In this episode of Deep Dive, I chat with my friend Noah Kagan about happiness, getting fired, Facebook and more. Some of the highlights of our discussion can be found below, as well as time-stamps if you fancy listening to us talk :)

Noah has gone from being employee #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint, to now owning the Sumo Group of apps, and is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start, market and grow their business.

πŸ™πŸΌβ€β™‚οΈ Noah Β  🎬 YouTube / πŸŽ™Podcast / πŸ’» Website / 🐀 Twitter / πŸ“ΈInstagram

Books Mentioned

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
The Courage To Be Disliked
The Art of Happiness
Teaching As A Subversive Activity

Apps Mentioned



  1. Coffee Challenge
  2. Newspaper Challenge
  3. Help Challenge


00:58 – Introduction
02:35 – Career Walkthroughs and Valuable Lessons
06:45 – Noah’s Time at Facebook
09:00 – What would you do if you had a million dollars in the bank
10:20 – Medicine or YouTube full time?
12:20 – Lessons from getting fired
15:25 – Moving on From Disappointment
20:50 – β€œIt’s much easier to garden than to hunt”
21:33 – How do you deal with feeling behind in life?
26:20 – Lists of Fulfilment
30:30 – Ali on medicine and the (near) future
33:30 – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
36:25 – No Apologies
39:25 – What are we most proud of and when have we grown the most?
46:20 – Pursuing what you want vs Being satisfied with what you have.
49:40 – Optimise the 80%
52:20 – How do you find what you’re good/talented at?
54:10 – What's your best message to current high school students?
59:40 – What platform for blogging what you recommend?
01:03:20 – Momentum Begets Momentum
01:05:15 – What would you work on for free?
01:11:46 – Productivity Discussion
01:14:58 – How should we set goals? Should we set goals?
01:22:45 – Productivity Discussion (2)
01:26:00 – Optimise Your Bedroom
01:29:40 – Reducing your use of Instagram
01:31:15 – Is this adding or subtracting?
01:34:50 – What is on your bucket list?
01:37:55 – Noah’s Word of the Year
01:41:00 – What have you learnt from Ali?
01:43:20 – Vulnerability + Putting Yourself Out There
01:46:15 – The Art of Happiness
01:47:25 – How to get more freedom + control of your career.
01:47:50 – Permission
01:50:10 – Recommended Resources


  • College is the best time to start a business because you have the time - there is no downside. At college, Noah started a number of different endeavours - most of them failed but you learn from these mistakes. As we get older, we become less bold and get scared of losing money.
  • 10-year rule – if you can find something and stick to it for 10 years, you will get whatever level of success you want to achieve.
  • Key is to JUST GET STARTED – it’s easy to spend time thinking and reading but you’ll learn the most from just getting started.
  • Talking about his time at Facebook, Noah explains how Mark (Zuckerburg) had unparalleled attention to detail and had a vision that was so big and appealing, that he got people to dedicate their life to it.

Lessons from getting fired:

  • Are you invaluable?
  • How much are you creating control in your life?
  • Dealing with disappointment: SULK - you have to hit rock bottom before you can start coming up. Noah explains how his whole identity was tied up with Facebook and hence getting fired presented a challenge not just to his job but his whole life.
  • But to deal with disappointment and these low moments Noah recommends:
    Get your confidence back up and feel self-worth. For example, make your bed. Why? Because you can control that. You can also control your health.
  • Go help one person – reach out and help someone for free. Once you start teaching or helping someone with something, you start to realise that you are worthy which again helps to build confidence.
  • Look At Your Network
  • You probably have at least 500 friends / acquaintances and within that network someone can either help you or knows someone who might be able to help you. So look within your network and start asking for help.
  • Try The Coffee Challenge
Go to a cafe and ask for 10% off. You get rejected or accepted, and realise you are still alive. The key point here is that β€œasking is one of the most powerful muscles you can develop – the more you can overcome the fear of practicing that, the more successful you potentially can become in life.
  • Start Building Relationships and An Audience
  • Noah started blogging and sending a newsletter 20 years ago – so his advice is to try to start this as early as possible – start building up your brand and your audience because no-one can take that away from you. Noah also explains how he put on conferences and events which helped others as well as build his own network as well. He explains that:
When you are young, people are way more receptive to having you connect with them.
It’s much easier to garden than to hunt.
  • It takes time to build a garden: you need to work and tend to it but it will produce food every year. But most of us just go out and hunt – hoping that we’ll find something straight away but there is never any guarantee. The key is to start planting your seeds now that you can enjoy later.

How do you deal with feeling behind?

  • When you start following your gut and your heart, you can overcome that feeling of thinking that you are falling behind. Listen to what you have been doing – look back at what you did as a kid that you really enjoyed and look at what you’ve been doing in your spare time for free – concentrate on those things and follow your heart.
  • Secondly, to be β€˜behind’ you are invariably comparing yourself to others. This can be unhelpful but it can also make you reflect on where you are going. But it’s important not to think so far ahead – decide where you want to be at the end of next month and what would make that epic?
  • Lists of fulfilment can help you to start out your mornings strong – Noah talks about a life changing routine that he has recently taken up called GEBY.
We can be more intentional about how to make a great day – we should think more about what makes a great day and be intentional about it.
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.
  • Noah discusses the two things that stuck with him:
  • To live an interesting life you just have to do interesting things.
  • How can you be around interesting people.
  • No Apologies: we often apologise to the world for things that seem to go against what is seen to be normal or standard. Noah discusses how if we didn’t have to apologise for anything we did (within the law, clearly) and you can really just follow your heart, what would you want to do? It’s hard to go against the grain but what are you looking forward to in life? Have a fantasy list of things you would consider an adventure?

What are we most proud of? And when have we grown the most?

  • We are generally proud of achieving things we wanted in the first place and things we worked for.
  • The liberty provided by realising no-one cares.
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone
I don’t believe in happiness, I believe in fulfilment. I believe in control. Fulfilment is not easy – happiness can be easy and can be fleeting. Fulfilment is challenging. That’s the part of life we need to think about – what fulfils us?
  • Optimise the 80% - in terms of satisfaction and fulfilment. Identify where you are spending your time and where do you want to spend your time – it’s probably valuable to invest money and time in those things.

How do you find out what you are good/talented at? ie innate skills, "unfair advantages"?

  • Look at what you’re doing in your free time - whatever you are gravitating towards, there is something unique there.
  • Ask someone you respect what they think your unique talent is – they’ll probably tell you something that you may not have even considered.
  • Try out things that you don’t like.
  • Text and help one person. If you help one person, it not only makes you more confident, but it also makes you consider, what would you help someone with. What you would help with is probably your unique skill that you have an advantage in.

What's your best message to current high school students?

  • Try to think of life as a buffet and try as many things as you can.
  • Think about who you are surrounding yourself with and try to surround yourself with people who have similar interests and ambitions.
  • Take advantage of the free time that you have. Take on hobbies because you have more spare time when you are young at school – so take up skills because skills compound on themselves over time.
We have to decide our own metric of success in this life.

What platform for blogging what you recommend; or just make your own site?

  • Avoid spending money when you are starting up – don't spend money until you are making money.
  • YouTube / Instagram / (for the newsletter) – find the medium that works best for your style.
  • You have to do it at least once a week for a year and you can’t think of stopping until after a year. You need to commit to producing content for one year. Once you've done it for one year, you will start to see results.
Momentum begets momentum.

Ask yourself, what would you work on for free? That way, whether you get paid a lot or a little, you'll still be energised to show up and continue doing it.

  • Look at the people doing the thing you admire – go work for them for free
There is a big difference between efficiency and effectiveness.
  • You need to figure out how to work on the right things – Noah explains how he has colour-coded his calendar to help him identify how many of his activities are aligned towards his goal. It’s an interesting way of framing your productivity and enables you to prioritise your time more effectively.

Three systems of setting goals:

  • Objective oriented (revenue goal)
  • Progress goals (is it progressive - the direction matters, not the quantity)
  • System goal (go to the gym three times a week, no expectation on a progression)
It's easy to get what you want, it's hard to know what you want. Put the other way around – it’s hard to know what you want, but it’s really easy to get it when you know it.
Find the things that you can do for 10 years - the ten year rule is true - pick something and work on it for 10 years.

Tips to Improve Computer Productivity:

  • Set your trackpad/mouse tracking speed to fast.
  • Improve your typing speed – get it up to 80wpm.
  • Gmail Shortcuts – press Shft + ? to see the shortcuts.

Optimise your bedroom

  • If we can optimise the first part of the day, it can have an effect on the rest of your day.
  • Buying a mattress topper is the most affordable way to make a big change to your sleep
  • Design your environment to prevent you from procrastinating when you wake up - e.g put the phone outside of the room.
Think about whether your actions are intentional or accidental. Apps are optimised to waste our time. We have to defend ourselves and follow things that are inspirational, things that are adding.
  • Managing distractions is all about environment design. Reduce the friction for things that you want to do and increase the friction for things that you want to avoid doing (i.e scrolling through Instagram).
Each year should be the bucket list.
  • Noah explains how he produces a bucket list every year based around 5 categories – work, workout, living, personal and travel.
  • Make sure your goals are accessible – put them up everywhere, so you can constantly see them.

Noah’s lessons taken from The Art of Happiness

  • Be intentional with your words.
  • Be definitive in your thought – don’t preface your opinions and statements.