What does it take to build a successful career? What lessons and habits do you need to learn to grow your business? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you will hear from successful business leader, Noah Kagan. Noah and Scott discuss, work life balance, taking action today, the “4 P’s,” and much more. Noah is a gracious guest who generously shares his experience as well as case studies with the TAS audience. If you want to know what it takes to find the success you are looking for, make sure to listen to this episode with pen and paper ready!
Work Life Balance
Can you really have it all? Can you have a successful business AND a healthy personal life? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott’s guest Noah Kagan turns the table a bit and asks Scott how he finds time for both. Scott goes on to explain the boundaries he has set up to make sure he is there for his family even if it isn't’ the most advantageous decision for his business. If you have ever struggled with sticking to a disciplined schedule and balancing both your work and personal life, then this episode is for YOU!
Inaction is the enemy of success. Too often prospective entrepreneurs never get off of the ground because they are afraid of failure. Don’t wait, start today! If you have to flex your failure muscle a few times, don’t let that get you down, you are in good company. Failure means you tried for success, get back up and try again. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you will hear Noah Kagan’s story. He shares his journey of ups and downs on the road to success. Noah has great insight to share, you don't’ want to miss it!
The 4 P’s
It’s always good to have a set of principles or guide rails that help you stay focused on your pursuit of success. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Noah Kagan shares the “4 P’s” that will help you evaluate what’s important.
- Purpose. What is your purpose in life and business? What gets you up in the morning?
- Product. Do you have a product you LOVE? Do you believe in it?
- Pay. Do you have idea of what your time is worth? Are you compensated accordingly?
- People. Do you enjoy the people who work with or for you?
To hear Noah and Scott expand on the “4 P’s” and much more, make sure to catch this episode!
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel!
There is a huge temptation in business to come up with the next great idea or product. If you can do that, great! But most leaders need to hear this one piece of advice from Noah Kagan, go with what works. It’s that simple, don’t try to reinvent the wheel! Look at what has worked in your business and figure out what you need to do to build off of and expand it. Don’t overcomplicate it if you don’t have to. To hear Noah expand on this idea and more, make sure to catch this episode of The Amazing Seller!
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
- [5:00] Noah Kagan joins the podcast.
- [6:45] Noah’s story.
- [15:20] Bringing on a business partner.
- [27:00] Work Life Balance
- [33:00] Noah’s 4 P’s.
- [42:00] Start TODAY!
- [45:50] Noah talks about his 24 hour challenge.
- [51:30] How do you sell a product without the product?
- [1:01:30] Noah talks about his gum experiment.
- [1:03:30] Sales and Marketing tips.
- [1:11:15] Parting advice from Noah.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 342
TAS 342: (EPIC Show) The Secrets to Success from 7 Figure Business Owner and Testing Products Before Spending Cash with Noah Kagan
[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 342 and today I’ve got an epic show for you. I am so excited to share this with you…
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…Let me just give you a little bit of a back story. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Noah Kagan. Noah Kagan is a very, very smart guy. I’ve seen him around the internet for probably the past five to six years myself personally.
He runs a company called AppSumo, he’s the founder of that and it’s got a lot of really cool tools there but he’s got a great history as far as just being an entrepreneur. When I had the chance to get him on the show I was pretty excited because being able to talk to someone that has been through many businesses and some successful and some not successful and kind of how to reverse engineer what he’s done and the mindset…
He’s a seven figure, almost eight figure business right now. When I get a chance to sit down and have a chat with someone like this I get really excited. The cool thing is I had no idea the direction that this was going to go. I just said, let’s hop on, these are a couple of things I want to make sure that we cover because I want to give value to my audience and that’s exactly what we did.
Now let me just give you a little bit of a back story on Noah if you don’t know him. He was one of Facebook’s first hires; the 30th employee of Facebook. That’s right, 30th employee. He said even on the podcast interview that I did with him that if he was to stay he would be worth about $250 million right now. He was like, “It kind of hurt to hear that but that’s reality.” He’s still doing pretty good.
He was also the creator of a top Facebook game before getting kicked off and he’ll talk about that. He’s also, like I said, the creator of Appsumo which is a pretty large company right now. Like I said, almost eight figure business.
[00:02:01] Scott: At least at the time of recording this he told me it was just about eight figure. Pretty cool stuff and I’m able to pick his brain. Like I said, we just sat down, more or less had a cup of coffee together and just chatted.
In the beginning I wanted to talk all about how to pick physical products. He’s done some case studies. He did a really cool case study with beef jerky. It’s kind of funny. It was like a 24 hour challenge that he was challenged to basically make $1,000 in 24 hours and he documented the whole process and we’re going to talk all about that. He’s got a couple of other experiments, actually how he was creating and he still is… He’s working on a gum that you chew.
He’s going to talk about that. He talks about minimal viable product. That’s what I think I took away the most here. Here’s someone that you would look at from afar and go, “Man that guy’s made it.” And he has made it to a certain, I guess person’s expectations but to him the first thing he said to me and you’ll hear it was like, “I’m happy right now. I’m excited but I’m also asking myself, when is the problem going to happen? When is the day not going to be so good?”
There’s always struggles and problems no matter what level of business you’re at. The other cool thing is just he’s a humble guy, he’s a great guy, awesome to talk to and you’re going to see it. It was like him and I just had a casual conversation talking over that cup of coffee and being able to peer into someone that’s very, very successful and been through so many different business models and he knows a thing or two about running business and minimal viable products and all that stuff.
If you guys want to download the show notes, the transcripts or get any of the links that we talk about head over to theamazingseller.com/342. The other thing is I actually recorded the video of us talking back and forth and I did that just because him and I were face to face in this interview and we had a pretty good connection. I don’t always do that because I save on the bandwidth and stuff as far as like keeping it smooth.
[00:04:03] Scott: Him and I decided to go face to face and I recorded it. I’m going to actually post that as well on the show notes’ page. If you want to actually see us talking you can actually do that and you can find that on the show notes’ page. This is epic guys. I’m telling you you’re going to want to do that. Again, he’s just got so many stories and so many things that we dig into. It was funny because he kind of pointed it back to me a lot of times. He’s like, “Well Scott tell me a little more about that I’m curious. Why did this happen to you and why do you think that that mattered?”
So, he started to kind of turn the tables a little bit and interview me a little bit. It was cool. It was really a lot of fun. I’m excited for you guys to listen so I’m going to stop talking. It did go longer than I expected but I promise you it’s going to be huge amounts of value and you guys are going to get a ton from it. I do believe so. So sit back, relax, enjoy this conversation, this casual conversation that I had with my good friend Mr. Noah Kagan. Enjoy.
[00:05:03] Scott: Well, hey Noah. What’s up man? Thank you so much for stopping by the podcast. How are you doing man?
[00:05:07] Noah: I’m doing excellent today. I’m in a great mood.
[00:05:10] Scott: You said that you were in a great mood. You said something very interesting and someone that’s very successful in my eyes looking at you you’re like, “I asked myself a question though and I said to myself, ‘how long is it going to last?’” Things don’t always go as planned Noah?
[00:05:26] Noah: No. I was supposed to have hair but I started balding at 30. I was like, “No, no, stay there don’t go anywhere.” That’s part of life. I think it’s like how do we respond to these things and it’s like we have to take responsibility for our lives.
[00:05:39] Scott: I agree 100%. I thought that was funny what you said there because I think a lot of people they talk about that too. They’re like you get to a certain level and you think that you’ve made it but at that point you’re always like, “Okay what’s next?” I think it’s interesting to pick people’s brains and see where they’re at in their journey and then say, “Well you made it there now what? Now what do you do?”
There’s always like things I think that you want to grow. I think Tony Robin says like if you’re not growing you’re dying and I do believe in that for sure. What I wanted to really… We got a ton we could talk about with you. We can go on a whole bunch of different directions but really to make this really valuable for my audience I wanted to really talk about some of the things that you’ve done in the physical product space and coming up with product ideas.
I know you’re a big fan of minimal viable products and how to do a lean start up and stuff. I really want to dig into that but before we do do that, could you tell us a little bit about you? I want to hear a little bit about you and let people know that don’t know you maybe, a quick little background as far as like where you come from and how you got to where you are today.
[00:06:47] Noah: Totally. It’s always funny if you ever asked someone tell me your story and it’s actually one of my new favorite questions doing in person. I say, “Can you tell me a snapshot of your life?” I’ve actually found that to be a really nice question to just learn. What’s actually been interesting about that is what people choose to share. I think your listeners probably want to hear the business side they don’t want to hear my dating history.
[00:07:06] Scott: I don’t know that could be interesting. That could be interesting.
[00:07:08] Noah: Possibly, maybe a follow up episode. Born and raised in California. My father’s an immigrant from Israel, didn’t speak English. He actually sold carpets. That was like his thing. He sold carpets and copiers. I was always trailing him around when I was a little kid. He would go to these stores. He would like give them meat and then he’d go to businesses giving meat and be like, “Do you have any copier stuff?”
I was always like this entrepreneurship thing seems kind of cool. Graduated at Berkeley, didn’t do s*** at Intel. I just hang out there. Ended up being one of the first people at Facebook, just totally lucky. I just submitted a resume. I was building websites and running businesses. One thing that I’ve noticed… I just finished this book Steve Martin’s biography. You know Steve Martin?
One of the things I’ve noticed is that a lot of the people who are successful have been doing it for a long time. Steve Martin started doing comedy at 16 and he didn’t actually didn’t get famous until he was 30. I think one of the things I’ve noticed just about myself and other people it’s like… I actually started building websites at like 17 and now I’m 35.
I think a lot of us want those results immediately and I’m like, “How am I not rich in six months?” I’m like, “Dude, I’ve been doing this for 17 years,” which is still relative but it takes a long time to get where you want to go.
[00:08:20] Scott: That’s so true man. That is so true.
[00:08:21] Noah: We want it right away and it takes…
[00:08:23] Scott: We’re impatient.
[00:08:26] Noah: You’ve got to be persistent with it. Short story is I always selling… I started a discount card business called Ninja Card. I started a Craig College Craig’s List called College Up. I did all these different businesses and I got the job at Facebook doing product management and then I went to… I did all the market in mint.com. I got fired at Facebook, went to mint.com, quit there. I started a business doing Facebook games and then after that I ended up getting actually sued by our competitor and banned by Facebook.
That was actually on the same day. You want to talk about a bad. That company we were generating like $30 million a year in revenue and I think profit was about 10% profit margin. On the same day Facebook banned us and you can Google it ‘Gambit gets banned’. Our largest competitors sued us which is very different. I’ve never had that happen but that is actually a sign of success I’ve realized.
When you get sued, either you’re a scumbag or you’re very successful. It’s generally not both. You generally don’t sue poor.
[00:09:24] Scott: I don’t know if I want to look forward to that though. I don’t want to look forward to getting sued and say that I’m successful I guess.
[00:09:32] Noah: Well, I just talked to a famous author that everyone knows and he was like… I was like, “You’re rich,” and he was like, “Dude I just got some lawsuits because people… The bigger you, you become a bigger target.” He’s like, “I spent like a million on legal fees,” and I was like it’s not something that he’s really going to put out…
I did the Facebook games and then we did Facebook payments for games and that’s when we got sued and banned. It was a very big realization about what kind of company I wanted to run. I wanted to run a company that people needed. A payments company people… It was nice to have and it was somewhat of a commodity. I work about this for a lot of business where you have a product and it’s like anyone can have that product and just put a different sticker on it.
Where’s your advantage? What is something that is differentiated about you that people are going to need to have you? Is it a brand thing? Is it a pricing? Is it like a distributor thing? I said the next business I start I want people kissing my *** and I know that sounds bad. But when I was doing payments company I literally was like begging for business.
I’d would do whatever people wanted, I would do all nights of work and we’d get the business but it was like… And then they would kick us out. They’d be like, “Thanks for your payments company, all right you’re gone.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” They’re like, “Well your competitor offered 1% better terms I’m going to go to them.”
I wanted to create a business that people are going to have to have. That’s where I started AppSumo where I recognized that everyone needs help with marketing and if I have customers and I could bring them customers they’re going to need me. If I can go to companies and go like, “Give me your product at a deal and then I can bring those deals to people.” Like everyone wins and that company is actually be like, “Dude can I use your business? Can I please get on AppSumo?”
AppSumo started seven years ago and now it’s almost an eight figure business. It’s crazy. I can’t believe it’s doing so well. I’m not bragging that I’m not involved just that we hired this guy in and he’s hired a team and these guys are just amazing and I could talk about maybe some of those elements.
[00:11:30] Noah: From out of Appsumo which is the group on for geek business, our newsletter daily deal business, out of that we created sumo.com which is our marketing tool. All the marketing tools will built at Appsumo we basically were like, “These tools are really good and we could probably sell them.” And then Chad was like, “Yeah let’s just go do that.” I think the point there, one of the best takeaways that I’ve learned is like how can you make the byproduct of your business a business?
That was one where the byproduct of just running our business became a business. Chad runs sumo.com and now I spend my time in Noah Kagan presents podcast or like okaydock.com which is my marketing blog. I hope that was ok, I don’t know if that was too long or…
[00:12:10] Scott: No, no that was great and actually we could probably do a whole another episode digging into all of those details but maybe we’ll have to have you back on for that because I’d be interested to hear that, a little bit more of the ins and the outs. I think a lot of times people don’t see how things lead to where you are today.
There’re so many twists and turns. On episode 300 of our podcast here I go through my story of when I was 18 years old, the construction worker and now I work for my father and then how I got to where I am. All of these different things happened because of something that I started and then that led me to that next thing. I’d seen an opportunity and then I would pivot a little bit and then I’d go to that direction.
It allowed me to reach more people and then I was able to network with more people and that person led me to someone else and then that door appeared. Then it was like, do I go through it? Let’s go through it. It’s crazy on how those things happen and I think it’s really cool to hear your story that here’s someone, like you said, one of the first… What were you? Were you a 30th employee? I think I read that.
[00:13:09] Noah: Yeah. I was 30th.
[00:13:10] Scott: The 30th employee on Facebook which is crazy.
[00:13:12] Noah: I may have been worth like $200 million which is pretty crazy to like actually think about how much that is. One of the guys who was like 20th he’s building a hotel by himself in Austin. I was like, “I live in 700 square foot condo,” which is great, but it’s just been interesting. It’s like your life… I think a few of the things that I’ve noticed is that bad things are going to happen to everybody.
It’s just how you choose to deal with it afterwards that makes all the difference. You could choose to be like I’m going to blame this person for my business. I’m going to blame this partner. I’m going to blame… No, it’s like, what are you going to do about it? Bad things I’m sure have happened to you. You were a construction worker, I’m sure you’ve had some tough times.
[00:13:52] Scott: The thing that I learned in that business back then when my… I was in business with my father who had a partner. The partnership is what I… I learned the lesson of not being in a partnership especially in the beginning that if you didn’t have the same beliefs or the same mission or whatever it wasn’t going to work. I learned a lot about that at a young age.
It also made me a little hard to want to partner with someone else. Recently, I have been partnering with other physical product brands now which has been really awesome but there’s been a lot of thought going into those before I would enter into that arena again because I know if it’s not a good marriage it’s not going to work. You got to have your own strengths.
[00:14:36] Noah: One thing I’m curious about for you, how did you make that transition because I notice for myself lately like I have certain beliefs that I’m like, “I don’t know if I want to challenge that?” How did you go from no partner to let me actually explore this?
[00:14:47] Scott: It’s been several years since that happened. I’m 44 years old so it’s been a lot of different things that have happened. For me, it’s happened recently because for me… Amazon’s really what allowed me to see the physical product side of things. I was doing a little bit on the side but my wife and I were photographers and stuff too, ran our own photography business.
From there, we wanted to sell some physical products as another revenue stream and then Amazon showed me that I could do that without having to spend a lot of time because I didn’t have a lot of time. Then I said, “Okay I’ve got this podcast which I started.” Again, that was just a thing that I was like, let’s see if this thing… Let’s see what happens here. I go ahead and do it and the thing blows up and I’m like, “Now what do I do?”
I’ve got an audience and people want things from me and they’ll learn and all of that. Then it became the idea of, how do I still continue to grow businesses without or with having limited amount of time and having a family and wanting to still spend time with them? The only way for me is to… It’s like you said before we got started, you’re like, you should know the business.
You should know how to do the aspects of the business. Not that you have to do them all the time but you should understand how to do those. I know how to do all of the different pieces but I don’t need to do all the pieces now. Now it’s about finding that partner that can do all of those pieces and then I can just be maybe the marketing driver behind it or maybe the creative thinker or something like that that I really enjoy doing to push the business forward.
To me, it came to the point where I had to do it or I wasn’t going to be able to stay in this when I’m still… I feel like I still need to be in it because number one I want to build business but I’m also teaching how to do it. I to be in the mix. I want still my hands in it.
[00:16:28] Noah: You want to stay sharp.
[00:16:29 Scott: Exactly.
[00:16:30] Noah: How did you validate or trust the partner that you chose? I’m sure you said no to some and then the ones you said yes to what was the difference?
[00:16:37] Scott: I think it was the skillset and also that I built a relationship up first. I knew their morals, I knew what they were about. It wasn’t just about land grabbing, money. It was more about like I knew they were on the same page as I was and also that we didn’t have the same skillset.
If we were both the same drivers then it’s like you’re going to butt heads but if you’re able to separate that and say, “Okay, you’re going to be the one that…” Maybe I’m the one that finances it and then I’m able to then be the creative. You’re going to basically establish the products and you’re going to be able to establish… Maybe you’re going to be the front person of the business and I’m not. Maybe you’re going to be the one that’s demonstrating the products or creating the following or the brand and all of that stuff.
That’s really where it came for me, just it made sense but it took time to be able to have that trust because like you said, you do I’m sure as well, you get a lot of offers. It’s like you’re like I could launch a new business every day if I wanted to but I also don’t want to do it half-heartedly. I want to be able to put everything I got into it. It was a struggle. It was again one of those things that I felt like I needed to do it in order to grow.
[00:17:46] Noah: I thought about growth and I think growth can only happen in two ways which is either people or technology. If you’re really trying to scale a business you either need more people or you need better technology. It’s interesting because I’ve had two different business partnerships like major ones. In the Facebook games company which became the payments company I was mentioning earlier, I hired people and they were like we’re going to quit because…
I basically moved to Argentina and I was just like chilling. I was literally doing tango and drinking wine and I was like having like a quarter-life crisis. It was like a real quarter-life crisis. Tim Ferriss was hanging out with me down there. We were just chilling.
[00:18:21] Scott: That’s pretty cool.
[00:18:22] Noah: It was great man. The two people I was working with were like, “Dude either you quit or get back to work.” I was like I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I felt uncertain, I was scared so I was like, “I’ll just go back to work.” It was kind of safer. I think I regret that a little bit. I’ve never thought about that. I think I regret it because I really wanted to get in a little Fiat and drive around and camp South America, thought that’d be cool.
[00:18:42] Scott: That would have been cool.
[00:18:44] Noah: I went back to work and I loved these guys as people but what I realized as partners is that it was like a three-headed dog where each of us had our own direction and I just had a lot of resentment. I decided that when I started AppSumo I was like I want to do it alone. I think as you’ve done it it’s like build the relationship with someone and then you can talk about the partnership with them.
It’s like you guys are employee and now you’re partners and we didn’t have that communication. With AppSumo I started it and I hired a guy who actually was my customer before and I think that’s a great way for hiring. Look at your customers they really like you. I don’t think people think about that enough. At Sumo we always look for our customers to higher or people we’ve worked with in our referrals.
With that I had Chad who was my customer and he was amazing. He was a customer who used to do coding for my business. He’d be like, “I want the speech, I coded it for you.” I was like, “That’s awesome.” I actually hired him as a consultant to come do work with me with AppSumo. After working with him for a while I was like, “Dude we’re a great partnership.” I’m like the, I don’t want to say the Jobs but I’m like the business-y guy, the sales, public and you’re like the tech, stable, reliable, smart one. We’ve just had an unbelievable relationship. I’ve had times where I’ve had not crisis but like moments where I’m just not motivated to work.
I took a month off to walk around India and I remember the day I went to Chad and I was like dude I’m losing it and I need to go to India. I don’t know why I thought that was the answer. I remember thinking and I was like… I was talking to someone at a conference and they were like, “India is the answer for you with your depression.” I was like, “Okay I’m going to India.”
I grew a beard out, I went to India but before that I went told Chad my partner and this is how I knew that I’m going to work with him forever. I went to him and I was like, “Hey I think I need to go to India and walk around and not work for a month.” He’s like, “I think that sounds like a great idea for you. You need to do what you need to take care of.” I just felt like a lot of a good partner
[00:20:33] Scott: That’s great.
[00:20:35] Noah: He’s like go for it. I just remember at that moment realizing like that’s a partnership. That’s who I want my wife to be, that’s who I want my friendships to be and my business partner to be where like he’s actually genuinely cares about my interests. Not just like we make money and all that. It’s like I want you to go and take care of yourself. That’s how we also want to treat people we work with too. That was like the clear moment. I’m like this is a partnership. This is what a partner looks like.
[00:20:56] Scott: That’s huge. It’s scary in some aspects until you really feel like you trust that person. I think, like you said, you start to know that person before you partner. I think that’s the big one. It’s like you have to know the person and it sounds like you did.
[00:21:12] Noah: It’s funny, he actually quit… He quit after working with… When I hired him as a consultant on AppSumo he actually quit after three months because we never worked full time together. The details are not as interesting as that, we just didn’t communicate. I went back to him… I called my advisor he’s like, “Dude go get him back.” And I was like, “Okay, sorry.” I called Chad back and I was like, “Dude what’s happening?”
He’s like, “We’re not talking and you’re just giving me more and more work.” I think what happens with physical product people or like business people that work with technical people is that they kind of just throw it over the wall and expect it to come back perfect. The three things that we implement literally seven years ago and we’re still doing it to this day. One, we talk every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11:00 A.M. We’ve never changed that because we weren’t communicating enough.
Two, we have real-time chats. That’s common now but back then Skype was the thing but he wouldn’t be online and I’m like, “Dude what are you doing? You’re not online, you’re not working.” He’s like, “I work? If you want me to be online and distracted then I’ll get online.” A lot of people are like, “I want to see you in the office. I want to see your screen name lit.” He’s like, “Do you want me to work or for people to see my screen name?” He’s like, “I’ll just pay somebody do that.”
The third thing, actually, this was really interesting and this is something that was surprising for me is that I think sometimes when you have like an employee at a point or a teammate as I like to call them you just give them tasks. You’re like, “Do this and do this and do this.” And so I kept giving him more tasks without actually being like let him finish it instead of adding new ones on. Subsequently, I also didn’t tell him what I was doing.
I’m like, “You go over there and get to work monkey. And then I’m just going to stay here and eat bananas.” I was like it’s kind of unfair if I’m telling him to do all of these things and he doesn’t know what the hell I’m doing all day. Those are kind of the things we adjusted then. I think one thing that you said Scott which is really strong one we identify like all success takes time but I think the other thing and you said it really well is that it takes iteration.
[00:23:05] Noah: How we started the business is not how we run it today. It’s because we keep learning and improving. I think most businesses that fail they’re like, “Well it’s just how we’ve always done things.” I’m like, “Well it’s not that you have to change your business. It’s just like keep looking for a theme once a week to improve and just keep iterating.” Like how we do our meetings has changed dramatically and how Chad and I work together keeps improving because every week we try to do things that make it better.
[00:23:28] Scott: I love it. It’s one of those things that we want that instant gratification of success. It’s like if you stay the race… I don’t know if you read the book The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy, it’s a great book. It’s all about stacking on those little, little improvements like compounding over time and it just makes such a huge difference. It’s like weight loss. If you think about, “I worked out for seven days and I didn’t see the results, I’m quitting. ‘
But if you do it for 30 days you’re probably going to start to see some results and then probably 60 days you’re probably going to see results but you got to stick to the plan. It’s in business, it’s in life, it’s huge.
[00:24:06] Noah: You’re preaching brother. My friend Taylor Pearson said a great quote to me and it stuck with me. It says “plan for the goals but build with the habits.”
[00:24:16] Scott: There you go.
[00:24:17] Noah: I didn’t drink for a while and I was exercising a lot, this is what I’ve been doing this year and I didn’t lose weight. I was like well my goal was to have a certain type of body… My plan was to have a certain type of body but my habit was like… My habits were good. I just was not seeing the results but I stuck with it and after the 30 days, as you exactly said, I had planned for my goals but I built with my habits.
I was doing the right habits and eventually it hit the goal. I think that’s something I’m trying to get better at because I’ve noticed for myself I’ll have a goal like Noah you want to get… We have a company goal and we always have one goal, just on goal or like my podcast I’ve like a single goal. Sometimes I’d struggled where I get to my goal and I’m like… Like we’ve hit our goal in October instead of December and I’m like, “Well I guess November and December we’re taking off.”
Seriously, we’re like, “What do we do now?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I didn’t plan for this part. I only planned like the movie ends at this hour.” I think if you focus on just building habits like I know every week we do these activities and these lead us to grow the business. That will supersede the goal at some point where like you can just keep changing your goal but if the habits are strong you’ll always be improving. That’s something I’m getting better at.
[00:25:25] Scott: I think you’re always getting better at that. I think if we all said we figured it out we’d be lying. I’m figuring out things every day to keep my life the way I want it to be managed. I’ve got a family. I’m a dad of three. I’ve got a 21 year old, 18 year old and a nine year old. I’m busy. It’s really important for me to stick to the schedule of I’m going to be at my daughter’s volleyball, I’m going to coach my son all the way… He’s 18.
I’d coached him all the way through little league, all the way up to travel baseball but that was a big thing for me to be able to stick to that.
[00:26:00] Noah: You look like a baseball coach by the way. I’m trying to think of the baseball player you look like. Did you ever get that?
[00:26:08] Scott: Yeah I did and the ones that… Everyone used to say I looked like A-Rod. If I have my sunglasses, my Oakley’s on, I’d look like A-Rod they say. I’m like, “Really, you see that?” It’s funny. I enjoyed that.
[00:26:21] Noah: How has that changed for you? How have you iterated or changed like how your business and family interact? I don’t have kids and I’m dating and I finally saw people with kids and I’m like I don’t know how you do that and run a business. I didn’t realize how hard it actually is.
[00:26:33] Scott: I think it’s really just about being disciplined with your time. You have to set yourself a hard cutoff. I think the hardest part with us being entrepreneurs is we could be working all day, all night. We can do that. For me it’s like right now you and I are recording this, technically I’m “working”. I enjoy this so it’s not really work to me but I don’t schedule this stuff at night time or I don’t schedule it around dinner time.
It’s like that stuff… Today let’s see today… No, so tomorrow, Wednesday it’s time to recording this my daughter’s got volleyball. I’m going to volleyball with her. There’s nothing scheduled in that block of time. I just schedule everything. I’m very disciplined in the morning. I do my work out, the whole thing to keep myself there and then I just go through my day and I try to theme my day as best as possible.
Tuesdays, Wednesday are podcast stuff and then the other days are partner stuff. I try to keep things… I try to stay disciplined but there’s going to come times that maybe there’s a guest that I’m trying to get on and they want to meet at a certain time I might need to sacrifice to do that. It really depends, sometimes I have it and sometimes I haven’t. It’s funny, you know John Lee Dumas from EOFire?
He’s become a good friend of mine now but when I first talking with him I was like I’d really like to get on his show, he wants to get on my show. He literally wanted to get together at a time that I was busy with my family and I told him, I said, “Listen I hate to do this to you but I’m not going to be able to make it.” It was that important that I did not miss that event for my kids and he totally respected it. We figured out another time but I didn’t even bend on that rule. It would take a lot for me to bend and to miss something that I felt was really valuable.
[00:28:21] Noah: I think once you start settling and compromising certain things it’s addicting. It’s addicting and it’s easy to just settling at other things. I’ve noticed this in business like that thing is not that good or I think of it sometimes… A more obvious example for everyone it’s like when you see trash on the ground and you walk around, you’re like or dish in the sink, “I’ll just get it later. That trash on the ground I’ll just leave it there,” and then you just start accepting it in everything.
I’m like, “No you have to fight it. You have to say no.” I love that you did the no sacrifice. It’s funny, sometimes I think it is a sacrifice. You sacrifice getting your show bigger for your priority. It’s like sometimes on a Sunday when it’s nice out and I’m doing some work I’m like, “This is why I get what I want because I’m willing to sacrifice for it.” It’s not always the most fun at that time.
[00:29:09] Scott: I think there’s a balance there and it’s funny because a lot of people… I’m a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk but I don’t agree with all of his hustle, hustle, hustle and no time. You got to build, you got to sacrifice. I get that, if you’re young maybe but for a guy like me… And he admits it. On Saturday and Sundays he doesn’t do a lot of social media. That is his time but like he said you don’t see that, you only see me posting all the time during my days and traveling and all of this stuff.
You got to have a balance, you got to see what fits your schedule and what’s important to you. I think actually one thing he always says which I love this is any time you feel like you’re going and you’re just hustling and hustling and you’re not enjoying, take a second to imagine that you just got a phone call that your mother was on her deathbed.
If that doesn’t wake you up and say wait a minute here. Does that really matter this thing over here? I didn’t get girlfriend something but I’ve got a few hours with my mother or I’ve got a whole something in the future that’s going to be three months or a year worth of someone going through something really, really bad. Sometimes that gets you to slow down a little bit. I can go 100 miles an hour. I’m like let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.
I think also my kids have seen that and my kids have also taken on that mindset of you got to go out there and you got to go work at it and it’s not going to come overnight. I think there’s got to be a balance. Hustle is hustle and like you said, on a Sunday afternoon if you have kids and you were missing that one thing that you were never going to be able to attend again that’s going to be that sacrifice. Is that important to you?
Are your kids going to say to you later, “I wish my dad would have been there.” I don’t know, maybe that’s not important to you or someone else but it’s really important to me and that’s what I build everything around. It’s the lifestyle for me. It’s about lifestyle. It’s not necessarily about the money that we’re going to make is great but it’s going to afford me to be able to enjoy those certain things in my life.
[00:31:06] Noah: Just to add sideways to that, I’m not trying to plus one you because that was epic. The one thing I’ve noticed when we talked before the show started around… It’s funny it feels like everyone missed out on the earlier part that we didn’t record. That was the best stuff by the way. When I was at Facebook and after I got let go and I didn’t get that money I actually went to this business coach or life coach or therapist. I don’t know what she calls herself.
She’s like, “I know you miss the money and all that stuff but why don’t you just make a list of everything you would have wanted to buy or that you want to buy now? What do you want to buy now?” I wrote M3, I don’t know why I remember that. I wrote house, I think it was like food and to like travel somewhere. She said, “Show me your list.” So I show her the list. She’s like, “Well on that list right now is there anything you can’t buy?” And I was like, “No. There’s nothing I can’t buy.”
She’s like, “Okay, so you have everything you want.” I think it’s just interesting we want to keep working to make money and do more of these things but it’s like do you have everything you want? What is it towards? Versus, I think your point is very valid, is it just to work for work's sake because we want to just feel like we’re keeping busy? I just think she exercised for me.
[00:32:12] Scott: I think it’s a great exercise for a lot of people because it comes down to the number that you… A lot of times for people it’s really the number that can get them out of their nine to five or that could allow them to spending more time. It’s like all right, what’s that number? Once you find that number how do you work backwards?
[00:32:28] Noah: I actually think people should get nine to fives. I think everyone should not be an entrepreneur. I call it my 4Ps of why being an entrepreneur sucks. Everyone’s like you’re an entrepreneur and life just becomes great. I’m like, “No it gets worse.” It’s like guess what, you have to do…
[00:32:43] Scott: There’re some hard moments.
[00:32:45] Noah: There’s always hard moments. It never gets easier and like the 4Ps… I’ve thought about it a lot. It’s basically like whatever one wants whether you run the company or whether you work in the company it’s the same exact thing. You work at a company or like yourself run a company because you want to get paid well? If I could go work somewhere and get a million dollars a year I would just take that job. The second thing is you want to be around great people.
You want a great partners, you want great coworkers and then purpose and product. I want to have a good purpose and I want to have a product that I like. I think people are too enamored like I’m an entrepreneur and I go to watch some YouTube videos and then I go hustle all day and then it’s just great. Actually, it’s not bad but the fifth P which is where you get when you’re an entrepreneur is problems because you’re the one responsible for it.
When you’re an employee you go home at 5:00. You go to home at 6:00 and the rest of the day is yours.
[00:33:33] Scott: Punch the clock.
[00:33:36] Noah: It’s not that I don’t think being an entrepreneur is great. There’s good things about running a show but I think people should think about their 4Ps; purpose, product, paid and people. If you can get that out of a job don’t sweat that it’s going to be life will be fixed because you still have to deal with yourself whatever kind of company you’re running or a part of.
[00:33:51] Scott: I think the purpose thing is big for me right now. That’s changed over the years. For me it was about the money. It was like how can I get to a place where I don’t have to work the nine to five so I could make my own schedule? It was always annoying for me to have to put in time to take off and I get two weeks or three weeks a year. It’s like that’s all I get all year long and then I have to report. That was like I felt like I was caged in a sense and I was also limited on how much I could make.
Because of that, I was like if I want to raise I got to work my butt off and I might get 3% maybe or I’d have to work on the side. In construction I was doing side work. I’d work my 60 hours and then I’d go build a kitchen remodel or I do like a renovation of some kind to make that extra money. I was working more and more to try and make that. Over the years, now I think it’s more about… It’s really becoming even more clear these past few years it’s like purpose.
How many more lives can I help and change and people that don’t think they can do it because I’m the perfect example? I never went to college. I used to be ashamed of that and now I’m like it’s probably been the best lesson because I’ve learned so much going through that. Now it’s like, how can I help people that don’t think that they can actually do it because they don’t have that formal education? I think that’s a big one for a lot of people.
Me personally, I even told to my wife like not that long ago, honestly I just want to be able to travel and go… When I travel, make a stop, talk to people and encourage people and let them know my story and then hopefully inspire them to just do it themselves and get out there and do it and believe in themselves because they can do it. Anyone can do it it’s just a matter of… Like you said, do you want the problems of being an entrepreneur or do you want to punch a clock? Both sides of the fence there’s problems. You’d agree.
[00:35:40] Noah: I had one of the most amazing dinners, not that the food was amazing but I met a construction worker about four years ago. This blew my mind. I was like, “Dude it sucks to be a construction worker. It’s got to be the worst thing ever.” He’s like, “I actually think it sucks to be you Noah.” I was like, “What?” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” You have to go sweat and you have to… It’s cold.
I respect the s*** out of construction workers. I see these guys in the rain, in the cold and I’m like I barely want to go outside. It’s just interesting how much we assume about others. What he said though to me was like, “You have control over your…” It’s like when he’s a construction worker he has his mind to himself but when I’m at work my mind goes to the company and my mind goes to the work. I never really reflected it on that.
He’s like I’ve to give the physical but the mental is all mine. At desk job it’s actually the opposite. There’s no physical but the mental is all theirs. It blew my mind to think about that.
[00:36:32] Scott: That’s definitely a pretty cool little insight there.
[00:36:37] Noah: I was just like it’s amazing how we assume that someone’s job sucks or they must have crap life. He actually preferred it. The one thing I was curious with you is, do you remember…? And I’m sure you know this but, were there inflexion points or what was the catalyst where you were…? I’m thinking of sharing this episode with my cousin. What were the catalyst points that started changing your trajectory?
[00:36:56] Scott: It really was because I was married a young age, I got married when I was 21 so we had our first kid when I was 22. I was working and I thought I was going to own my father’s company. That’s what I was working towards. I thought I was going to build that company with him. We built it to… I think at the time and this is going back like 20 years ago to over a $2 million a year business.
Back then it was a pretty good business. Really at the time it was like four of us when we started it and then we grew it to… I had about seven or eight crews working for me and stuff but I got burn out. I’m like how am I ever going to be home enjoying my family. I was working 60 plus hours a week. If you’re vested in the business like your family business you’re working when other people don’t want to work.
I’m going to stay till the job gets finished. I’m staying till 8:00 o’clock at night. Everybody else said, “Hey Scott it’s 5:00 o’clock I’m going home.” I’m like all right, see you later and then Scott’s there finishing it up. It motivated me to want to do… But I didn’t think I could do anything Noah. That was the problem. I thought what am I going to do? All I do is, I know how to work with my hands that’s it. That’s all I know.
I’m not smart. I can’t go out there and… These were the self-doubts that I kept putting in my head. My wife is really the one that said, “Scott you’re smart.” There’s a lot of things that you can do. We started on the side just to supplement our income so I didn’t have to go out and do side work was we started a photography business.
We knew nothing about photography. My wife loved it but she didn’t know anything about it. We taught ourselves and back then they didn’t really have a lot of YouTube stuff going on so read books. Digital cameras were just getting introduced and we built that into a six figure business from scratch. Then I left my job.
[00:38:28] Noah: Taking photos for people?
[00:38:30] Scott: We did family photography.
[00:38:33] Noah: How did you get your first customers? Sorry, keep going.
[00:38:35] Scott: Well, no I was going to say, we basically went and… We went to get our daughter’s picture taken, we had a bad experience. My wife’s like, “We could do a better job than that.” We basically put in one of the journals locally in a paper, maybe 50 bucks we would take pictures or something just as practice and we did that and we started getting a little following. Then we got so busy that… I think around in July we would fill up for the holidays. We would take a waiting list.
We built that locally and we were like the local… A little bit of the high level. We charged more than everybody else but people came for us. They came for us taking the pictures and us interacting with their kids and then we grew that. Then from there I started seeing the opportunity of maybe selling some of our digital templates on eBay and then we started selling digital templates on eBay with CDs and grew that into a little business.
Then I started doing digital transfer stuff and it just all led because of that moment but then from there we started seeing about people are asking us how to do these certain things so then we started teaching it. That’s where I got introduced to education online it’s really by that.
[00:39:42] Noah: Coming back to the first point, you did for a while and you kept iterating, you kept noticing what’s working. I’ve been on this big thing about focusing on essentials which is just like, “How do I do more of what works AND is killing things or removing…” It’s too violent, “Removing things aggressively that are working.” I think we’re too way too easy to be like it’s seems it’s okay let’s just keep it.
Here’s a stupid one. We have Instagram for Sumo and we have 100,000 followers. It gets a bunch of likes and then we actually try to sell something or we try to have people go read an article and no one does anything. I’m like why are we spending even… We’re spending $200 a month now maintaining it. I’m like, “Why are you even spending $200?” “Well, I don’t know.” No, kill.
It’s like the more that you can focus just in the essentials the more that they’re going to work better for you. I love how you guys just kept focusing on they like this then we can do more of that one and let’s do more of that one, let’s do more of that one. I think that iteration is very impressive.
[00:40:36] Scott: Yeah. It was one of those things too like we got into the video transfer business like people would come to us and they’d go, do you guys know who does any transfers for like old eight millimeter films or do a slide show for a wedding or do a slide show for an anniversary? I’m like no but I could probably figure that out and then I figured it out and then I started a side business where we had our car lettered up where were a video transfer extension over our photography business.
We were double dipping in there and then I started… I already told this story on the podcast but I’ll briefly tell it again. I bought these old transfers… Basically it was a device that someone made to transfer old films. I’ve seen how it was built and being a construction worker I reverse engineered it. I’m like this is just an old projector that someone bought from the 40s and 50s and 60s and they just modified it.
I figured out what they did so I just did that myself and I started selling them on eBay for 900 bucks. I would build one or two of those a week. I did about $50,000 in eBay on those little projectors all because I needed one.
[00:41:37] Noah: Are you still doing it?
[00:41:38] Scott: No, no. Too time consuming. I graduated from there, I’m just like… But it was a great experience it also opened up my eyes to eBay and I’m like people are buying stuff on eBay. Everything has led to the moment where I’m at.
[00:41:55] Noah: Just to share some short story around that is that I think one big takeaway for me when you’re talking about that is like start today. If you’d have said hey I’d be running like a very popular podcast and I have all these big successful Amazon businesses you’d be like no. You’re like I’m just going to go out and take photos of families.
I think for everyone listening who’s like, “I want to be like Scott,” or I want a certain type of business or a certain type of life, you start something now and you keep working on it and you keep working on the habits and the habits eventually things will keep going but you have to go and start today. I think that’s where people are like it’s easier just to listen to the podcast up on their earlobes and it easier to just read the blog post.
It’s hard to actually not get the domain, it’s hard not to just play business. It’s hard to actually go get the customer and start but that’s where you’re going to get the results. The two other things I wanted to add to that, I think it’s kind of a similar and just as a good lesson. I was walking around the Arnold Bodybuilding classic last year and I met this random kid he’s like, “Hey, you’re Noah Kagan.” Like cool.
He’s like, “Hey we should hang out or work out when we’re in Austin.” So we go work out. Then he said, “Can I take free headshots for your company I think you guys would like it? There’s no charge I just thought you guys would appreciate it.” Him asking that and doing free headshots has turned into… I pay him $2,000 a month to do videos for me.
[00:43:08] Scott: That’s awesome.
[00:43:09] Noah: I think the two things that were interesting there is that if you’re trying to start a business and you’re kind of shy or you don’t want to ask for things that’s kind of a skill you need to just practice. It’s like a muscle you need to develop. Go offer things for free until you get too busy, so that’s one way like for someone to start a headshot business. Just go do it for free and then when you get too busy and then you’ll eventually be like I got to charge for this because I’m too busy.
The second thing that he did I thought was interesting is kind of finger out your angle. If you angle was like in this town we are the family photo people. His angle was like, “I do photos and professional headshots for your LinkedIn or for your company ‘About’ page.” I was like it’s a cool angle.
[00:43:46] Scott: I’ve carved it out, yeah for sure.
[00:43:49] Noah: Then I was going to refer him to other companies to go get their headshots taken.
[00:43:52] Scott: That’s how it happens. That one thing that he decided to do… Again, it was that moment. He bumped into you, asked you to go work out, you said yes. You go work out and then he starts talking about what he does and he offers that for free for you and now you refer people to his website.
[00:44:09] Noah: I refer people and then I hired him to do my videos. He gets $2,000 a month. I think it is amazing that he just took that initiative to do it. I think it’s like you have to go for it and it’s going to be a little weird at first but eventually like you get better, it gets easier and then you keep growing.
[00:44:25] Scott: To me you learn so much through those experiences. You learn what works, what doesn’t work. What you’re like what you don’t like and like you said you go through different transitions and stuff. I love that. I wasn’t expecting I’d go on this long with this but we haven’t even talked yet about any of these other things. Let’s just do that. Let’s wrap up with that.
People that are just starting especially people that are listening again they’re stuck. A lot of people they are stuck, they don’t want to risk, they don’t want to go out there and launch a product. They think they’ve to spend thousands of dollars to launch products. I’ve always told people. There’s simple ways of testing or validating before you have to go out there and spend a ton of money.
I know that you’ve done some pretty cool little experiments and I want to drill into one of those. One of them is pretty funny. It’s the sumo Jerky. I want to talk about where did that come from? You have here the results of a 24 hour business challenge, what the heck happened there? What makes you want to try to sell beef jerky and start this 24 hour challenge thing?
[00:45:33] Noah: The back story was that I created a course which I won’t even mention because I don’t care if you guys buy it or not. I’ve created a course of teaching people how to start businesses because, to your point, everyone kept asking me though how did you start AppSumo, how did you start the games business? I was like just go buy this course. It’s exactly what I do.
I don’t know if I’ve share this yet but the number one way we’ve ever sold the course was when I started this jerky business because then they actually believed that they could do it. Not just like here’s a course and you’re going to… It’s like no, let me prove it to you. Actually, the way the jerky business started is I emailed the AppSumo emailing list which is almost a million people and I said I’ll start any business you guys want just choose it.
They choose… It was basically three business options. I don’t know why they were all food and I couldn’t use my network. I couldn’t use anything… I already have a decent following and I have some attention. The three business options were lemonade, hot sauce and jerky. I was like, “Fine, whatever.” I truly believe… This has become more cemented as I’ve gotten older, I’m 35, is that I do think you just need to solve your own problems.
I just think you need to solve… It doesn’t have to be a problem. It could be just solution to something that doesn’t exist that you want and solve yourself because you’ll always have one happy customer.
[00:46:51] Scott: That’s right.
[00:46:52] Noah: I love jerky. My cabinet right up here like I have jerky. I eat jerky almost every day. It’s easier for me to understand the customer, it’s easier for me to understand the market, it’s interesting to do everything because I’m already interested in it. Frankly, I would buy this myself. I think if you wouldn’t buy it yourself probably not something you should do. People always say, “I’m not a child should I be making children’s toys?” I’m like no honestly probably not unless you have kids or you’re creepy.
[00:47:24] Scott: The one thing I would say to that or if you had a partner that was into that stuff and then you were able to tap into that expertise. Like you said it’s, if you’re just randomly doing it then it’s going to be harder for you for you to understand that customer. I think it’s true.
[00:47:39] Noah: I think so. I’ll tell you man, I’ve been doing this for 17 years and I’ve started a lot of businesses. Every time I get one of these one to ones it’s like I heard about this podcast. He just started an FBA business and now he’s rich and he’s in Vietnam, it’s awesome. It always seems more awesome than it is. The grass always seems greener than it is.
Everyone’s business always seems bigger than it actually is and it seems like it’s running more smoothly than it actually is. People are like, “Man Noah you guys are doing so well…” It’s like, actually we are doing really well but the point is that things are never as easy as they seem.
[00:48:10] Scott: You’ll still have struggles. You’re not saying that there’s no struggle.
[00:48:13] Noah: I got to say that there’s tons. You have to figure a business that you want to struggle through. You have to find a partner like a wife that you’d want to struggle with. The jerky business I think… Basically, the challenge was I’ll start any business, 24 hours, I have to make $1,000 profit, I can’t use my name. Meaning I can’t email my mailing list which I would have been able to do.
I think there’s a lot of major takeaways by it. Number one, the fact that I already built a mailing list or built an audience of people who trust me that I had access to is essential. I think for ecommerce stores that’s almost one of the stupidest thing I’ve seen none of them do and I’m like you guys are all… I want to say the R-word but they’re really stupid. I’m like why don’t you collect email addresses and build a relationship with is our R-word with your people so that when you want to sell something they trust you.
It’s like pen handling. How many give pen handling people money? Very few. How many if they’re a brother, a mother, a sister or Scott hit them up would probably give them money? They’d be like of course. What’s the difference? The difference is the relationship. I think that was number one.
Number two, I did an excel model that was stupid simple. You have to work backwards from your goal. I said I need $1,000 profits, how much do I need to buy the jerky for? How much do I need to sell it for so I can have my goal? The amazing thing about doing the excel sheet it’s not complicated. It’s really stupid math. You can just do it on a paper. What I realized was I couldn’t sell it a pack at time. I couldn’t just sell jerky $20 and make 10. I’d have to sell a lot of freaking jerky. The only way I could do it is if I made it a subscription and I made people pre-pay so like buy three months of it or buy six months of it.
That was one insight. I think to your point, look for things that could work and then I want to do more of that. I looked at it, I was like, I have to sell subscription because why one wouldn’t work.
The second thing that was insightful about it was that I was like who would buy this that I can sell a lot to? I was like, you know who would buy a lot from? Offices. I was like well, offices have budgets for food and they're already spending money. Like for them to spend $100 on jerky for their people, especially if it's premium jerky, would be easy.
[00:50:18] Noah: So this is before I did anything. A question that people always asked afterwards, I was surprised, is like, where did you find the jerky? I was like I don't give a frig. I don't know if you swear in your podcast, I'll try not to, but my point with it was that finding the jerky is the easy part. Getting people to give me money is the hard part.
That's the same with all physical products and even digital products. Everyone's like, well, how did you build it? I'm like building it is the easy part. Sitting on my a** at home is easy, going out and asking people for money, hard. Doing the hard part of this and then the other part becomes easy.
So the harder you work, the easier life gets. So I went and did the hard stuff. I didn't worry about getting the jerky. I figured if I could get $4,000 in revenue and a thousand profits, I can go to a jerky person and say, “I have a thousand dollars for you or $3,000 for you, can you ship jerky to these people?”
They'd say, “Yes.” It's easier if you already have the money to go do that.
[00:51:17] Scott: So let me ask you though this question. Okay, how did you pre-sell the jerky? You knew that was coming. How did you pre-sell the jerky without having the product to show them like this is premium, and it’s got to be certain blends of the seasoning and like how did you sell it without having it?
[00:51:38] Noah: It's actually fun. I'm doing in podcast so today about this. It's called “the dream 100.” It's a challenge tactic and I love it. I think what happens with a lot of online businesses is people pray and hope for Amazon miracles. It's like Christmas. Amazon will be Santa Claus like, “If I put it out there, oh, Timmy, it will just be so magical, sales will just start coming in.”
I don't believe in hope. What I did is, I made a list of every person I believe is interested in healthy living or exercises, and they'd probably buy jerky, and so I just made a list of them.
Then I literally just went through that list of people. Here's just a few things I needed to make the sales, and I'll just go through ones that I think are interesting. Number one, I don't just put it up somewhere and hope it works. I guarantee it works. If it doesn't work, that's great.
Now I didn't waste so much money and time.
I went and I made a list of 100 people. I was like all right, well, these people will probably buy it, let me hit them up. I did that, and actually a lot of them didn't buy, which was great. I hit up my brother, and he said, “No,” I hit up my mother, she said, “No.” What you do is every time you get a rejection, a rejection is a free referral. That's the way I look at it. When I got rejected by them, I was like, well, who's someone that you think likes jerky? The recruiter at Sumo was actually referred by someone that didn't want to work with us.
I think they liked their job until like well, this guy is actually really great. Every time I get rejected, I always ask for referral. Second thing is don't do passive activities so I did… A lot of people were posting and be like, well, no. Maybe anybody who'd want this. It's like that's passive. Be active. So, I went out and did a few things.
I went to Facebook groups that I'm very active in for healthy living, and I just said like, “Hey, does anyone want jerky in these?” Like, “I'm starting a jerky business like does anyone want to buy, it’s 20 bucks a month, does anyone want a pre-sell?”
A few people were like, “Yeah.” And I was like I can't believe they're actually doing it. That's actually also as I started realizing the one by one sales are very inefficient. This was kind of I think of the more creative ones.
[00:53:36] Noah: I looked at the people that I already paid every month as a service provider that had offices. All of my friends worked at a company. I was like all of my friends work at companies, and I pay all these other people that work at companies like I pay for Stripe and I pay for e-mail provider. I was like, what if I just hit up the people that I'm already giving money to that know me, and be like, “Hey, you have an office. Can I just like talk to your office manager?” I think there’s two take-aways. Number one, look for who you already have access to.
I think a lot of times in business, we make it harder than it actually has to be. We're like, “Oh, I got to go like hopefully this ad will go to this landing page, will go to this other thing,” and a miracle happens. I never like spending money on ads until I know that I'm going to make money. Meaning that unless I know that there is a profit margin available for advertising, I won't advertise. Number one, look for the people already in your network or look for the people they know in their network.
Number two, what was really appealing was I did calls and texting. I think that was actually kind of surprising because like I think it's very lazy to send an email like even getting on the show, Scott, I didn't have an assistant do it, I didn't like just randomly… I had my sister doing it, I was like how do I make it good for Scott?
How do I make something that Scott is excited to have me on? I was like well, I can talk about these stories, I think people will enjoy. I think calling and texting and being very pro-active, made a huge difference in the success of people actually saying, “No, I don't want it, or yes,” and they had to decide right then, versus kind of emailing and waiting because I think the last… And there's probably few other good take-aways but I think that the last thing is I limited my time. So I called people, I'd be like, “Hey, I'm selling the jerky, it's only available today. “
[00:55:15] Scott: Yeah, right.
[00:55:16] Noah: I think what happens in business, and I noticed this for myself, I keep reminding myself is that the more time you give yourself, the more excuses you'll make.
[00:55:23] Scott: 100%.
[00:55:24] Noah: The fact that I only had 24 hours, I remember this dude, it was so interesting. I was on the stair master, it was like 6 o'clock the day before it started. It was 6 p.m. I was like, “Dude, this is going to be cake,” and I was like, “I can't use my network, I can't use any of the things that I've asked like my email list and my twitter and social media kind of stuff.
I was like “oh, it's going to be easy.” I’m on the stairmaster joking about it, and then I literally woke up at midnight, kind of like paranoid. I was like, I've only got 24 hours and if I fail, this is going to be pretty publicly embarrassing. “
And I still fail a lot. Like failing is going to happen, and I think you have to practice your fail muscle, like you have to get the fail muscle so strong that you're like, “Dude, let me just keep going. I'll keep going.” I remember waking at midnight and being like all right, cool. Like this is scary, let me get to it. Limiting that time was one of the key things I think most people if you limit the time, like you'll actually increase the creativity.
[00:56:19] Scott: Oh, I agree with that, yeah.
[00:56:20] Noah: You know what I mean? Like I'm building a WordPress plugin. So for okdork.com I built this email capture thing that I want and that's what Sumo.com does too. Everyone go grab some email list go use sumo.com. For my personal site, I also built just like a new feature that maybe we'll roll into Sumo, and the developer I was like, “Dude, we should just give this away for free.”
He's like okay, and I was like, “Hey, when do you think it'll be done?” He'll be like, “Oh, two weeks.” I was like, “Well, what would be different if you had to do it by tomorrow?” He's like, ‘Well, I won’t make it pretty,” I won't make it this, I won't make it that. I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it tomorrow.”
[00:56:53] Scott: Yeah, let’s do it tomorrow.
[00:56:55] Noah: Yeah, I was like, “Let's get it done.” And then from there, we can actually make improvements. I'm sure there's like some Mike Tyson quote or something, patent quote about planning and execution but the point is that like I've spent a lot of time and money in my life wasted.
[00:57:08] Scott: Yeah, I agree.
[00:57:09] Noah: Like I've built businesses where I've spend a lot on lawyers and a lot on developers and a lot on the domain and all this other crap but then actually seeing that people wanted it, which is the most thing, I spent a little amount of time on. I try to just do that.
When I generally recommended people is 48 hours, three paying customers, and if you could do that, you can go in and probably get more customers but if you can't do that in 48 hours, it's not going to get easier.
I don't like the mentality of like let me just put it on Amazon and kind of hope like randomly sales come in and like I just bought this course and so that person said to look on Alibaba and just put it up there, because everyone else can do that too. Go and validate yourself, do a little bit of the hard work and then keep iterating and growing and making it easier on yourself.
[00:57:55] Scott: Yeah, and that's what we've kind of talked about here too. Yeah, there's easier ways to get that product to market, wholesale, obviously you could wholesale it. If you went to Ali Baba or Ali Express, you're testing out the product but like you said, there's got to be a unique twist of some kind or a different use. Let's say that. Let's say for example you did find that generic thing but it's not used for this but you're using it for this now.
That would be another spin on it, versus just saying that it's another… We always use garlic press because no one wants to really sell their products in the Amazon space because then everybody will start going after each other and all that fun stuff. We always use garlic press. So let's just say you had a garlic press, but if that garlic press was using for crushing something for your garden, for seeds, well if now it's a different spin so you have a different angle, you have to come up with a unique spin of some kind.
I always tell people, even if you did go that large, do something. Learn the process. Whether you buy something that you're going to put up there, and you're just going to see if it sells, whether it’s Amazon/eBay or any other market place, or even just your own website and didn't drive traffic, you still are further ahead than thinking about doing it. I mean so many people do that.
[00:59:08] Scott: I'm going to give everyone like this is… I think others have mentioned it but this is a business… I'll give everyone this business idea. If you're like and a lot of people, “I don't have a business idea, I don't have a product.” I'm like I'll give it to you. I'm going to give everyone exact solution.
I mean literally; it's not fluff. I have a bunch of s*** at home and I literally just throw it away or I just like put it outside, and I'm like, “I hope someone takes it.” So I literally think there's an enormous opportunity to just hit up your friends. Like get on your phone, if you're listening to this on your podcast, like on your phone right now, get on your phone and text five friends, or just text one.
“Hey, can you give me, put everything you want to sell or just donate in the corner, and I'll take care of it for you, and I'll give you money.” You go pick up their stuff. Like Scott, you have a bunch of stuff in your house; I can see stuff in the back. I'm sure you have a pile of books, and a pile of electronics and then text them like let me come pick up.
I pick it up for you, and then I go sell it on eBay or Amazon. That is a great way to start. You can literally start that business today. I don't know why people aren't doing that. I actually had to pay someone to take my stuff out.
[01:00:13] Scott: It's funny that you say that, I told you we have like a little, it’s a small course that we do, just to get people started. We call the 1K Fast Track and basically, the very first kick-off call that we do, is cleaning out your house and selling it on eBay.
[01:00:27] Noah: Yes. You've got to do that for your friends.
[01:00:30] Scott: Exactly. Well, here's the funny thing. The first one we did, we did a beta group, again we always do… We practice what we preach. We did a 50 person beta group, we filled that in six minutes, when we sent out an email, we got those people through and the very first week, those people in seven days, they made $3,500 in revenue they brought in.
So now all of a sudden they're believers because now we've taken them from where, “I don't know if this thing can work,” to, “Oh my gosh, I've cash coming in.” And we actually just started another group. Right now it's fresh. We just did the kick-off called last Saturday, and I just looked into the group, there's already been over $600 created in cash that they literally, they listed the stuff that they found in their house because we told them to do it, and they had till next Saturday to report it. We also gave a little incentive that said, “Whoever has the most earnings, we'll give them 100 bucks.
[01:01:16] Noah: I love it.
[01:01:18] Scott: You know what I mean this is like how to give a little bit of a kick in the butt is what we sometimes need in the time frame.
[01:01:24] Noah: Totally man. Yeah, that was that, I did another one like two other stories I think people would be interested in. So I did the same thing with gum. I chew a lot of gum.
[01:01:31] Scott: Yeah, tell me about that.
[01:01:32] Noah: Well, I chew a lot of gum and I was at a gum store and I was frustrated. So I think solve your own problems so I was frustrated that there's no new flavors out…I like…
[01:01:39] Scott: So you made your own flavor?
[01:01:41] Noah: Yeah well so I, basically it was like well, what would be a cool flavor? I was like coffee flavor would be cool, and if it had caffeine. So instead of having coffee in the morning, you just pop some gum before the gym.
I was like, “Let me see if people will buy it.” I hit up my friends who drink coffee. I hit up three of them I was like, “Hey, give me $10, and I'll make coffee gum for you?” And they're like, “Sure.” They gave me money and then… Literally, you can see all this stuff.
[01:02:12] Scott: Yeah I see it.
[01:02:13] Noah: What I did is I sold it, so I kind of thought that there would be some interest in it and then… One second. I basically, I hit up a friend who likes cooking and I was like, “Hey, do you think you can just figure out how to make coffee gum, because I don't want to make it, but I want it.”
She's like, “Sure, I'll make it.” She actually figured it out. She went on Amazon and there’s this company called Glee Gum, who sells like gum kit. She bought Glee Gum, she bought coffee ground and caffeine powder, and then mixed it together and then like wrapped it in a parchment paper.
I gave that out in a zip logged back, it's kind of like a drug dealer but I gave it out in a Ziplock bag and the people were like, “This is pretty good. Here's what I'd change about it.” Like the size was too large, I think it was not sweet enough and so I went back and gave her that feedback. That's how it goes. I mean I think people are looking to side step or short cut it but I think part of it is like, part of the fun and enjoyment is the hard part. It’s like the process of like getting that going.
[01:03:10] Scott: Yeah, it really is. It's funny.
[01:03:12] Noah: Can I do one other story?
[01:03:13] Scott: Yeah. Do one more. That would be cool.
[01:03:15] Noah: I think people will love it. So a buddy of mine, his name is Dustin. He is a fitness freak. He's got a great body, it's kind of weird for another guy to say about another guy. Dustin… I don't know, microphone's going to fall off. It's too far in the back but anyway so Dustin goes to the gym a lot, and he was frustrated with always having to like to bring his protein bottle.
So what he did, and I'll talk about the marketing because I actually think the marketing is going to be more helpful for your people but basically the short answer was that he realized that like bringing protein to the gym was a pain in the butt. He created his own disposable bag. He went on Alibaba, and he found disposable bags that you could put protein powder in, and then bring it to the gym, fill it with water, shake it, drink it and then throw it away. There's always that one lesson like, “What about recycling?” Like yeah, it's recyclable, it's fine.
The point though is two things. One, I think him just getting it going is great. I actually gave him the money for it. He's like I don't have cash. I was like I don't want any return, I don't want any equity. I think I gave him like 1,000 bucks to go build them.
What was interesting about it, is a few different things. I talked some of the market things that are workable, but I think him getting going is really important and then secondly, so number one, get going, number two, iterate the product. So as people are using the product now, we can actually be like, hey, it's really not gym people, it's like more… I actually started using it for travelling. Because I can bring this plastic bag, fill it with water on airplane. Or you can use it as a flask when camping because it's really light.
[01:04:43] Scott: Okay, yeah.
[01:04:44] Noah: So it's interesting, I think, for him and I think well he'll be more successful and I don't think it's doing amazing if he sells a $100 a week. So people will be like oh, you know. It starts there. Every business starts somewhere.
[01:04:52] Scott: Yeah, exactly. Hey, it's something. Yeah.
[01:04:57] Noah: Number one, get started, number two, iterate. Now he's like “all right, who are the people using it, and how do I serve them better?” The ceiling is not good. The bag size could be larger. Figure out the person and keep improving it for them and then some of the marketing that he's done that’s worked really well.
He's collected emails and I see a lot of ecommerce people not doing this. I'm like “control your own fate.” Have direction. Scott I'm guessing you want to talk to your wife directly, you don't want to talk to her through a third party.
[01:05:20] Scott: Yeah. That wouldn't go over so well.
[01:05:23] Noah: No, but for some reason with ecomm, all these people are super excited not to ever talk to their wives.
[01:05:28] Scott: I know, right?
[01:05:29] Noah: He's done three things that I thought were interesting. He did surveying, and that's actually a way that he learnt about his customers, and made sales. So after his surveys, he'd be like, “Where do you know normally hear about these product for? How do you like using it?” At the end of the survey, he'd actually give a discount.
[01:05:44] Scott: I love it.
[01:05:45] Noah: As a way of learning about his customers and that actually is one of his highest ways of converting people so number one surveying, number two opening up international sales, so when he actually said, “Hey, I can ship internationally,” it increased the sales a lot. Third and fourth thing is reaching out directly, as we talked about like reaches out one by one so he has a quota each day of how many people he's reaching out to.
The fourth thing with that is repeat buying. He actually goes… Your best customers are your existing. He goes back to his customers every month and be like, “Hey, do you want to buy this again?” If people aren't selling things like that, see if you can sell them something else.
[01:06:17] Scott: Yeah, something that's related to it.
[01:06:19] Noah: Yeah, exactly. Everyone's trying to reinvent the wheel. You already have people that love you. Just serve them better.
[01:06:23] Scott: No, I love all that and especially you hitting on building out your prospect list and your customer list. I mean that's gold to me. It's like for you to be able to leverage that list later, and not just sell them stuff, but it's kind of like you're going to give them value and like you said if you're in the jerky, you could come up with some really stuff to basically give those people, that isn’t even your product.
It could just be like showing someone eating it because it's really hot and you've seeing that, the posted it on Instagram or they posted it on YouTube of them eating it and seeing how hot it really is and you can say someone so and so, “John Smith, he tried some of our hot jerky and he videoed himself on YouTube. You've got to go check this out. It's amazing.”
Then you could put us up on your PS if you wanted to, “We've got 25% off this week or something.” Like there's all the little things you can do but you don't get to do that if you don't have that connection. So many people think that it's got to be through a Facebook post or it’s got to be through an Instagram post.
To me it's about doing it through the communications, through an email and then yes, you can still follow up with them through Facebook or during targeting or any of that stuff but men oh men, people just, they don't look at the email as being valuable or they think it's too complicated.
[01:07:32] Noah: Yeah I mean a lot of people are like… I think what they hear or what I think they hear is that like, “Oh, you just could just email.” It sounds like it comes out of magic, like you just create this email list and it just prints money for you, but I think the question's like how do you do it? The point is like literally an email list is like just get ten people and email them through Gmail. That is called an email list. Then if you want to get more fancy, go on Mailchimp. It's free for your first 2,000 subscribers, and just manually enter them so like it's fine with my podcast.
It's funny as you may think. Oh Noah has got a lot of followers and I've got a mail list or something. I still when I need people one by one like at lunch today, I'm like hey, have you subscribed on podcast? No. can you get on your phone and do it right now.
[01:08:07] Scott: Yeah.
[01:08:08] Noah: One by one I'm still doing it to hit my goal.
[01:08:11] Scott: I think it's awesome.
[01:08:13] Noah: I think people want to skip the hard work on that.
[01:08:14] Scott: No, it's true. Because everyone wants the shortcut. To me it's all about the hard work.
[01:08:19] Noah: It is I mean I think there's blueprints like is your courses to get to somewhere faster because you've already gone through it because you've already gone through it. So I think you should look the courses of someone that you believe in or look for mentors or experts that you can pay for to shortcut things, but at the same time like you can't go and get a great body without doing the work.
[01:08:35] Scott: Right.
[01:08:36] Noah: And you can't go to the gym one day and expect a six pack. People are like “yeah of course” but for the business, we think otherwise. We're like “well I worked out one day, why am I not rich?”
[01:08:47] Scott: Sometimes it's just the kick start too, it's funny. I'm 44. When I was in 40 I was in really good shape, I got into the BeachBody products, I did insanity which…
[01:08:55] Noah: Oh, dude it's so good at.
[01:08:57] Scott: Yeah. Crazy, right?
[01:08:59] Scott: I couldn't do anything for 15 seconds.
[01:09:01] Noah: So I basically did that, I got really in shape, my kids were saying, “Oh dad, you're looking ripped,” this that and the other thing. I’m like, “This is cool?” Then I fell off the wagon. Like a lot of people I fell off and I got an extra 20lbs on me and stuff and just recently my 18 year old son, again he said, “Dad, you've got to get back into it. You've got to go back into doing some BeachBody stuff.” I'm like, “No, I get it, I can do it in the gym. I'm my own motivator.” I go “you know what? He's right. I got to get back into the program.”
So I went and I did T25. I just did that one. That's his latest one. That was awesome. It's 25 minutes a day, 5 days a week, and who can't do 25 minutes a day, right? So I did that, I got my diet dialed back in. I lost 20lbs in 60 days.
I'm back to where I was and I'm probably going to be even better moving forward because I'm working out now with weights and stuff but I needed that plan. I needed that… In 60 days, this is what you need to do. Everyday there's something to do, right? You have that blueprint and I knew what I had to do but I needed something to guide me and get back on track again. Now I’m dialed in. Now you can’t even derail me because I’m just so locked in.
[01:10:06] Noah: I do want to highlight this because I think… Well, a few different things. I think people miss the fundamentals and the foundation of life. What I mean by that is like get your health together, get your bedroom together and get your tools together meaning like I spend a lot of time… I sleep eight hours and that’s my foundation for the day, so get a good bed. If you’re on your computer all day get a good computer that’s your foundation. Then your body, if you’re tired or if you’re not in good health it’s going to be hard to work when you’re dead.
It’s going to be hard to enjoy life if you’re not healthy and people are like whatever but I think if people just go for a walk or exercise a little bit and then you build it up, they realize how much that will actually spill over into their business, into their personal life.
[01:10:45] Scott: I love it. Hey man, this has been awesome and I had no idea where it was going to go. I had no idea where this was going to go but it went really well. I’m sure we’ll have to have you back on in the future again and just hear all the different things that you’re doing because you’re moving 100 miles an hour too which I love. Just want to say thank you once again Noah. This has been fantastic. Any last little bits of parting piece of advice and maybe let people know how they can get in touch with you?
[01:11:15] Noah: I put some notes of things that I thought that I would say but… I’ll just repeat because I think sometimes we’re looking for new things but it’s the existing things. For anyone running a business, go look at what worked in your business in the beginning that you’re not doing anymore and go back and do more of what worked. I think that’s one thing.
I think we’re always looking for new things but I’m like what’s worked well in the past. For sumo.com like content’s worked really well. Why don’t we just do more content? Figure out what’s working … What worked and do more of it and then be aggressive in killing it. For my blog OkDork or for my YouTube channel, I removed over 50% of my content. Actually, I’m doing an ecommerce review with the… Do you know ecommerce fuel?
[01:11:57] Scott: Yeah. Actually I met with him last year at Steve Chou’s event.
[01:12:03] Noah: One of his customers… This is one of the things, so number one, do more what’s working and if you’re not sure what’s working just go look back what you did six months ago or twelve months ago. Number two, we’re doing a review of an ecommerce business and what’s been interesting is this guy has 10 products and this is one of the scenes where everyone would be like, “I know they know it shut up.”
The guy has 10 products, three of the products make 85% of his revenue. I’m like, “Why are you selling the other products?” Focusing on essentials is do more of those three and remove the distractions. For my blog and for YouTube, I killed off almost 80% of my content because when people come to my restaurant I want every dish to be great. If people come to your ecommerce store and they only buy up… We get a few sales out of this one.
If you remove that every dish will be great and they’ll want more dishes from you. Those are my two things I want people to… That’s what I’m thinking about and I want to encourage everyone to think about in their business. If people want to learn more about me at Noah Kagan Presents Podcast or okaydork.com. The two business I run they’re free, you don’t have to pay anything.
Appsumo.com is a groupon for geeks so if you want tools to grow your business we promote them with deals every week. Sumo.com is a free tool to grow your email list, so go check that out if you want to grow your email list.
[01:13:12] Scott: You’ve got some really, really cool tools and great products out there in the market place. I’ve heard a lot of good things about you so it’s been really awesome to be able to sit down and have a chat with you and hopefully we can do this in person one day. This would be cool.
[01:13:26] Noah: Where are you going to be this year? I’ll make sure I’ll find you.
[01:13:30] Scott: I’m not even 100% sure where I am going to be but the one I am going to be is Sellers’ Summit, that’s Steve Chou’s event that’s in Fort Lauderdale. I’ll be there in May so we’re going to be there. I’ve got a couple that I might be hitting but not 100% sure yet but I’ll be around. Maybe you and I will have to chat to see where we’re going to be and maybe we can hook up.
[01:13:45] Noah: That’d be cool.
[01:13:46] Scott: All right man, so this has been awesome. Again, have an awesome day there Noah. Thank you so much brother and I appreciate it.
[01:13:53] Noah: Same here man.
[01:13:55] Scott: Okay that was really, really awesome and it went on longer than I expected but you guys could see, there was so many twists and turns and just a great conversation. What’s really cool is when you end the actual recording of this podcast when you have a guest on and your guest says, “Wow that was a lot of fun. That was really cool.” That makes me feel like we connected on a personal level, on a business level and we delivered some value.
Hopefully you guys got value from that. I would assume that you would because there was a lot of golden nuggets in there. You may even want to go back and listen to that one again because Noah is a smart guy. He’s been in this business world for a very long time and he’s just got a great track record and he’s willing to share. He’s also not saying you got to go out there and build these big companies to start with.
He’s talking about the MVP model; the minimal viable product as far as like how to go out there and listen to your market and offer a product but then you get them to vote with their wallets. Really that can happen on Amazon as well as we talk about here a lot on this podcast or just even running a Facebook ad to a landing page that could get people to sign up for a special that you’re going to be offering in the future.
That could be a way to test and validate. There’s a whole bunch of different ways. Again, we talked about a ton here and I’m not going to carry on here too much because this went a little bit longer than I expect. I would definitely recommend you checking out Noah’s stuff and I’ll link everything up on the show notes. The transcripts can be found at theamazingseller.com/342 and the other thing I’m going to do is include the video of us actually having this conversation.
That’ll be found there as well. Guys that’s it, that’s going to wrap it up. I want to remind you once again that I’m here for you, I believe in you and I’m rooting for you but you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Noah’s Facebook page: facebook.com/noah.kagan
- Noah’s Twitter page: twitter.com/noahkagan
- Podcast: Noah Kagan Presents
- BOOK: Born Standing Up
- BOOK: The Compound Effect
- Tony Robbins
- John Lee Dumas
- Steve Chou
- Seller’s Summit
- Ecommerce Fuel
- Gary Vaynerchuk
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