Over the last decade, I’ve dedicated myself to learning more about digital marketing and how to growth hack a newly formed start-up. I was inspired by people like Noah Kagan and Tim Ferris and felt like I wanted in on the action.
A pivotal moment for me was when Noah Kagan stayed at my house for a couple of days when he came to New Zealand. It was a learning lesson in a couple of ways.
I had been a fan of Noah ever since I had read one of his articles via Tim’s blog. The first blog I remember reading from him is where he is talking about using Google Trends to find your niche. It blew my mind. In fact, I paid such close attention to what he was saying that I managed to convince him to crash at my place for a few days by doing excatly what he said he liked, receiving personalized messages.
It started with a simple LinkedIn message, basically telling him that I was a fan and I would make him some taco’s if he came. He responded saying “thanks for the personalized message’ and that he was actually in the middle of planning a trip to NZ. After a few email exchanges, he decided that I wasn’t a serial killer and agreed to crash at mine for a couple of days.
At the time I was trying to get a start-up off the ground called eKast. It was my first attempt at doing a digital business and honestly, I was in way over my head. However, I was so naive about the whole thing – it didn’t matter.
I slaved away day and night following Tim and Noah’s blogs like it was the Holy Bible.
On the day Noah arrived, I got to the airport extra early to pick him up. It felt like I was about to meet a movie or rock star. I mean here’s the guy that inspired me to ultimately change my entire career path and I am going to personally pick him up from the airport and drive back to my place.
When I first recognized him I greeted him with a big smile and handshake and I remember so clearly how he smiled back. It didn’t feel that warm or friendly. In fact, I remember it feeling like he was almost disappointed. Then I remembered he just had a 20+ hour trip and being politician friendly isn’t so easy when jetlagged.
We loaded up his luggage and headed back toward my place. It was hard to contain my excitement and it felt like I had a million questions for him. I remember on the way back just talking non-stop about his journey from Facebook to Mint to App Sumo. I wanted to get as much knowledge from him as possible. After all, he was doing and succeeding at exactly what I wanted to do.
Once we were back at my place, I remember we both started working. He was on the couch using his laptop and I was sitting at the table, where I had been sitting for months trying to start my business. Again, as usual, I just couldn’t hold my tongue and started asking questions again.
He ended up so annoyed by my questions and chatting that he told me to leave him alone for an hour so he could get his work done. Like a Dad, upset at his kid for asking stupid questions while he’s trying to read.
Instantly, I felt like “that guy”.
I felt like there were tears in my eyes, I know that sounds pretty weird and baby-ish but this guy was my hero, sitting on my couch and he just shushed me. Looking back on it now, I don’t blame him but at that moment, it just defeated me.
I left the room and let him work.
I could tell that he could tell it shattered me. He said, “look, bro, I just need an hour or so to do my work, then we can talk”. I totally get that. 100%, I understand. He was just building App Sumo and had a lot on his plate other than some random dude just randomly asking him a million questions.
After going into another part of the house – he appeared about an hour or so later.
After that we chatted all day, he gave me a lot of attention, answered a lot of questions and was very tolerant. I mean after all I was a doctor and had done a lot of academic work but this was another type of study. Yet on some level, it felt he just looked at what I was doing as a bit of joke compared to him. Then again, it probably was.
That night he wanted to go to a club pretty bad but I was set on taking him out to the beach for a bonfire and BBQ in proper Kiwi fashion. He eventually succame to the idea and it was a great night. We built a fire, had a cookout on the side of the ocean in New Zealand with mates, and talked more about business and life in general.
On the way back I stopped to get him some pavlova. During the stop, I remember asking him what’s he was listening to at the moment. He mentioned Kendrick Lamar. I had never heard of Kendrik at that time. We put on the song ADHD and I remember being super impressed with the production of Kendrik that I was immediately a fan.
The trip ended with him going to another house and speaking at an event but it was a pivotal experience for me. Even though you would think that we would have some sort of friendship or bond after that – we really don’t. In fact, recently he told me he was too focused on “stuff” to answer a couple of questions I had. However, maybe that’s what happens when you go from rags to a 10M USD startup.
Maybe Noah doesn’t know it but it did lead to me eventually leaving practice to pursue a full-time career in tech. His impact was far-reaching and the lesson I learned from that experience is, take time for people even if it’s brief. Never get too big for your boots. I know, that I am guilty of that as well.
The further-reaching ROI of such actions we may never know but in this instance, I do know that those few days, changed my life forever and for the better.
So cheers to you Noah for answering my LinkedIn and crashing at my crib.
It was a game-changer.