Hey everyone, today I share the mic with Noah Kagan, founder of Sumo and AppSumo, and host of Noah Kagan Presents. He was also Employee #30 at Facebook!
Tune in to hear Noah discuss how to create content that works, how he built Sumo and AppSumo by persisting and evolving, why you need to stick with marketing for at least four years, and the two things that surprised him about growing a business.
Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: Noah Kagan – From Facebook Employee #30 to Getting 700K Subscribers for AppSumo TRANSCRIPT
Time-Stamped Show Notes:
- 00:37 – Leave a review and rating and subscribe to the Growth Everywhere Podcast
- 01:00 – Eric introduces Noah Kagan who is among the first 10 guests of Growth Everywhere
- 03:25 – Eric shares that when he first started doing podcasts, he only had 9 downloads a day and has now grown to 35,000 in a day
- 04:13 – For podcasts, if you have old stuff that is good, just recycle it and it can double or even triple the traffic
- 05:18 – Noah says you get what you put in
- 05:20 – He spent two months writing a Tony Robbins’ article and it became popular
- 05:34 – He spent 15 minutes doing a video for YouTube and only got a few views
- 06:32 – “The easiest way to win is just persist and evolve”
- 07:18 – In marketing and in business, you should know how to stick with something for a long time
- 07:37 – Look at what’s working and evolve it
- 08:04 – Noah says his videos regarding marketing strategies perform well
- 08:41 – If you are a marketer, know what your goal is
- 09:04 – For Noah, the goal for AppSumo is to acquire half a million email subscribers in 2 years
- 09:44 – For Sumo, they have revenue goals every year
- 10:10 – In setting a goal, be honest with yourself and place it where you can regularly see it
- 11:44 – People who have reached their financial goals – Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Elon Musk – are not after the money anymore, but are after a vision
- 12:10 – Noah is now focused on the purpose rather than making money
- 12:20 – To figure out what your vision is, talk to a friend, look at your interests and the things you worked on in the past year
- 13:02 – Noah loves to promote great things and this is what he does with his work
- 14:17 – Sumo helps the underdog so that they can grow and develop
- 14:35 – Eric says Noah uses the Top of Mind strategies
- 15:03 – The best marketing is when people “see you everywhere”
- 15:28 – Target specific people and cater to them as opposed to being broad
- 16:07 – The two things Noah learned about goals: they should be hard and they should be continuous
- 16:39 – The vision is a destination that is almost unreachable but something that you genuinely want
- 16:46 – The timing for your goals should extend beyond a year; for Noah, they have goals set out as far as 2020
- 17:21 – Eric’s long-term vision is to improve education around the world, but how he will do it changes constantly
- 18:51 – “Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do”
- 19:16 – Noah would set targets for his podcast, but became disappointed when nothing worked and when the growth was slow
- 20:16 – Do not be so focused on the goal that you do not see the amazing things happening around you
- 20:21 – There should be a balance between your plan and creating the right habits
- 20:49 – One of Noah’s habits is doing the podcast every Tuesday
- 21:04 – Noah held a technology conference for his club and it became a yearly tradition
- 22:10 – There should be one day reserved as a day off or a block day
- 22:46 – Creative ideas come when you are not working in front of your computer
- 23:11 – Eric went to Napa alone for two days and spent the time strategizing
- 23:33 – Everybody has to find their creative zone
- 24:23 – The two strategies to being productive: either do things and figure it out or think about it first and do it afterwards
- 25:20 – In the case of Sumo and AppSumo, Noah realized that the more people are left alone, the better they become at the task
- 26:11 – Eric knows someone who grew his company’s revenue by hiring good people and getting out of their way
- 26:56 – To know if you’ve hired great people, think about how much you are paying them; great people do not come cheap
- 27:35 – People want to feel empowered by being given a clear goal and vision and then the autonomy to make the decisions
- 28:03 – As a boss, your role is to trust them but verify their work
- 28:23 – For AppSumo, they have a yearly and monthly revenue target and they get a report every Monday to show how they are doing
- 28:56 – To hold your business accountable, have a monthly board meeting
- 29:07 – Find someone you can talk to who will give you good information about your business
- 29:43 – Every business is like a Google map—you have a destination and route and when there is a traffic jam, you look for other ways to go around it without changing your destination
- 30:57 – Eric asks Noah how he finds great board members
- 31:08 – When Noah started AppSumo, he looked for people who knew the specific things he wanted to learn and it was effective at first, but not for the long term
- 32:17 – A good strategy is to have informal advisers and ask them to look at your numbers; over time the adviser gets involved in helping the business to grow more
- 33:51 – A board member may disagree but this will help you look at an issue from a different perspective
- 34:07 – Find someone who will give you value and who really cares
- 35:07 – The two things that surprised Noah about growing a business: having monthly board meetings and hiring a recruiter early on
- 36:06 – There is a lot that can be accomplished in a day, so the important thing is to know what to prioritize
- 37:14 – If you are just starting out in YouTube, you have to be strategic
- 37:50 – With today’s technology, everyone can be a star, but there are also more things that are vying for your attention
- 38:14 – Do the topics that people really want and focus on the quality
- 38:31 – Invest your time in the content you create
- 39:17 – Figure out your own unique angle
- 39:45 – Eric says he likes Noah’s videos because he is being himself in them
- 40:11 – Be yourself by dealing with your frustrations
- 40:22 – Noah journals and has bought a chair that he likes to sit on
- 41:18 – Noah knows a guy who is rich who likes to ask for discounts; he says he is rich because he keeps on asking for discounts
- 41:45 – In terms of being yourself, find the things that you are great at and that give you energy
- 42:08 – Learn how to work smarter and be mindful of how you spend your days
- 43:16 – You can get more out of your day if you spend it on things that give you energy
- 44:25 – One of Noah’s struggles is finding out if he should do things he is great at or fix the things where he is weak
- 44:33 – Noah realized he should do the things he is great at and hire people who are strong where he is weak
- 44:58 – The pigeon theory is when you go somewhere, poop and then fly away
- 45:17 – If you are committed to doing something, you will figure out ways to come up with ideas
- 45:30 – “No time is no excuse”
- 46:03 – The pigeon theory is about knowing what you are strong at and being a part of the solution rather than the problem
- 47:10 – Noah is very good at feedback and this has contributed to his success
- 47:32 – “When someone gives you feedback, the first thing you do is say ‘thank you’” – Keith Ferrazzi
- 48:47 – People should not be defensive when they are receiving feedback
- 49:03 – Noah gives feedback to a lot of people, but they don’t really listen to it
- 51:07 – Noah is not into buying businesses and is an angel investor for only 2 companies because he is focused on growing his own companies
- 52:02 – AppSumo had some problems in the past and Noah had to let go of people; they went back to the basics and they are now much larger than before
- 52:43 – A vision for AppSumo is to simplify the number of software that’s being used by people
- 53:26 – When your customer reacts positively to your product, then you should build on that
- 54:11 – Do not find the next new thing, just work on how you can make your products better
- 55:40 – It’s easier to work on the things you already have rather than to build new things
- 56:14 – More often than not, removing things is better for your business than adding new things
- 57:27 – Noah thinks he is making his videos too quickly
- 58:03 – Noah says he likes for his videos to be evergreen
- 58:34 – Facebook succeeded because they were focused; at the beginning they were only focused on Harvard students, then moved from one step to the next until they are now dominating the scene
- 59:06 – You should recognize what works and do more of that
- 59:30 – Eric heard that “the organization’s weakness is the CEO’s greatest strength”
- 59:44 – Noah says the company is a projection of the owner in real life
- 1:00:16 – Noah is great at growing, but is not as great at maintaining the company and has hired people for that
- 1:00:43 – Noah is looking for an assistant
- 1:00:50 – One applicant is a 23-year-old girl who answered questions well and is being paid $22 per hour
- 1:01:05 – The other applicant is a 50-year-old woman who charges $50 per hour and is a career executive assistant who has 20 years of experience
- 1:01:38 – Eric was in the same situation recently with two applicants who had equal experience but different rates—they went with the cheaper one
- 1:02:14 – In Noah’s scenario, Eric would have chosen the woman with more experience because she could get things done faster
- 1:02:18 – Noah is also leaning towards the woman with more experience
- 1:02:39 – In sports, the ones who win are those that are paid the highest
- 1:03:11 – Noah asked the help of an expert for his podcast and YouTube videos
- 1:04:15 – In hiring coaches and experts, you get what you paid for
- 1:05:14 – Noah says it is easier to keep people happy rather than look for new employees
- 1:06:02 – Connect with Noah at AppSumo and Sumo
- 1:06:18 – Also check out Noah Kagan Presents and search him on YouTube
- 1:06:27 – Add Noah on Snapchat
- 1:06:42 – End of today’s episode
3 Key Points:
- Persist and evolve—these are the keys to winning and keeping up with the market.
- You get what you put in—create a quality product and reap the rewards.
- It is easier to grow and develop what is working than building something brand new.
Resources From This Interview:
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Full Transcript of The Episode
Announcer: Do you want to impact the world and still turn a profit, then you're in the right place. Welcome to growth everywhere. This is the show where you'll find real conversations with real entrepreneurs. They'll share everything from their biggest struggle to the exact strategies they'll use on a daily basis. So if you're ready for a value packed interview, listen on. Here's your host Eric Suk.
Eric Siu: Before we jump into today's interview, if you guys could leave a review and a rating and also subscribe as well that would be a huge help to the podcast. So, if you actually enjoy the content and you'd like to hear more of it, please support us by leaving us a review and subscribe to the podcast as well. Thanks so much.
Okay everybody we have a guest that was actually one of my first ten on Growth Everywhere. So this was about three and a half almost four years ago, holy shit. So this is Noah Kagan, AKA rabbi can't lose, AKA buff Jewish man, AKA the taco lover. He's also the founder of Sumo, also founded App Sumo, also host of the podcast Noah Kagan Presents, which I highly recommend. Definitely unique versus the other podcasts that I listen to. And also, previously at Mint and previously employee number 30 at Facebook. Noah, welcome back.
Noah Kagan: It's good to see your face man.
Eric Siu: It's good to see your face too. Usually I don't do the camera thing but I think I have enough bandwidth for you today. The internet gods have smiled upon you so, how's it going man.
Noah Kagan: Today is good. I actually went and had breakfast tacos.
Eric Siu: Breakfast tacos? How does that work? I've never had breakfast tacos before.
Noah Kagan: You know it's funny, this is one of those things that if people want to start a business just do it in the west coast or east coast. It's pretty straight forward you know, eggs, cheese, tortilla. All Mexican food is literally the same three things. Like have you ever heard that joke?
Eric Siu: No, no, never.
Noah Kagan: It's like enchilada, tortilla, meat, beans. What's a normal taco? Tortilla, chicken. It's just like, burrito, tortilla, chicken. It's like, a lot of Mexican food is just like the same stuff.
Eric Siu: You know I feel like in Texas, you're either eating tacos or you're eating barbecue right? Like, when you're in New Orleans all you're eating is Gumbo, Crawfish and like fried chicken.
Noah Kagan: Yeah I mean I think it's, from a growth and marketing perspective you've kind of got to
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give the people what they expect. When Andrew Chen, is a pretty known marketer as well, when he comes to town and he's one of my pretty close friends, and every time he comes here I'm like dude, let's go get sushi and I'm like there's this really good ramen place. And he's like bitch I'm here for the tacos and the barbecue. So we always go get tacos and barbecue.
Eric Siu: Give us a refresher on what you're up to now. What are you working on?
Noah Kagan: Yeah so, shit. We talked three years ago.
Eric Siu: Almost four, almost four.
Noah Kagan: One, I want to just give you commends. So like, everybody's like trying to figure out how to do better marketing. Here's one thing, just do it for four years and I'm guessing you'll figure out some things. Most people just do it for like a few months. And I can understand it. Like this podcast thing just doesn't grow that fast.
Eric Siu: Mm-mm (negative) no, and I'll tell you what, you know it's interesting. I was looking at Podcaster's Paradise and just like some feed popped up on Facebook when I woke up today. And these people are like you know I've been doing this for a couple of months and I'm only getting 1,500 downloads, I've spent so much time I just want to give up, blah, blah, blah. And then like the story I've been sharing in a lot of talks that I've been giving is just like after one year, I got fucking 9 downloads a day. 9 downloads a day. A year after that I was getting 54 downloads a day. And like, you just keep going and eventually it just gets up to like 100k a month or something like that. But you stick with it right?
Noah Kagan: What are you at a day now?
Eric Siu: A day. So for let's see the marketing school podcast we go up to like 28k in a day. And then for this one we get up to like 3,500 in a day.
Noah Kagan: Nice, dude.
Eric Siu: But keep in mind, I'm repeating a lot of the old stuff, because it's just stories right? The story is evergreen. So that's why we repeat the same stuff so we just put a date behind it.
Noah Kagan: That's one of those things for podcast because a lot of the historical ones, people don't really get experience. I think that's an amazing marketing lesson. Which is, if you have old stuff that's really good just recycle it.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: And I think this is something for myself where I'm like, let me try to create another thing and another thing. It's like, this stuff is already good and they haven't seen it in like two years so put that in your autoresponder or just like refresh it. I mean that's one thing that we did with OK Dork recently, and the refreshes, I mean its getting more popular
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now. But our refreshes were changed the title, we update the images, we clamp the text, and maybe the strategies. You know, very minimal and it doubles the amount of traffic.
Eric Siu: It works so well. And in like some cases, most of it is doubling, in some cases we're getting quadruple the traffic. So we're upgrading a lot of content, we're just you know, it makes sense right? If you buy a car you're not just going to use it for a month and that's it. You're going to try and maximize the mileage right?
Noah Kagan: I don't drive a car for a month, yeah probably.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: I think it's one of these things where if something's working how can you try and make it work better? So we, that's something that I think we don't all do well in marketing. Where, I had this Tony Robbins article that got pretty popular. And it wasn't a knock on Tony, it was just like my experience at his thing, and it was kind of an opinion.
Eric Siu: Yeah. That's a good one.
Noah Kagan: Thank you. And so the two things that were interesting about that is. Number one, you're really going to get out what you put in. So like I spent two months writing that one article.
Eric Siu: Two months?
Noah Kagan: Two months writing one article, yes. Not full time but you know maybe ten hours a week give or take. And the interesting thing about that is that I'm doing YouTube now. I've been experimenting with that as a marketing channel. And I put like 15 minutes in prepping for my video and then I put it out there and then not many people watch it. You know like 1,000, 2,000, which is great. I appreciate the people. But I'm like I want 100,000 watching an episode. And my friend said, well you know how much time are you putting into them. And I'm like 15 minutes.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: And he's like yeah, exactly.
Eric Siu: You know what's interesting. I mean I watched, you know my friend and I, and you've met him before when you were in Santa Monica, we actually watch every single one of your videos. Like, when I'm eating, I just need like 15 minute sound bites so I can just eat really quick and get back to work. So it's either Ted talks or I watch your videos because they're actually useful. Like a Warren Buffet: 6 counter intuitive things. And I'm like holy shit that's good right. So I think but, to what we just spoke about like, it's just going to take time to get there. Like I see your subscriber count, you're growing up. Every time I look at it it's like, he's up by a thousand, he's up by a thousand, you know what I mean?
Noah Kagan: Yeah. I mean I think that's a really, you know people always ask if you could tell your
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twenty year old self something, I'd be like dude buy Apple stock and retire, I don't know. That would be my advice. But my second advice that I've thought about a lot. And I think you're so right man. And the easiest way to win is just persist. Like if you could pick anything, so the two things, this is fully 100% what I've seen with marketing and with running business that have done well is that you have to persist and you have to evolve.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: And so Facebook. I was early there, and besides the point. I don't think people give Facebook or Amazon or some of these larger companies credit of how they've stayed relevant for 20 years. Like you can stay relevant for a month. I think of it like a diet. Like any of us could do a diet for a week. Like hey do a, my mom does a watermelon diet I always joke about, she'll eat watermelon for a few days. That's it. And she'll lose a bunch of weight.
Eric Siu: I love it.
Noah Kagan: And then she goes back and eats pizza the next week and she calls me and she's like I'm so guilty, I'm so guilty, I ate a pizza the whole thing, Noah. And I'm like mom, it's not sustainable. And so with marketing and business it's like how do you stick with something? And I think you're very right man and thank you for the reminder. Which is just like with my podcast or with the YouTube channel or even with Sumo. Stick with it for a long time, at least a year. And then at a year, that's kind of my thought, is commit for a year hardcore and then at a year make that decision. And the second thing that I think I do well and most marketers can improve on is just, how can you look at what's working and then evolve it.
So, for my YouTube it's like well, what topics have gotten the most views, and which marketing activities have done better? And which things are not. And so for me, when I do a lot of my frou frou videos like, oh how to ask better questions, or like I like the topic. Or like how to do better sales and things like that. It does okay. But if I talk about marketing specifically like hey, here's an exact marketing strategy I'm using like my core marketing strategy. Or I think the ones for 2017 are email marketing. They do well. And it's like okay, well Noah, why don't you do more of those and then less of the two minute kind of frou frou ones.
And you've got to, it's an interesting Venn diagram of what the world wants, what you want to make, and then like where's that intersection.
Eric Siu: So, some of these other ones, the not so much marketing ones. You have the air pod ones and then you have the Warren Buffet ones right?
Noah Kagan: Yeah.
Eric Siu: Would you say those are more around kind of what you're interested in or are those more like marketing?
Noah Kagan: Those are more just like what I'm interested in. It's more of like what's your goal right?
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So I think one of the number one mistakes every marketer makes is not having a clear goal.
Eric Siu: So how do you set the right goals?
Noah Kagan: Fuck, dude it's hard. And it's hard not to deviate because you get excited.
So I've struggled more with that this year than any other year. Every other year with our business with Appsumo.com, our Groupon company for geeks, or Sumo.com the email marketing software. It's been very clear. And let me walk through some examples. I think people always like that. So AppSumo when I first started, my goal was to get half a million email subscribers on our mailing list. And that was in two years. It was in one year. The first year I was just fucking around I didn't even know what was happening. And I was just like at the end of the year I was just like oh my god I made $300,000 revenue, not profit at all. Second year I was like holy shit we have like 50,000 subscribers let's 10x that.
So, what made it really nice is that every decision was around how do we get to that half a million number. And a lot of the times the goals, it's like literally the last few months where you're like oh my god, we might actually do it. And then we did it in like October. And then the next year was a revenue goal, and then the next year it was a sales goal for a course. We tried to sell 3,333 of our course. And then with Sumo.com it's been a certain number amount of people using it goal for a year. Then a revenue goal, last year was a revenue goal and this year is a revenue goal.
And we've had to change it.
Like our first year of Sumo, we thought we'd make ten million dollars our first year. And in our first month we made $20,000. I was like um we're probably not going to make ten million dollars this year. So you have to readjust. So how do you figure out your goal? I think the things that I've learned about goal setting is that it has to be authentic. And when it's not authentic, we know it. So when you're saying like, I see this from a lot of business owners. I want to help a million entrepreneurs.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: Go to an about page. I want to change the lives of 50,000 Jewish you know, people's businesses or whatever. And I did that. And it's one of these things where it kind of gnaws on you. It doesn't feel right. And you know when it feels right. And the way that it feels right is that it's something that's authentic to you. And I hate when people say that because I mean what's authentic? I mean something that you really want. But it should also be like just out of reach. So when I started my podcast that was my goal for the beginning of the year, and you could see it actually. The audio people can't see it but it's on my fridge. So right there, I print out my goal and I put it on my fridge so every time I open the fridge to get water, food, drinks whatever, I see my goal.
Eric Siu: That's how you get girls to fall in love with you, you put it on your fridge.
Noah Kagan: I put my net worth on the fridge too, I don't know why.
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Eric Siu: Wait do you really?
Noah Kagan: Well, it depends how much money we're trying to make this year.
Eric Siu: You know what's interesting, I mean, you know, so there's a goal for I think marketers are really good at setting numerical goals. But, you know I've been in a couple entrepreneur organization and they're always like, yeah you've got to have the vision statement, you've got to have the mission statement. So what's your vision statement, what's your mission statement?
Noah Kagan: Yeah.
Eric Siu: I think the marketers suck at that.
Noah Kagan: We do, I don't know if all of us suck at it. But I think if you look at the people who are accomplishing things, the ones who are at like the next echelon of life, of success. They've already made so much money it's not about the money. And I think that's really interesting. So if you look at Larry Elison, Bill Gates, Jobs, the people that we're all used to, Musk, all these people. They don't have to work anymore and a lot of people listening to your show and my show and so forth they're like, I want to make more money and I want to make more money. But there's something different about the ones who have gotten to that next level status that all of us would love to have that much money. They're not actually after the money.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: They've gotten so much of it that it doesn't matter. So they're after a vision. And I've changed my mind in the past few years I've definitely cared more about what's the purpose of things. When before I think in your 20's it's like, make money, work hard, make more of it. And I think when businesses they have to get more clarity on vision. And I talked on one of the YouTube videos because it was so helpful for me. And so, to figure out a vision it's actually really simple. It's surprisingly simple. Go to a friend and you talk to a friend, and you're like what would be really cool, what would be really fun for you to actually want to make, or work on? And then you just start talking about it, just kind of like flow.
So for me, I mean, all I've ever done, if I actually, so that's number one tell a friend. And number two just look back in the past twelve months and then just think about what you've worked on that you really like woke up early or stayed up late for. And you go through phases, there's times where you're like, I'm sure for you Eric, like you're really excited about something you're like fuck this is great, like I figured out a new marketing activity or I interviewed someone. And think about what some of those things were. And then you just merge those two. And so for me, what I've really loved to do, is I love to promote great things. That's all I love to do.
And I'm not generally the creator of great things. But I'm definitely the promoter of them. Things that I think are great. I worked at Facebook I thought it was great, I thought Mint was great. I think AppSumo is great, I think Sumo is great. And
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was promoting other people's tools that were great and Sumo we give people the tools themselves. And then my podcast and YouTube it's just kind of me doing my own stuff, but now it's finding other people that I can promote their stuff that I think is great.
And you know, it's one of those kids in college, like you ever meet the kid you like already knew his major and they knew their career? I'm like, how'd you fucking figure that out?
Eric Siu: No, it's Asian parents, they force shit on them. You've got to be a doctor, you've got to be a lawyer, you've got to be an engineer.
Noah Kagan: That's true. And, there's a lot of other races, in addition to the Asians and the Jews that have predetermined careers. But I think you kind of figure out things that you don't like to do. And then you think about what are things that you would work on for free, when there's not an ending.
Eric Siu: Totally.
Noah Kagan: And I think when you get that, that's something that at AppSumo we're actually are getting better at which is just how do you align the company. Because at some point you know, there's a lot of great companies out there to work for. And you know, we're all trying to pass time while we're alive. So how do we want to spend time in the most meaningful way for ourselves. And I think the company has to have something connected to that. For us, Sumo, we've basically helped the underdogs, we help people grow themselves.
Eric Siu: You know what's interesting, I mean, you have this other stuff. So you have the YouTube great videos going along, you have the great podcast, you're doing all this stuff, you're promoting stuff.
Noah Kagan: Oh Eric.
Eric Siu: And I don't know if you're unconsciously or consciously doing this but I have a friend that wrote a book, it's called Top of Mind right? Well you're basically saying top of mind all the time right? So if people want to you know, they think of something and it's like, shit Noah's there all the time. Like, I see his stuff all the time. He's there and he's creating all this great stuff and he's promoting stuff. I see his videos, I know who he is. So is that something you're very strategic about or is that just kind of happening?
Noah Kagan: It just happens. It's funny I think about this in marketing. And I'll tell you some of my strategies of how I've thought about podcast and YouTube and the growth specifically. But, the best marketing, if you're ever trying to do really great marketing, all you have to do is, you need to have people say this phrase. This is the phrase you're looking for, I see you everywhere. And so what that means, and so when I did marketing, or when we've done AppSumo marketing or with Sumo people are like I see you guys everywhere. It's like, no you don't.
You see me where I want to show to people like you. I'm looking for you. And I think
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with marketing most people are so broad that they miss the customer. And so, I'm not saying I'm perfect at it but the more that you can target specific people and the more you can cater to them, the more that they're going to see you and probably respond to the things that you're promoting. You know, I'll say man, like in terms of vision, so like for the podcast I said in the beginning of the year I want 100,000 downloads an episode. I actually originally said 10,000. And my friend Billy said, dude you could do ten thousand in a few months, that's kind of weak, you're being a bitch. And I was like you're right, I am. And I thought well what seems almost impossible to do?
And I thought 100,000 an episode, I mean that puts you in the top hundred or so. And you know, one, growing a podcast is fucking way harder than I thought. So, the goal should be hard. So the two things that I've learned about goals in the past seven to ten years running companies, myself is that it should be hard. And the second thing that I've really learned in the past few years and this is a mistake that I learned early on, is that the goals need to be continuous.
Eric Siu: What do you mean?
Noah Kagan: Well, what happened with Sumo for instance is that, let's say we set a goal to make a million dollars recurring revenue in the year. And we'd have a one year plan. And that was our goal. And we hit the goal in October and then November and December I'm like what should we do now? I'm like I don't know what do you want to do, I don't know. And then we kind of get a little lost.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: And you kind of look around and you're like what should we do next? And so, I think your vision is like a destination that's almost unreachable, you know, to help every business promote themselves or something that like you genuinely want. But there also should be some numerical plan that extends beyond a year. So, what we did is we created a 2020 plan, so where do we want to be in 2020 and then have high level numbers for that. But in one year, which is more important for us, have more detailed like, what are our monthly targets.
And that's really helped us. So like as we finish one goal it's like alright cool, we know where we're going overall.
Eric Siu: So your vision, I mean, does it ever, do you find it shifting? Because I mean like for right now for me I find it shifting from time to time right? But like, it's kind of slightly like really shifting, does that ever change for you?
Noah Kagan: Yeah. How is yours shifting?
Eric Siu: Yeah. So for me it's all about my long term vision is how do I improve education in the world right? But if I look at everything I do it's like, podcasts. Okay, it's education for people, videos is education for people, even training people on team it's education. Like everything I do is around education right? So that's how I see it. But it's like okay yeah I can say I want to build educationally based businesses right? Or like businesses with the
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foundation in education but, you know, is that what I really want to do? It's constantly like shifting in my head.
Noah Kagan: Yeah, things change. You don't wear the same clothes from high school.
Eric Siu: I do.
Noah Kagan: Ew. Actually, I do. A lot of my clothes are still from high school. Yeah, I mean things change. I think the vision is just like as you're working on things where do you want it to go? The hard part is, and I think this is an important message for you, for me, for the people up in their earlobes is that, there will be a hard part. There will be a part where you're working on education and for a week or two ... like for me right now, like my podcast, my YouTube, I don't really want to do it. I mean, I talk with my friend Adam from mybodytutor.com about it. And I swear, this is the, I don't know if it's the essence of success but it's doing the things that you should do when you don't want to do them.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: That is success. Success is like the person is watching TV or Netflix and jerking off, and you're like, well shit, I didn't want to go to the gym. Every time I think I don't want to go to the gym, that's when I go to the gym. When I don't want to be working on my podcast or YouTube or Sumo and helping grow Sumo, that's when I go do that stuff. Because when things are going well it's easy to continue.
Eric Siu: What's that quote? You know the successful people do the things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.
Noah Kagan: Oh, I like that.
Eric Siu: Yeah, there you go.
Noah Kagan: And I think it's a good message to repeat over and over because people think as you get to different levels of revenue or different levels of external labeled success, whatever it is. They think it just gets easier. No, you push yourself to new challenges. So, I mean with the podcast yeah man I launched the Noah Kagan Present podcast and I was like alright 100,000 you know, I wrote out my marketing plan I said I'm going to get 100,000 by the end of the year. Here's my targets each month, here's my marketing activities each month. And like, nothing worked. Like almost nothing worked. And I was shocked just how slow it fucking grows.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)- but it's working now right?
Noah Kagan: I mean it's not, it's still really slow. And compared to other marketing things, like quarter has been really interesting, YouTube is a little bit more manageable. Email list is really manageable. And then it's easy to not get distracted. So like I kind of got distracted with the YouTube thing because I was just focused on podcast and then my friend was like why don't you just record your podcast on video and we'll put it out there. And I'm think trying to figure out the right balance Eric, is that I think it's very great to have a goal and
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you're like a dog, and you're like I'm going to get that bone. But sometimes it's nice to kind of appreciate the journey you know when you go for a hike?
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: Sometimes when I'm hiking or if I'm doing something, I'm just looking down.
Eric Siu: It's amazing.
Noah Kagan: Yeah, well no. You're just looking down and you don't see all the amazing stuff around you because you're so focused on just getting the goal and you're like okay, I guess I got the goal what do I do now? And so, for me I think there's this balance between what's your plan. So your plan is a certain goal and then there's habits to get the goal. And my habits are for the most part, I really do love making the podcast, I like doing the YouTube I like promoting marketing and I like helping Sumo grow, I love those things. And so it's balancing where I want it to be ultimately. But also with creating habits that I can do for the next ten years, I can work on this for infinite until maybe I never die.
Eric Siu: What are your habits, what does your day to day look like, I guess that's two separate questions.
Noah Kagan: Yeah I mean the habits is just like podcasts every Tuesday. And in terms of marketing for people thinking about growth, it's you know, how do you do things that people can start looking forward to it. I put on a conference at Berkeley. Our club, I wanted a flagship thing that everyone could always think of our club for. And, I created a technology conference. So I hit up all these companies and I said hey can you come show off your technology. And it became our yearly tradition. So that when I left Berkeley, you know three years later, five years later they were still running. I think finally now, ten years or so, they finally stopped doing it.
Eric Siu: Wow.
Noah Kagan: But in terms of habits it's how do you do something consistently right? So every Thursday I put out an email. Every Tuesday I put out a podcast. Once a week, and we're experimenting with the days, Monday, Wednesday, Friday we're putting out a YouTube video. And so, in marketing activities it's like how do you create something that it's on the calendar and you're like oh shit I've got to make that happen. How do I write like 1,000 words a day. And I think habits are things that you experiment for yourself, see if it makes your life better. And then either add them in, or remove them.
Yeah, my days vary. I like a lot of variation in the things I go throughout my week. Generally Monday I work on Sumo, Wednesday I don't do anything, I just take Wednesday of for thinking. And then Tuesday, Thursday, Friday are either create a YouTube podcast or helping out Sumo, or doing some marketing for OK Dork.
Eric Siu: Noah that's really important. I think most people don't, you know, the more experienced entrepreneurs I talk to there's always one day that's reserved for strategy right and you read it in books sometimes. How did you learn about taking that day off
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and what has it done for you? It's not really a day off, it's kind of a block day right?
Noah Kagan: Man, when you see someone not at their computer you think they're not working.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: And I think about a lot of the greatest innovations or jumps that I've been able to work on or be experienced, or experienced. I think about when they happen. So for everyone out there, think about the last time you came up with a new idea. And think about the last time you thought of something really creative. And then, where were you? What was happening? I would say 99% I would bet against that you weren't at your desk, at your computer working.
Eric Siu: 100%. I mean last year like I went to Napa. I was going to take someone with me but I decided to just go alone.
Noah Kagan: Was it a lady friend?
Eric Siu: It was, it was.
Noah Kagan: What happened?
Eric Siu: I was like, I can't take her, no way, I've got to cut it off, I just can't do it. But, I was-
Noah Kagan: You went to Napa alone?
Eric Siu: Yeah I went to Napa alone, it was great. I think I would do it again. But anyways, so I actually I spent those two days just completely strategizing for the next year like here's what we need to do exactly, here's what we need to do to get here and you know, great things happened. And I know other people just to digress a little bit, I mean, there's guys that take Wednesdays strategy days, or Fridays strategy days right? Where it's just focus on thinking. Maybe you're not in front of the computer, you go to the beach right? But then that's where ideas start to come out right? I don't know where you go.
Noah Kagan: Yeah. I mean I've done a bunch of different things, I think everybody has to find their creative zone. And people don't, well I can't take a day off because I have a job. And I'm an employee somewhere. So, wake up early in the morning, maybe Saturday morning go to a café, or maybe it's during jogging or maybe it's during ... like for me, I bought a Miata, so it's when I'm working on my Miata.
Eric Siu: What's a Miata?
Noah Kagan: Mazda Miata?
Eric Siu: Oh.
Noah Kagan: Dude you're Asian, you don't know what a Miata is?
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Eric Siu: Mazda.
Noah Kagan: It's like a, it kind of used to be a quarter life crisis car but now it's a hip 30 year old car.
Eric Siu: I think I need one then.
It's kind of like, it's better than a Prius right?
Noah Kagan: Yeah. It's kind of like a little rice pocket.
Eric Siu: I've got to look at it.
Noah Kagan: So my friend who runs a company, go and work on the car. We talk about business. And I remember when I was in my 20's and I would see someone not working and I would be like oh they're wasting, they're not being productive, they're not being efficient. And I think there's this balance and I try to figure out where it is. But the balance is go do a bunch of shit and you'll figure out things. Or, think about things and when you do it you're going to be a lot more effective. And I think both strategies can work. I've seen the second one kind of be more productive.
Like here's a funny example. I was having lunch with this guy Kit, he creates these awesome foot maps for when you do standing desk. Topo design, they're called ergodriven topo design. And we're having brunch and we just were talking for like three hours and when I was talking to him I was joking about AppSumo. I said man AppSumo, we hired this guy Aimen he's amazing, he's hired a team they're all great. And I haven't really bugged him in two years. I talk to him once a week for 15 minutes maybe and the business has doubled in the past two years since I'm not involved.
Eric Siu: So he's like your GM for that.
Noah Kagan: Yeah, he's the GM. Yeah, he runs it. It's his. I'm his assistant. And what's amazing is as I was talking about him I was like man, the more I left him alone, the better he did. And then I was thinking about Sumo as my business partner Chad is running it, and it made me reflect on oh wow, the more I leave him alone the better it could run. Because I was annoying the shit out of him, and it was just you know, they didn't come because I was in my office standing at my computer working, it came because I took the time to talk about it with someone I respected. And think about okay, how are things at that you know, different level, higher perspective.
Eric Siu: This is so interesting because I just went on a trip for three weeks right? And I was like, I'm going to see how my team behaves you know without me, I'm going to see how they put out fires. I purposefully responded to slack message slowly, I purposely delayed my response to an email and they passed with flying colors right? And this goes into another story, I joined entrepreneurs organization a couple of years ago with this one guy, this guy has a company you know doing $3 million a year right? So some couple weeks ago I was like so how are things going man, good to see you. And he's like well we're doing $22 million a year now. And I was like okay, well tell me what happened.
Noah Kagan: That's pretty good.
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Eric Siu: And he's like well, it's really easy man, like you just hire really great people and you get the fuck out of their way and that's it. I'm like you hear this from all the entrepreneurs but I think like, maybe marketers maybe you and I as marketers maybe we're a little, a lot more neurotic and we like to control things. But the more control you give up the more great things happen right?
Noah Kagan: Yeah. Everyone knows this, there's this advice in business that everyone's looking for the next new thing, or the next silver bullet. When really, the answers have been said. You can see, on YouTube, on podcast, you can go learn how these guys have done it.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Noah Kagan: And some of it we know. But I think it's like how do you actually implement it. So how do you know you're hiring great people. Here's a very simple thing, how much are you paying them? Because great people don't work for cheap. That's what I've learned. I've never met someone who is like amazing and they're like yeah man but don't worry I'm super cheap you can hire me for free or for like low wage. Like if they're starting out yeah, because they're starting out. But if you're trying to hire people that are bosses, they're probably not going to want to be paid very little.
The thing I realized with Aimen who runs AppSumo or Chad who runs Sumo.com is two things related to your point. It's not about me not working, it's not about me being their boss or anything related to that. Because no one wants that, I don't think, no one wants to be told what to do all day.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: Maybe sexually there's some probably freaks out there, but for the most part people want to feel empowered they want to have some purpose. And so, the two things that I realized that Chad and Aimen and myself and everyone actually needs, it's actually very simple. They need a very clear goal. They just need a clear goal. Because if they're not aligned with you the expectations are off. It's like, your team did random shit you're like why the fuck did you do random shit, well they don't know where the fuck they're trying to go. That ties back to the vision, where are we trying to go? Alright well, what's our number to that? The second thing that they need and this is the part that I'm getting better on is they need autonomy to make those decisions. They need to have the trust and you know you give them trust. I like what Derick Sivers says, trust but verify.
Eric Siu: What does that mean?
Noah Kagan: Trust but verify means let them make the decisions but you know maybe once a week or once a month check the numbers, make sure they're going in the right direction.
Eric Siu: How do you check numbers with them? Do you have like a dashboard? Do you use an excel sheet? What from a tactical level what are you doing there?
Noah Kagan: Yeah so we have a, so we have two different business units on AppSumo side. We have a yearly revenue target and then he has monthly revenue target. And then every
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Monday an email is created from Aimen that just says how he's doing against it.
Eric Siu: Got it. And that goes to you or it goes to the entire team?
Noah Kagan: It goes to me, him and then Chad.
Eric Siu: Got it.
Noah Kagan: And basically, that's kind of like a weekly check in so if things were off dramatically, okay it's like hey what's going on? Why is it off and what are we doing about it? The other thing that we added two years ago, and I would say even if you're a small business and you're making like $50,000 a year which is great. Every business starts small. I would add, and we did this too late, but add monthly board meetings. And that's a great way to hold your business accountable and if there's major issues get them fixed.
And so find someone that when you talk to them you always find good information about your business. Like hey, are you guys doing this? So, someone that will actually put in the time and care about it. Because we started doing board meetings, me, Chad and Andrew. And we just added Brian Balfort. And it's just like holy shit, like Sumo had some conversion rate issues and Brian was like wow, what are you guys doing about it? And I was just like I don't know. And he's like well, how much did the number change? And they changed by a lot.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: It was lik 40% difference and he's like, yeah that's pretty bad. And he's the one that pointed it out. And then we went and fixed it and now things have gotten better. But monthly board meetings in terms of helping people just stay accountable and helping them stay on track it's kind of like ... I think all businesses are just like a Google map. It's like what's your destination? What's the route? And as you're driving you're just like oh shit a traffic jam let me use Waze to like go around it because you may have to change on your drive or on your flight.
And with Sumo.com, how we do it is we have the same exact thing. You know, what's our yearly goal, what's our monthly target? And there's different teams. So we have marketing team, sales team, webinar team, product team. And then there's a daily dashboard that has their targets and they're either red or green.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: So let's say the revenue the month is ten thousand, and then each team is responsible for some percentage and then everyday they can see how they're doing. And then every week we do the same thing with a weekly email that shows how it went last week, what they're doing this week. And, yeah, and then we do the same thing, monthly board meetings. So I mean the biggest thing is just where do you want to go, how are you towards that and then on a monthly basis just checking in to see, alright are there any corrections we need to be making.
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Eric Siu: Okay. A few more questions here before I start wrapping up.
Noah Kagan: Yeah great questions.
Eric Siu: Thanks.
Noah Kagan: Really good questions.
Eric Siu: Thanks it makes it easy when you're a good podcaster too. So, you know my question is you have these board meetings right?
So you have Andrew, and when you Andrew I'm assuming Andrew Chen, so you've got Andrew Chen you've got Brian Balfort, there's are all stars right? So how are you finding great, how do you find great board members and how do you compensate them?
Noah Kagan: Yeah. So, most, so when I first started AppSumo seven years ago I found people with specific things I wanted to learn. So, Heaten is a great product guy so Heaten was an advisor. Eric Rees was great at development, so I gave him an advisor. Paul Sing was great at operations, gave him an advisor. Simon Tisminski was great at advertising, gave him an advisor. So I gave him equity.
Eric Siu: So was that .25%?
Noah Kagan: Literally something around that, .05 to .25%. That doesn't really work well.
Eric Siu: Tell me more.
Noah Kagan: That doesn't work well. Because like there's no real value to it and unless they really know you well, after a year they all kind of stopped. And I don't blame them it's probably on me to involve them. So the two things that I've seen have worked well. One is from this guy named Paul Foley out in Denver, him and Pascal Wagner and what they do, and I like this strategy. Let's say I wanted to get Erick Suk as an advisor okay? And any of the listeners out there this is what you do to Eric, hey Eric, I just want to share stats from my business every month, can I just send it to you, you don't have to reply you don't have to do anything but I think it will be interesting numbers and you can see how my business runs.
You'd be like sure.
Eric Siu: Yeah, fuck yeah I'm in.
Noah Kagan: Of course, any super large company, small ass company, they want to see your numbers. And so what Paul and Pascal have done and I think it's a good strategy is they use informal advisors that they turn into advisors.
Eric Siu: Hmm.
Noah Kagan: So, and then I can talk about the strategy for the board meetings specifically. But what they do is every month they say hey here's our revenue numbers, here's how we did
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customers, here's the marketing things that we did, here's the things that have not worked out. And it's almost hard for me not to look at it and not respond.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: And overtime you start wanting to help more, and help more.
Eric Siu: If I think about it, I've responded to each and everyone. I've gotten a couple of those and I'm like hey, I don't think I'm going to be able to be an advisor but this guy keeps sending it over and over to me and I see it growing and I start to involve myself naturally, your right.
Noah Kagan: Yeah, you involve yourself naturally. The second thing is that with the board, board is kind of like a marriage. And I think you really need to have a ... you're partners. And this is the interesting thing about Andrew, and I can talk about how to recruit someone. Andrew pretty much always disagrees with me.
Eric Siu: Interesting.
Noah Kagan: So we go to these board meetings and Chad and I are like hey we're going to go do this product feature, I'm trying to think of a recent one, I can't think of one off the top of my head, but I'm going to come and do this. And then Andrew comes and says actually you guys should do this. And my natural reaction is fuck you, not in a mean way but no, we already planned it. And you have to realize what's the value of a board? And what's the value of a board/advisor? And it's to challenge you about the things you're going to do because they come from a different perspective.
He literally looks at the business once a month and I want him to come and look at it from a challenging perspective, like why are you doing that? Like if they're not doing it and they're just agreeing with you, they're probably not a great board member. And not all the times we agree with Andrew but a lot of the times he'll disagree with us. And so I have to remind myself like, his job here is not to agree. So when he starts disagreeing it helps me take a step out and say alright well what is really the best objective decision to help us grow our business. And so from a board member perspective it's what do you want from them?
Right so what is the value that they provide specifically? So Andrew is better at modeling than us. He's just very good at thinking through things in a like, excel model framework. And the second things is that he just generally disagrees with my opinions. So, that's a very valuable thing. And the third thing is you do want to find someone who gives a fuck right? Because I think a lot of the people I've seen through getting mentorship, personally or advisors or board members, they're trying to get someone who just doesn't care.
Eric Siu: Hmm.
Noah Kagan: And they just don't care. And so, you do want to find someone that, think about anyone you've worked with in the past that when you've talked with them about your business
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you're like man that guy or girl had really great opinions. I felt that when implemented and took it back I want them around.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: And then try even like an informal monthly board meeting. Like hey, do you mind if next month we just spend like 30 minutes talking about it? And then see how it goes. I would say most people once they start doing it, it's one of these things that like if I ever start another company, I don't know if I will. Like Sumo, I love doing what we do so I don't really plan on it. But if I ever start another company from scratch or if I give people suggestions I'd say that the two things that were surprising about growing a business. Number one, have monthly board meetings, almost I would start with that, which I never did for like five years. And the second thing is hiring a recruiter earlier.
Eric Siu: Yes.
Noah Kagan: Recruiting is like, literally the only difference in companies, yeah literally the only difference in companies like people.
Eric Siu: Totally. Which is exactly what that guy just told us right? $3 to $22 million.
Noah Kagan: I mean there's a reason certain companies do better than others. Like when I worked at Facebook I worked with the best people I've ever worked with. When I worked at Intel, I loved the people at Intel, they're not bad at all, but they're not looking to really make, change the world and grow a company and commit themselves fully to a business growing and they didn't put that energy on it and the business you know, that's probably why Intel has done okay, and I think Facebook is probably worth more than Intel right now.
Eric Siu: Dude, you've got to make a video on board meetings.
Noah Kagan: Okay, I'll put it on my list. Actually, I might be videoing today so I might put a how to do a, so that's the thing, it's interesting, I'm trying to get better with the YouTube videos, as I said earlier, in terms of marketing. We all have so much time available in the day. So if you look at like a pie chart it's like, eight hours you're sleeping, eight hours you're jerking off, just kidding, eight hours you're working and then you know maybe so that's what, sixteen, and then you have eight hours left to do whatever you want. So there's actually a lot of time in the day. But prioritizing it and figuring out what to do is the most important thing.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: It's the most important thing is prioritizing. And that's frankly, in business, prioritizing is literally the most important thing.
Eric Siu: Do you optimize your day, oh. Finish your thought first, I just had a thought come in, go ahead.
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Noah Kagan: Yeah, yeah sure. And so people are the most important, but if you don't prioritize people. And so prioritizing is the most important thing. And so with the YouTube thing as I'm trying to figure out how to market it, I've noticed really interesting stuff. But number one is that, if you're doing marketing, like for YouTube I'm trying to think about which key words actually have the most potential for me. Because I think, as I've been doing it, I'm just going through a habit of making videos once a week, that's my habit. But now I'm trying to think well, I can make a hundred different videos but which video topic is actually going to have the largest potential.
So some people though will see like well Gary V talked about toilets and this Puda Pie talked about shit but yeah, they're already big, they can make a video about anything they want now.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: But if you're trying to get bigger you have to be a little bit more strategic to figure that out.
Eric Siu: You know what's interesting you should get these.
Noah Kagan: What's that?
Oh the spectacles.
I got them, I returned them.
Eric Siu: Why?
Noah Kagan: The spectacles? I don't know I just didn't want to be like, I use my phone for Snapchat, I love Snapchat I'm on NoahKagan, but I just don't want to have the glasses.
Eric Siu: Yeah I follow you, you don't follow me, bitch.
Noah Kagan: Bro, that's because you probably don't post interesting stuff. Hey what's your Snapchat handle, I'll follow you and then if it's not good I'll just unfollow.
Eric Siu: It's Ericosiugrowth.
Noah Kagan: Ericosiugrowth. I'll follow it. What's so amazing about today is that everyone can be a star. Right? And everyone can get their stuff out there. And that also creates Achilles heel, or the flip side of it is that there's so many people vying for attention. There's Instagram, our phones, you know, podcasts, YouTube, Facebook is optimized to suck your time. Like, YouTube is optimized for watch time. And so to stand out, this is the second thing. One, figuring out the topics that people really want. The second thing that I'm working on is how do you put in more quality to it. Because I do think in terms of marketing and business in general, you will get out what you put in. Yes, this is the cliché zone, we're going to do a bunch of clichés.
But I've seen it. Like that Tony Robins article. Of my articles on OKDork.com, my marketing blog. I've had three articles go viral. Each of those three articles took over a month to write. Every other article that I didn't spend a month writing, and it's not a guaranteed formula but it's just to give people conceptually the idea of like, shit if you
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put a lot in you're probably going to get something out.
So my Tony Robins article, my Why I Got Fired By Facebook article, why data goes viral article. Those went viral. Because I spent a lot of time writing them. And then the third part ... so one, pick the topics, two invest a lot, three this is what I've been thinking about with my YouTube channel, if you're just making videos like everyone else, you're probably going to get no attention like everyone else.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: And so I'm trying to think of and so, I'm doing these YouTube videos and they're good, I think they're great. And I do it for a year. But the second part that's key to success is persist and evolve. And so, what I'm realizing is that I've got to figure out some angles that are more unique for my own opinions and not be fake about it. But one of the angles I'm going to start testing in a few weeks is doing business like a Jew.
Eric Siu: A lot for sure.
Noah Kagan: And so I think it's kind of like, I think it's funny, I'm not going to be making fun of Jews that much and I'm Jewish so I can do it. And I just think it's another kind of approach that people will be like, oh that's the Jew guy, it's funny. So, and I'll try it out and if it works I'll do more and if it doesn't than I'll experimenting with something else.
Eric Siu: I'll tell you what's different about your stuff, and the reason I watch your YouTube video more and my friends like oh my god they're so good it's just cause you're being yourself right? And you're really good at, if you're interviewing someone you're really good at disarming them and you're really good at just making it really personable right? And like, you have funny shit going on the whole time, it's just because you're being yourself. And we're in the cliché zone right? So, be yourself.
Noah Kagan: You know what's funny then? Then you see people asking me, well how do I be myself? And I'm like, you deal with your depression, you deal with your self consciousness, you deal with your inefficiencies. I think for me a lot of that comes back to like two things, maybe a few things. But one, journaling, so go write about yourself, just for yourself, it doesn't even have to public. And that's kind of helped me process who I am and what I like, what I don't like. I sit in my chair, I bought an expensive chair, I don't have any expensive things, but I have an expensive chair, the Eings chair.
Eric Siu: That painting was very expensive too.
Noah Kagan: It's was like 5k, it was pretty expensive.
Eric Siu: Oh my god.
Noah Kagan: It was cool, it's like a commission painting. But I don't have many expensive things, but the things I do I like. But I bought an expensive chair so I would actually sit in it and think. Because I was like well if I bought an uncomfortable chair I probably won't want to be in it too long.
GE 210 Noah Kagan Page 20 of 34 Eric Siu: How much was the chair?
Noah Kagan: I got it on sale. So if you're going to buy and Eings chair which is like this classic chair, it's a chair you give to your kids. It was $3,500. So, if you're buying it from Design within reach, wait until they have a sale or email them and say hey I know your sale is coming and can I just buy it now, ahead of time? You can always get a discount. I talked to this really cool founder of Alenia, the restaurant, one of the best restaurants in the world and he was telling me how he was buying something and he asked for a discount. And I'm like dude, you're worth ten to thirty million dollars you're asking discounts?
And he had one of the best lines I've ever heard about it. He said, this is why I'm worth so much, this is why I'm rich, because I ask for discounts.
Eric Siu: Ahhh.
Noah Kagan: I was like hmmm. He's not even Jewish. This is a fucking fun-ass interview. There's are the ones where you know, I think in terms of being yourself it's also going and this is something that was a breakthrough for me in the past 12 months and I'm really excited to share it is just like, finding the things that you're great at and give you energy. So talking with you I could probably go another hour or two.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: I'm going to go Mountain biking eventually, but I just love talking with you and this is great. And so it's like, and it's like, well how do I do more of this in my day? So you talked about habits and days and things like that, I try to, especially after my Dad died a few years ago and as you get into your thirties you really do work smarter. People in your twenties don't work smart, just work hard, just be a dumb ass, it's fine. But in your thirties you start recognizing that time may not be around as long. And I hope more people do this but spend that time then thinking about how I want my days to be and what things have I done that give me energy?
Is it talking to someone, is it writing something, is it coding something, is it selling something is it going for a job? And then whatever that is and then end your day as much around that as possible. And it doesn't guarantee a great day. Like my Friday last week, I could not understand why I felt like shit all day, I slept well, I do invest in my mattresses and shit like that because you spend 8 hours a day on it, get a good mattress.
Eric Siu: You get a Casper?
Noah Kagan: No, I actually bought the Chinese one off Amazon, it's like $400 bucks. Dude it's so good. And then I bought a mattress topper for it and then I tested different mattresses and I tested different sheets. And I ended up on, JC Penny sheets are actually the best. And I don't know if you ever use HomeSweetHome.com but they recommended them and I definitely vouch for that. But the point being is like, sorry I got distracted with the sheets stuff. You know, go and find the things that really give you energy. And that doesn't
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mean that every day is going to be perfect, but it makes it more likely than not that you're going to get more out of your days and more out of your life.
Eric Siu: Dude, I have like a sneeze that's stuck midway again.
Noah Kagan: Fucking A.
Eric Siu: This is not the meditation podcast man.
Noah Kagan: I don't like when people do that, it just seems so weird.
Eric Siu: What's that?
Noah Kagan: When they don't let it out they're like ... you know when they don't let it out.
Eric Siu: I don't know what you're talking about.
Noah Kagan: When they don't let it out, when they don't let the sneeze out.
Eric Siu: It must be something in Texas.
Noah Kagan: Okay, here's a question about that. Do you ever get annoyed when someone sneezes?
Eric Siu: Yeah because it's like a fake sneeze you know what I mean?
Noah Kagan: Or they're so fucking loud, I'm like dude there's no way you sneeze that loud that it's not possible.
Eric Siu: Yup, yup, totally.
Noah Kagan: But then I'm like maybe they really do sneeze that loud should I really be mad about them sneezing I don't know.
Eric Siu: Well it's like the things you can't control in life you just leave it right? So this is cliché number five.
Noah Kagan: I think that's actually a bigger one dude. Yes, I'm not trying to say like it's bigger than what you said, but yes that's a very valuable lesson. That's something that I was doing with Sumo and to the point of enjoying your day and maximizing your day and doing the things you do it's like also figuring out ... and this is something I struggled with, do you do what you're great at or fix what you're weak at?
Eric Siu: Hmm.
Noah Kagan: And I finally came to the conclusion maybe 18 months ago where I was like no, let me just keep working what I'm great at, why would I try to fix what I suck at? And for business, hire people that are better than you at that and like doing that. And that's really changed a lot of it. And so in the business I like starting things, I like promoting, so
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let me lead Sumo and promote from the front. And it was a little bit hard for me because I think what I was doing was I was coming to the business and, I call it the pigeon theory which I really like sharing, it's where you come in somewhere, you shit, and then you fly away. And I love the pigeon theory because every time I say it it makes me smile.
Eric Siu: Dude you've got to write about.
Noah Kagan: Oh fuck, maybe I'll do the pigeon theory today.
Eric Siu: This is the content idea podcast.
Noah Kagan: This is. You know, that's the thing, you know, we talked about earlier and I'll finish the pigeon theory. But if people commit in marketing to every Thursday do a blog post, you figure out ways to come up with ideas.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: And I think it's when you don't kind of commit to that kind of consistency that it makes it harder for you to be like, oh I've got nothing to write about. And it's like well, if something has to come out Thursday you'll fucking figure something out to write about.
Eric Siu: No time is no excuse.
Noah Kagan: Oh, that was good. Man, this is just fucking nuggets, people should definitely leave comments, or tweet you or Snapchat us.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: Tons of dick pics by the way, my favorite. I actually haven't gotten a Snapchat dick pic so if-
Eric Siu: Why would you? Why would you want someone to send you a dick pic?
Noah Kagan: I don't want it necessarily but I've been curious to say that I've gotten one.
Eric Siu: Dude. But do you ever get those forwarded to you by other girls.
Noah Kagan: No, you do?
Eric Siu: Yeah, it's really weird. Yeah, I don't know if we should leave this in but we probably will.
Noah Kagan: And so, coming back to the pigeon theory, you know I think you have to realize what you're strong at and for me it's starting. And you know I came in and was kind of criticizing Chad and we weren't really getting alone and then I realized dude, you've either got to come in and be a part of this solution or you're a part of the problem. That's what it is, either you're part of the solution or you're part of the problem. And so I've got to come in and figure out how can I help Chad and not just be there kind of
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Eric Siu: How did you realize that though? Because it takes a lot for you to realize that internally because you've had so much success. You know I've done all this stuff in the past like you've got to listen to me like how did you realize that yourself?
Noah Kagan: How did I realize ... it was from having that chat with that guy Kit and he said that and I was like man, that is what I'm doing. And I think we know, in general in life, I think we do know the answers, but for some reason we want to confuse ourselves. We actually know the answer like what do we really want. I kind of know this but, it's either hard or you're going to put up excuses or you make it difficult for yourself. And I think, I'm trying to think of more how I exactly realized, I know that conversation was a big thing recognizing how well Aimen has done without me being involved was helpful. And then I guess with Chad it's really talking to him, and I think one of the things that has helped me be successful however you want to define it is I think I'm very good at feedback.
Eric Siu: What do you mean?
Noah Kagan: And I think people are kind of sucky at feedback. Meaning that I like when people talk shit to me.
Eric Siu: Hmm.
Noah Kagan: And I think I'm pretty good at deciphering which people's feedback I want to internalize. Like actually internalize it. I think a lot of people hear feedback and want to go defensive. Someone said this to me, I thought it was one of the best lines, it was from Keith Farazi. And it was, you know when someone gives you feedback the first thing you do is say thank you.
Eric Siu: Yes.
Noah Kagan: That's the first thing you do.
Eric Siu: You were at his house right?
Noah Kagan: Yeah.
Eric Siu: Great home right?
Noah Kagan: Have you been there?
Eric Siu: Yeah, I've been there a couple times.
Noah Kagan: Oh a couple of times.
Eric Siu: No, it's because I know the guy that lives at his place. [inaudible 00:47:48] have you met him?
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Noah Kagan: The house manager?
Eric Siu: No, no, no there's another guy that lives there, he considers him like his son, but I know him well. I've only met Keith like once.
Noah Kagan: So, but the point of the feedback is very interesting. Because I don't think, a lot of my success is not from me it's form the people I work with. And so I want them to get rich or get whatever they want in life. And what I think I've done well is that I'm not always the best at everything but I think I'm good at observing what's the best. And then either hiring them or working with them at all costs. Or, if someone is giving me feedback on how I can be better it's like oh yeah, I actually think that's something that I can improve and then I try to figure out ways to make sure I do it.
So, with Chad it's like yo, I think I'm annoying you, do you have like, what feedback do you have for me about how to be a better partner for you. And he's like well if you can actually just do this stuff, like that would help me out. And, it's like okay, well why don't I just try and do that. And it's taking time, I think it's taken about three to six months. I wouldn't say it's over night, you being a great partner. But it's doing it, getting feedback and then trying to keep working on it, and working on it and eventually you get better.
But I think most people just get defensive right away and then they get feedback that's actually great feedback but they don't improve it. I see this a lot with business and marketing too. They say Eric, you've done a bunch of marketing, or Noah you've done a bunch of marketing, here's my idea for marketing what do you think? And I say well I don't agree with any of it, but you're not going to do whatever advice I give you so it doesn't matter. And literally, for years man, I would go to people, or people would come to and say hey what do you think and I would spend like 20 minutes giving them feedback about what to change because I've done it, I've done this for about 17 years I'm pretty experienced with some of it.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: It doesn't mean I'm always right. And I love to be proven wrong because that means there's new things. And I think you do have to stay naïve. An example of this is last week I was outside walking and someone came by me and they said oh you're Noah Kagan that's so cool and I was like oh cool man what's your name. And his name was Aaron and he said yeah, I've got this business idea I'm growing to build an app for realtors. And what is does is you can talk to your clients. So you send a message and they can get the message.
Eric Siu: Ah.
Noah Kagan: And I was like, it sounds like email. He was like no, no, no it's different than email but they get the message right away. And I'm like, it sounds like a text maybe? And he's like no, it's this different thing, and my friends just like could you start a Facebook group instead of building this app? And normally I would spend 15 minutes to try and convince him otherwise because he's going to spend a bunch of money he's going to work on it until the end of the year. He said I'm launching at the end of the year, we're in May right
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now. And I think some people don't really want feedback and they don't want advice and that's fine, sometimes you have to learn it yourself it's not a bad thing.
Eric Siu: Some validation.
Noah Kagan: Yeah. They just want agreement. And I think you'll be more successful not just doing whatever Noah, or Eric, or Neil or any of these guys tell you to do, but experimenting with yourself, being open to feedback and then you know, really being aware of what's working and doing more of it.
Eric Siu: Right, totally agree. Well, three more questions from my end I know you've got to go bike and stuff. So you know what's interesting and once you start to have success with your other businesses and things start to stabilize you know, most entrepreneurs I'm seeing around kind of above 30 or so, it's like, okay well you know I have these stable businesses now the next thing is let's go buy businesses and let's Warren Buffet model right? You buy other businesses and you leave kind of the executive team there and you just keep doing that down the road. And actually, I just picked up one of my mentors, you know, that's what he does right now he just buys a bunch of businesses right? And I'm seeing that kind of model become more and more popular so, are you doing things like that? Is that kind of like what you're seeing in your space?
Noah Kagan: No.
Eric Siu: No?
Noah Kagan: I've seen people do that.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: What I do is that I have stuff that's working and then I just try and figure out how I can make that work twice as better.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: So there's a reason, I've only angel invested in two other companies because I use their products, teachable and buffer. But I haven't really angel invested, I don't do a bunch of stocks, I don't do a bunch of mutual funds or other things because I have stuff that's working. We have Sumo working we have AppSumo working and I'm pretty confident that I can better use my money on that instead of trying to find the next new thing. And that's hard. That's hard for me. Because we always believe that the new thing is going to be the savior.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: This next thing we buy will be bigger. This new thing will be better. And you know, like with AppSumo we had a really interesting experience. So, we grew the company for three years, plateaued it around $4 million revenue, four, four and a half. And it's plateaued. And then I got kind of scared and I fired a lot of the people because the
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expenses got so high and the revenue got low. And so we went from 20 people down to 4.
Eric Siu: This is AppSumo right?
Noah Kagan: This is AppSumo. And you know, we went back to the basics, we did two deals a week, only great deals you know, we went back to the basics and kind of kept going. You know, fast forward two and a half years the company is much larger than that with 6 people, no it may be 8 I don't know their size. And it's going to be even larger, they've got some really crazy vision that I'm just like super excited to see. And I think you should be excited about the vision, like if you don't have a vision that you're looking forward to then it's probably not a great vision.
Eric Siu: What is the vision? Can you reveal it?
Noah Kagan: I need another month before it comes out.
Eric Siu: Okay.
Noah Kagan: It's not, that's the thing, it's not about being beta, it's actually out there so they're testing it, but I don't know when they want that to be promoted. But the vision is more, right now there's a lot of software out there all over the place. And it's very complicated and you have to pay different prices across all these different prices like how do you simplify that?
Eric Siu: There's a, you know that's interesting, I saw on Product Hunt yesterday, Mark Cuban just invested in something that consolidates all your [inaudible 00:52:59] products in to one thing and it tells you what you should be paying what you shouldn't be paying.
Noah Kagan: Yeah. I think that's the, the dashboard thing, I saw something like that. I think that's okay, I don't know. Right now people are paying a lot for a lot of different products is there a way to make that easier.
Eric Siu: Yes, yes please, I will pay for that.
Noah Kagan: So if anyone is trying to start a business out there, or you're doing marketing, Brain Balfort said I well, he said you should be pushing the ball down hill, not uphill. And what you need to look for is when someone like Eric says, this doesn't mean it's guaranteed but when your customer or potential customer says oh wow, yes. When they have that snap, I can only snap with my left hand by the way.
Eric Siu: I can't snap with either.
Noah Kagan: Oh man, you've got to work on that.
It's because you've got computer hands dude.
Eric Siu: Yeah. Sweaty.
Noah Kagan: Or I was going to say your hands are built for piano keys.
GE 210 Noah Kagan Page 27 of 34 Eric Siu: Dude, interestingly enough I played the drums. I didn't play the piano.
Noah Kagan: Your parents let you play drums?
Eric Siu: Yeah, they were like, you suck at piano, you suck at trumpet, you suck at all this, you suck at violin and I'm like, I'm playing drums dude.
Noah Kagan: See I think that's a great thing. You've got to find your groove.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: But I mean, coming back to the original thing. I've thought about, like, I've bought a chrome extension, I'm experimenting with that for a marketing channel. But what I realized I was doing incorrectly that I've started fixing is that, if something is already working there's a high probability that it can work a lot better-
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: Instead of trying to find the next new thing. And so I'm trying to align like, if I do buy anything it's like how does this help Sumo grow.
Eric Siu: Exactly.
Noah Kagan: Because I think Sumo has a lot more opportunity, I think AppSumo has a lot more opportunity.
Eric Siu: So you basically, you have this audience already right? I was just talking about this with the other guy right? Ex president of JBL speakers, I mean he's like, you know what you do is if you're going to buy a software you plug it into the audience that you have already it's just plugging it in to your audience, it's easier to sell that way. And this is almost a, yeah you had a post on Tony Robins right? But Tony Robins yeah you couldn't stay within your circle of influence and it's easier to just plug things in and grow.
Noah Kagan: Yeah, and I'd say the mistakes that people make is that they give up too early.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: They don't, and then I mean, there's a bunch of them but another one is they just don't take advantage of what they already have.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: And so what that means is that, we have AppSumo that's almost a million people. We have Sumo that's a few hundred thousand, and it's not bragging but it took me seven years. And it took me and a bunch of other great people to build this up. And so it makes more sense to continue that then to go fucking start square one. Like I was talking to Laura Roder, and I love Laura Roder, she runs Meet Edgar and I use it. It's a great thing
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to recycle your content, get more traffic all this stuff. And she wants to work on a brand new product. And I'm like you have a 100,000 mailing list, you have 10,000+ customers over here, and you want to go compete with something over there that you don't know anything about.
And it's not to say that it can't work, and you live one life so if you want to go try that shit out it's fine. But I think it's kind of easier to keep going with what's already working then try to start from scratch.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: The problem though and I know this because I go through it myself, we think it will be easier. We think the next new thing is going to solve the problem.
Eric Siu: The grass is always greener.
Noah Kagan: It generally is not.
Eric Siu: You always think that thought right?
Noah Kagan: You do. And even if you hear this and you're like, I know it, this next feature is going to fix our business or this next thing. And I'm like, probably not, probably not. One thing I've actually noticed from our business is and just and this is something that's kind of surprising for me. Is that more than not, most businesses if they actually went in and removed things, they would be very successful. So if you remove your blog post, if you remove different links from your sight, if you remove some of your podcasts, if you remove some of your YouTube, you remove some of your features.
So like I bought this chrome extension Leoh.io, L-E-O-H dot I-O. It's a productivity extension. So it replaces your homepage with like a zen mode and your calendar. So you can get more shit done. And people complained but, I looked at the data and basically three things where they most used, the weather, the zen mode, and I think the notes. But, when I bought it, I bought it for $25k, I'll put the number out there if people are curious. When I bought it there was all this shit there, it was google search, it was a news things, there was this thing and that thing. And, what's been interesting is that the reviews have gone up, growth has gone up when I just removed everything that people weren't using.
Whether there's a few that are going to complain is one thing, but if I look at the data, and I don't know it was like 60% just use those three things.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: And so I just focus on making those a lot better and removing everything else or hiding everything else.
Eric Siu: That would be a great video.
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Noah Kagan: On which thing?
Eric Siu: Removing shit. Because you talk about for AppSumo right? You had to cut down and you grew more. You talk about this, you're cutting down and you know engagements better.
Noah Kagan: Yeah and I think what's part of the issue is that some of my videos on Noah Kagan on YouTube is I make the video too quickly. And I think it's good for my existing audience. So this is something I've been thinking about with YouTube, you know, people that are large, it's easy to just keep talking because you're already at that scale. But when you're small you really have to be super narrow. So that's why I have to talk about email marketing and that's my thing.
Because a lot of YouTube, what's been fascinating from a growth perspective, you put out this video and your current audience loves it. But then it makes a very nice triangle, or very nice pyramid, they watch it and then it dies, they watch it and then it dies. And to me there's no point in making any video like that, that's literally, I wasted my time, I wasted my viewers time, I wasted everything.
Eric Siu: So you're saying it has to be evergreen.
Noah Kagan: If it's not evergreen there's no fucking point.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: And if I look at what videos are evergreen they're generally very specific marketing tactics and it's you know, it's unfortunate or fortunate. Like I can do those for a good bit of time, like my wedge as people have heard in marketing, or Seth Cohen talks about. Make your wedge, get known for it and then you can start expanding the pie. Facebook owned Harvard. People forget this. When Facebook launched there were ten other social networks. Maybe more. ConnectU, there's other one I can't even fucking remember off the top of my head but there's a bunch. So why did Facebook win though? Friendsters there, Myspace is there, because they were very fucking focused, they won Harvard. Then they went to the next school then everyone was like gimme gimme gimme. They just went very methodically to the most popular schools that were very elite, then they went to high school, then they went to professional, then they opened up, then they went world, now they dominate.
And I think for marketing, good reminder for myself, you kind of start very specifically, and very narrow and then expand out. So it's kind of like with these keywords I have to kind of go back and kind of prioritize where they fit in. Even though, what I was doing was persisting and doing this which is great but you also have to evolve. Which means, recognizing what's working and doing more of that.
Eric Siu: Final question, or actually two more questions.
Noah Kagan: Dude this is fun, I'll stay for a while.
Eric Siu: Yeah, you know what's interesting is it says a lot when, I usually condense these to 25
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minutes or so and we've gone for an hour. That's just how, this is probably the best one this year so far.
Noah Kagan: Yes.
Eric Siu: So that's a testament to you. So you know what's interesting, I've heard this quote before, it's the organizations weakness is the CEOs greatest strength.
Noah Kagan: Fully fucking agree, fully agree, I don't even have to think about that one. The company, somebody said this and I think this is a good example, I don't remember who had said it, a company is a projections of the owner in real life.
Eric Siu: Wow.
Noah Kagan: Does that make sense?
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: So if you took a projector and projected me and put it in real life, that's generally what your company looks like. Like if you're a slob and unorganized, it's very unlikely your company is going to be very unorganized. If you're super on time and strict then your company is probably going to be like that too. So I think the company definitely reflects the founder, and what I've learned from that, and here's the thing dude, everyone knows this shit but no one does it and I'll give you a real life example in a second. The company like, I'm great at starting out and growing and figuring out new marketing channels and things like that. That's why I'm fucking with the chrome extension. Because I'm doing 20% experiments that will help us grow. But I can't like, not I cannot, but I'm not as great at doing some of the maintaining stuff.
So I have to find people that are great at that. And only really in the past like two to three years have I gotten stronger at like, hiring experts and hiring the best to do those things. I think before you try to hire the best value instead of actually hiring the best people. And like a recent example is like I'm trying to hire an assistant today.
Eric Siu: Hmm.
Noah Kagan: So let me ask your opinion. There's a girl who is young, she's 23, she answered the questions pretty well, and she's $22 an hour. And, you know, she's available and she's good. Now there's a second person who, she's probably and you can't discriminate on age but she's probably in here fifties and she's $50 an hour, and she's a career executive assistant, she's been doing this for 20 years.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: And so who do you hire, just pause for a second so everyone can make that decision internally. Who do you hire? The young, cheap, inexperienced hungry possible person? Or the super experienced, senior, been doing it, it's a career for them.
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Eric Siu: Yup. I think it depends on where you're at and what your goals are. But I'm actually, I faced this exact scenario a couple of weeks ago because I was making a change. Interestingly enough, my former EA who's now moving to Austin to get her MBA so, she helped interview these two right? So, yeah I mean. One is looking for about $75k, ones looking for kind of what the first one is 22 an hour or something like that. And we actually made the decision to go with the cheaper on because she's been around longer, but they have like equal experience. But our fear with the one who was looking for more money is that she would try to jump around too much right? And so I'm not really answering your question specifically.
So like, your question specifically, for me, in my scenario, I'd probably pay the $50 an hour because she knows what to do and she'll get it done faster and you don't have to wait.
Noah Kagan: I know, that's where I'm leaning towards because I think, this is something, Andrew Chen said it and I thought it was such a great damn analogy. He's like Noah, you've been like money ball, you ever see money ball the movie? Great movie great book. He's like the Oakland A's, let's talk about the Oakland A's. They get all these good value washed up players but you know, have they won the championship? Who wins the championship?
Eric Siu: The Yankees.
Noah Kagan: The Yankees, the Cubs, the Red Sox. Who's got the highest payroll in the league? The Yankees, the Cubs, the Red Sox.
Eric Siu: That's such a good analogy.
Noah Kagan: Fucking Andrew Chen man, fucking Andrew Chen.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: And so, I thought that was a great metaphor because yeah I think, especially as a bootstrap company like a lot of us and a lot of people listening, you want to get cheap, you want to be good value. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that, it's good to buy used, it's good to be practical. But there's something to be said when you hire an expert.
Eric Siu: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Noah Kagan: Like I hired, and I think I mentioned it to you, oh did you see the notes from the NPR guy?
Eric Siu: Oh, you sent the email back but I haven't opened it yet.
Noah Kagan: Oh, another example, I paid, I cannot talk, well, I asked someone that works at NPR, he was actually not supposed to be doing that, to come and edit my podcast. Because I was like NPR makes the best shows totally like they're the best shows. So let me find the
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best and learn from them. So, I worked with him and he changed my game on how to ask questions, things I'm doing differently, things I'm doing incorrectly, not creating enough of the story, leaving too much bullshit in the whole podcast, like not cutting it enough down to just the meat. And it was very interesting about how when you hire an expert or when you pay for more you're probably going to get more, and so I'm doing it with YouTube.
I hired this guy Tim Shmoyer he's-
Eric Siu: Yeah, yeah, video creators.
Noah Kagan: Yeah, so I just paid $400 for an hour to talk with him. So in like two weeks I'm going to talk to him and I'll record it and I'll send it to you with the recording.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: But I'm like these guys have already figured it the fuck out like, four hundred dollars amortized over my lifetime is like $1 a month, or like a penny a month.
Eric Siu: And the time saved too.
Noah Kagan: Time saved, money saved plus the growth you get.
Eric Siu: Yup.
Noah Kagan: So there's probably a good lesson there about hiring coaches, or experts or, maybe the simple answer is you get what you pay for.
Eric Siu: Yup. And you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. I think that's a PG quote.
Noah Kagan: Oh.
Eric Siu: Yeah.
Noah Kagan: Yeah. I have noticed that. The more sometimes we start paying, now everyone at Sumo is going to be like no I need a raise.
Eric Siu: That's the thing right? Like even with the junior people we have to, I was talking with the other guy, the JBL guy the other day he's like so what do I do about these kind of young and up coming talents, we might start them at 40k or so. And he's like dude, just give them raises. You know, the typical company will give a raise as an annual review or blah, blah, blah but he's like just do it every quarter. Keep doing ongoing feedback, give them a raise every single quarter just keep inching them towards it right? And that's how you keep the talent for a long time, the kind of up and comers.
Noah Kagan: Yeah that's good. I mean, what I've realized for business, like, we have almost like 50 people which is not bragging. And sometimes I'd like a lot less, sometimes I'd like a lot more, it depends on my mood. But the reality is is that it's very expensive to replace
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Eric Siu: Yes.
Noah Kagan: Because you lose the money, you lose what they create, you lose the time. It's much, much, much, much easier to just keep them happy. So is that a motivation thing? Is that a purpose thing? Is that money thing? And it's kind of like your business, it's much easier to just grow what's working than to just start something new. Like it's much easier if you're in a happy relationship with your girl or guy to keep it going then to try and go on Tinder or Grindr or whatever the hell you're doing to find someone else new.
Eric Siu: Right.
Noah Kagan: So, it's easier to make, and I don't know maybe that's an age thing or a wisdom thing as you get a little older but, it's just stuff that I've noticed as I've been doing this for a while.
Eric Siu: Cool. Incredible man. Well this has been, again, the best one for the year, what's the best way for our people to find you online?
Noah Kagan: One, number one, go warriors for all the fans out there, hopefully we've won the championship by the time you've heard this. If you're looking to learn more about more, number one, check out the company so they can help you listening to this, AppSumo.com, Groupon for geeks. It's a free newsletter, it promotes awesome products. Sumo.com, we've spent a bunch of money on that so just go check it out, just check it out just because. But, it's free tools to grow your email lists. And then to learn more about me, if you're in podcast world just search Noah on podcast and subscribe to Noah Kagan Presents, and I'm messing with that YouTube stuff, just search Noah Kagan as well there.
Eric Siu: Cool. Thanks so much for doing this.
Noah Kagan: Yeah hold on, dick pics too by the way. @NoahKagan on snap chat, just send me dick pic [inaudible 01:06:31]. If I get one dude I'll be pretty excited. I can't imagine what it's actually like to get a dick pic.
Eric Siu: Oh you're totally going to get one now, cool man, thanks so much for doing this.
Noah Kagan: I was actually checking my phone like did anyone send it yet.
Eric Siu: Nope, nope.
Noah Kagan: Thanks for having me this has been really fun.
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