right circ*mstances —

Noah Kagan: Yeah. I’ll tell you, Monday we have a lawsuit, because someone doesn’t like something. Two people are upset about their salary. That was Monday.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, right, right. I’m just saying.

Noah Kagan: There’s trade-offs.

Tim Ferriss: I was at this rock climbing gym not too long ago, last week actually here in Austin. A lot of good rock climbing gyms. There’s a new one, Mesa Rim, that is much taller in terms of their top roping areas than anything else I’ve seen here.

In any case, I was there and I saw this woman climbing and she had a shirt on that said, “No solutions, only trade-offs.” And I looked at it and I said, “Okay, maybe that doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s like a Japanese billboard. Who knows? It seems like English, but it’s not quite. It’s grammatical — they’re English words, but wait a second, bear is the best friend? Wait a second, what does that mean? That doesn’t mean anything.” But I sat with it and I was like, you know what? That’s actually a very healthy way to look at a lot of decisions. It’s like there is no one best, there are always trade-offs.

So coming back to Jake, Jake and business model. How did you tackle this? And it can be Jake, it can be other examples, but to the extent that you can give real-world examples.

Noah Kagan: Let me give you two examples. One Jake and one very clear as well with AppSumo. So Jake’s —

Tim Ferriss: Oh, with Andrew Chen when he came in and modified it.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. So that was one example. The other example, and I’ll show you, there’s dials, kind of like Ramit’s with your finance dials, there’s revenue dials in your business. And so with Jake, he was like, “I’m going to do 10 percent profit.” I was like, “Okay, hold on, let’s look at a one-minute model to see what you can actually make and how you can make a million dollars doing this.”

So we put it into the one-minute model, and again, it’s very simple. We don’t have a lot of time, revenue, costs, profit. So let’s be specific to Jake. I was like, “Jake, how much can people pay? And again, let’s just try to see what we can put together as an offer that we’ll bring to people. How much you pay on your golf trip before?” “I spent 2,000.” “What do you think is reasonable for a 48-hour amazing experience for people to go golfing?” “4,000.” “Great, 4,000. Now, what are the costs that go with that? Do you have to pay for travel?” “No, make them pay for travel.” “Okay. Hotel, golf, whiskey, cigars, food. Great. How much is that?” And then just real quick, just real quick, 2,000 bucks. So your old model was like, you took a percentage, but now we just do a one-minute model. It looks like you’re making $2,000–$3,000. Let’s just call it $2,500, per each golf trip.

Divide that by a thousand. That’s not that many sales. That seems actually very doable, to create a million-dollar business just having golf trips. So just by understanding that, it’s like, okay, cool, we have an idea we like. We see that there’s a million dollars, because a lot of times you’re going to work really hard in the wrong direction or in a market that’s really small, and you actually understand that this is a business model relative that can work now. We talked about revenue dials. Let’s just say the average order value, people are going to pay 1,000. Holy sh*t, that’s never going to get there. That’s a thousand people you’re going to have to sell, or is it a — yeah, thousand people. That’s a lot of people.

Tim Ferriss: That’s a lot.

Noah Kagan: So if we can 5X that, maybe we make it more expensive. Can we get people to buy it twice? Is there another type of products? And I’ve written down the revenue dials in the book, and they’re free on the website as well, that you can be like, “How can I change this model so that it’s easier to get to the million dollars?”

Tim Ferriss: So people can find some of these resources for free at

Noah Kagan: Totally. And now with that, it was like, “Oh, okay, cool. If it’s $2,500, I don’t have to sell that many people to get to a million-dollar business. Now let me see if I’m going to get even just three customers today.” And I will tell you at this point of the day, Jake was really frustrated because we had no sales. He just got to this — we finished this model and it’s like, “sh*t, man, I don’t know. I don’t know if this is going to work.”

And I think that one of the most powerful things you can do is go for a walk, and that’s all we did. I was like, “Jake, for two years you’ve thought about this idea. For two years you’ve wondered ‘What if?’ And you want to be an example to your kids. And in 24 hours so far, you have an idea, you have a business model around it, and now we can actually find out if we can make a real business out of this. I think that’s just amazing for all of us, like how can we change our lives in a very quick amount of time? Give yourself a f*cking break if it’s not immediately a million dollars. Go for a walk, get a good night’s sleep, go look at old photos to realize how far we’ve come.”

So the next morning, woke up and what we did within, I don’t know, an hour, is he put together, on a Google Doc, pictures of a golf trip. Golf course, food, cigars, I don’t know what people do golfing — clothing, polo shirts, and then a price, 4,000 bucks, 5,000 bucks. And I was like, “All right, cool. Let’s just call people.” So there’s three different validation methods to see if people want to have a business, and number one is pre-selling. This is one of the most popular —

Tim Ferriss: Oh, I see. See if people will purchase.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. So you have an offer. He literally put together a Google Doc, because I do think it’s nice when you sell something that you can get people like, “Oh, wow, I can visualize it, I can see it.” Same thing that Elon’s done with Cybertruck Model 3. Those were six years and 10 years before he actually delivered. And he pre-sold thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of them. So it’s a very effective model. Same thing with airplanes, hotels, they all pre-sell to see if someone wants it.

Tim Ferriss: Apartment buildings. I mean, we’re looking around here, the vast majority of these were sold before construction was finished, certainly —

Noah Kagan: 100 percent.

Tim Ferriss: — often before construction started.

Noah Kagan: 100 percent. And when you’re doing businesses, find a problem you’re excited about. But as you said with your stuff, if you only do that and make sure that no one else wants it, you don’t really have a business, you just have a hobby. So Jake has that. The other thing, I think there’s a super common mistake for new entrepreneurs is like, “Well, I want to do AI.” I’m like, “Okay, have you done anything?”

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it’s so funny. I was going to bring up this exact thing —

Noah Kagan: “Oh, I love AI.” I’m like, “Have you used ChatGPT?” “Not really.” “Have you coded anything?” “No, not at all.” “What do you do? What’s your day job?” “I’m in sales.” “Okay, what do you sell?” “I sell solar.” “Okay. Maybe it’s easier for us to start a business selling — anyone can sell AI — and do something within your zone of influence and your zone of expertise, versus so far outside of it.” people make it way more complicated on themselves, especially new entrepreneurs. What are problems you like? What are groups or zones of influence you have? It doesn’t mean you can’t, but just makes it so much harder. And so with Jake, he plays a lot of golf. I play no golf. He has a lot of golf friends. So the pre-sell method makes, he also —

Tim Ferriss: Knows how to find those people. He knows which websites he goes to, he knows which celebrities he follows, he knows where to go fishing for these people.

Noah Kagan: I don’t — what’s a golf course?

Tim Ferriss: And he has more credibility in selling it too. If he’s like, “This is the trip that I have always wanted to design for myself.” There’s a lot of weight behind that when you’re talking to someone.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, it was cool. It was cool to see him excited to create a business around that. And there’s some mistakes that he ended up making that others can avoid that I’ll cover. But through that it was like, “All right, Jake, you have a doc, you’ve got a model, let’s contact these people. Let’s just call them right now. You already practiced it. Remember in the beginning we talked about starting? You got started, let’s start asking.” And he called his brother and people are like, “Nah, my brother, it’s too easy.” It should be easy. Make it fun. People are like, “No, it’s got to be hard. I’ve got to make it challenging myself.” Like, why? Why do you want to make it hard on yourself? What’s the advantage in that? Because that avoids you actually facing reality.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: So he calls his brother, and again, we talked about that, listen, option, transition — “Hey man, I need feedback. I’m doing this process. I’m trying to start a business in a weekend. Do you remember the golf trip we went on?” I was like, “Yeah, how did you like it?”

“Oh, I liked it.”

“Is there anything you missed on it? Would you want to do it again? Do you have another one scheduled? Oh, you don’t? Oh, so you’re listening to see what problems they have.” Then you provide an option, “Hey, I’ve got a golf trip. It’s going to be in April. It’s going to be to this place, it’s going to be 5,000 bucks. And it sounds like something you’d be excited to do. Transition. “Do you want to give me a hundred dollars right now as a deposit that’s totally refundable for this trip?” And then shut the f*ck up.

His brother sent him $100 right away. Okay, brother. Fine. Easy. “Jake, who else have you golfed with? Let’s make a Dream 10 list of everyone you’ve ever golfed with. Just 10.” Super easy. This is inspired by Chet Holmes, so I’ve got to give him a shout-out, Ultimate Sales Machine, one of my favorite books all time. And he has a Dream 100.

I’m like, “A hundred’s a lot, let’s just do 10. We’ve only got a weekend. So then let’s just go through your list. Who else plays golf with you? Who else have you gone on a trip with?” I went [with] a guy named John.” Calls up John, and actually we recorded the calls. He’s like, “Yeah, f*ck you, John.” I’m like, “That’s how you talk to your friends?” But they’re friends. And then he calls John, he’s like, “Hey, man, can I just get your feedback?” Because again, when you’re selling, you don’t have to make it this big scary thing. Talk to someone. “Hey, I’d love to get your feedback. This is what I’m working on. Is that something you’re interested in? You are? Okay, cool. Do you want to give a deposit to commit that you’re actually serious about doing it?” Because a promise of a deposit is a rejection. A promise is a rejection. “Hey, yeah, yeah, I’ll do it. Just when you get closer,” that’s a rejection — that’s actually a no.

You know this. You’ve sold a lot. You’ve done a lot on this. And so getting them to actually tell you the truth with their wallet.

And for me, a lot of times with rejection, it’s, do I actually want to do this business? Do I actually want to make this thing possible? And so it’s a test if you want something, that’s it. And so when you’re getting rejected, be like, as I’m doing this book and as I’m doing other things, even with asking people on my YouTube videos, “Do I really want this?” I’m like, “f*ck yes, I do.”

Tim Ferriss: Do you want the thing that is being rejected?

Noah Kagan: Am I proud of what am I doing? Is this the thing I actually believe I want to do? And that rejection is just a test for yourself. And everyone can pass. It’s up to them to choose.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, those early rejections are valuable because if your commitment starts to waver, you’re still in the honeymoon phase.

Noah Kagan: It’s only going to get harder.

Tim Ferriss: You are going to have hard challenges. You are going to have hiccups later. And if it’s not going to work, if you are going to waver or you might fold, it’s better to do it, in a sense —

Noah Kagan: Super quick.

Tim Ferriss: early, than later.

Noah Kagan: And you’re really, for me, getting rejected is an opportunity to learn. And this is what I do in sales, I do this all the time. Hey, to this day I’ll just say, “I just want to learn.” And I frame it — that’s my first phrase. Second phrase is, “You didn’t want this? Just tell me why not. I want to learn.” People will reply and they’ll tell you.

Tim Ferriss: Really?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, they just do it. I don’t think people are like, “No, I won’t want to tell this person.” Why not? And a lot of times after they say why they didn’t do something, you can answer that question and tell them again. So Jake called John, he makes fun of this guy, so forth, and then, “Hey, man, I have an idea. This golf trip, I love your feedback. What do you think about it?”

“Dude, that sounds awesome.”

“Yeah, it’s in April. Do you want to do a deposit?” Another deposit. And then he ended up getting, I believe, five deposits within 48 hours for 500 bucks. And then he also had a partnership with another guy that he went on a trip with. And now three weeks later, he’s securing the location, he’s getting the $5,000 or whatever the end up price is going to be along the way.

Now there’s some interesting things around this. So one, and this is mistakes that people make, you have to deliver what you just promised. So focus on that. You just promised like, “Hey, give me a deposit and let me take you on an amazing golf experience.” So overdeliver on what you just promised. Common mistake that Jake was making, he came back to me, I checked in on him, he’s like, “Dude, these people are buying it. It’s exciting. I’m going to get eight people. Here’s the model. It looks great. One guy talked to me about an app, so I’m going to start an app.”

Tim Ferriss: Oh, boy. Oh, boy.

Noah Kagan: And I was like, “Squirrel! Squirrel!”

Tim Ferriss: That’s a good movie.

Noah Kagan: By the way, I love squirrels. In Tools of Titans, I put “squirrel” as my favorite animal. And so, very easy to get distracted. Very easy to get distracted. And the best businesses are the ones that work. And so I’m like, “Jake, you just sold five people.”

Another mistake that is very, very common, “Noah, I don’t know about these trips. I don’t think I want to go on them in a few years.” I was like, “Dude, you haven’t even gone on one.”

Guess what? Do you know how much work I do at AppSumo day-to-day? Zero. I don’t do any work. And that’s not as like a flex, like, I don’t do any work — no. I hire the people that do the work and they’re excited and frankly, they’re better than me at the work. You don’t ever have to go on a trip. Maybe for a podcast, if you’re the signature host and it’s called The Tim Ferriss Show, you probably need to be doing it unless they AI your voice. But for these golf trips, don’t be so worried about making a million when you haven’t made one. Just deliver the product. And guess what? Then do it again, and then again, and then again.

And so that was another common observation. I was surprised, and I’ve seen it by others. How’s it going to scale? You haven’t even gotten a dollar. Don’t worry about scale.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah.

Noah Kagan: Let’s just get, let’s deliver.

Tim Ferriss: Don’t use that word. Don’t worry about it.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. And let’s deliver the experience, which now he’s getting it going in April, he’s getting these people to pay. And then it’s like, “Hey, just after they pay in April, you know what you do? You just do it again, then again and then again.” And then the rest of the book is now, how does he get it beyond that? So it can be beyond his network and his zone of influence.

Tim Ferriss: Also, just to emphasize a few things that you’ve said and also just to add a couple of comments. The whole scaling thing. Look, I invest in businesses that scale, but I think that what a lot of entrepreneurs tend to do, especially if they’re fantasizing about doing something big, if it’s not huge, it’s a failure. If it’s not 10X, it’s a failure. If it’s not paradigm shifting — most businesses that help their owners to craft unique lives that are incredibly rewarding are completely invisible to you. The businesses that you see on magazine covers or in these tweet threads and so on. X threads.

Noah Kagan: I call it Twitter.

Tim Ferriss: Whatever the cool kids are calling it these days, are outliers, and trying to just model those crazy outliers is deciding for New Year’s you want to get into shape so you watch the Super Bowl and you’re like, “Okay, so I’m watching how Tom Brady moves and if I can’t be Tom Brady, then it’s not exercise.” And you’re like, “Well, hold on a f*cking second. It’s not the right way to look at it. Chances are also, you’re not Tom Brady.” So maybe before you’re like, “It’s not worth me learning to swim unless I can be Michael Phelps.” You’re like, “Well, look at his ankles. Can your ankles do that? No, I don’t think so. Are you shaped like that? No, you’re not.” So just reminding folks, you do not need to mimic the top one percent of one percent of one percent of outliers, who probably are mutants on a bunch of levels, in order to have a business that fulfills the dreams you have associated with being an entrepreneur. I just wanted to say that because it’s so common.

Noah Kagan: It’s really common, dude.

Tim Ferriss: And what you’ve been saying also echoes something that Seth Godin has said on the podcast, which is, and I’m paraphrasing here, but effectively, do the smallest thing possible. He’s like, people hide behind the big, because when they have this, “I want to do an AI app that does this and this and this…” Which isn’t to say those things can’t exist, but when they’ve got this huge idea, “I want to help five billion people,” whatever the thing might be, you can hide behind that and never get started. It’s easy to hide behind the big thing, but if it’s call five of your friends, you can’t hide behind that.

Noah Kagan: I mean business, really, it’s three Ws is what I look at it. It’s what’s a problem you’re solving that people care about, who are those people, and where are they?

That’s it. What’s the problem that people care about? So for Jake, it’s a golf trip. For, it’s software deals at good prices. For Tim Ferriss, who’s learning — very Tim Ferriss Show, very tactical, practical things in different areas of your life. Who are the people that listen to that, and then where are they? And it has been awesome to see someone like Jake, who’s had that dream, be able to make that change. There are other validation methods I’ll just share because I think people want to see another one. So one is pre-sell, so whether it’s a pinball machine, which we talked about, whether it’s even, I was able to get this going within a weekend as well, the same exact method. It wasn’t even presale. I was able to close it all in 48 hours.

So just to share another story of that, I noticed through all of my work that I was like, I like deals, I like marketing, and I think the software thing is going to be big. How do I do this very quickly to find out if this is something people actually want? And that’s the reason you have Weekend, because you have 52 chances to change it. If it doesn’t work, one, guess what? You have another one and another one. And to at least understand a process, you’re so good at this. You’re so good at thinking about that, so how do you experiment?

And so with AppSumo I was like, I think there’s something with these three things. Let me try to do it on a weekend. I cold emailed Imgur. This college kid said, “Hey, I want to do software deals. I’ll pay you $7 for every one I sell.” For him, he’s like, “I’ll get free money? That’s cool.” So a cold email. It was funny —

Tim Ferriss: Wait, how did you find the college kid to cold email?

Noah Kagan: Because I went to

Tim Ferriss: Oh, sorry.

Noah Kagan: No, no. Not a random college —

Tim Ferriss: I thought it was some name from Azerbaijan. Okay. Imgur.

Noah Kagan: No, no, no.

Tim Ferriss: The website.

Noah Kagan: So I knew that the problem with software deals at good prices, I knew that, I’m a Redditor and I was like, “Well, that’s where the customers are and then that’s who the customers are and where they are.” And I was like, “They want Imgur.” That was the most popular product at the time that was all over it. So I basically cold emailed Alan, just I was like, “Hey, I want to promote you $7 per deal. You get free money, it’s no cost to you.” And then I was like, “Well, I can get this posted on Reddit.” And I even cold emailed the founders of Reddit and was able to get them to give me free ads.

Tim Ferriss: How did you do that? Just out of curiosity. Why would they give you free ads?

Noah Kagan: I don’t really know, actually.

Tim Ferriss: That’s bullsh*t!

Noah Kagan: No, no.

Tim Ferriss: What was the pitch though?

Noah Kagan: The pitch was twofold. One, I said I knew someone they knew. So I worked with Chris Smoke when I started previous companies. He knew Chris Slow. That’s weird, Chris Smoke, Chris Slow. So when you’re sending an email, it’s a really strong subject line or any messages “Referred by Blah,” at least you’re going to get an open or reply. I said, “Hey, I’m working on…”

Tim Ferriss: And by the way, don’t bullsh*t that, because you’ll get fact checked.

Noah Kagan: I just got, someone fact checked with me, like Jordan — do you know Jordan Harbinger?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: He’s a good buddy of mine. He fact checked someone who messaged him, like, “Hey, Noah Kagan’s working with you.” Jordan messages me. He’s like, “Are you working with this guy?”

Tim Ferriss: Of course, immediately.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. I was like, “No, I’m not.” It was a little bit more than that. Basically I said, “Hey, I’d love to just treat you to lunch and share more of what I’m working on.” And so I took him to the Pork Store Cafe in Haight, and I just shared what I was working on and said, “I’m doing this idea for software deals, I want to focus on Reddit. I’m a huge Redditor. I’ve been on Reddit since 2006. It’s with Imgur. I’d love to see if you can give me free ads.” There wasn’t a bigger ask than that. Again, we come back full circle because I like asking, I practice asking, everyone can ask. He’s like, “Sure.”

Crazy. Part of that story. Fast-forward about six months, I asked him again and he’s like “$10,000,” but I highly appreciate Chris and Reddit for giving me that free — they were just getting their ad platform out. So it was a good chance for them —

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, okay. To showcase something, right? Have a case study.

Noah Kagan: That worked well. So I launched it. I was like, if I can do 200 sales, this is obviously a little bit bigger than what I’m encouraging others — if I get 200 sales within a very short time, this is it. And let me just break down the website. I paid $48 to a guy named Mohammed, who I can still recommend to people, to help me put a PayPal button on, and I spent $12 on Which, I know, I should have maybe done even, not the website, but that PayPal button. People — and I posted on Reddit, “Hey, I’ve got a deal on Imgur Pro, instead of $24, it’s 12.” And I gave Alan $7 immediately.

That first $12 sell was the best, dude. It was so sweet. And I remember, and this is the thing, people were like, “Well, how do I scale?” I emailed the codes for every 200 person. You know what my backend was? Gmail. I got the PayPal notification and then I sent him an email saying, “Thank you so much, here’s your code for Imgur Pro. What other deals do you want me to get?” And that is what’s led now to a hundred-person team, and we have all these crazy products. We’ve launched on so many different things from AppSumo. We have I think a 20, 25-person engineering team. It started with literally manual Gmail codes. And so the concept there is just so f*cking basic. I didn’t let all these other things get in the way.

Tim Ferriss: And also, that super primitive backend that you’re talking about, highly manual, but high-touch with the customers.

Noah Kagan: Yes. Yes.

Tim Ferriss: Gives you a lot of really valuable input. And even though we’ve been talking about the word ‘scale’ as kind of a four-letter word, in one of the very first episodes of Masters of Scale that Reid Hoffman did, he interviewed Brian Chesky of Airbnb and it’s a great episode. And one of the key tenets in the beginning for Airbnb was, “Do things that don’t scale.” And those things tended to be highly manual, helping people take photographs of their places. And what they learned then led to a lot of what we’ve seen.

Noah Kagan: A hundred percent. I mean even think about yourself, I hope I recall correctly, I thought you super responded to everyone super early on. I recall you in the comments on your blog.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, on the comments, when I was building that community, for sure. I was highly responsive in the blog comments.

Noah Kagan: You were. I remember that. It stuck out to me. And that’s exactly, people were like, “Well, how do I have high-touch and how do I do things at scale?” That is literally it. So for me on YouTube, I still reply to my comments. Not every single one now because there’s a lot, but I reply to them. And guess what? When you get that message that someone actually connected with you, and this is great, especially if you’re at one, two, three, four, five customers, those are the people that stick around.

Tim Ferriss: So early on, I don’t know if I’ve talked about this at all, when I had decided that bloggers were the path, at least that was the hypothesis worth testing for launching The 4-Hour Workweek. I went to a bunch of their blogs and I left comments, and my comments were like blog posts unto themselves. I mean they took forever, but I put a ton of energy in. And I would do that in some cases like two or three times on a given blog, where the authors were active in the comments and they noticed that. And people, bloggers in this case, in many cases, directly reached out to me to thank me for the comments. And that laid the foundation. It was super targeted, very much sniper shot. It was not me trying a hundred thousand different things. But you also, in the beginning, need to throw a lot against the wall.

You don’t know what you’re good at, you don’t know what works, so you try a lot.

And going back, it’s fun taking the trip down memory lane, for BrainQUICKEN, way back in the day, the sports nutrition company, and I say sports nutrition, it turns out Americans did not want to be smarter at all. So selling something for improving cognition at that point didn’t work at all. But I got reports back, this is when I was very high-touch from athletes, especially NCAA athletes who bought it for studying. They’re like, “Yeah, I don’t really care about studying though, but it improved my time off the blocks for my track event. It helped me with this, helped me with that.” And being the idiot that I was, I ignored that for ages. I was like, “No, this is BrainQUICKEN,” in my own head. So I kept pounding my head against a brick wall. It didn’t work.

And eventually I was like, well, wait a second. They’re using this for sports. The only reason I spent so much money on my supplementation as a percentage of my income is I cared about sports performance, really. And then pivoted, and that’s when the whole thing took off. But that’s not the takeaway that I was going to share. What I was going to share is, at the very earliest stages, I had a website up, which a coworker at work, at Trusan, had put together for next to nothing. Because we were always scheming and we were always just going out to lunch and bullsh*tting.

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: We were friends. So I paid him, but I couldn’t pay him much. And he was like, “It’s fine.” And he put together a website for me. I had not manufactured anything. I had done quite a bit of basic math to figure out if the economics would work. Nothing fancy though. It’s like, how much do I think I could manufacture this for? What are some of the basic costs of sourcing, dah, dah, dah, dah — landed on a retail price. And at this point, nothing has been made. Nothing’s been manufactured. There’s no product to ship. And I just went to coworkers who were friends and asked them if they would, and it wasn’t exactly guilting, but these people at that point didn’t really need this necessarily. It could be of benefit. But I was like, “Hey, I want to try this out, would you be willing to just prepay for one of these so that I can try to do a first manufacturing run?” And they’re like, “Yeah, sure, why not?”

Noah Kagan: Beautiful.

Tim Ferriss: 50 bucks or something at the time. And that gave me just the bare minimum of capital to start having conversations.

Noah Kagan: I love that.

Tim Ferriss: And then I had to negotiate everything, right? Because I would go to these contract manufacturers and they’re like, “Well, our minimum order size is this.” And in my head I’m like, “Impossible, that’s never going to work.” And then they’re like, “And our minimum term of commitment is this.” I was like, “Yep, also impossible.” And so I had to sell the vision. And at that time I was able to, because I’d learned through cold calling off hours, get ahold of the president of this manufacturer, got him on the phone at one point. And I was just like, “I know at some point, somebody gave you a break. I’m not asking for anything other than can I drive to you at any time and just tell you about my vision for this business? And if we are able to find a way to work together, which I would like to, I promise you that I will work with you exclusively as a manufacturer as we grow the business.”

Went down, and I think he was maybe just amused more than anything else, and he’s like, “Okay, sure,” after all was said and done. And then I used them for years. And that’s how the deal got done. But it all hinged on, in the very beginning, the presales. And also I was buying, I mean negotiating, at that time. You want to talk about a real pain in the ass, magazine advertisem*nts. Feedback loop is really slow. After you have put out the cash for the advertising, you might not know what you’re selling for months. It could take a really, really long time. And so what I did when I started getting more ambitious, because I started with small ads of course. And then once I got to full-page ads, I would go to, say, distributors, and I would say, “I would love to feature you exclusively in this particular ad, but for that to work, I would just need you to pre-order X amount of inventory.”

So they’d buy X amount of inventory. Let’s say that’s $10,000. And I would also say, “It’s $10,000, but the rate card for this full page is like 40 grand.” And they’d be like, “Okay, well, seems reasonable, especially since we’re going to make a profit on the product.” Then I would buy the ad space as remnant. So, negotiate last minute, I would get that for like five grand. So what has happened if I had them pre-order, let’s say, 10K, I paid five, I’m already in the black no matter what the outcome of the advertisem*nt, and this is the kind of stuff most entrepreneurs are going to have to do on some level, something like that.

Noah Kagan: Two things I want to highlight from your story. One, you seem to, one, it’s beautiful. You seem to have a knack for finding underserved opportunities. And that’s where the opportunity is. If it’s a market, there’s no opportunity because people know about it, like you finding remnant inventory. I think there’s something with AppSumo. We’ve had a lot of times where when the newsfeed came out, this was years ago on Facebook, no one was really advertising. We’re like, “Oh, this is huge, no one else is doing it, let’s go hard on that.” And there’s something interesting in business and finding what others aren’t noticing just yet. Specifically for me, I’m interested in the marketing part. I think the other thing that was interesting about what you do is, you put a little bit more extra effort in just the sprinkle of the hot sauce.

That’s what you do. So one thing, and just to highlight for others out there to copy, copy it. Like, success leaves crumbs. When you wrote a blog post comment on other blogs, you didn’t just write, “Hey, cool story. Thanks, T-Bow.” You wrote actual in-depth things that made people want to reach out to you. And when you went to the, like many, many, many hours on a single comment, like 17 revisions, kind of thing. And the same thing goes for when you wanted to do the manufacturing. You didn’t just say, call the guy and be like, “I’ll show up to your door, tell me where you’re at and I’ll be there.” That’s a little bit more, it’s not a lot. And I think that’s, it’s not exclusive to Tim Ferriss, that’s available worldwide. Just put in a little bit more, take that little bit of chance and what a cool story. If it doesn’t work out, at least you have this crazy story.

Tim Ferriss: And you can talk about it.

Tim Ferriss: Exactly. And another little tweak. It’s not the story, I think, that’s appealing for a lot of people to hear, which is not what we’re saying, is, I did a hundred X more than the next guy. That’s not what I did. I did like 10 percent more with some degree of focus. And the details matter. And keep in mind, I’m copying people too. I had a three-ring binder, which I treated as my swipe file. Whenever I bought something, and at that time, magazines were a big deal. That’s changed, of course. But print advertising and stuff was the game that I was interested in. Any time I was about to buy something or I bought something, or I flipped through a magazine and my attention stopped for a period of time on an ad, I would take out the ad and I’d put it in a three-ring binder and I would study the ads. I’d be like, “Why? Why did this affect me?” And then I would copy it.

And to give an example just to a fine tune, how many emails have you received where someone’s like, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, I’d love to pick your brain and meet for coffee, how about next Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.?” And you’re like, that’s pretty presumptuous — maybe that works. But it’s a little forceful. And in the same way that if someone’s like, “I’m a hugger,” and they invade your space and you back up, don’t cause that instinctive defensive response in somebody who reads your emails. So even in the very beginning, and I still do this because believe it or not, I get rejected, it still happens. But in the case of say, the manufacturer, there was no presumption. It was like, “I really appreciate you taking the time, this might not be of any interest.”

It was very light. I wasn’t like, “I know what you need, this business is going to be 20X. We’re going to scale and you can be our exclusive provider.” No, I was like, “This may not be of interest, but I think there’s a chance it is because I’ve studied your website, I’ve looked at this, I’ve looked at your customers, I’ve identified this, this, and this, and would love to meet,” everything I just said, “and if that doesn’t work for you, I totally understand.”

Noah Kagan: No pressure.

Tim Ferriss: Now what does that say? Right? Because there’s sort of a subtext to this. What that says is, “If this guy meets up with me, I’m not going to browbeat the sh*t out of him. I’m not going to follow up 20 times after he said no.” So he’s like, “The risk of me meeting with this guy is low because he had a light touch in the beginning.”

Now there’s a time to be forceful. There are times to be more forceful, but I do find that the carrot works better than the stick, or a better way to put it is just like, a gentle touch works much more often than a heavy touch.

Noah Kagan: 100 percent.

Tim Ferriss: This was also true with the bloggers. If a bunch of bloggers or people I thought might be bloggers were having drinks at an after party at South By, I would wander up and I would just say, “Oh, hey, guys, I know you don’t know me, is it okay if I just join you guys? I’m by myself.” And they’d be like, “Okay, sure.” And then I’d ask questions. I’d ask questions. Eventually somebody would be like, “What’s your story? Who are you, again?” And I would say, “Oh, I’m here because the only thing I can really control with my first book — I’m really nervous about it — is looking at digital stuff because the publisher’s doing everything else.” And then I’d stop. I wouldn’t give them a full pitch. And then if it ended up being the right audience, or if they had any interest, they’d be like, “Well, what’s your f*cking book about?” And then I’d be like, “Well, it’s about…”

Noah Kagan: “Funny you ask.”

Tim Ferriss: Well, if it’s a group of six to eight people, chances are at least one person, even if they’re just being polite, will be like, “Well, what’s the story? What’s the book?” And then I would just pay attention to who was interested, who was opting in. And then at some point, not in front of the group, by the way, but I buy drinks for folks, “Let me buy you guys a round of drinks, I feel like I’m crashing your party.” And then if somebody really expressed interest, I would say, “Zero pressure, I’m sure you’ve got a lot going on, but if you’re interested, I could send you an early copy of the book. You’re not going to want to read the whole thing. It’ll take too long. But I could just highlight 10 pages that you might be able to use immediately because it has templates for this thing that you just mentioned.”

And they’re like, “Cool.” And I’ll be like, “Yeah, I’m not expecting you to promote it, I’m not expecting anything, I just want to expose people to this stuff.” And you have to mean it, right? You can’t then follow up a hundred times and be a prick about it.

Noah Kagan: Like you said, and you didn’t expect it,

Tim Ferriss: And that worked. It really worked. And that approach, that light approach, has worked over and over and over again. It took me two or three years to get Jamie Foxx on the podcast. That was a long time, right?

Noah Kagan: Persistence.

Tim Ferriss: And then it was, at the time, Podcast of the Year. It took time.

Noah Kagan: That’s cool. I think the two comments, I’m curious. One comment, a question is, well, if you start with the light ask, you can do a big ask. So let me give you an example. When I knock on doors from some of the YouTube videos where I just go to literally the nicest houses I see and just knock on their door. If I go to your door and say, “What do you do for a living?” You’re going to close [the] door, close it in my face. Instead, now what I do, knock on the door, “Hello! I love your house.”

They’re like, “Really?” “Yeah, we’re doing a documentary on the neighborhood and I just love your house. Can you tell me about it?” “Oh, yeah, actually — that’s so crazy.” “Yeah, I always drive by and I was always fascinated. But what’d you do for a living to be able to get a house like this? It’s so great.”

That’s definitely a different — it’s the same ask, just done a little differently. That does take practice. And through time and persistence, you do get better at it.

One thing coming back, and when’s the last time you were rejected? You were saying you got rejected from something — I’m curious that last time. What do you tell yourself?

Tim Ferriss: Let’s see. It depends on the type of rejection, and rejection comes in all sorts of forms, right? It could be silence, it could be light, like polite decline, or it could be something stronger.

And this relates back to my pausing around a lot of next steps for myself, where I’m like, if you’re rushing, it’s probably because you have a scarcity perspective on something, and if you are, as I always try to, and this comes back to the question you asked that I didn’t really answer directly, if you’re looking to find something that is rarely seen or recognized, or to meet an unmet need, you have some time. So I think those opportunities are everywhere. So, my feeling is, if I get rejected, and I’m sure there are examples, I can’t think of them offhand, but there are a lot of fish in the sea. If a guest doesn’t want to be on the podcast or they’re too busy or whatever, fine. There are going to be 20 other people who will be as good, if not better, possibly. Right?

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: If there’s an opportunity and the door closes because, who knows, there’s an investment and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah for X, Y, Z, different reasons, I want to make the deal happen, but they can’t make it happen or I get — rejected is a strong word, but for whatever reason I can’t be part of that deal, my assumption is there are plenty of deals. There are plenty of fat pitches out there. That is based on experience. I would say generally I tilt pretty pessimistic, and that I have a dim view of human nature, very Hobbesian. I’m not this bright-eyed, bushy-tailed bunny that just hops around seeing gold everywhere and the best in people at all moments. That’s not me. But I would say just based on my lived experience, there are opportunities f*cking everywhere. There’s so many million-dollar and multimillion-dollar opportunities out there, they’re everywhere. For that reason, when I get turned down, and that’s within the entrepreneurial context, I’m just like, “You know what? That’s fine. Maybe I got saved from myself on this one,” and that’s happened tons of times. I don’t get into a deal, and then it’s a disaster, unmitigated disaster, right? I’m like, “Wow, okay, glad life saved me from that.”

Noah Kagan: Bro, that sounds like you’re optimistic. Sounds like that’s a little optimism.

Tim Ferriss: Here’s what I would say. In this particular case, it is a very specific form of informed optimism.

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: I’m not default optimistic. I look for hedging against worst-case scenarios and so on. I think you have some of that too, right, with cutting costs and looking at these things. But in this particular case, I’ve just seen so many examples of successes where you would never predict a success, right? Starbucks gets turned down by everyone. They’re like another coffee company, too crowded, no way. There are so many examples. When I started my podcast, I was told it was too crowded, in 2014. Very smart people I’m not going to name, but they said, “You could do it, but I feel like that ship has already sailed.” 2014.

I think I also have learned to have a less extreme response to what we might consider rejection. Because number one, if you’re going to be a good resource allocator, if you are easily offended or get easily spun out, you’re going to be exhausted a lot of the time. I also frame so much in the form of experiments. They’re not pass/fail. This is feedback. So I do so many things as two-week experiments, one-month experiments, three-month experiments — that applies to my podcast, that applies to everything in the business world that I do, that applies to my style of investing. Like, “All right, I’m going to experiment with blah, blah, blah.” Then I get my face ripped off and I’m like, “Okay, good feedback. Maybe I’m not so good at X, Y, and Z. Maybe I should stick to my bread and butter. Okay, well, that was worth an experiment and I capped my downside. So I learned. Great. Good feedback.”

For all of those reasons, I would say that I’m less reactive than I used to be. But the truth is, like you told this story of Jake, there are so many opportunities out there, and I’ll just say from meeting, let’s just call it unmet needs or finding niche opportunities that other people don’t see, there are a couple of resources I’ll mention and I return to these things all the time. These are things that I reread, and I’m probably going to reread all of these again, these are just almost like mantras. I’m trying to train myself to recognize and think of these things. One would be Blue Ocean Strategy, I mentioned it before. Excellent book. Excellent, excellent book. How can you be a category of one?

Another one I’ve mentioned a million times, and I mentioned a million times because I’ll read it a million times, 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly. Then, within The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, there’s one chapter called “The Law of Category,” and it gives old examples, so don’t get the for-the-internet, because it was written in like ’97 or something, get the old version. I think I may have even excerpted it for either Tools of Titans or Tribe of Mentors, but it’s called
“The Law of Category.” They talk about, for instance, the invention of light beer, or being the first light beer of X and the first low-cost airline. These are things that came out of nowhere. How can you create a category of one, where you’re not trying to be the best, you have decided and positioned yourself to be the only whatever that is? I think of, there are so many examples.

Part of how I assess playing fields, also, is I’m like, “How hard is it right now to create a category of one?” I look at, for instance, some of the early innings in podcasting, and you had people who broke all the rules and became mega successes. Hardcore History, for instance, with Dan Carlin, my favorite podcast still to this day. His episodes, I think they come out historically, once every six to nine months, maybe six to 12 months, one episode, and they’re four to five hours long. They’re effectively audiobooks on history. No one would have predicted or prescribed that as a successful format. Nobody, zero. Yet it developed this enormous cult audience, and it has allowed them to do a million things.

Now, that would be a lot harder. Why? Because it’s less human-driven and more algorithm-driven. So I’m like, “Huh, okay, maybe it’s time for me to choose an easier game.” I don’t like hard games. I mean, sometimes I like to push it if I’m doing some board game or maybe trying to ski right within the bounds of my capabilities, but in terms of big life games, I’m not looking to suffer. I’m not looking to crawl on my knees on broken glass for a hundred miles to make some really complicated business model work. Until I find something that seems simple, until I find something where I’m like, “Maybe this doesn’t need to be the hardest thing in the world,” I keep looking. All of my best investments have been kind of obvious and low-risk, all of my best investments. When I’ve deviated from that — the same criteria that I use for entrepreneurship, for content, and the same criteria I should use in investing, at least early-stage stuff, all the same stuff.

Are there other people who come to mind, who either worked off of the blog post or that you’ve interacted with personally, who read early versions of the book, outside of Jake, where you’re like, “You know what? This is a good example of another person who’s put it into practice?”

Noah Kagan: One thing I wanted to comment on, I got rejected yesterday. It was like a mutual friend of ours. He’s like, “Yeah, come on the show.” Then yesterday he’s like, “No, don’t come on the show. I don’t like you.” He didn’t like that I made a comment about him to his face.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, yeah. Well —

Noah Kagan: I did it to his face, but he’s been promising for two years. So I think younger Noah, a 20-year-old Noah, would’ve guilted him. It’d be like, “What the f*ck, dude? You said you would do this thing.” But what you said is actually something I work at in therapy a lot, which is instead of emotion and react, pause and respond. I tell myself that, “Noah, pause,” which I love that you’re saying. I’m like, “We’re going to the same therapist? Off mic, we’ll talk about it.”

Tim Ferriss: “Oh, my God, Jorge, what a small world!”

Noah Kagan: But the pause and respond, it was like, “Okay.” You’re not going to guilt anyone really into doing something that they’re excited to do. I said, “Hey, thank you for being honest with me. I appreciated that.” I’m sure that’s not what he was expecting me to say to him, but I appreciated it. I was like, yeah, that must’ve been hard for him to send. I said, “It sounds like there’s a little miscommunication. We’re probably going to have an experience in the future and we might work together in the future. Let’s go for a walk.” And he’s like, “Sounds great. Let’s do it after the holidays.” And that’s definitely a matured experience for me. So, the rejections keep happening, but how we can choose to respond to them and approach them, can change.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. With most things, there are always more opportunities. It’s easier for me on the business side to see this, right? So for instance, I got out of a very long, for me, relationship, five-plus year relationship about a year ago. So in, just say the dating world, which has changed a lot in six years and is very bizarre on a whole lot of levels, for the same reason that content creators and creation have become very different. I mean a lot of the same factors are at play, gamification, volume, paradox of choice, all sorts of things. Gamification of FOMO. There’s a lot that goes into the similarities. But on the business side, just because I’ve spent so much time looking at that and I’ve had so much feedback from people who have read the first book, and I’ve seen so many hundreds of businesses, I’m like, “Guys, there are opportunities everywhere. Everywhere.”

Noah Kagan: You also have to believe — you’re commenting on dating, I was struggling with dating in Austin, and then I struggled in L.A., then I struggled in New York. I was trying all these places. You also have to understand that you have to believe it exists.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: You really do have to believe it. I found that it was easier to believe it exists in Barcelona by one, optimistically, and then working on it and be like, “Holy, sh*t, could there really be someone out there?” And it’s like, “Yes, there is.” That is optimism, and it’s something learned. One of my favorite books this year is Learned Optimism.

Tim Ferriss: Can I tell me what — this is Seligman?

Noah Kagan: It might be, I don’t know the exact — but the idea is that you can actually learn it and practice it. Did you even read Learned Optimism? Oh.

Tim Ferriss: I do a lot of homework. I do a lot of research.

Noah Kagan: Oh, yeah, I love that book. So, it was believing that — my friend said to me once, one of my best buddies J.R. was like, “There’s going to be a woman you’ll meet who’s all of us combined in one.” I was like, “That’s bullsh*t.” It took me a few years and therapy and relationship coach and being alone to be like, “Maybe there could be,” and being patient that that existed, and then finding it, then being like, “Wow, it really does exist.” It does still take work, but it’s like, “That was out there.” Same with business and all these things, believing you can have these things.

Tim Ferriss: Who’s another example?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, there’s a guy, Pat. Pat is someone, he is in customer support in Poland. In Poland.

Tim Ferriss: All right.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, he does a customer support job. Probably makes like 25,000 a year, give or take. I don’t know, maybe that high, especially in Poland. He’s dreamed to be an entrepreneur, and he loves YouTube, loves YouTube. Loves it. So, he is like, “I’m studying YouTube obsessively, maybe I can help local people with their YouTube channels.” It’s not necessarily the presale method, but close to it. He just started contacting people that he knew within YouTube and said, “Let me run your channel for you.” Now, I think he’s close to about $10,000 a month in Poland, which is, basically he’s a billionaire. But the idea there, just taking a step back, what are the elements people can learn from? Where are you spending your free time? And he is obsessed with YouTube. He’s just like, “I love the channels, I love the thumbnails, I love the title, I love the content. How do I make that my career, not being in a customer support role? Then, if I understand it, maybe even go work for free.” It sounds like you have experiences around that where, “Let me do a great comment.” That’s free work, frankly. A great comment is free work that gets attention.

So as he reached out to people and started helping people, now he’s actually got retainers on clients where he is running their YouTube channels. So I don’t know if he’s quit his job doing that, I’m not sure exactly, but that was another example of him feeling good about starting, feeling good about asking people. Now he’s got a $10,000-a-month business helping people with your YouTube channels.

Tim Ferriss: I want to triple underscore the free work piece, because there’s a lot of righteous indignation online about this. Crops up a lot with spec work on behalf of artists and things like that, where it’s like, “I’ll never work for free. People are being exploited, blah, blah, blah.” And there are cases where that’s true. Everything I have done has been built on free work. If I look at all of my biggest wins, I can’t think of a single exception, in the sense that — first job out of college, why did I get that? Because a guest speaker who was the CEO, a young guy, came in, talked to our class, I wrote my entire term paper on that business, because I wanted to do a free competitive analysis and show how valuable I could be to the business. I wrote my entire term paper on that. Free work.

If I look at 4-Hour Workweek, how did that come about? Guest lectures twice a year, tons of prep. Took it super seriously, got feedback, everything to iterate, iterate, iterate, never got paid a dollar, right? I spent my own money on travel, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. All free. If I look at my investments in the startup world, in the beginning I would do anything I could to co-invest with someone to get a tiny amount of money into the company, and just a few thousand dollars. Then I would proceed to do a hundred thousand dollars of work, in terms of being the most valuable low-cost person on their entire cap table. I wanted them to be like, “Wow, okay, this guy owns nothing of the company, and he’s materially impacted the value of this company, including the value of my own shares as a founder.”

Then, what happens is, I get those people who are like, “Tim’s f*cking awesome,” and they are willing to do what? They’re willing to say that to other founders. Then it builds and it builds and it builds.

Noah Kagan: Love that.

Tim Ferriss: People have gotten — this is not going to work right now folks, so let’s be aware, I’m in the process of streamlining everything. But as one example, Charlie Hoehn, who worked with me for years, he did that by sending me basically the equivalent of the term paper that I did for my first job. He would hear me, or rather not hear me, because the podcast didn’t exist, but he read my blog posts, and he got a pretty good idea of the things that would be helpful to me, and he just did them. He just went out and put in tens of hours, maybe more, into these various projects and he’d be like, “Just wanted to send this to you. I thought it’d be helpful,” and that’s it. Eventually, after two or three of those I’m like, “Okay, this is actually very helpful.”

Noah Kagan: I love that.

Tim Ferriss: This guy’s very proactive, very detail-oriented. Let’s have a conversation. So there’s just to say, sometimes the best bargain that you have is doing something for free.

Noah Kagan: Especially if they have time. Everyone has the time. I can give a few other examples to just keep encouraging that. I got my job at Mint because I spent a week for free putting together a marketing plan.

Tim Ferriss: There you go.

Noah Kagan: Because he said no to me, and I said, “Let me just at least present you a plan.” So I spent, more or less, at least 40 hours if not more, working on a plan, brought it to him and said, “If you like this plan, I’ll execute it. You can pay me this amount for three months, and if I do well and you like what the output is, then you can give me equity and a hundred thousand dollars,” which I got three months later. But that was because I spent a whole week for free working on it.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: Same thing with a lot of the best people I’ve hired within the company today. Jay Yang, he’s 17 years old. He still has to get a permission slip to work with us. He lives at home with his parents. Shout out, Jay, I love this guy. But he put together, I think a 30-point Google slide presentation showing me everything that sucks with my social media and my email. Now he’s making good money living at his parents’ house.

Tim Ferriss: So this guy’s going to be a beast.

Noah Kagan: He’s phenomenal, right? Same thing with Jeremy, who’s the producer of our channel. He worked on my Instagram thing for free, two weeks. Dylan, who’s our new producer, put together a website. He was like, “I want to work with” I almost always ask that question, “How much hours did you put in this free work?” And they’re like, “A lot.” It’s almost always a lot. And that’s a little risk, right? But at the same time, one, you have something cool you can show. Two, you learn, and three, the opportunity for the ask is pretty high, and the downside is you spend a little bit of time learning.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: So I think that’s a great call out.

Tim Ferriss: It goes on and on too.

Noah Kagan: You got more? Yeah, keep doing more.

Tim Ferriss: Now that you’re talking about it. Certainly the podcast had no business model for ages. I don’t think I had any sponsors until — I’d have to go back and look, but episode 30, 40, 50, I can’t remember. Rewinding the clock though, you mentioned something in passing, that most folks are not going to recognize, and that was Opening the Kimono, OTK, so this event that I put together. When I did this event, I was curious. I always try to go, and I’m not saying this is the right move, I just like the mathematics and the lack of crowding in high-end. I always like to go high-end if I can. It provides a margin of safety that I think is, there are many reasons for it, but it provides a margin of safety that’s very appealing from an economic perspective. The better your profit margins, the more room you have for making mistakes.

Then I worked backwards. So in this case, what I did was I was like, “Okay, I can’t remember exactly what I started, but I was like, “Well, could I make,” whatever the number, “five million bucks,” or whatever it was, “from one event?” I can’t remember, I’m making that number up. The math isn’t going to actually compute. But I worked backwards and I was like, “Okay, if I’m going to do that…” I’d gone to some high-end events that I’d paid for and I was like, well, “looks like I’m going to have to charge a lot. So it’s going to have to be, let’s just say minimum 10 grand, and then the sooner people purchase, the less expensive it is. It’s going to escalate. So, it’s going to go from 10, and then the next week it’s 12.5, and then the next week it’s 15,000.”

It was effectively, and as one would expect with the name, sharing everything that I’d done with my first few books. At this point, I guess it was my first two books, and it seems very quaint at the time because of how constrained it was. Now it would be like a million-and-one different tools, or at least that would be expected. But content marketing at the time, which was, it’s more like a biathlon instead of a quadruple decathlon, which it is now, there’s so many different options. I put together a blog post, which is the equivalent of a sales page or an email, a million different forms this could take. Then there was an application process which was legitimate. That wasn’t bullsh*t. I wanted to make sure the composition was impeccable. I wanted the room to be not just diverse from an experiential perspective, I wanted a lot of people from different industries, different strengths, different weaknesses, different networks. I also wanted people who were f*cking cool and low maintenance. I just did not want assholes.

One of the ways I vetted for that, I didn’t want anyone going into debt to go to this event. I didn’t want anyone jeopardizing their finances. I didn’t want anyone taking out a second mortgage. I didn’t want anyone — I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s bad financial decisions if they were betting the farm on this. So I asked people to provide, in their Google Form application, prove — I was like, “Would you be willing to provide proof that you have, say, at least a hundred thousand dollars in savings, if you’re going to spend 15 grand on an event?”

One guy replied, and he was like, “I don’t think you need to be my financial nanny, but if you want to come onto the tarmac and look at my private jet too, you’re welcome to do that.” I was like, “Thank you for disqualifying yourself.” Don’t need that guy at the event. No, thank you. This is going somewhere. So I pre-sold the event with a blog post and a Google form, and that was it. It might’ve been [inaudible 03:39:04] at the time. Then I was able to decide, by the way, at that point, “Do I really want to do this? I can still back out. I haven’t taken any money. People have committed and they’re in.”

So, I thought about it and then I was like, “All right, now how do I work backwards from this cost, and ensure…” This was going to be, I think, a three-day event, if I remember correctly. “How can I ensure that I have the peace of mind of knowing I’ve delivered that value in the first few hours of the first day?” I was like, “Okay, how would I do that?” This is a question. I didn’t have an answer at the time. I was like, “Well, I’ll do something I’ve never done. I’m going to share my actual book proposals and marketing proposals and I’ll redact a few things. But otherwise, as soon as we get there, that’s one of the first things I’ll do. I’ll be like, ‘Here you go, keys to the castle. Boom. You just made your money back. This is worth what you paid.'”

Noah Kagan: That’s good.

Tim Ferriss: All right? The second thing I did, this is not relevant to the — well, it’s going to get to the point, because I was talking about buying, sometimes you have to buy your first customers, or your first proof of concept. If you want marquee clients, sometimes you have to take a loss on that in time or money to make it happen. I really firmly believe that for a lot of things. But just like Reddit wanted to prove its ad system worked, they want a case study. So what do they do? They give you free advertising. Brilliant. That’s a good trade. So, in a way, they bought their first case study.

I’ll share one more thing just because people who run events might find this helpful, or even just small groups, masterminds. There were bios for every person at the event, and people had a bound book, basically with everyone’s short bios. We took, I want to say probably two hours, or roughly a hundred people, and everybody in the room stood up and they got to do a brag, a give, and then an ask.

Noah Kagan: Cool, I like that.

Tim Ferriss: Because people, especially at higher-end events, are like, “Well, I run a tech thing.” Like, “Oh, I have an app.” And it’s like, “Oh, that guy’s like the founder of Instagram.” “Come on, give us a little bit more color.” That’s not a real example. None of the founders of Instagram were there. But sometimes you end up in these scenarios where people, for a lot of good reasons, or not for bad reasons, are being excessively humble. Then you really just don’t have an idea of what the hell people are doing.

So I was like, “Get up and give a real brag…

Noah Kagan: Hell, yeah.

Tim Ferriss: “…detailed brag. Don’t make it 20 minutes. This is give one to two minutes real brag. Then a give, something you’re really good at or something you have access to, where you feel you’re world-class. Where can you help people? Give a give. There’s one give, and then an ask. Something you really need help with, or want help with. Could be anything. Everyone who’s listening, for every person, if they have a give you need, take a note. If they have an ask that you can help with, write it down.”

That alone, I think, made the event hugely successful. To this day, I’d have to go back and check, but literally, this was, who knows, I don’t know, 2012 or something, for at least five years, maybe still to this date, there was a Facebook group for those attendees that was active every week, and people still talk about it. Now, coming back to the original point. I’m talking so much in this, but it’s more like a conversation than a podcast at this point.

Noah Kagan: It’s not a podcast?

Tim Ferriss: Podcast? What’s a podcast?

I spent so much f*cking money on that event to overdeliver. Rented a castle, had flamenco dancers, f*cking classical musicians. Plus, by the way, if you do an event in Napa, you’re dealing with basically the cartel. Not like mafia cartel, but coincidentally, everybody’s going to charge $8 for a cup of coffee. You’re not going to be able to negotiate anything, is my point. So this event ended up being so incredibly expensive, basically made nothing. But it was a huge home-run for people. I felt really good about it. I learned a ton. It was an incredible investment of time.

So one could argue that was a waste of time, but I developed relationships with a hundred people who I handpicked. I had speakers at the event and a lot of questions that informed the whole thing. If I ever wanted to do another event, I would guess I would have at least 90 percent of those people who would immediately book a second. OTK2? Done, no problem. So if I ever fell on hard times, quit the podcast biz, and I’m like, “You know what? I’m just going to do one event a year,” I know that that will work, because I can pull different levers.

Noah Kagan: I’ve talked to people who went to that event and they’re like, “That was the best event I ever went to,” and I was a little jealous I didn’t go. I don’t know if I saw the blog post, but a few comments. It’s really interesting. You didn’t build a website, you sent out an email, which everyone could do that right now if you want to start a business, you can pre-sell and have a form. I like that idea of how do you survey people, and then you could filter who do you want to sell to, and see if they’re raising their hand to be customers, and then you could sell them something. I love that. Something you said literally years ago, it was in Denver, remember? What was the conference we were both at? Somewhere in Denver. It’s 303 conference.

Tim Ferriss: I can’t remember.

Noah Kagan: It was those two brothers, Bornstein Bros.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think it was.

Noah Kagan: And you said on conference, I never forgot about this, because you said, “I either do the most expensive or free.”

Tim Ferriss: Yep.

Noah Kagan: I loved that, because I’m always about the best price. I’m the low-end. That’s my thing. I love it. I’m like, “Give me the best deal.” So AppSumo is about great deals. And then you as well, “You want to do podcast sponsorship? It’s going to be 50, 60, whatever, 40k, it’s going to be the most expensive, and you’re going to get very high quality delivered.”

Tim Ferriss: Then how do you work backwards from that? You don’t have to figure it out in advance, right?

Noah Kagan: That’s interesting.

Tim Ferriss: I decided, “Okay, I want this to…” Part of the marketing positioning is how premium this podcast is. It is incredibly expensive. We’re going to get into the weeds here, but talking about the 10 percent, what’s the extra 10 percent that you can do? In the case of me pitching the manufacturer, whatever. So, one thing that I’ve done with a lot of my sponsors, not everybody, because not everybody needs this, but what are the levers in a podcast? All right, well, let’s just say that the basic economic model for most podcasts, not all, is sponsorship. People are buying ads. Why are they buying ads? Because they want to sell products. What are some of the metrics that matter to someone trying to sell products? Let’s assume for simplicity’s sake that we’re talking about direct response.

Let’s say we’re talking about AppSumo, you’re going to be tracking the numbers that you just mentioned, right? Traffic, conversion, average order size. Now let’s say AppSumo came to Tim Ferriss Show and decided, “We want to sponsor,” hypothetically, let’s say. Number one, I have to try the product. So I test every single product within reason. There’s some enterprise stuff, in which case I’ll do a bunch of polling and determine how my audience feels. “One to 10, no seven allowed. How strong would you recommend this to a friend?” Do it off hours so the people who work at the company don’t see it and can’t spam it. Anyway, there are ways to do it if you don’t test, but I generally test stuff.

Let’s say I test apps and I’m like, “Great f*cking product.” What is the additional 10 percent? The additional 10 percent, so I will look at the website and I’ll say, “How well does this convert?” Because what is a nightmare scenario for me? Because one could say efficient, one could say lazy. They’re similar.

Noah Kagan: Interesting.

Tim Ferriss: If someone has a great product and I put time into a great read, and I put it in front of my audience, and then their website doesn’t convert and they blame it on me, that’s way too much brain damage, way too much wasted effort. Now I have churn, right? They’re like, “Well, your podcast didn’t work,” and they leave, and then I have to find another podcast sponsor. So I might send my team to that sponsor, record a loom, and say, “Would love to have you as a sponsor, but we’d like you to make these following changes to the website, at least to a unique landing page to improve conversion. We’d like you to improve in the following seven ways.” In the same way that that 17-year-old sent you a video, which was like, “Here’s how these things suck.”

I wouldn’t word it that way, but I’d say, “We want you to convert as strongly as possible. We know our audience really well. This is how they’re going to read your website. Here’s what the flow looks like. These are two places where they’re probably going to abandon the cart. Fix, fix, fix. It doesn’t take that long, because we’ve done it a million times.” Then, guess what? Then I have a sponsor that lasts like a year, two years, three years, and they spend millions of dollars instead of spending a lot on the upfront and then churning. Right?

Noah Kagan: I love that.

Tim Ferriss: It sounds like a lot, but it’s actually not that much effort if you have the right team.

So let’s hop back into the weeds of entrepreneurship. That sounds bad, onto the front lines, validation. What are some other means of validating your idea to try to ensure that you’re not diluting yourself any more than is helpful?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, I mean, I’ve done it the other way where I’ve spent six months, I built a site, spent six months, $100,000 on engineers, and then I spent $10,000 flying to Vegas talking to a lawyer. It was a sports betting site. First off, I don’t gamble, not a great business for me to even start. Launched it. No one came. I could have easily found that on a weekend instead of spending six. And this is the thing I’m trying to tell people. I’ve done it the other way and maybe you need to go through the other way to find that truth for yourself, but there’s another door. And so two other ways that you can validate business ideas that I really like. I would say the one that you really made famous: ads landing page.

Tim Ferriss: Yep.

Noah Kagan: The only thing that, one, I don’t like spending money if I don’t have to. Ads cost money and then you have to figure out the ad and landing page, but it is a way like Kettle & Fire, Justin’s company, that’s how it got started.

Tim Ferriss: No kidding.

Noah Kagan: He did bone broth ads. He found out that was super cheap term, how a landing page people could buy and he’s like, “This is working and now it’s a $100 million business.” So he followed your method. The other method I would say is marketplaces. So where are people already spending money that they’re raising their hand? So Etsy, Craigslist, Facebook, Amazon, and how can you put even a fake or a real product ideally and see if anyone’s going to buy it? So let’s say you want to do digital equipment like microphones, cameras, whatever lighting business. This is a rental. You can go put that online right now on Craigslist in your local area or whatever site is local, and see does anyone actually message you about it? And if they do, cool, go get the product or figure out now you have a business, or if they don’t, okay, try something else out. So those are the other two ways outside of, I would say the pre-selling validation method to seeing if you have actual customers who want what you’re doing.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, totally. And the constraint of spending as little as possible will generally, this is very broad strokes, but in my experience and certainly in the experience of a lot of people who are building businesses, not mimicking the one percent of the one percent of the one percent, like the, I can’t get fit until I’m Tom Brady, which is generally not a great approach, but the people who are building real businesses, businesses that produce a lot of cash very often test incredibly inexpensively. If you look at the origins of CrossFit, that’s the case. I remember the very early, super early days of CrossFit. This was not a, “Let’s put $30 million in and see what happens.” It was prototype, iterate, prototype, iterate, small group, second location considering business models, et cetera. I mean this is true in so many, so many, so many different places.

Any other means of validation that you want to mention or an example of someone who used any one of those that comes to mind? You already mentioned Kettle & Fire.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, I mean another one you could think of, what’s kind of silly is Facebook. I mean Zuck copied, he didn’t even invent it, this website and that wasn’t his first business. He actually created a face thing that got banned by Harvard. So he had to start again, then he created Wirehog. No one knows these ones.

Tim Ferriss: I don’t know anything about that.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, Wirehog was a Napster competitor. That didn’t really do much. But again, one thing in the beginning of the book is how do you get going? And he at least got going. And his third idea, which was Facebook, or, I believe he built it in a weekend, if not three days, give or take. And just by him, he sent an email, built it really quick, sent an email, and then it went viral instantly. It wasn’t even his idea. He copied the Winklevosses. And there’s just a lot of these ideas, you’re like, you start realizing it. Most of the biggest businesses didn’t start big like, okay, Google, two dudes at Stanford for a research project. Huh, that’s interesting. Zuck in a college dorm. Bill Gates in Albuquerque, shout out, Albuquerque.

Working for someone else, creating software. And it was by doing these things where you had validation very quickly and had success that people wanted it, led them then to continue it for extended periods of time. And that’s possible. I think here’s what happens though, TimTim, if I may. This is the problem, man. Everyone’s like, “My business is different. It’s the unique one.” I’m like, “You’re the unique one? Really, it’s you? Okay, do it. Just go try it your way and then let’s try maybe an alternative way after six months with no results.”

Tim Ferriss: So corollary, do the easy thing first. You really want to do the hard way? Okay, fine. What you really want to do is build the flashy website and do the thing and hire a bunch of influencers and have girls in bikinis, prancing around with your energy drink, whatever. Okay, fine. Maybe you could start though with a blog post. Maybe you could start with an email. Maybe you could start with something that’s very cheap, very fast, fast, fast, fast constraints. Are you hiding behind something big? Are you talking about the sexy photo shoot and the Super Bowl ad that you’re never going to do? Not because you couldn’t do it, but because you’re hiding behind the big thing and you’re not trying the small thing. What is the easy thing that you can do first? Do that, right? And this comes up all the time in my business when I’m talking with employees, for instance, who have already embraced this by this point, I’m like, “We can do the hard thing. We can do the expensive thing. I’m not averse to it, but what is something fast or something cheap that we can do first?” Because if it works, then that is a game changer.

And then you have these backup plans. I’ll give you another example. How can you keep your life incredibly simple? Well, in the case of podcasting, in the beginning I realized if I end up with tons of accounts payable, accounts receivable, invoices, net payment terms, et cetera, that will insert a lot of complexity into my life. So from the very beginning, I did something that a lot of folks said would never work, which was you prepay for all your ads. There’s no, you book and then you run it and then you pay us 30 days later and then that drags out because it’s the holidays or maybe you don’t reply to email and then we’re chasing you. There’s none of that. You pay up front. That’s it.

And that is an example of let’s try the easy thing first or the simple thing, the beneficial thing. If people say no, we can always go to net 30 because everyone does that, but let’s try the unorthodox thing first in the sake of simplicity. And every once in a while it works. And that ended up being a key determinant, I think, of my ability to build and scale and most importantly, sustain this for 10 years.

Noah Kagan: My dad would always joke, “It’s better to be chased for the money than you chase them.”

Tim Ferriss: It’s better to be on that end of things.

Noah Kagan: I’d say that’s definitely how the AppSumo model has worked out. The idea with AppSumo, just maybe a few more examples to get people to like, “Oh, sh*t, I can really get going.” We say “Now, not how.” And that’s definitely from the book. And so examples of this is the team’s like, we definitely need the engineers to build this first. Definitely. I’m like, “Really?” All right, let me give you two examples. So one of them was, as part of our VIP memberships, we wanted to give out credits. So kind of like your event, “How do we make spending $100 for our membership a no-brainer?” “Well, we give you $100.” So they’re like, “Well, we need to build it,” right? “We did the model fine, but let’s go build it.” I’m like, “No, no, no, go. What’s the fastest way you can find out today?” “Let’s email people who are not customers or people who canceled, give them free credit, tell them to buy our membership. And if they buy their membership, they get free credit.”

They did it. It was a 17 percent conversion rate. Now we’re building that kind of stuff into the business. Great, you did it, and if it didn’t work, you can ask those people, “Why not?” Or you can try something else. Instead of us spending a week, two weeks, four weeks, a month, two months now product management and designing it, all these other things. There’s another example recently where we want to offer a new feature for this VIP membership, the same thing.

They’re like, “Well, we need the engineers to build SSO single sign on so that you can make it easy to log in.” “Again, have you asked the customer? Just go ask the customers to pay us for it. If they want this feature, see if they’ll prepay for it. And if they do, great, we’ll build it. If not, we’re not going to build it.” And that is something that you can keep doing, whether you’re an 80 million or a hundred million or $1 business.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, totally. A lot of the time.

Noah Kagan: Just now.

Tim Ferriss: In terms of now not how, right? We think oftentimes, and there’s a place for this, but ready, aim, fire. Sometimes it’s ready, fire, aim.

Noah Kagan: Or just fire. Fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire.

Tim Ferriss: All right, so we’re going to take a hard left turn here because you mentioned before we started, you mentioned Hanukkah gifts. And a question I often ask is, best purchases for under $50. Under $100, what has made some impact? Because the goal is to give people listening some things that might be helpful or interesting that aren’t going to break the bank.

Noah Kagan: A hundred percent.

Tim Ferriss: What you got?

Noah Kagan: All right, so Hanukkah or the Jewish Santa, AKA, Noah, Kagan’s here. I brought you Hanukkah, holiday, Yalda, Kwanza, all the gifts depending on whatever people want. And so these are my favorite things. I think almost every single thing here is under 40 bucks that I’ve brought for you. And by the way, you can totally give it back. You know when people gift you and you’re like, “I really don’t want this.” Feel free to be like yay or nay on it too.

Tim Ferriss: Okay.

Noah Kagan: All right. First off.

Tim Ferriss: Didn’t expect a bag of goodies. Okay.

Noah Kagan: All right. I wasn’t able to get the Amazon Basics one because it’s sold out, but this is a, I think 14, $15 tiny travel backpack. And so I always leave one in my main suitcase and every time you travel you’re like, “Ah, I want to do a day trip, but I don’t want to carry my computer backpack and I don’t have anything else.” So I always leave a similar one to this in my bag. You can get this on Amazon, 15 bucks.

Tim Ferriss: Literally, I was going to be buying one of these in the next few weeks, so thank you.

Noah Kagan: It’s a yay.

Tim Ferriss: This is a yay. This is a hundred percent a yay because as you said, you think you already have a backpack, but that thing’s full of your laptop and all your and it’s heavy and you sometimes just want a day pack.

Noah Kagan: Exactly.

Tim Ferriss: And that’s what this is. So this is a yay.

Noah Kagan: Thank you. Awesome. This one. All right, this one you like board games. This has been the go-to board game, Schotten Totten.

Tim Ferriss: Schotten Totten.

Noah Kagan: It’s 11.99.

Tim Ferriss: It must be, oh, look at this. Okay. I’ve never played it.

Noah Kagan: It’s a more basic card game. It’s kind of like poker, but with carts. So you get all these different players and then you just have —

Tim Ferriss: License to Kilt exclamation point. That’s the tagline.

Noah Kagan: That’s pretty good. It’s pretty good.

Tim Ferriss: I like it.

Noah Kagan: Because I know you had the Tacocat game. I bought that because of your 5-Bullet Friday. I love that.

Tim Ferriss: It’s a fun game.

Noah Kagan: Similar game. Basically you lay out cards, it’s a two-player game and then you just play against for different, each of the cards there’s about 10 and you play three cards. I play three cards and whoever has the better three set gets that card and whoever gets the most cards wins the game. That was a little fast.

Tim Ferriss: Amazing.

Noah Kagan: Super awesome game. Shout out to Eric Southwell. He is the one who brought that board game to me.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, thank you. And also, I want to highlight something here. Just because I recognize something. So Schotten Totten, and I was like, this must be German. So of course it is. And the Germans are very good at designing board games and more precisely Reiner Knizia, I believe that’s how you would say his name, who designed this is one of the most prolific game designers in history.

Noah Kagan: Oh, really?

Tim Ferriss: He’s designed hundreds of games and he’s won all of the awards and he has this incredible set of processes and sort of creative methods by which he’s one of the most successful game designers of all time. So that’s also cool to see his name was on that.

Noah Kagan: I didn’t realize that.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: Schotten Totten, one of my favorites.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you.

Noah Kagan: I think you have LMNT, you’ve tried LMNT, right?

Tim Ferriss: Oh, yeah. Sponsor of the podcast too.

Noah Kagan: I was going to, you already have a bunch of it, don’t you?

Tim Ferriss: Well, what you got?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, just I brought you the citrus salt.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, I’ve got a ton.

Noah Kagan: Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Thank you. That is one of my favorite flavors. But yes.

Noah Kagan: I take it every day. They sponsor me too. Do you invest in it?

Tim Ferriss: No. No, no.

Noah Kagan: I invested a little bit.

Tim Ferriss: No, I didn’t. I didn’t.

Noah Kagan: All right. I couldn’t get it in time, so I just printed it out. Dude, this is shout out, one of my best friends in the world.

Tim Ferriss: What is it?

Noah Kagan: He was the one that taught me about this. It’s basically travel clippers. I’m a huge nail clipper and I am very particular about my nail clipping. All these f*cking Walgreens, CVS, they’re just sh*t. And I finally, I got this because on his recommendation, and it’s a game changer. I wasn’t going to give you mine, but that’s too weird.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it’d be a little gritty.

Noah Kagan: A little weird. So this is going to your address.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, amazing.

Noah Kagan: These are 39.99. It’s literally this big.

Tim Ferriss: Okay.

Noah Kagan: This big.

Tim Ferriss: So it’s like the size of your pinky finger?

Noah Kagan: Size of your pinky finger.

Tim Ferriss: It’s very low profile.

Noah Kagan: Super low profile.

Tim Ferriss: And for people who want to find this, how do they search it?

Noah Kagan: On Amazon, this is a Zwilling.

Tim Ferriss: Zwilling.

Noah Kagan: It’s a Zwilling. Yeah.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, okay. Thought for the kitchen knife company.

Noah Kagan: Exactly. And this is fire. Super tiny, but it opens up and the sharpness of it, which I’m very particular about. You can ask my girlfriend, she’s like, “You always cut your nails.” I’m like, “Yeah, I hate long nails.” I love this guy. So big shout out for this. Because I’ve always been looking for the perfect one. Wow. 39.99.

Tim Ferriss: Zwilling All right, we’ll put this in the show notes for everybody along with the other Hanukkah gifts.

Noah Kagan: Hanukkah, holiday, I think you may have read it, but I brought you my favorite kind of memoir book of all time, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

Tim Ferriss: I am actually going to admit I have never even heard of this book. So tell me more.

Noah Kagan: This guy Donald.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. A quote from Ann Lamott, who was the author of one of my favorite books.

Noah Kagan: Oh, what book is that?

Tim Ferriss: Bird by Bird on creative process.

Noah Kagan: Oh, by the way, your Julia Cameron Artist’s Way.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, thanks.

Noah Kagan: That book is so funny.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. It’s a good one. It’s a good one. Yeah. So Ann Lamott has an amazing quote on the cover of this. So Donald Miller.

Noah Kagan: Donald Miller. And this is.

Tim Ferriss: How I Learned to Live a Better Story is the subtitle. That’s cool already. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

Noah Kagan: This is the book I gift the most and it inspired me to bike across America. But the bigger concept for everyone out there is that we all want to live a life without regret. We all want to live not even with regret. I don’t even worry about that. We all want to live an interesting life. And so how do you do it? Donald doesn’t, and he’s a Christian author. He talks about Jesus, I’m Jewish and I love it still. It’s still my most favorite book.

He’s definitely, I love him. And what he teaches you though is it’s not necessarily, here’s necessarily the tactic, but how do you approach life to be more interesting? So how are you around more interesting people? How do you do more interesting things? He didn’t like his life and he was like, “I’m just going to bike across America.” And so he joined a group and then biked across America. And by doing interesting things, he led an interesting life. And I think it’s similar to The 4-Hour Workweek and Million Dollar Weekend where you read it and you’re like, “I’m going to go do something.” And I think this really is that about how to have a fulfilling and interesting life.

Tim Ferriss: Amazing. I’ll give a little teaser then also. So here’s the top of the back of book.

“After writing a successful memoir, Donald Miller’s life stalled during what should have been the height of his success. He found himself unwilling to get out of bed, avoiding responsibility, even questioning the meaning of life. But when two movie producers proposed turning his memoir into a movie, he found himself launched into a new story filled with risk, possibility, beauty and meaning.”

And then I’ll just give the first portion of the first sentence that then leads after that, which is:

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years chronicles Miller’s rare opportunity to edit his life into a great story goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America.” Amazing. All right.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, man. And we all can live an interesting life. It’s not exclusive.

Tim Ferriss: Hit, hit, hit. So far so good, man.

Noah Kagan: Hell yeah, man.

Tim Ferriss: You’re killing it.

Noah Kagan: I brought you back an old school one. This is an old school one. Our team was looking up things. This is what you put on your blog in 2000, I think, ’11.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, my god.

Noah Kagan: Of one of your favorite toys.

Tim Ferriss: I know what this is. This is hilarious. Okay, this is like a monkey slingshot, and it screams when you shoot it across the room. Wow. I haven’t seen one of these in a long time.

Noah Kagan: This was an early recommendation that you put on your site.

Tim Ferriss: This must’ve been from the Pliocene era. On my blog, way back in the day.

Noah Kagan: We did a little research.

Tim Ferriss: Amazing.

Noah Kagan: And so I know you like that. I got one for my house. It is annoying.

Tim Ferriss: It’ll drive you nuts.

Noah Kagan: My girlfriend’s like —

Tim Ferriss: It’ll drive you completely insane.

Noah Kagan: But it’s a fun toy. I got it for other people for the holidays, and I think it’s like I am giving it to them and getting the hell out of their house because the screaming’s loud.

Tim Ferriss: Flying Monkey. Yeah, no, it is. It is not low volume. Thank you.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, man. Happy holidays.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, appreciate it. And I can put all of that into the backpack that you gave me.

Noah Kagan: Done.

Tim Ferriss: Also.

Noah Kagan: Exactly. This last one, I love my Pilot G2 0.38. I need get sponsored by these guys. I know you have pens and I’ve seen you have pens all around, but this is just like everywhere I travel, I always have it with me here, I bring them to Spain, have it all around the house, boxes of them.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, this is one of my favorite pens and I needed one, and I use blue. I almost always use blue instead of black because I copy edit a lot. And if you’re printing stuff out, it’s in black, blue just makes it easier. So nailed it. Thank you.

Noah Kagan: Oh, yeah, man. Pilot G2 0.38.

Tim Ferriss: All right, where to go from here? I mean, what have we missed? We’ve gone from the philosophical to to nail clippers to bicycling across the United States. Anything else that you’d like to mention? Well, actually, let me ask you a question that relates to the things I’m considering just to ask you for help. So YouTube, how do you think about YouTube and do you think I should do more video? Because I have conflicting feelings about it, as you know.

And then there’s always that voice, not always, but there’s that voice maybe 10 percent of the time, which is just like, “Are you just being weak? Are you just afraid to compete?” which comes up with various things. Maybe you’re intimidated by the production quality, the ability that you see here. So you’re just not willing to play the game because you don’t like losing. That’s less of the time. That’s like 10, 20 percent of the time. Thoughts on YouTube and specifically thoughts on if you think I could do YouTube in a way that would be fun and energizing in and of itself. So in other words, something that I would find intrinsically rewarding, even if it doesn’t pop, right?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, I’m curious, the voice in your head.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, that’s.

Noah Kagan: With this YouTube, what’s it telling you?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. With the 10 or 20 percent? Well, it’s not all the time. I was just talking to a friend of mine about this yesterday. I like competing. I’ve always been a good competitor. It drives me. And I enjoy the stakes of competition in sports. I enjoy the stakes of competition in a million different ways. It drives me to be better and it genuinely is something that I derive pleasure from. I get a lot out of competition. So there are things that, for instance, at some point I would love to compete in archery and I think there are some interesting opportunities there. I’m a happier person when I compete in some capacities. So being very competitive, seeing the market get really saturated with podcasts and seeing some very good people come in and how it’s skewed pretty heavily into entertainment. So it is gone from, I think what I find plays to my strengths, which is mostly education, practical, tactical, et cetera, skewed pretty heavily towards entertain or bust, right?

You can have some of the how-to in prescription, but you must be entertaining to cut through the noise. And I can be funny occasionally, but it’s not something I do professionally. There are people who are far better.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, pros, right? Pros.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Like Rogan. I mean he’s a pro, this is a superpower that he’s honed and there are many others, a lot of entertainers, comedians, actors, actresses who are really good behind the mic and in front of the camera. So I think there is certainly part of me because I like to compete and I generally hate losing, and you have to be careful with how you define losing because you could find yourself caught in sort of a Venus fly trap of FOMO and all sorts of issues, which I don’t contend with that much to be honest. But that voice is one of, “Are you sure that you are opting out of this for good reasons or is it because you just don’t want to compete?”

Noah Kagan: So what would make — great coaches don’t give answers by the way. They just ask questions.

Tim Ferriss: All right. Oh, you reminded me, “You’re not getting out of here.”

Noah Kagan: We’ll talk a little about coaches. We’ll do the 48-hour challenge. Maybe we can put front load a little bit of that. But here’s the question around this YouTube thing. What would make the choice obvious?

Tim Ferriss: If I’m being honest, I think the choice is obvious, which is I don’t do it. I mean, I think that.

Noah Kagan: I love that, I love that.

Tim Ferriss: I think it’s pretty straightforward, partially because I see no way to make YouTube pop without compromising my privacy more than I already have from a facial recognition perspective. And that is already a challenging aspect of my life from a privacy security perspective. A lot of weird stuff happens. If anybody’s curious, just read a blog post I wrote, which is titled, I think it’s “11 Reasons Not to Become Famous.” And that’ll outline a lot of the issues, by the way, that people who are just starting out maybe a year prior to that coming out have by and large, I’m in a number of private WhatsApp groups with various folks and a lot of very, very successful creators. And they’re like, “Oh, yeah, check, check, check right down the list.”

I’ve had to deal with all of those things. So it’s not unique to me and they’re much bigger celebrities. Of course, I’m not Taylor Swift or something. But I actually really like my privacy. So I think that if I had to make a snap judgment decision right now, it’s like, yeah, I’m not going to use that as a primary tool. It’s appealing though, because I recognize how effective it can be if you do a great job. But there’s also part of me that looks at it, I’m like, well, much like choosing a business, much like choosing anything, a sport to play, if you don’t have an advantage, and that advantage often is that you really enjoy doing it on some level, you’re not going to have, at the very least, the staying power to persist over time. You’re not going to have the endurance.

So it’s like if you love golf, maybe you should consider doing something with golf instead of being like, well, I think Midwestern moms, even though I’m from New York City and I’m a male, I think Midwestern moms really need this when their kid is four years old. Maybe that shouldn’t be your business because if there’s a Midwestern mom who has a four-year-old who’s got nothing but passion in her veins for that, she’s going to beat you. She’s going to own you, especially over time. So that’s another way that I think about it. But I also assume that there may be things hiding in plain sight that I’m missing.

Noah Kagan: I’ve got suggestions for you that I think will be low-effort, high-results. But before we get into that, what’s your goal?

Tim Ferriss: What’s my goal?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, what would you say your goal is around these things?

Tim Ferriss: Well, I think the goals around it would be to experiment with one of the few means that I see of expanding the podcast. I do a lot with this podcast in terms of pulling interesting levers in the world, as a means of attempting to the best of my ability to really impact individual lives, but also on a macro level to really change conversations around say, psychedelics and psychedelic assisted therapies. Also discussing risks. But there are many different things I would like to introduce people to. And the larger my audience is, I should say qualified audience, right? I’m not convinced that YouTube necessarily will contribute to the profile of my, say, audience as it stands today.

TBD, I think it probably could. If I could expand the reach of the podcast, and if I’m talking to most podcasters who have been around for a while, given a lot of the platform changes and given the black box nature of a lot of the analytics, once you hit a critical mass, it becomes very challenging to grow your podcast. There is nobody after two drinks, if they’re being honest with me, who says anything otherwise.

And there is a grace period in the beginning when you have that kind of meteoric up into the right, but it’s like this is going to be an exaggeration, but it’s like once you become, when you’re becoming Google, sure you can have that double, triple 10X every year growth, but when you get to a certain point, it becomes more challenging on a percentage basis to influence the size of the ship, the mothership. So I would say the goal, and I’m not convinced that YouTube is the only way, but it’s to extend the reach of the podcast. At this point. There are other metrics I could pull in, but let’s use that for simplicity’s sake.

Noah Kagan: I think that’s a great question, is how do you stay hungry when you’re full?

Tim Ferriss: Or do you need to stay hungry?

Noah Kagan: I think that’s another way. That’s a great point. It’s like what happens when you finally have the money, when you have the audience? And so how do we rethink what that vision and that purpose is, right? I noticed that was a shift for myself, where like, “Oh, if I finally get money.” So I got it. It’s like, “Dude, you got it. You don’t need to be angry about Mark and Facebook anymore.”

No, no. For myself, it was therapy and a lot of work to be able to get to the point where it’s like, how do I want to spend that day? And it’s like my day can talk about money and startups and business with people like yourself and learn how you think about things. Run AppSumo we promote tools like, wow, I can do this every day until I never die. And so I think being clear on the goal of where it goes for me with my content, I just want to keep doing it for 10 years.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: So I’m on a 10-year plan. And so that’s a balance of, I like doing just business stuff. I don’t do bouncy balls. I don’t blow up Ferraris, I’m not in prison. There’s no Squid Games unless it’s a business related one. And it’s like, how do I do that with what I want and what audience is going to be benefited by for a long period of time? And that’s, I’d say, for specifically with content, my interest.

Tim Ferriss: Okay, so what might be low-effort, high-reward experiments?

Noah Kagan: So three things that come to mind, a few things. Number one, who says you have to be on the camera now when you’re doing these videos?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I was thinking that. I just don’t know what the alternative looks like.

Noah Kagan: Well, it’s, you’re asking the question, but then your guest is the one getting featured. So there’s actually a reduction of the amount of exposure as well as on your YouTube thumbnails. It doesn’t even show you. It just shows the guest. And so there could be wide shots, but it really could be a show where it’s more featuring the person you’re talking to.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, totally.

Noah Kagan: So that is one massive thing that, in your channel you can actually have great content, but it’s not maybe you on camera, same thing how much, like I can tell, but how much are you putting into producing your YouTube videos?

Tim Ferriss: I honestly don’t even know at this point. I mean, I want to be — the tools we use shape us. So it depends on what we mean by production. I’m okay with high production value. What I have seen on YouTube in the last year and a half, two years especially, is a lot of phishing for clippable moments with the most salacious, clickbaity stuff used as headlines and text overlays. And I do not want to shape myself into looking at my content through the lens of when can I clip something into the Jerry Springer fight scene. “My baby mama!” I don’t want to suddenly go fishing for that because that will start to affect the macro level. I know people who plan their podcasts now around —

Noah Kagan: The clips.

Tim Ferriss: The clips. And so the drive becomes the clips. Now, I’m also, I think longer form YouTube. This is something where I’m unqualified to say, but I have had clips on different platforms that have had a hundred million views. I mean, I’ve had a couple go nuts, which is a credit to my team. However, with those clips, which have clear attribution to this podcast, I have seen effectively zero percent conversion to increased downloads. So the value capture from the platforms is a very subtle thing, but the amount of value that platforms are capturing —

Noah Kagan: They capture is all. They get all the value.

Tim Ferriss: All the upside.

Noah Kagan: That’s a whole ‘nother discussion.

Tim Ferriss: Versus creator value capture is something I have paid attention to and continue to pay attention to. But why do you ask about how much I’m putting into it?

Noah Kagan: Well, I’m coming back on small effort, high results. So what you keep saying, or the underlying subtext is that you want to grow the podcast.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. It seems like growing the podcast, is it, and it’s not clear that YouTube actually makes a difference. So I would wonder what have you done in the past that grew the podcast?

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I mean, I would also say if I had to pick and choose at this point, frankly, just in terms of, okay, winter is coming. Not to be all dramatic about it, but if I’m looking at — and keeping in mind too, it’s not like I have any insider information, but I do know a lot of people in tech who work on a lot of things. If I’m thinking about defensibility, long-term viability, reaching my 1,000 true fans and hopefully 1,000 or one-million true fans, two-million true fans. We’re already in the millions with the newsletter and so on, but I would choose the newsletter over the podcast, at this point.

Noah Kagan: Coming back to I think how we like to approach this, how can you experiment? So let me give you specifics. How can you experiment with YouTube to drive a newsletter? So one —

Tim Ferriss: I don’t know.

Noah Kagan: No, no. I think that’s where I would look at it because you’re thinking YouTube to podcast, but maybe YouTube to newsletter, so specifically your thumbnails — not really that tight. Your title’s not really that tight because you probably don’t have pros like we have a professional person that just does title and thumbnails, and we have a thumbnail-specific just designer for the team. It is interesting. Do you want to compete in it? Maybe not, but I think you’re already doing it. You have cameras here.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I do.

Noah Kagan: And so passing that to a team that chops it up. So, for me, I show up to the video, they have the pre-production done. I’ve already chosen the topics. We’ve agreed on that.

Pre-production’s done; I show up, do my part and then it happens. But they’re testing thumbnails. They’re testing titles. There’s a shorts team that does all the short work. What my recommendation is that I think you can invest a little more in that and then just put that into your newsletter. All of YouTube is a legion (legion always sounds so creepy), but as a generation of audience that you can then have as a frequent audience in your newsletter.

Tim Ferriss: I wonder. I wonder. We’re testing. I know we’ve tested different subscription options. I don’t want to take us too far afield.

Noah Kagan: So again, I think you could do have a shorts team, probably actually a dedicated agency. I wouldn’t even bring it in-house. I can recommend someone. I would also consider just having someone that does your titles and thumbnails on a consistent basis, so that as you’re doing great content, does someone want to watch this six-hour interview? Yeah, a lot do. But give them some shorts, because they see great shorts, they’re like, “Oh, sh*t, where’s more of that?” and then go to the video. They see the video, then in the videos it’s like, “Let me go to the newsletter,” and everything is around the newsletter.

Again, in business, everything’s about, what’s the goal and what’s the thing that actually makes impact on the goal? So on podcasts, I do think you can potentially going on other shows could be —

Tim Ferriss: It always helps.

Noah Kagan: If you want to do it. I think that’s an important part that you said, “I want to do it or I don’t.” You have to be mindful of what we want to actually commit to because that is how people burn out is doing the thing they don’t want to do to the goal they may or may not actually want.

Tim Ferriss: For sure. Also, I’m aware that the drive to compete can lead me to do things that are not actually in my best interest.

Noah Kagan: 100 percent.

Tim Ferriss: Just because you can win at a game, or think you could win, doesn’t mean you should participate in that game.

Noah Kagan: That is how you create a life you don’t want to live.

Tim Ferriss: And so I don’t feel rushed. TBD: to be continued. We may pick up offline chatting about that, but let’s make sure we talk about a few things.

Two things: the first is — and we don’t have to spend a ton of time on this, but spend a little bit of time — lessons from spending more than a million dollars on coaching.

I’ve got all sorts of bullets here: CEO coach, biz coach, boxing coach, therapist, health coach, marketing coach, dating coach (three different ones), Hebrew and now Spanish coach. The question I want to ask is related to all these inputs, because we also talked about the top three, bottom three, the weekly, the monthly, the Q1, the this, the that.

What we were talking about as we took a break a little bit ago just for a bathroom break, I’ve seen many examples of people, including myself, get inundated with inputs. This happens also when people read too many books or they have too many advisors for this startup. Now, they have 20 people they respect or 10 people they respect, even four people they respect, giving them conflicting recommendations, or it’s just too many recommendations. It’s like if you have 100 new years’ resolutions, you have no new year’s resolutions. So the first thing I’m curious about is how, for yourself, do you choose what to act on outside of the business KPIs and stuff, let’s just say?

Noah Kagan: Let’s break these down. Let’s take my marketing coach. So I work with Moody Glasgow and cold messaged him on LinkedIn. Now when you think about coaching, I think instead of having mentors, let’s have very specific coaches in very specific areas that I’m weak in, or the people around me. We have a lot of coaches for the team. Almost every single leader in the executive team of AppSumo has a coach. With Moody, it was going to him and saying, “I’m not as strong on some of the data stuff. I’m not as strong as some of the marketing research stuff and branding stuff. Those are my specific areas of need and, when we meet, let’s really focus on that.”

Now, this is really the interesting caveat with coaches. You’re getting a coach because it’s the things you don’t want to do or the things you’re not aware of, and so you have to be mindful of resistance. The resistance is almost always the direction I’ve noticed that ends up happening and I just maybe don’t always do it right away.

So Moody, for instance, is, “Really want to do a lot of surveys.” I’m like, “Moody, I don’t do surveys, man. Just let me go put up some ads. Let’s do more affiliate marketing. Let’s do more video ambassador sponsorship.” He’s like, “Who are you doing that for?” “I don’t know, dude. I don’t want to do research. Let’s go do stuff. I’m a doer.” And so his balance of these things is saying, “Let’s go do some research so we know who we’re doing it for and be very specific who the customer is.”

Now you asked the question of inputs. I think the inputs need to tie to your main priorities, and that’s it. So what is the priorities I’m saying? So within our marketing team right now, it’s getting a VP of marketing, it’s content, and it’s brand awareness. Also, video ambassadors — getting more of those. And so within inputs, I’m just like, I’m specifically going over those specific problems and saying, “Walk me through how you’re normally thinking about solving this.” And then, he normally is coaching me and we’re having a discussion around it.

What I have found with most of the inputs is that I end up doing them almost always six months later because I resist them and I’m going to do what I want to do anyways. Just like most people here maybe want to start business their way and six months later they think about the coach.

The other thing with him specifically on ticking inputs, I record all my coaching calls, every single one, every single one. And then I go and listen to them again, not all the time, but selectively depending on if I’m trying to learn something, noticing how I’m resisting, noticing where I’m paying attention. That helps me be able to be a better student with my coach.

So, coming back full circle with coaching in general, how to choose the input, I think it comes back to my priorities and the specific problems I’m coming to them with. And a lot of times it’s then sitting with the answer that they bring back to me.

Tim Ferriss: As one example from the bullet list, so CEO coach, would that be Dan from Reboot?

Noah Kagan: That’s Dan Putt as well as Ayman Al-Abdullah. Dan is more feelings and then Ayman’s more strategic.

Tim Ferriss: So how would you describe some of the benefits from working with those guys, just in terms of looking in the rear view mirror? Because I can think of a number of coaches I’ve worked with it’s like, “Oh, I picked up the whole body yes from that person,” and that ended up being really important. And then you give another person, “Oh, okay, I took this thing away from them and it was very valuable.” What are some of the things you would point to?

Noah Kagan: Let’s take Ayman Al-Abdullah, for instance. I am going over 2024 strategy. And so I talk to customers, I talk to partners, I talk to the team. We look at historically what we’ve done and we put together a one-pager plan. One of the ideas is we have original products. We basically create affordable low entry versions of popular products. So Mailchimp, we have an alternative. Calendly, we have an alternative.

I went to him and I said, ‘Hey, let me walk over — the one thing I’m uncertain of is 2024 and around what we should do with new products,” and brought it to him, walked over it. Now I’m so convinced that we need to build a bunch of new things. I’m like, “Dude, this new stuff is going to be so sick. We’re going to build a Loom alternative. We’re going to build this other product alternative, maybe a DocuSign alternative.” And because I have a mirror, I have him, and I like coaches who’ve done the things I want to do. He’s run the business. He’s a former CEO. He’s like, “No, what’s working in your products that you guys have built?” I’m like, “We have this one product. It’s crushing it.” “Okay, so you have a product crushing it and you want to do a new one, how come?” I’m like, “Oh, that’s good.”

We’re not doing a new product yet. We’re doubling the team so that we can have a core team keep investing in what’s working instead of moving off to the new thing. So that was a really powerful example of him just asking questions based on strategy and understanding our business based on something I was like, “Here’s what I’m thinking and here’s my problem. What should we do next year?” And then he’s redirected me, and I think in a very effective way. So that was one example with him.

And we talked about Dan Putt. Just having an outlet frankly. You’ve gone to therapy. We’ve gone. I still go to therapy. So with Dan, we were talking on Monday about he was just asking me, “How are you feeling about the future?” I was like, “I feel really unclear.” This is what we’re talking about. “I don’t feel like the whole team and myself really are crystal clear and thought what we want to do in Q1.” “Huh, what do you want to do about that?” “I’m going to set up a meeting right now for tomorrow, so that we can all be on the same page for Q1 and their scorecards for the company, and then each of the separate teams.” And that was from a five-minute question with Dan.

And then, so it’s really just thinking about all these different areas. Moody, two weeks ago, was like, “No, we’re trying to hire VP marketing. That’s one of your number one priorities in the marketing team and you’re not doing sh*t.” I was like, “I know because I’m really busy on the book and my girlfriend.” He’s like, “Well, what do you want to do about it because that’s not moving forward, usage of priority.”

So I think a lot of the inputs come back to what I’m bringing to them as what I believe is the top problems. He said, “What are solutions around it?” I was like, “Can you help me do it?” He’s like, “Yeah, actually I’m really good at it. I’ve hired a lot of VPs.” He’s been a CMO at big companies and so now he’s spearheading it and I’m not the bottleneck.

Tim Ferriss: Have you bootstrapped this or have you taken financing for or investment for AppStream?

Noah Kagan: No.

Tim Ferriss: Okay. Now you mentioned a board. Do you have a board of directors or an advisory board? Maybe I’m mishearing you.

Noah Kagan: Yes. No, no, you’re hearing me correctly. So maybe taking a step back, how everyone can do this for themselves and copy this is think about, what’s the weakest part of your business? Think about, what are the five companies, even three companies, that might have the person that you could get to help you with that? And then, just go look up those people on LinkedIn and then offer them $1,000 to talk to you for one hour. That’s how we’ve done it.

Tim Ferriss: All right. So this is —

Noah Kagan: This is repeatable.

Tim Ferriss: This is a group of people being paid for their time to help give you various types of strategic advice.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. And so you can set up different retainer agreements. You don’t always have to do 1,000. It could be more; it could be less. So we have a CFO advisor, as I said, for Mailchimp. We have a chief people officer from Duolingo. Shout out Christine. We have a CR advisor from Outdoorsy. And then on the board, we compensate them as well, Rajati Mukherjee from Indeed because I’m very good at starting businesses and I’ve struggled now that there’s more people, Rajati runs a 2,000 person organization.

Tim Ferriss: Quick question just to zoom out though because you have the CEO coach, but the CEO coach is really two coaches?

Noah Kagan: I have a CEO coach and a business coach.

Tim Ferriss: There we go. And then you have —

Noah Kagan: Marketing coach.

Tim Ferriss: Marketing coach, and then you have the board. So I’m wondering, what you get from the board that you don’t get from those other things?

Noah Kagan: What I have found most helpful from a board is, one, accountability. So it’s just like, “Here’s what I said I’d do this quarter; here’s how I did.” And then, secondly, it’s providing an outside opinion of people that are thinking differently than me. So normally, every time I go to the board meetings it’s like, “Why aren’t you growing faster? You’re not growing fast enough.” And then, it’s trying to figure out what things we should be doing differently based on the pace that personally I would like to run the company, but a lot of times almost all the coaches are challenging in some capacity. They’re finding things that you’re not necessarily thinking about or doing and they bring that to you even though you may not want to hear it.

Tim Ferriss: Let’s jump to the grand finale, speaking of accountability.

Noah Kagan: So 48-hour challenge.

Tim Ferriss: Yeah, let’s do it.

Noah Kagan: Me and Tim love people taking action for themselves. I think I said it earlier is that the reason Tim’s audience likes Tim is because you give them things they can get results for themselves with, and that’s why people listen to you. Among other things, I think that’s probably one of the top.

I want people to take action from this episode if they’ve made it this far. I want people to see what they can do and how they can change your life for 48 hours. So this episode comes out Within 48 hours of launch, I want to see how people can change your life in either starting a business and, if you already have a business, what can you do in your business in 48 hours? I want you to leave a comment on Tim’s blog and #48hourchallenge in the comment to make sure you’re paying attention.

Tim Ferriss: So, find this episode. You’re going to have to do a little work. Noah Kagan, it’s not that hard. Put in the guest name, it’ll pop right up. Go to the newest one, leave a comment with hashtag —

Noah Kagan: #48hourchallenge and what result have you done in the past 48 hours? What can you do? Maybe you have a certain amount of customers, maybe you have one customer, maybe you posted videos. Ideally, here’s what I’m really looking for: I’m looking for the people who are willing to put a little more extra effort. If they’ve taken, and you can follow Million Dollar Weekend, you can do whatever it’s you want, see how far you can go in 48 hours. I think there are going to be some people who are like, “I made $10,000 from zero.”

Tim Ferriss: What’s the prize?

Noah Kagan: The prize is an all-exclusive — all-inclusive, not exclusive, all-inclusive paid trip, one day with me helping you with your business, whether you’re starting, whether you’re going in Barcelona, Spain this year. So it will be delivered within six months. I’ll fly you out no matter what country you’re in the world. I’ll put you up in a hotel and we’ll have 24 hours together and be able to change their life if they want to scale their business. If they want to just go to the beach, we can do that, if they want to do cycling. But the idea is that if you limit your time, even if you have a growing business (I want people to apply), how far can you go in 48 hours?

Tim Ferriss: What can you do in the equivalent of a weekend? Right?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. Which we all have.

Tim Ferriss: 48 hours. Any other recommendations for people who hear this; they’re like, “I’m excited. I want to give it a go?” Any other specifics topics, catalytic ideas, anything at all that you’d like to add to that? So again, folks, you’re going to go to, look up Noah Kagan. Go to this episode. There’ll be a blog post for it. And then, you’re leaving a blog comment with hashtag —

Noah Kagan: #48hourchallenge.

Tim Ferriss: #48hourchallenge. If you forget that there are going to be probably a lot of comments, so you’ll be disqualified if you don’t do that. Follow the rules. Any length limits or anything on this?

Noah Kagan: No. Well, speaking of it, I actually just saw this on Facebook. I printed it out for you. You obviously remember The Tim Ferriss Experiment?

Tim Ferriss: Mm-hmm.

Noah Kagan: This was Cindy. So Cindy was someone —

Tim Ferriss: Oh, wow.

Noah Kagan: — who followed our material from when Tim’s show and we followed this process.

Tim Ferriss: That’s right.

Noah Kagan: And she changed her life in a very short amount of time. Hers was documented; not everyone’s was documented. She sent me a video too.

Tim Ferriss: Oh, amazing. Oh, my god.

Noah Kagan: I’ve got a video for you.

Tim Ferriss: Blast from the past.

Noah Kagan: So she sent a video where —

Tim Ferriss: Sold out events. Oh, wow.

Cindy [from video clip]: “So 10 years ago, I mentored under Tim Ferriss’ wing, which was the catalyst to me stepping into the entrepeneurialship journey. And I have to say I’m so grateful for them, so grateful for Tim and Noah. Because ever since that day 10 years ago, I’ve been able to be the leader I truly want to be. I have my own company now. I have tons of people coming to me for support that you want to grow and scale their businesses, their companies. Learning how to build inclusive communities for their brand and so it’s been very fun to where my network has grown. It’s like they say, ‘Your network is your net worth.’ Right?

“And so I look back at those moments when I worked with Tim, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I have grown so much. Like, literally.’ And what Tim teaches has lifelong benefits. Because the way Tim thinks, the way the concepts around the DEAL concept, D-E-A-L, has definitely been instilled into my life. And so sometimes I think about when I’m moving through the world, I’m like, ‘How would Tim think about this?’ Because I know that, like, being an entrepreneur can be really overwhelming, but the thing that I have learned is that to keep things very simplified and results driven. So anyways I’ll say thank you again to Tim Ferriss. It’s definitely been a journey for me. Sometimes not easy, but it’s definitely been a very fulfilling journey for myself, and actually me and my family just got back from Thailand two months ago. Like I said, I’ve just been living the life! So, yeah! Thank you!”

Tim Ferriss: That’s amazing.

Noah Kagan: But that was someone that me and you were able to get started on her entrepreneurship journey.

Tim Ferriss: We probably had roughly one or two days. It was not a lot of time. We had a little bit of time and it was constantly for a TV show. It’s like you’re stopping, you’re starting, you’re stopping. So if you add up the total number of hours, that’s wild. Wow!

Noah Kagan: And that’s been super cool. Same with Daniel Bliss, who was on your blog when we helped him. He was a postal worker. He was actually able to leave to move to Thailand. He was sick, so I wasn’t able to get a video of him talking about some of his results.

But I think the reality for everyone out there, you asked for some tactics and tips, is you all have your phones. You all have the ability to text, call, go to people in person. See who you have in your network. Like Cindy really liked yoga and just by getting going, maybe yoga’s not the million-dollar business, and maybe she doesn’t need a million-dollar business, but she got that going. That’s led her now, 10 years later, to be able to have her own business.

Tim Ferriss: That’s wild. I’m just looking at this, which I haven’t seen. She sold out her event so that it was —

Noah Kagan: The original?

Tim Ferriss: — getting started. The original. I’ll just read this because I think it’s worth reading of course. Wow. Well, first of all, congratulations, Cindy. That’s so fun. So here’s just a portion.

“The trick I learned while mentoring with Tim and Noah is to keep things as simple as possible, focus on the most leverageable and important thing that would yield the FASTEST (all caps) and best results.” So this is after she mentioned she sold out her event and then she goes, “Would I have sold out this event in 36 hours if I’d used paid ads? NO (all caps). Would I have sold out this event if I’d gone around to find the nicest, most expensive place to rent? No.” And then in parentheses “(I got a free office space instead through a colleague and brought my disco lights.) Would I have sold it out if I just sat in my chair complaining that there wasn’t enough time? No. Would I have sold out if I reached out to people who didn’t know me? No.”

It went on and on and on. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. That’s wild. 10 years later, still going. Good for her.

Noah Kagan: So it’s interesting to think, for the other people who changed their life in 48 hours from listening to this one episode, where they’ll be in 10 years.

Tim Ferriss: Totally. And it works. People have done it with past appearances. People have done it with writing that you’ve shared on the blog and now you’ve encapsulated it all after a lot more experimentation, many more businesses —

Noah Kagan: 10 more years.

Tim Ferriss: — many more years in the book. So the book is Million Dollar Weekend, subtitled, The Surprisingly Simple Way to Launch a 7-Figure Business in 48 Hours. People can find that on the website If people want to interact with you online, do you have any preferred socials or anything else you’d like to point people to?

Noah Kagan: The website’s great: You can also look me up, Noah Kagan. That’s everywhere.

Tim Ferriss: Noah Kagan everywhere, Again, if you want to throw your hat in the ring and give the 48-hour challenge a shot, listen to this episode, certainly check out the book. But I suppose you don’t have to check out the book, right?

Noah Kagan: No.

Tim Ferriss: You just have to do something.

Noah Kagan: Exactly.

Tim Ferriss: And #48hourchallenge in the blog comments on the blog post associated with this episode. Noah —

Noah Kagan: Dude.

Tim Ferriss: Good endurance. Amazing what ketones will do for your brain. I cheated, but thank you for the time.

Noah Kagan: Good to see you, man.

Tim Ferriss: Always great to see you.

Noah Kagan: Great to see you.

Tim Ferriss: Congratulations on all the crazy success. I had no idea that it had grown in the way that it’s grown and what fun, amazing. Barcelona.

Noah Kagan: Life is great.

Tim Ferriss: But is there anything else you would like to add, Noah, before we land the plane?

Noah Kagan: I was thinking about how awesome my girlfriend is and one of the message I was thinking for everyone out there is just a little bit more kindness for ourselves. If everyone can just, even today, give themselves a little bit of kindness. I came a few minutes late and I was like, “Oh, you’re late. What are you doing?” It’s okay. I think for all of us, just a little bit more kindness and we’ll make the world a better place for ourselves and for everyone else.

Tim Ferriss: Here, hear. That is definitely true and also it will just preserve the gas in the tank too.

Noah Kagan: Amen.

Tim Ferriss: Life is short, but life is also long in a lot of ways. So spare your calories when you can, be kind to recharge yourself and others. You’re going to have off days too. There are days when you’re going to wake up and, as I’ve heard said before, it’s like if you wake up and you meet an asshole on a given day, that person’s an asshole. If you wake up and everyone’s an asshole, you might be the asshole, and there are going to be those days. So just make a little bit of extra effort.

Noah, thank you so much. This is fantastic. Check it out folks: Million Dollar Weekend. We will put links to everything in the show notes: And until next time, thanks for tuning in everybody. See you soon.


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than one billion downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Noah Kagan — How to Launch a Million-Dollar Business This Weekend (#717) - The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Last Updated:

Views: 6656

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Birthday: 2001-01-17

Address: Suite 769 2454 Marsha Coves, Debbieton, MS 95002

Phone: +813077629322

Job: Real-Estate Executive

Hobby: Archery, Metal detecting, Kitesurfing, Genealogy, Kitesurfing, Calligraphy, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Gov. Deandrea McKenzie, I am a spotless, clean, glamorous, sparkling, adventurous, nice, brainy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.