Noah Kagan | Limitations and Innovations (Episode 658)

Noah Kagan (@noahkagan) is the Chief Sumo at and, sharer of all manner of entrepreneurial wisdom at, and podcaster at Noah Kagan Presents.

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Why limitations often spur innovation.
  • Why side hustles aren’t for everyone.
  • What it means (and how) to build your wall a brick at a time.
  • Why there’s no hack for wisdom — and how you should be learning.
  • Why the success of a company should exceed the ego and recognition of its founder.
  • And so much more…


(Direct Download Episode Here)
(Download Transcript Here)

One of the nice things about being friends with entrepreneur and podcaster Noah Kagan is he’ll show up every now and again just to share what he knows. And as someone who has “started two multi-million dollar businesses, grew a 700,000+ email list,” and can lead us to “the best tacos in the world,” we’re confident that he knows more than most.

He’s talked to us about building an empire from the ashes. He’s been generous with his best productivity tricks. He’s helped us discern between good discomfort and bad discomfort. This time around, we have a conversation about limitations spurring innovation, learning from mistakes, why a founder should check his or her ego if company success is the real goal, and lots more. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

More About This Show

Noah Kagan has been running Internet businesses for the past seventeen years. And while we agree that the advent of the World Wide Web made the act of starting and maintaining a business easier than ever before, the Internet of 2017 is vastly different from the Internet of 2000 — and makes running an online business these days easier still.

“It was really expensive,” says Noah. “Domain names were…I think thirty-five bucks a year, but now they’re eight dollars…and to get it was a pain in the butt…now we take for granted how we have Stripe right away and we have WordPress, which is super developed. There was nothing back then. There was a crap FTP server and you’d have to code everything in HTML.”

Most business ideas Noah had at the time revolved around catering to his own needs — like buying and selling used books, a craigslist-style service for college students, and a student discount card for campus-area merchants. The appeal was not only in how comparatively cheap it was to start an online business, but the fact that the Internet is always on. And the fact that options were few in how flashy a website could look in pre-broadband days probably leveled the playing field among the competition.

“I think so much of innovation or a lot of growth comes when you’re just limited,” says Noah.

As a serial entrepreneur who’s had plenty of failures among the notable successes, Noah might seem like he’d be down on people who choose the seemingly safe path of working for someone else over creating their own thing, but he understands the appeal. He concedes that having a side hustle isn’t for everyone — and that working a corporate or government job can be rich in perks and worth it as long as it’s rewarding and still allows you to enjoy life.

Another consideration: someone not cut out to be an entrepreneur might make a great intropreneur. While working for someone else, maybe you spot something within the company that could stand for improvement — better efficiency for a provided service, for instance. If your skillset allows you to find a solution, it could result in a promotion, a profitable side hustle, or even the means to branch off and compete.

“I use a very simple phrase for myself, and I encourage others to use it,” says Noah. “What is the metric of success?

When communicating with a client, a customer, or an employer, just asking what would make them consider your level of service exemplary gives you a treasure trove of information for personal improvement. It allows you to meet or exceed expectations with people who are willing to pay you for something they themselves won’t, can’t, or don’t want to do — at which point it becomes a seller’s market.

Listen to this episode of The Art of Charm in its entirety to learn more about why starting a business online today is easier than ever, why limitations often spur innovation, why side hustles aren’t for everyone (though maybe you’re cut out to be an intropreneur rather than an entrepreneur), what you can learn from people with whom you already work, how individual transparency (like sharing calendars and schedules) helps a team or family work better together, the pros and cons of working with a significant other, how a relationship agreement can clarify what’s expected from both parties to avoid misunderstandings, and lots more.


If you enjoyed this session with Noah Kagan, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:

Click here to thank Noah Kagan at Twitter!

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Jordan Harbinger - author of 668 posts on The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks several languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped -- twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.


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