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SPI 755: The Secrets to Launching a Million-Dollar Business with Noah Kagan

If you want to start a business, focus less on the how and more on the now. You see, overcoming the fears that stop you from even trying is the key to building life-changing success!

That’s why I have Noah Kagan on AppSumo back on the show to help you shift your mindset and get more of what you want! His new book, Million Dollar Weekend, is the ultimate blueprint for a massive business launch. Today, Noah and I dive into this framework and explore everything from beating procrastination to creating viral content online!

Listen in because we’re also giving out a $1000 Chipotle gift card! That’s a lot of guacamole, so stick around to the end of the episode to discover how to participate in our challenge.

This incredible conversation highlights the importance of committing to your goals, taking action, and making small improvements along the way. And for those interested in YouTube, Noah gives us an inside look at how he drives millions of viewers to his videos for next-level growth. Enjoy!

Today’s Guest

Noah Kagan

Noah Kagan is the Chief Sumo at AppSumo.com, an 8-figure company that is the #1 software deals site online. He also runs a YouTube channel where he shares his tips for finding financial freedom with his 1+ million subscribers. Before AppSumo.com, he was the 30th employee at Facebook reporting directly to Mark Zuckerberg, and the 4th employee at Mint.com. He currently resides in Austin, Texas, and Barcelona, Spain.

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SPI 755: The Secrets to Launching a Million-Dollar Business with

Noah Kagan: Most people quit too soon. They do one or two YouTube videos. They do one or two posts. They try to sell to one person and they give up. And that’s a huge blocker for people sticking with things long enough for it to succeed.

And so the Law of 100 has been a transformative thing we’ve put on YouTube, we’ve put in the book and I’ve seen it work, which is commit to a hundred of whatever it is, a hundred days, a hundred sales, a hundred podcasts, a hundred YouTube videos. Cause then you get to that point, then you can quit.

And so I would think people can use that framework for whatever it is they’re, they’re starting to be able to stick with something.

Pat Flynn: Today, we are bringing back on the show, Noah Kagan, great friend of mine, and now YouTuber with over a million subscribers. Congratulations, and author of the brand new book, Million Dollar Weekend. Now, that title, Million Dollar Weekend, is, you know, it’s kind of on par with Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.

It’s like, a little bit unbelievable, and I guess supposedly you could make a million dollars in a weekend, but not if you’re just starting a business from scratch, which is exactly who this book is for, a surprisingly simple way to launch. But I get where he’s coming from, and I ask him directly, like, what do you actually mean by the million dollar weekend?

And we go a lot over the start of a business, the life cycle of a business, and how to get over a lot of those fears. We talk a lot about mindset, but we also talk about his YouTube channel and its recent growth and some of the fears that he has overcame recently to be able to make that happen. And you know, Noah just always brings great advice.

I mean, he’s been on the show a couple times before and for many people, he is a fan favorite for sure. Also, be sure to stick around to the end because we literally make up a challenge where you can win $1000 Chipotle gift card. Noah just brings that out of nowhere. And it’s something called the compliment challenge.

So look out for that. I’ll recap it at the end here because everybody’s going to have an opportunity on the X platform to be able to do that. It will give you the instructions at the end. But anyway, Let’s just get into it. Noah Kagan, CEO and founder of AppSumo here on the podcast. Let’s do it.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he’s both super excited and deathly afraid of AI technology. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Noah, welcome back to the show, man.

Noah Kagan: Pat Flynn, I missed you.

Pat Flynn: I missed you too. It’s been a long time. Every time I see a taco, I think of you.

Noah Kagan: I am wearing taco branded clothing.

Pat Flynn: And you know, what also reminds me of you every time I see a giant house, like when I’m driving, no matter where I’m at, I go, I wonder if Noah could get that person to get on camera to talk about what they do for a living. Because you’re doing a lot of that kind of stuff now on YouTube and on social. What’s it been like to knock on a stranger’s door and, you know, get rejected a bunch of times for the one time that you get a, you know, a valuable piece of information from somebody?

Noah Kagan: This weekend I was driving a friend around Austin and I was like pointing out all these rich houses and I was like, knocked on that door and knocked on that door. And it’s so cool, right? Because that’s a question we’ve always wondered since a kid. When I was a kid, I was in this mansion and I was like, yo, what does your dad do for a living?

This is super cool. And he’s like, he’s a proctologist. I was like, what’s that? He’s like, you don’t want to know. And I think I always just got fascinated with it. How people get rich and, you know, how to get rich and there was never a really clear answer. And so our YouTube channel out of desperation started knocking on doors and it is extremely challenging.

It is extremely fascinating at the same time that it’s not exclusive. You know, I don’t have a superpower. I just go and, you know, face some fears, have some courage. And, you know, the upside of finding out what people do for a living, the upside of how friendly some people can be is amazing. You know, I met this lady Jan in Newport Beach, kind of closer to you, and she sold strawberries.

Her and her husband had started a strawberry business and that’s how they had this house on the beach, uh, or someone sold veterinary clinics. A lot of them, I think the common theme, which is interesting is if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Yeah. So it’s interesting what happens in life when we ask and how we practice it.

I think it’s fascinating that most of these people that got really successful started their own businesses. There’s some common element where the best investment is not a, not really a book. It’s not really anything, but starting something for yourself and starting that today. So that’s been super cool.

Pat Flynn: That’s really encouraging. I think everybody listening is a business owner or aspiring business owner. So to know that the ceiling is quite high for somebody like that is, is really great. And I did see that strawberry video. That woman, Jan, was just a treasure. She was really cool. Um, out of all the houses that you, and it’s not just houses, right?

You go visit docks where there’s yachts and things like this. And, and, and, you know, you’re not the first person to go and do this kind of content, but I think you’re the first person to really bring it into, into YouTube and long form content. You do it really well. Plus you have the personality for it.

And I do remember one time when you were on this show, you had challenged the audience to do the Starbucks challenge. You got famous on SPI for doing that. Which I think speaks to a little bit of, of your own personal training as far as getting over fears. And it sounds like the fear doesn’t go away. But can you go through kind of what’s going through your head when you’re about to do something that’s very uncomfortable, like going up to a stranger’s house and knocking on their door?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, there’s a Jim Rohn quote that I love. It’s, uh, it doesn’t get easier, you just get better. Which I love. Cause I, I, you know, I did this standing outside airports trying to get on a private jet. And I have a tremendous amount of anxiety. Yeah. Right? It’s not that I have a superpower, but it’s something that you can practice, and it gets easier the more that you practice it.

And I like practicing it in small ways, which I still do to this day. I still do the Starbucks challenge myself. I have a new challenge that, that I love, which is the clothing challenge. So I compliment someone. But I like their clothing. Like complimented this guy last week at mini golf. And he’s like, Oh yeah, I got it at urban outfitters.

And you do it in small ways where you, you face something a little bit uncomfortable and you realize that, that it’s not so bad and you can get beyond it. I like doing it in these lighter ways so that when you are doing it, maybe in business, like, Hey, come on my show. Or, Hey, will you be my customer? You realize, like, the rejection’s not so bad, you can learn, and then the upside of all these things is just amazing.

Pat Flynn: Tell us what the compliment challenge is, and perhaps even offer that challenge to the people listening right now.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, I mean, a lot of people think, oh, Noah has some superpower with it. It’s not a superpower. And, you know, Million Dollar Weekend and the book, what’s been most surprising Is that business is easy, actually making million dollars is pretty easy, but there’s fears that hold us back that that’s the stuff we’re not even, we’re subconscious about.

And one of, there’s basically two fears that hold everyone from success in business. And one of them is asking. And the more that we can practice it and get more comfortable with it, get comfortable with rejection. That’s what the Starbucks challenge is about. It’s not to actually get the discount, it’s to go to Starbucks, ask for the discount, get rejected and be like, not so bad.

Like this guy Rico just did it and then he’s like, I need to do other things and it’s not so bad on that. Now the compliment challenge. Literally, my girlfriend, Maria Fernanda, she knows, like, if she sees someone with cool clothing, she’s like, you’re going to go ask them, aren’t you? I’m like, oh yeah. And so anytime you see someone with nice shirts, nice shoes, doesn’t have to be expensive.

Just anything that you find interesting. It’s just a small way to get out of that three second negotiation. You know that three second negotiation, Pat? You’re like, I don’t want to bother them. I don’t want to annoy them. It’s like, don’t give yourself the three second, use the three second rule to just go ask.

And specifically, I just say, Hey, I really like your clothes. Where’d you get it from? And a lot of times that’s where I end up buying my clothes because I find out how they get it. But personally, it’s just a small way of practicing asking. So as you’re doing it in other areas, like for relationships, for a raise, which we’ve had a guy Dieter, he read Million Dollar Weekend and then he has a raise now in his job, as well as he can start asking for sponsorships on his websites.

It’s been amazing. Just the more that you ask, the more that you could start getting instead of just getting what you get, you can get what you actually want. I love seeing people get better at it. And it’s still, it’s just a muscle that all of us can get better at.

Pat Flynn: I think that one of the challenges is, is we worry about what the other person’s going to think about us.

You know, we’re, we’re so in tune with the response that a person might have, especially when it comes to business, right? We are content creators, we often create a lot of content for free, but the moment that we ask for something, the moment that a sale enters the equation, the moment we believe that pitchforks and, and kind of riots are gonna happen, or a person might be disappointed in us, they might call us out and say we’re a sellout, and some people do say that.

Before we move on from this topic, how does one, Noah, get over those those conscious fears about what other people will think about us because that that really is what is holding a lot of us back When it comes to asking and selling completely.

Noah Kagan: You know, it’s interesting about what risk, you know I had a day job just similar you you know You had your architecture day job and I had my day job at Intel and that felt risky, felt risky to spend my whole day in this like corporate company not actually doing the life I want.

I didn’t want to live a what if life. Didn’t want to think, oh man, if I only started my own business and really tried it, which I think everyone needs to do. I think that’s, it’s literally the best investment you can make. That felt risky. And so I think understanding that risk is number one. And then another thing I actually learned from my father, and this is a good way to overcome it, is how do you flip the rejection from a bad thing to a good thing?

So my father sold copiers, cold called copiers, like door to door, and I would go with him as a little kid. And he didn’t speak English very well. And he would just be like, hey, do you want copier? And so he would make it a game. I know you’re into games as well. And so instead of having this rejection be a bad thing, it’s like, okay, can I get 10 rejections today?

And you’re not actually making, then that separates it from your ego, from your self worth and your confidence. And then you’re like, huh, it’s kind of interesting. And so I do that same rejection goals when I do these videos. So I’m like, all right, I need to get at least 10 rejections. So I go to a door.

Hey, can you talk to me about how you got this house and what you do? No? Okay, cool. One. I gotta get to ten. And then once you finally get one, you’re like, I got Jan, who was amazing. Or there was a children’s book author. Or this other guy, he’s an architect, similar to your profession. Your older job. He let me in his house, he gave me a house tour.

I was like, this is insane to get a house tour here. Right on the beach, it was like a ten million dollar house. And it’s just having these rejection goals where it’s actually a fun game that you’re excited about. It separates out the hurt, I would say. And the pain of it being so bad. And I did this video where I asked first class passengers what they do for living, which is really strange because when they reject you, you’re sitting across from them for eight hours and they’re staring at you and you’re like, I’m sorry, it’s for the YouTubes.

You know, I’m one of them. I apologize. But I noticed it in myself and I noticed it in them that we, we make these stories about this other person that they’re not making up and they don’t really care about us. And then there’s a guy Rocco who opened Sbarro’s pizza, you know, Sbarro’s pizza, right? Yeah, yeah.

He opened Sbarro’s pizzas. He’s super rich off Sbarro’s pizza. And you realize like there, there are people who are also excited and happy to chat with you. And there’s people excited to buy your product, excited to buy your service, excited to watch your videos, excited to be your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband wife.

And it’s the skill of asking and practicing on small ways that as you do more of it. You start thinking like, I’m creating the prejudice. I’m creating the, the, I’m stopping myself from it. They’re, they’re actually not. These people are excited potentially to hear from me. And so let me go do it right now, not how, that’s one of the big things that has been transformative is like, how do you just go do it and don’t give yourself that three second negotiation.

Pat Flynn: I love that. We often are our own worst enemy when it comes to this kind of stuff. So I think this is a great reminder. Tell me about million dollar weekend. You know, when I first heard the title, I was like, it’s very Four Hour Work Week esque, right? It’s like, that’s make a million dollars in a weekend. And I know it’s not about, okay, next weekend you’re going to make a million dollars, but what is it really about?

Noah Kagan: It’s about changing your life in 48 hours, which we can all do. That’s what it’s about. It’s, it’s that everyone has a dream and everyone has a weekend available to make that difference. And so how can we provide everyone that opportunity? Like I go to the stores today, I’m like things are expensive. I don’t know how people afford it.

You know, and I’m fortunate that I get to make millions of dollars a year because of being an entrepreneur. And then how does everyone have that opportunity? And so providing the framework of the business, but really it’s also providing the mindset stuff that I’ve never seen any book solve, right? I think everyone would like to be rich.

I think being a millionaire is great. You would, I would assume you’d agree. It’s really nice to live the way you want to live, but what is holding everyone else back from that? And how do we, in a fun way, those fears so that we can get to this destination.

Pat Flynn: You’ve always brought fun into the equation, which I love about you.

I remember you speaking on the FinCon stage and that was a lot of fun, and also very divisive. I’m not going to go into that right now, but that was a great experience for me to watch you on stage and you’re just a natural at engaging and just being yourself. So what kinds of things are included in this book that you would say weren’t or aren’t addressed in other books about business and, and how do you bring your own personality into it?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. I think if you watch a lot of YouTube, which I do, I watch about 15 hours of YouTube a week and I love it. Same. There’s just so much good stuff out there, man. It’s amazing. And I know when, when you’re not on team YouTube, you’re like, what are you doing there all day? I’m like, Oh, buddy, let’s, let’s get, that’s a fun conversation. What, what happens is people think there’s a gap between where they are and where they want to be. And they think the gap is really big and the gap is actually much smaller than people realize. Like the distance between where you are and where you can be is actually much more than you think.

And that’s powerful people to realize. And the levels that you can actually go to are better than you can imagine. So, you know, by the time this show comes out. Just to share something really personal, my girlfriend’s pregnant, which is insane, which is like amazing. Congratulations, man. Dude, and I don’t know how you parents do it.

Shout out to all the parents out there and the moms, specifically the moms. I never thought I would have a wife or partner and I never thought I’d have kids. I just didn’t think that was, that was a level that I couldn’t reach in a game. And that takes time to really just start getting comfortable that like, Hmm, I can have a wife and kid.

I can have a cool business, even if it’s just for grocery money, even if it’s just for a creative outlet, whether it’s Pokemon, whether it’s woodworking, whether it’s a service business, whatever it is, it could be whatever you want. Knowing that’s possible and knowing that distance is close for all of us is empowering.

Now, in terms of you ask, like what’s in million dollar weekend. It’s that ordinary people, maybe you didn’t go to Berkeley, we went to Cal, shout out Bears, maybe you didn’t go to Berkeley, maybe you went to any school, ordinary people can get rich every, and they are every single day. And that’s the reality is like these levels of where, whether it’s rich, whether it’s having a child, whether whatever it is are available to people need to, that’s where it starts. Now because there’s a lot of ordinary people getting rich and that anyone can do in terms of the book, what shocked me the most is these two fears because we didn’t we weren’t going to include it but after seeing so many people struggle with business like how many you to udemy courses are out there How many YouTube videos of gurus I call them fiction gurus are out there like how many business books are out there?

But then still people aren’t having business success. So what’s the actual delta? And it’s the, it’s two fears that we identified through beta testing with literally over a thousand people and my course that we’ve done and doing businesses myself from AppSumo.com, TidyCal.com, all these different businesses.

And the two fears specifically that we spend time on, and then we also have a lot of fun specific business, you know, I would say tactics and strategies to get to a million dollars. Two fears, one starting, the fear of starting today, right now, not how, and then the fear of asking, of how scary we’re making asking, but when we realize the upside of asking is unlimited, then all this business stuff, like the one minute business model, which we cover in the book, how to figure out which markets to pick, how to figure out which problems, how to scale it.

And things like that. Actually, that’s kind of the easy part, but getting excited to have fun with these things. So you know, for instance, getting started now, not how right, like that mindset has been transformative. There’s a guy Rico, he read the book and he’s like, Holy shit, I can do all these things now.

Instead, I think most people, you know, this stuff, man, like I want to be a content creator. Okay, well, what else? What do I need? I need, I need a studio. So like you’re in a nice studio. I have like a 20, 000 studio in my house. Like I need that. Right. And then I need a producer. And then it’s like, no, what do you need right now?

You need your phone. That’s it. You don’t even need thumbnails. You just take your phone and you take a video and you YouTube. That’s what you do right now. And I think the more that people can practice that, you start uploading it and you’re like, that’s exactly how I started my YouTube channel. Like go to my first video in the past few years, it was me shirtless in my house just talking about business.

I think I had a few hundred views. And that was just getting going now. And then the other thing in terms of starting, I’m seeing huge change for a lot of people is figuring out their freedom number. So you started your L. E. E. D. I think L. E. E. D. Yeah. Certifications. That was your first business. What was the amount where you’re like, okay, I can do this as my full time thing.

I can quit or, and I got fired, but like, you can do this as your, your actual gig.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean, when I got laid off, I had a number of how much I was making per month or, you know, every two weeks in my paycheck. I was just like, as long as I can get back to that, then I’ll be fine, right? So that was my number then.

It was sort of a survival number. Yeah. And then from there, it was like a thrival number, if you will. Like a number that I wanted to just start saving and, and, and You know, doing some philanthropy work and things like that. So the numbers changes as you reach new levels, but you’re right. I mean, I have this conversation with students all the time.

I love the idea of calling it the freedom number, but it’s just like, how much would you need to be able to do this full time? And a lot of people default to interesting because it’s in the title of your book, but a million dollars, like the seven figures, like that’s my number. But then you ask, well, Is it?

Where did you get that number from? Well, that’s just the number that we all say because it sounds good. Yeah. What are some tips you have for people to determine what their freedom number is? And I’m sure 100 percent of the time it’s lower than we might think it is.

Noah Kagan: When we take a step back here. I wanted to be a millionaire.

Did you want to be a millionaire? Yeah. Yeah. That’s cool. Right. It was kind of arbitrary though. And the problem though, that I’ve found fascinating is that we want to be a millionaire, but then that stops us from getting $1. That’s why now not how it’s such a cool mindset. That people can just say to themselves and that has been shocking, by the way, for Million Dollar Weekend.

That’s the number one takeaway. There’s all this stuff, like how I’ve scaled all these businesses, like how to practice your asking, which people do. Like how to figure out what the right business idea, how to make sure it’s a million dollar opportunity, all these things. But it’s the now, not how, of like, I can actually get this going.

And everyone has a weekend available, whether you’re a family or whether individual, that’s been been some of the most power. So in terms of figuring out the freedom number, it’s getting that first dollar and being realizing I actually need less to get going than I realized for me, it was 3000 bucks. And then I moved to Argentina.

Once I had my 3, 000, I quit my job at Mint.com or I mean, Aaron would say I got fired, but I think I quit. And then I moved to Argentina. And then, because for me, it was understanding, like, what do you need to live? What do you need for enjoyment? And maybe we want to want, what do you want for savings? And what is what I’ve seen is so powerful.

What was your number, by the way?

Pat Flynn: When I first started, it was four thousand a month.

Noah Kagan: Yeah. And when you start realizing that, huh, maybe it’s three, maybe it’s two, maybe it’s ten, that you can actually it’s more achievable and more realistic. And it builds momentum. And then when you have your freedom number, you can quit whatever job you don’t like, which I didn’t ever want a job.

And I still don’t want a job. And then by doing that, you’re like, huh, I can actually keep doing the thing I’m enjoying and making a lot more money or thriving by getting there. And so it’s really just thinking about your lowest minimum monthly expenses that you can be making doing what you actually want.

And that takes time. I wouldn’t quit your day job until you get there. And then once you get there, you can quit your job. And by doing the thing you actually enjoy, you could become a thousandaire. You can just make grocery money or you can become a millionaire and beyond.

Pat Flynn: And the business model between a millionaire and a thousandaire is completely different.

And it’s so much easier to think about it that way. But the thousandaire that’s like phase one, the millionaire can be phase two or three, you know, that can come later instead of just shooting for that for right now. And I love the approach of, you know, you hear like ready, aim, fire. This is. You know, we hear like ready, fire, aim, this isn’t even like a ready.

This is like just fire, fire, ready, aim, if you will.

Noah Kagan: It’s like fire, fire, recalibrate, fire, fire. Yeah.

Pat Flynn: Like, that’s, what’s cool about what we have available now. The risk is very low to get started and, and like, you can try things and fail and make mistakes and, you know, learn that and learn how to ask and, you know, without a ton of repercussions in the beginning as you start to find yourself and find your voice and like you said it’s taken years for your YouTube channel to kind of finally find itself and and where it’s at now and now you have that momentum. Cause you’re in the later phases, but you got to get started. I think nailing it down to those two fears is really the key.

So just get started. How would you recommend a person get started when there’s so many different options or there there’s a million ways to make money these days. How do you even begin to choose? Is it based on your personality? Is it based on a niche that you find and where they’re at? How would you recommend a person get started today?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. So you said something really fascinating. You said there’s literally a million ways to make money today. Like how amazing is that? And what I’ve noticed from the YouTube channel and from million dollar weekend and helping all these people through the book is just seeing all the different ways to make money.

It’s amazing. And I think that’s the coolest part of living on this planet. Like you can literally make a living. There’s a guy named Kevin Espiritu. Do you know him down in San Diego? Epic gardening. Yeah. Epic gardening. He’s a multimillionaire making YouTube videos about gardening.

Pat Flynn: He helped me during the pandemic.

I, that’s how I discovered him. And then I found out he lived in San Diego and then we’ve been having like a bimonthly coffee meet up with a bunch of other creators here in San Diego. Yeah. Kevin’s a great guy.

Noah Kagan: I love Kevin Yeah, that guy’s a great great guy. And so I think the question is not there’s so many ways like let me give you a simple example.

I just spent 500 for holiday lights. That is a multi million dollar business worldwide. Yeah, I did the same actually holiday lights 500 and this company out here that does it they hold your lights for you annually It’s an ARR business. So every year they, they give you a discount if you let them store your lights for you or they’ll provide the lights.

And I was like, Oh, that’s a really nice yearly revenue that they have guaranteed from these different households. Now, taking a step back, you were saying different businesses. It does come back to the person. So it depends on what you, what you like doing. Like if some people want to make content like me and you, how long have we been making content?

20 years almost?

Pat Flynn: 14 years and 10 months. Give or take. I, I looked this up yesterday. I don’t like keep track every day and kind of mark a tally calendar or something, but 15 years.

Noah Kagan: Fifteen years, man. Yeah. My blog, okdork.com, which is now rebranded noahkagan.com. But I started that in 2000. You can go to archive.org. Yeah. I’ve been posting online since 2000. So I love being online. I love posting content and making content just like you do. Does that mean everyone needs to do it that way? No, I think the best business to start is one that excites you for yourself. And at least there’s one customer. Number one. So there’s a guy Jeremy on our team for the YouTube channel.

He does not want to be on camera. He loves backstage. He actually even has a podcast by backstage careers. And so he is now he’s quitting the channel to start his own agency helping do YouTube title and thumbnail optimizations. So important. Yeah I’m happy to refer him. But my point though is that it there’s so many different ways of making money I think it’s what areas have you done in the past and maybe you’ve gotten paid for, what areas are you spending your time on that you can be excited like now?

Maybe people will pay me for this. As a simple example, there’s a guy named Pat. He’s in Poland. Pat does customer support for a tech company. He just does online customer support, probably makes, I think, 30, 40k. And he loves YouTube, similar to us. And so, he started messaging people cold, saying, hey, I’m really good at YouTube, I study it, I can actually just do your video editing or optimizations of your channel.

And now, this is about a month after the book, he’s making $10,000 a month almost, from doing YouTube consulting. And so, it’s not that everyone should go copy him, but everyone should try to understand, maybe it’s baking. Maybe you have a, like right now in Austin, oh my god. And again, come back to your own problems.

It’s the easiest business and the most exciting ones to solve. I just want food delivered to my house. Me and my girlfriend, as she’s pregnant and we’re busy with work and million dollar weekend and the holidays, I just need food delivered $20 a meal. I think there’s like one company I’ve seen that actually does like healthy food.

And there’s, there’s a company in Barcelona where we spent half the year called thehealthiestchoicebcn.com where it’s, it’s like 9 a meal, super customizable. And I’m like, I don’t know why there’s not like that in different cities that are available. So coming back on it, it’s just like going, even if everyone just do this, look at your day, write down breakfast, lunch, dinner, and have two lines under each one.

And then just pick two things that annoyed you or that you were like, Oh, I wish someone would do that for me. I’ll give you even two today. I was trying to put butter on toast. It’s so hard to put butter on toast in America. It is. And I was like, why isn’t there like a easier way, like a some special thing to help put butter on toast?

I was trying to make my girlfriend some toast with butter, you know, so hard. Anyways, that’s an opportunity. And then I have these like scratches in my house that really irritate me. You have kids. So, you know, probably I’m gonna have kids. I have to get used to this. But for now, I want, I want to find like a on demand house manager.

So you come over and I’m like, this is broken. This is scratched. This is thing. Can you just. Take care of this. So hard to find something like that again, another opportunity. And so it’s just making this throughout your day and then realizing, wow, at dinner, I really like reading content about books, or I like, this is entertainer secret, which your, your assistant Jess recommended, who’s amazing, like maybe there’s tools about how to make audio better.

That could be a whole content business you can create, but the biggest thing coming back to where people are, where they want to be, it’s about starting so they can get there. Cause if you just keep sitting on the sidelines, like you’re never going to learn how to cook watching YouTube. You have to actually get in the kitchen and that goes for everything else.

And so for me with AppSumo, I thank God I started AppSumo 13 years ago so that today it’s now, you know, a very successful, it’s almost a nine figure in revenue business that we get to promote cool products, people get cool jobs, people get great deals on software. I get to live in the life that’s beyond my dreams.

But I started, and I started alone in a basement in San Francisco, and that’s, that’s not exclusive, anyone can do it.

Pat Flynn: I recall a beef jerky company that you started, which solved a problem for you, which was, I just want to try different beef jerkies. All the time. So that doesn’t exist. I’m going to create it.

Does that business still exist? And kind of when you create a business around one of these kinds of problems, like obviously I don’t think you’re in the day to day in that I don’t know if you’re still connected to it in any way, but you start something and then. Move on first of all is that business still around and how’s it doing.

Noah Kagan: Got it. So taking it a step back there. There was a we have a course which is what I put in the million dollar weekend and improved it and the challenge was can I? Make a thousand dollars profit in 24 hours from scratch without using my email list or social media, you know I have somewhat of an audience so I have an advantage and I let the audience choose the business idea. And in 24 hours, I was able to do it.

And that’s, that’s the process. The intent was never to grow that business. It was just to show that I could do it. And there’s a process that people can follow, starting, asking. And then there are ways about pivoting, right? So what are your revenue dials? And how do you have a business model? I call it the one minute business model to figure out if it’s a million dollar opportunity.

I was able to get that 1, 000 profit, 4, 000 revenue in 24 hours. We ended up giving it to a customer. And in two years, giving the business to a customer, we just, yeah, we had applications and we gave it away and then the customer within, I think a year or two years sold it for $120,000. Wow. That’s cool. Yeah, it was super cool.

And I just went to sumojerky.com. It’s down right now. It looks like, I don’t know if they went out of business or what happened. It’s harder to control that. But I think there’s a few points of, from that story that were interesting takeaways. One was this idea of when I had a very limited amount of time and that just by getting going, starting, asking people things, doing a little bit of a one minute business model, which is in the book and I’ll have at MillionDollarWeekend.com/SPI, we’ll have all these resources for free for your people, Pat. I was like, huh. There’s some ways I had to change. Like I thought I could sell one offs, but I ended up, you know, I can, we can go into more details, but I had to sell it to businesses. So I asked friends at their companies and then I had to sell subscriptions cause there’s no way I was able to get the thousand dollars target within 24 hours otherwise.

So that that’s part one, where there’s just different things to about how you’re evolving your business and jerk, jerky, by the way, that business could lead to Instacart, which is a multi billion dollar company, but it’s because I started it and got going. I could get there, but sitting on the sidelines.

Kind of psyching myself out. I would never get there. The other part that’s really interesting is that most people quit too soon. They do one or two YouTube videos. They do one or two posts. They try to sell to one person and they give up. And that’s, that’s been a huge blocker for people sticking with things long enough for it to succeed.

Right. You could start it in a weekend, a million dollar or billion dollar opportunity, but you have to stick with it to get there too. And so the law of 100 has been a transformative thing we’ve put on YouTube, we’ve put in the book and I’ve seen it work, which is commit to a hundred of whatever it is, a hundred days, a hundred sales, a hundred podcasts, a hundred YouTube videos.

Cause I’ve quit things. I’m sure I’m guessing you have, and I know a lot of people in the audience have. And so just using a hundred days or a hundred is a really nice thing. Cause then you get to that point, then you can quit. So with Sumo Jerky, it was all right, well. For the person we gave it to, can you commit to a hundred days of still promoting it?

And Ryan did stick with it and that ended up selling for six figures. It could have easily been beyond. And so I would think people can use that framework for whatever it is they’re, they’re starting to be able to stick with something.

Pat Flynn: And like we were talking about earlier, that kind of removes the emotion a little bit from what it is that you’re doing and kind of games, gamifies it.

Let’s get to a hundred and then kind of see what happens. And when you do that, Although there might be a lot of failures, it can just be that one video or that one guest spot or that one business deal that changes everything. So I love that. I think I remember, I think it was MKBHD was on this podcast and he said that his first 100 videos were for less than a hundred subscribers.

So he applied that rule. He got through a hundred plus videos and then one of those videos finally took off and that kind of really ignited his career in the tech review world. I don’t know if you know MKBHD, but he’s just such a cool guy and he stuck with it because he was passionate about tech. Even though nobody was watching his videos at first, he still did it anyway.

So, this idea of picking something that is of interest to you, helps you through those hundreds of things. Despite, maybe not some success right up front, but it will come. How does a person, when they’re going through their first a hundred whatever, What’s the mindset that a person should have to get better as they continue to create?

Like, let’s say, for example, somebody’s creating a YouTube channel, they’re committing to a hundred videos maybe within a year or two, so two videos a week or one per week for two years to give it a fighting chance. Obviously there has to be some sort of mindset of improvement and getting better. How does one approach that without knowing kind of really where things are going?

Noah Kagan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because. What I’ve noticed is that if we set, this is going to be counterintuitive at AppSumo, we actually set very unambitious goals. Unambitious goals. Unambitious. Unambitious. We are trying to not be ambitious. We are trying to set sustainable goals and longevity goals. So we try to grow now.

In the past, we try to double the business or grow super fast, but the law of 100 in these things, really what it’s encouraging is how do you do things sustainable where these compound improvements over time. can lead you to insane successes. Most of the success people have is because they’ve stuck with things.

14 years, 10 months, as an example, with your podcast. And you’re all your content. Now, in terms of how to improve, it’s simple. You ask your customers. That’s it. So you text them, you ask them, you call them. And most people, they, they have their own impression. But every time I’m like, what does your customers think?

So you can always just see what they would say. I think the other call out that I would ask is, is there any data points you can look at that’s a little bit more objective? So for example, if you go to a restaurant, you can always see when the waiter takes the dish back to the in the kitchen, you could see how much they eat.

Guess what? You can know either they don’t like this dish or they ate all the dish. And so the same thing goes with your business where if you have a service, can you see what they’re actually using? If you have, let’s say YouTube as an example, can you see what their average view duration is? Yeah, retention.

Yeah, what their click through rate is. So I like actually talking to our customer and then I like seeing if there’s something objective that I can try to learn from. And so with the law of 100 my thing is how do I just get a little bit better each time a little bit better and now you know our thumbnails for instance we’re having 100 to 500 thumbnails per video that we go through per video right and that’s because each time we’re like oh like now if you look at our thumbnails it’s evolved because each time we’re just trying to learn a little bit through the data to kind of make better decisions so you know one thing maybe as another takeaway for anyone is that anytime you’re getting rejection it’s a learning opportunity you anytime you’re having a failure, it’s a learning opportunity.

And when it even goes well, it’s a great opportunity to improve. Because you understand what happens. So at AppSumo.com, what I encourage everyone to do is to have a debrief. So every Black Friday, this is our AppSumo.com, and every Black Friday, We have a debrief the next week. And then there’s this master doc where each year it’s getting better.

We’re going to continue to do this double down. We’re not doing these. So like SMS doesn’t really do much for us. So we’ve reduced SMS, but email does better. So we did more email giveaways did well. So we did giveaways. We do crazy videos. I don’t know if you saw our video where I had a wig and we bought like an old Mac.

But like these like kind of crazy videos that we really overproduce, people missed them. So we brought it back. So again, it’s just how do you debrief over these experiences to kind of keep thinking about, all right, what can I take away from this failure or learning or moment, good or bad to keep improving for the future?

Pat Flynn: Yeah, I think a lot of us as creators want to make the next thing that we create, like the best thing ever. And I think that often holds us back. I mean, I fall into that trap every once in a while, especially after a little bit of success. I’m like, I have to keep this going. I got to go bigger. I got to go better.

And that often holds me back from just pressing publish at all. But when you think about just like one micro improvement that you could make over the, over the previous thing, well, then it becomes a lot easier and you can hyper focus on that. And that begins to add to your stack of sort of your arsenal of, of talent for the content that you have that then lends itself to the next five, the next 10, you know, it’s sort of a James Clear atomic habits ask if you will, just like a minor improvement compounding effect, like you said.

So what are some specific things you mentioned? Title, thumbnail, hundreds of titles and thumbnails. I’m guessing they’re not all completely unique. Some might have different colors or different faces or things like that, right? So that’s, that’s where the hundred comes from, or are they all completely unique, a hundred different versions, and how do you have the time?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, so taking a step back, I guess one question for you, Pat. Do you think your past, present, or future is going to have your best work in it? My future. It’s kind of interesting to be optimistic. There’s a great book called Learned Optimism. And I think Jewish people in general were raised pretty cynical.

And not, uh, things aren’t good. Things are going to be bad and don’t trust. But there’s a book Learned Optimism. It’s like, do you believe the present past or future is going to be better for you? And the more that it’s a practice again, just like million dollar weekend, the practice of starting the practice of asking, getting better at it.

You can practice optimism because I, you know, we put out that video where I waited outside an airport and got in a private jet. And yeah, there was a time I was like, I’ve got no better videos than this. I’m done. It took a moment to come back. Like, no, there are other videos. I’m excited to make other videos and you have to come back to what you’re proud of and what you really want to do.

In addition to what the world wants to consume and watch.

Pat Flynn: Was your reaction to me saying the future what you thought I was going to say.

Noah Kagan: I think most people don’t think always, I don’t think most people are always realizing the future is going to even get better. Like I have this friend, I love this guy and he’s always like life is great and it’s going to get better. And he always reminds me, he’s like, if you zoom out of your life, if you actually zoom out for almost literally anyone listening to this, you’re at a place where your life is 99 percent great and 1 percent it’s going to keep getting better.

And that is a great mindset of how to be generous to yourself, how to be kind to yourself, or it, this is something I’ve worked on for years now because, you know, I think a lot of us have this guilt. We have a lot of this negative self talk and the more that we’re like, Hey, I’m doing pretty good. I’m hanging out with Pat Flynn.

Like, I’m proud of what I’ve worked on with this book. I’m doing my best in my relationship to prioritize my girlfriend. Like, damn, life is amazing, and it can get even better, which is crazy to think.

Pat Flynn: I mean, you’re going to be a dad. It’s going to get better.

Noah Kagan: I’m excited. I am very excited for that. Now, in terms of what you’re asking about, like, the testing on thumbnails and things like that, it applies to all parts of business.

So, like, AppSumo is having our best year ever. I think we’ll do somewhere around 80 million in revenue. And, uh, it’s like 7 million in profit or something crazy, which is blows my mind. That’s amazing. Congrats, man. Someone asked me this morning, like, what’d you do? Tell me the one thing. And it’s like, it’s literally a ton of tiny things and going back to the basics of what works.

The best business is the one that works. That’s the best business and what’s fascinating though is that it’s a lot of just smaller improvements over time. When did deals start? When did deals end? And why do we do that? Because we noticed like, Hey, customers, if there’s a deal ending, they might more likely buy it at AppSumo.

So looking at the timing of deals, pricing, I had a genius idea to lower all of our prices so people could get, because I thought things are too expensive. Turns out that we need to have actually a higher price because our partners want more money, which is great. And then the type of customer that comes in at different prices really impacts things.

Because you can see the lifetime value of a customer based on what price point they come in at. So same thing goes for pretty much any business. And again, people are like, damn, this is, it could be very advanced. And we have a lot of advanced stuff at AppSumo, like predictive analytics around our ad spend and all these things.

But AdSpend was just me doing 100 a day 10 years ago. And that led to us now having an elite advisors who come in who we spend 1,000 an hour to teach us. And everyone can do that by the way. That’s a, that’s a little cheat code there. But the point is I got started and that led up to now we have teams around all these different areas of the business.

Same with YouTube. You asked, how do we test thumbnails? There’s a dedicated thumbnail designer, Sasa. And then Dylan, we use ThumbnailTest.com. I don’t know what’ll be out now, but today we use that to run like variations. Of just a lot of tests because we only put out two videos a month. So every single thing really compounds and adds up to the impact of these videos.

Pat Flynn: It sounds very similar to the story that we are having a Deep Pocket Monster. Cause we only come out with, you know, a couple of videos per month. So those little micro changes definitely stack over time. Titles and thumbnails definitely important. What other micro improvements have you made with your videos, perhaps on camera or scripting story wise?

Noah Kagan: What’s fascinating again, I’m going to cut back to now, not how, because it’s so important. I started in my room shirtless and Pat, I don’t know if you’ve seen the body. It’s not, it’s not great today, but like it wasn’t, you go look at the video. It’s a, it’s, it’s out there and it’s like, cause I got going right.

And then we did, my strategy was 52 videos a week. Three videos a week, every week. So we put out 150 videos one year. And it wasn’t really working. And, and this is important. Everyone, this is cliche stuff, Pat. Everyone knows, but no one does. It’s the same thing about like everyone knows to brush their teeth, but don’t do it twice a day and so that’s kind of gross It’s really gross.

I don’t know if you don’t twice a day everybody come on through limitation because we wanted to hit a goal We’re like, why don’t we try these videos where we knock on someone’s door? Cuz we’re always curious what was behind those doors and that was like, oh this door this asking rich people stuff in a challenge Right.

Like going in an uncomfortable real world situation. Huh. Those are working. So you can see everyone. And so this is important for everyone out there. One of the easiest ways to grow your business is go back and do more of what already works. So on YouTube specifically, let’s say, go look at which one of your videos is most popular, how many of those types of videos are you doing? For my channel on Noah Kagan, only two types of videos work. Me going out and asking rich people on streets, on yachts, on planes, on houses works really well. And asking old people regrets. Old billionaires, or millionaires, regrets. Those are two. So almost all of our videos are that.

Now, for most people out there, go and look what anything has worked. Has anyone given you a dollar for it? And guess what? If you don’t have a dollar, you can get one right now. Just go text someone. Hey, send me a dollar. Feel very good about yourself, and I’ll get you motivation. So I would say for, for content, like you’re asking micro optimization.

So we started knocking on doors, right? And now are knocking like that type of content. How are you improving it? So we have production, right? So you’re going to have full scripts. So we have a full time person that helps do pre production. Now we might have one or two camera people. And so it’s just kind of noticing what are the areas that weren’t as good in each of these different videos.

So optimizations are like titles, thumbnails, all these different stuff. Maybe one tip for everyone out there, especially if you’re doing content, how much are you speaking the topics that you’re actually writing about for instance? I we spend probably I don’t know weeks with thousands of topics to pick two videos every month Most people are like, oh, yeah, it’s a good idea.

It’s like you’re gonna work hard either way so one make sure it’s either gonna be a million view video or a million dollar opportunity. And I think people could probably spend a lot more time thinking If they’ve got something going, like, what’s the thing that actually is working that I can do more of?

But you’re not going to know that unless you get started. Right now. Today. Today. I mean, we could do another challenge for your audience to get them going. Uh, I don’t know what you think would be amazing for them, but it’s just like, yo, you can actually change your life. I like to think about. In 10 years from now, Noah, what will I thank myself today for?

Like, what am I doing today? Like, is it exercising so I can be healthy with my kid? Is it getting the business going? Is it getting, maybe, I was even thinking about, oh, I should set up a fund for my child. So in 10 years, if I put money in, what’s that gonna be like in 10 years? Or getting a house in Barcelona so that we can have an amazing house in the next 10 years?

And that’s available for everyone to start today. Now, not how. Now, not how. We can talk more about YouTube. It’s just more, I think people are wanting the end result, but the end result is really sticking with it. And then each of these things gets better in time. Like, all right, what’s the different video?

We did private jet. We know private jets worked. And then it’s like, well, why don’t we ask first class passengers? That’s going to work. And then it’s like, Hey, we did these videos where we’re interviewing billionaires. Let’s go get a list of all 3000 billionaires on the planet and go through every single one and see how we can find more of them.

Cause we know those videos work. And let me just highlight that that’s an AppSumo value, which is double down. So we test and invest, which is an absolute value. And then we double down and most people don’t start. So they can’t even get there. But test and invest means, how are you trying things out with low risk, low time, so you can see what works.

And if it works, invest. And then double down means, if it’s working, how far can you take it? And I’ll give you an example. We do affiliate marketing on AppSumo. We were using a spreadsheet to start. This is a few years ago. Just a spreadsheet, Google spreadsheet. And we’re like giving people links and we were doing our best to track it and paying them out.

We saw that it would drive revenue. So then we used a software and now we’re on Impact.com. And we saw that affiliate marketing for AppSumo is producing return on our spend basically over 100 percent in the same week. So that means we’re going out to a lot of video creators on YouTube specifically saying, Hey, we want to give you cash and a percent of whatever you can sell, make content around it.

And we’re seeing over 100 percent return in the same week. So we have a team of now five people just doing video content outreach. So that whole team now is five. And that’s basically we tested it with the spreadsheet. It was working. And then eventually now we’re doubling down, which to me is really if it’s working, how far are you taking it?

And most people have things working they don’t realize. Videos working, sales that are working, processes that are working, and they’re just not expanding it to the fullest potential.

Pat Flynn: So good. Million Dollar Weekend. Check it out on Amazon. Where else should people go and check it out? Like, drop all the links.

Where should, where should people go?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, no. MillionDollarWeekend.com/SPI. We’ll have a lot of bonuses just for your people, Pat. Sweet. Thank you. That’s, that’s it. MillionDollarWeekend.com/SPI. I would love, should we do a challenge? I know I kind of said something out there. I mean, we

Pat Flynn: talked about, I really love the compliment challenge.

It’s sort of a, a, a nice way to sort of put yourself in that uncomfortable position, but in a way of still providing value for somebody versus putting them in an uncomfortable situation like the Starbucks challenge, which I still would recommend. I, I, I remember Chris Ducker came over to the house and I told him about that challenge and then he did it.

And the person at Starbucks was like, No, and then Chris pushed back. He’s like, but I’m from England. Like, come on. And he’s got the guy was like, no, he’s like, Oh, that’s fun. Anyway, it’s interesting.

Noah Kagan: Why don’t we give like, I’ll do $1,000 Chipotle gift card to one of your people who does it? Can they comment on your on your page?

Or where do you tell them to go?

Pat Flynn: X typically is where we have a lot of conversations about the podcast.

Noah Kagan: So why don’t we do it on your on your Twitter? Yeah, on your Twitter in your community. I’ll put up $1,000 for someone who does a compliment challenge. And just gets going today. They just go do it and they find out what the, I think there’ll be surprised what they find out about themselves and your team could pick one person and we’ll give them a thousand bucks for real. Yeah, let’s do it.

Pat Flynn: Okay. So let’s, let’s make this up as we go. Starting today at the time that this episode comes out, we’ll go for a month. Use the hashtag #ComplimentChallenge and tag me at @PatFlynn and tag Noah as well. What’s your X handle? Twitter handle?

Noah Kagan: @NoahKagan

Pat Flynn: Okay. Tag us in it and show us a, do you want like a picture or nah, just honor system.

Okay. Tell us that you did it. We’ll choose somebody. Tell us a little story. You can put as many characters in there as you want and we’ll pick somebody and we’ll get you a thousand dollars Chipotle. Chipotle, dude. You’re not affiliated with them in any way?

Noah Kagan: We are not. My girlfriend loves Chipotle. She’s from Europe.

And she’s like, oh, this I cannot believe the price for the freshness. Ha! I’m like, baby, Chipotle’s awesome. I’m like, wait till I take you to Taco Bell.

Pat Flynn: Oh man, now you can have as much guac as you want with a thousand dollar gift card.

Noah Kagan: They can have a lot of guac.

Pat Flynn: Dude, thank you so much for this time today.

I appreciate you. Can’t wait till we can just hang out and chat again like we always do when we’re, when we’re together. We don’t cross paths as much as we used to. We got to make that happen because you and your family are gonna be pretty busy with a new one coming very soon. Congrats again, man.

Noah Kagan: Thank you, brother.

I’d love a, maybe after the show, dad advice. Or on the show.

Pat Flynn: We’ll save that for after. So I’m going to, I’m going to hit end on this recording and then I’d be happy to help. Thanks, Noah. I appreciate you, man.

Noah Kagan: Appreciate you too.

Pat Flynn: All right. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Noah. I always have an amazing time whenever I get to have a conversation and talk tacos with Mr. Noah Kagan. Of course, beyond being just the CEO and founder of AppSumo, which is tremendous, you can get a lot of deals over there. Check out his book. Million Dollar Weekend. And also please participate in the Compliment Challenge on X. Give somebody a compliment. Tell us a story about it. Take a picture if you want and tag @PatFlynn, that’s me. And @NoahKagan And use the hashtag #ComplimentChallenge We’ll collect those during the next month. At the time that this episode goes out for exactly one month We’re gonna collect those And Noah and I are gonna get together to select one person to win a thousand dollar Chipotle Gift card That’s a lot of guacamole. And they also have some adobo now, which is really interesting.

I mean, I actually tried the adobo. It’s pretty good. Anyway, best of luck, #ComplimentChallenge. And I just, again, it’s this, this isn’t even about the gift card. It’s about this idea of stepping out your, out of your comfort zone and just giving somebody a compliment. And it would be preferably a person that you do not know already that you give a compliment to.

So tell us that story on X at @PatFlynn, @NoahKagan, #ComplimentChallenge. And I just want to compliment you on sticking around to the end. Thank you so much. Look forward to seeing you on the next one. Let us know how it goes. Hit that subscribe button if you haven’t already. Check out AppSumo if you haven’t already either.

And Noah, thank you so much, my friend. I appreciate you. And I’ll see you on the next episode. Cheers.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!


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