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Noah Kagan pushes entrepreneurs to focus on self-improvement

Noah Kagan is founder and chief sumo at AppSumo.com, a deals website of products for entrepreneurs. Before AppSumo, Noah founded Gambit, a payment engine for virtual games, and worked at Mint—he was employee No. 3—and Facebook, where he was employee No. 30.

Noah Kagan calls 2012 his “year of failure,” and came to Big Omaha with tips for entrepreneurs who may be a little burned out. His advice? Don’t focus on the money, or even the business. Focus on you.

For Kagan, there are three things that control his happiness: wealth, health and love.


“I am the happiest when I’m doing what I want and I’m having fun,” he said. When he only focuses on money, Kagan’s happiness goes down. But now he uses his money to invest in himself. Kagan once paid someone $10,000 to come to Austin to give him advice. He goes to weekly therapy sessions that cost $180 a pop. And he spent a month wandering India with the sole purpose of working on himself. But the investment, he said, is worth it.


“If your health is off, if you don’t have the energy, how are you going to work?” For Kagan, healthy eating and exercising are lifestyle choices that have improved his business and his life.


“Look at who you surround yourself with,” Kagan said. “Think about who you hang out with that are friends. Think about your lovers.” He challenged attendees to surround themselves with people who make them feel good about themselves, and start saying cutting ties with those who don’t.

Kagan said even small actions can make your life better: starting a good habit (five push-ups before bed), or using an inspiring image as your phone background.And the pursuit is never-ending.

“It’s like yoga; you can never be perfect,” he said. “In terms of fulfillmenthealth wealth and loveI feel amazing. But you have to keep doing what you did to get there.”


Big Omaha is a two-and-a-half-day event that aims to inspire, educate and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the heart of the Midwest. Produced by Silicon Prairie News, it’s part of the Big Series, the nation’s most ambitious events on innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Big Omaha Video Series is presented by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Based in Kansas City, Mo., the Kauffman Foundation is among the largest foundations in the U.S. with a mission to foster a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, continuing the improvement of their communities.

Credits: Video by Quadrant5. Snippet photo by Malone & Company.

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