I've watched way too many episodes of the My First Million podcast. Here are my key takeaways and notes.
- Learn core business skills so that you can follow your interests and then turn them into profitable businesses.
- A smaller ($1-10 million revenue) cash-flow business that gets you a great lifestyle early on is better than trying to make a billion-dollar unicorn startup. There’s less risk and you get positive cash flow sooner.
- A paid community or a paid newsletter could be the best business to make right now. High margin.
- Fake it until you make it. Make your business look legit and successful (even if you just started) by any means necessary.
- Focus on your health. If your health goes bad, nothing else matters.
- The only test of intelligence is if you can get what you want in life. There are 2 parts to this: (1) Are you able to hack reality to get what you want? (2) Are you smart enough to figure out what you should want in the first place? Set an audacious goal—define what “winning” is in your game of life. Then ask yourself: Why do I want this goal?
- When you have a successful business, don’t tell anyone. This reduces competition and jealousy from others. Don’t talk to any news outlets, do any podcasts, or tell anyone how lucrative it is (unless you are trying to sell your business). You can say you have a business but downplay it and make it seem only mildly successful. If you don't have a successful business, be very vocal and bounce ideas off of a lot of different people.
- Take sabbaticals in your 20s, 30s, and 40s so that you can have fun while you’re young and not wait until you’re 65 and retired.
- Study crypto and learn how to build Web 3 platforms/apps.
- Personal brand: Either (1) be an expert and teach people what you know or (2) be obsessed with learning and teach people what you learn.
- Don’t be frugal forever. Use money to improve your quality of life. Use money to save time.
- The biggest risk in life is mediocrity.
- You can make an information arbitrage business by using: airtable.com, import.io, and zapier.com
- You can go to sheets.new to make a new Google Sheet or doc.new to make a new Google Doc.
- Your mentors will come naturally. Actively seeking out mentors or paying a coach $100 an hour is a form of procrastination.
- Only the bottom 1/4 of a resume matters (college and hobbies). Everyone has a good school, good grades, and good references. What sets people apart is their interests. (From the blog post Losers Exist, Don’t Hire Them.)
- Religion is the greatest free IP in the world.
- Carrd.co is a great, cheap website builder.
- Read Think and Grow Rich.
- Read Think on These Things.
- It’s best to assume people don’t change. If someone’s a moron, they’ll always be a moron. If someone is a winner, they’ll always be a winner.
- Content (Tweets, YouTube videos) is about emotion, not information.
- You can sell anything if you have great packaging, a high price, and top-tier celebrities in your ads (pay them a lot).
- Go to a big party or event a couple times a year. You’re leaving some great moments on the table if you don’t.
- Target creators with less than 10k subs for affiliate marketing.
- Investing in a startup is just a bet on the founder. They must have (1) the correct vision of the future and (2) the technical and practical skill to create a winning product.
- Whenever something bad happens, think: Every obstacle just makes this a better story.
- The biggest risk in life is mediocrity.
- "Closed mouths don’t get fed." — Jay Z
- Study the “rough drafts,” version 1s, or betas of products, shows, and books you love. Go to firstversions.com, search people’s early tweets, watch a pilot episode, or watch someone’s first YouTube video so you can see that every great person has humble beginnings.
- Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan found two of the original HubSpot coders on UpWork. Dharmesh and the two UpWork coders made the first prototype.
- Religion is the best free IP in the world.
- Visualize where you want to be at 40. Then reverse engineer it.
- In the short run, content creation is a reaction contest (who can get the most people emotional). In the long run, content creation is an authenticity contest.
- Read Storyworthy.
- You don’t want to have a super unique reason why your product is 10x better than another product. There often is no such things as “We’re doing this magical thing that nobody else is doing.” I mean, it’s possible if you’re making a unicorn tech startup and using AI or crypto or biotech, but for the average business, all you have to do is find a pain point for the customer in an existing business model and then solve it. Then maybe do better YouTube or Facebook ads. And charge 2-3x the price of your competition. Great packaging, a high price, and celebrities (or famous influencers—pay them a lot). Also, give people a reason to keep buying more frequently—can you frequently introduce new scents or flavors? It works best if you do something that is trending and people are fearful of (like aluminum-free deodorant or radiation-blocking shorts). Give your customers plausible deniability—give them a rational reason for buying your product for 2-3x the competition—maybe make an aluminum-free deodorant, that justifies a high price because people want to be “healthy”. Also, sell online always, unless you are doing a specifically good brick and mortar business like a mastermind, or childcare.
It actually makes way more sense to just make a cash flow business that can get you a great lifestyle in year 1 (like a newsletter) or buy a working business and use your knowledge to make it better.
- But make sure you go big. Or at least have the option to go big. A lifestyle business and a big tech business are both going to take up all of your time--might as well go big. Only go for A opportunities.
If you don’t know how to get big on YouTube or TikTok yourself, you need to team up with people who do.
Spend like 1k on ads to see if it works. Minimum a few hundred dollars.
You need to think about your quality of life. Warren Buffett says that he is investing for the long term but he’s 90—there is no long-term, he’s about to die. SPEND IT! Always optimize so that you are getting the best quality of life that you can while taking the long-term into account.
Learn core business skills so that you can learn interesting things and then turn them into a business.
Personal brand: Either be an expert and teach people what you know or be obsessed with learning and teach people what you learn.
When you get a job, think: How can I pack 20 years of experience into the next 4 years?
- You have your normal 9-5, but when you get off you study the most interesting companies and people. Think about what they’re doing and how to meet them. Build your network, knowledge, and skills at night.
What people want: A non-9 to 5 way to make $10,000/mo.
Break patterns. Do something drastic that will change your inertia. Move cities, have a kid.
When you start a business, don’t think about making $1 million, think about making $1. Don’t think about scale or automation, just think about getting a sale.
Are you doing what you’re doing because you want to or because of inertia? If you made a business 5 years ago, are you still CEO because you want to run it or because that’s what you’ve been doing? Are you friends with your friends because you like them or because it’s comfortable? Are you dating your gf because you like her or because you’re comfortable? Are you at your 9-5 because you like it or because you’re comfortable?
The biggest risk in life is mediocrity.
How to come up with ideas (from the book Storyworthy by Matt Dicks):
Example: Ask someone what their first, last, best, and worst jobs were. Each one is an interesting or funny story.
Whenever something bad happens, think: Every obstacle just makes this a better story.
Sam gets panic attacks.
Investing in a startup is just a bet on the founder. They must have (1) the correct vision of the future and (2) the technical and practical skill to create a winning product.
Tailor your business idea to declining cost curves: AI, batteries, DNA sequencing.
Coin a new term so that you are not compared to anything else. It makes you the first and a monopoly.
- Mike Maples says he’s a rocket fuel salesman, not an investor.
- If everyone’s selling bananas, you can’t just say the banana you’re selling is 5X better. Instead, sell an apple. Not everyone will want an apple but 100% of the people who want apple will buy from you.
Marc Lore episode.
Fully trust people. If you trust people from day 1, they won’t burn you because you’ve given them a high reputation to live up to. Doesn’t always work—you can still get burned.
Marc looks for top 5% keys on a resume. Did they get an early promotion in their first job? Did they get a better title at a better company in their second job? You want to see step changes, not horizontal (or negative) changes.
Vision, capital, and people are essential for acquisitions. (Paul Graham says that IP is important too.) The founder needs a great vision, correct timing, and a huge TAM. You need a lot of capital from investors ($10 million) so that you can hire the best team. Then you need to attract and hire the best team. This is his formula for creating a business that will get acquired by a big business. If you have a great team and a great vision, you are very likely to create something worth more than the capital you raised.
The 3 business strategies:
- Cash flow (Can get you to $1+ mil)
- Acquisition (Can get you to $10+ mil) Marc Lore says it’s easiest to sell a company for 10m or under or 100m and above. It’s more difficult to sell in the middle (10-100m).
- Venture unicorn (can get you to $100+ mil)
Business idea: Drop servicing. Like drop shipping but with services.
Other countries don’t think that insider trading and bribes are immoral. Some expect bribes in order to do business.
- Indonesia and others
Study the “rough drafts” or version 1 or beta of products/shows/books you love. Go to firstversions.com or search people’s early tweets or watch a pilot episode or watch someone’s first YouTube video so you can see that every great person has humble beginnings.
Write a timeline to see when successful people do things in life. What they did in their apprenticeship phase. What their big business or fund was. Do one of these a week.
Clone every top US business and make the abroad version.
I believe Sam (maybe Shaan) said he was on TRT and he’s only 31. He said this in the Alex Hormozie interview. Alex also said he was on TRT (but he’s probably on more than that).
Sam on writing content.
Start with the headline. 95% of people will only see the headline. Make them want to click. Only 5% will actually read the content.
You need to write articles that will get clicks. At least some of the time. Read the Hustle to see what gets views.
Then write the description. Just give a little more info or context than the headline.
Make your first draft terrible.
The study that said that you don’t get more happiness after 70k/year is BS. Life is significantly better when you’re rich. - Sam Parr (paraphrased)
Conferences are actually great. Go to conferences outside of your industry.
How to build your reputation: In-person, give value to people who already have a good reputation. They will follow you on Twitter and say good things about you.
Ramit Sethi interview
Sam used Remit’s blog post when he was launching Trends: https://tim.blog/2016/03/04/5-million-week/amp/
Big ideas (insatiable demand):
- Pets, pet vitamins (morally questionable)
Packaging, pricing, celebrities. Use these 3 when going into a crowded market.
- Ex) haircare. It needs to smell good and be low cost (to produce). Spend 90% of your time on the packaging.
- Price: price it as high as possible. do boxes, recurring delivery, upsells.
- How do you get celebrities? You pay them a ton of money. If you’re selling a skin care product, get a celebrity known for their good skin.
James Altucher interview
If you owe 2 million to the bank, the bank owns you. But if you owe 2 billion to the bank, you own the bank.
You can easily get ripped off by lawyers in negotiating your % of a business (like the cofounder of facebook). Never sign anything without a lawyer.
Keep an eye on companies that get acquired, after some time they sometimes fizzle out. That is a business that you could start.
Noah Kagan interview. This episode is great Noah take a lot about acquiring small word press plugins for under market value.
Growth hack: start sponsoring creators who have less than 10k subs. They are cheap and if you find good ones you can build a relationship and grow with them.
You can sell anything if you have great packaging, a high price (5x the competition), and top-tier celebrities in your ads (pay them a lot).
A lab grown Diamond business. It could be the perfect time to start one.
De Beers Diamond monopoly story is good.
Sell candles. Make them packaged really well and make it smell good. Don’t make your nice packaging too big, that increases shipping costs. Do it like apple—really nice packaging but only a little bigger than the item itself. Make the price extremely high 5x the competition. Pay celebrities or influencers a ton to promote it.
- 35-65 year old white women (in Texas) is a big market.
Make sure you’re paying attention to demographics other than yourself.
If you don’t want to do “real work,” don’t do e-commerce—you have to run a warehouse.
- Software or a newsletter or courses are better.
Types of businesses
- Media business (Ex. Crypto news site)
- Technical business (Ex. Crypto exchange)
- In-person Events (Ex. Blockworks events)
- Agency (Ex. Consulting)
Hire employees with social media followings so they can promote your business.
FUD ware. Be on the trends about what people are scared of. Ex) sunblock chemicals, plastic water bottles, or radiation from phones. Then make a product that allays people’s fears: radiation blocking pockets on shorts (to protect from cell phone radiation), mineral sunblock, metal or glass water bottles.
Make a business that makes it super easy to send a gift to a business partner in asia (like a shopify drop shipping partner). Make it super easy for people to use paypal or stripe to pay and then you send a nicely packaged gift to their parter in asia for specific days, like Chinese new years, and other special days. You could probably sell it 3x a year. Cold email shopify stores to say that they should do it and educate them on how it is polite to send a gift in asian culture. Then have like 3 different price tiers.
Naval Ravikant story and ideas recap
Take sabbaticals in your 20s, 30s, and 40s so that you can have fun while you’re young and not wait until you’re 65 and retired.
- Work for 9 months then take 3 months off.
- Work for 5 years then take 1 year off.
Getting to $10 million brings a lot more happiness than $10 mil to $100 mil. Because at $10 mil you don’t have to work anymore. You only work on what you want to. These numbers 2X every ~10 years due to inflation. In 2030, you’ll need to have about $20 million to have today’s $10 million.
Focus on brand, culture, and boldness (calculated risk-taking because big business become too risk averse). The founder should focus on this and not management because anyone can do management but only the visionary founder can do these three.
Copywriting is essential and underrated. Read the top 3 books and practice — Dharmesh Shah (billionaire founder of hubspot)
Dharmesh went back to grad school after he sold his first big company for $15 mil. He said it was one of the best things he did. He found his hubspot cofounder in grad school. They knew they wanted to work together before they had a business idea.
The next social media should have weighting of follows. If a big account follows you, it should count for more than if a small account follows you. Quality of followers matters more than quantity of followers.
- It will also have built in payment structures like web 3 platforms and apps. So if someone follows you, they pay you some money. For social media, they may pay you to view the content and get a part of your “coin”, so as you grow, their money grows. For a LinkedIn clone, they might have to pay to send employers messages, the employer can set their price to see applicants.
Dharmesh says that you should look at 2 things when potentially starting a business. Passion, chance of success, and reward.
- Expected value: (% chance of success) x (estimated equity value if successful)
- Passion: do you love doing it?
Good ideas are dangerous because they stop you from great ideas.
Content (Tweets, YT videos) is about emotion, not information.
- trigger an emotional response: outrage, compassion, etc
Find individual, nomadic, engineers/designers/analysts/copywriters who make $100k/mo and see what they do.
It is best to assume people don’t change. If someone’s a moron, they’ll always be a moron. If someone is a winner, they’ll always be a winner. If someone is abusive, they’ll always be abusive.
Information wants to be free. Make a website like glassdoor or expedia. Or aggregate talent. Ex) make a website that shows the investment returns of every investor on the site then charge for people to see their portfolio.
Governments allow for private solutions to DMV, birth certificate, etc scaling. You just need to get certified. Could be lucrative because your customers are virtually required to buy from you.
Jack Abraham interview
In venture, B2B investments are your singles and doubles. B2C investments can be your home runs.
- Note: this was a while ago. B2B can be a home run now.
Pay attention to the moments between the big moments. Example 1: you’re on a valentines day date and you’re going to go to the beach and then get dinner. The big moments are the beach and dinner. But what can you do in between to make the moment in between the big moments great. Example 2: when you are throwing a party, say there are 2 main rooms, what can you do to make the hallway in between interesting? Example 3: think of the little things that make an experience way better and then have it ready for them.
Do the AirBnB 11 star experience exercise. Have your product in mind:
- What’s a 1 star experience like?
- What’s a 2 star experience like?
- What’s a 3 star experience like?
- What’s a 4 star experience like?
- What’s a 5 star experience like?
- Most people will expect the stars to stop at 5. But they don’t have to—keep going until you get to 11 stars.
Read Think and Grow Rich. It shows you that there are no limits.
Make a website that aggregates customers in some way: bay area apartments or bay area pest control or people who want their house painted. You can also them teach the painters/pest control how to upsell. You could do landscaping and pool work too. Then you get warm leads and sell them to pest control and property managers.
Sell sleep pills and hydration tablets and vitamins. Think of a pill that solves a diet, hydration, sleep, or exercise problem. More ideas: natural pain killer, probiotic
You can go to sheets.new to make a new google sheet or doc.new to make a new google doc
Sublingual allergy drops can work.
Steph Smith interview (one of the best episodes).
Instead of giving $10,000 to ads, make a tweet that says you’ll give $10k to a random person who retweets. That can get you way more retweets.
Build your product and make videos (or Tweets or Instagram posts) of you making it. This is how you get traction for your launch.
Make a TikTok account that says: want to eat Chick-Fil-A? Don’t eat this burger it has X, eat this one instead. And you just research the basic stuff that’s in it. Flav city for TikTok could be HUGE. Brand advertising could be huge.
Rob Dyrdek interview
Get 25-75% of equity in every business you make.
Steph Smith and Shaan business ideas
Make a business that puts cool FSA products in a monthly box.
Multi-million dollar idea: make useful swag for companies. Ex) a webcam cover with their company’s logo on it. Next level swag. All the business does is come up with useful/cool swag ideas and then make it easy to customize/bulk order.
- Like SwagUp but way cooler.
- Custom Nike sneakers
- Custom sports jersey
- It’s almost like a clothing store. You need to find what items are hot.
- Rotate through unique hot products
- Run it like Supreme. Each month has one hot item and if they don’t get that drop, they’ll never get that item. This could get companies to buy more often than just once a year.
- It needs to be something that people use in public
Steph advocated for the hybrid entrepreneur strategy. Have a job and start a business. This allows you to have stable income and have a risky business with high potential upside.
- I think the key here is to have a job that allows you to study what will make your business successful. Ex) if you want to make a media company, work for a media company.
Shaan says not to do the hybrid approach. It’s really just for people who are scared that their business won’t work. He says it depends on how demanding your business is. If it’s a podcast or a newsletter, you could have a job too but if you want to make the next unicorn startup, you have to be all-in.
*Only* the bottom 1/4 of a resume matters (College Major and hobbies). Everyone has a good school, good grades, and good references. What sets people apart is their interests.
- From the blog post Losers Exist, Don’t Hire Them.
Religion is the greatest free IP in the world.
Your mentors will come naturally. Actively seeking out mentors or paying a coach $100 (or $1000) an hour is a form of procrastination. Based on something from Naval Ravikant.
- Build a prototype (minimum viable product), then acquire customers (probably affiliate marketing). That’s all a business is.
Kanye documentary takeaways:
- The power of the believer - Donda
- The power of identity (25th law of Power)
- The power of singular obsession (passion, definite aim)
- Make every disadvantage an advantage
"Closed mouths don’t get fed." —Jay Z
- You have to shoot your shot
Make a rating agency. Especially for carbon footprint measuring. Ex) rating cars or rating car safety
A vendor’s list. A list of good accountants or copywriters or analysts. But with finance analysts, you could have each one show their investment returns.
Make a credentialing agency.
This one talks about a lot of growth strategies.
Sam would do fake ads from big brands to make his business look legit. Like Ford.
Fake it until you make it. Make your business look legit and successful (even if you just started) by any means necessary.
Focus on health. If your health goes bad, nothing else matters.
The only test of intelligence is if you can get what you want in life.
Visualize where you want to be at 40. Then reverse engineer it.
Shaan on Anthony Pompliano's Channel.
On social media: (1) pay attention to trends like when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock or Amber Heard and Johnny Depp or crypto. (2) pay attention to a new feature that a platform is incentivizing creators to post on like Instagram stories after they stole it from snapchat or YouTube shorts after they stole it from TikTok or being early on TikTok. If you get in early the platform will promote you because they want people to use their new feature.
Consistency wins out in the long run on social media. That means you have to do what is genuinely interesting and fun for you. And you have to do it at a schedule that you can keep up with.
In hindsight you can see the playbooks that lead to virtually guaranteed success. Masterminds and mentors can show you the path they just took to success.
Dont repackage the lessons of people 15 years older than you. Talk about how you are dealing with your unique and immediate problems. Ex) if you’re in college write about how to navigate college. If you’re starting a business write about problems you’re running into.
Write content as a 21 year old hungry guy who understands the new digital world.
In the short run, content creation is a reaction contest (who can get the most people emotional). In the long run, content creation is an authenticity contest.
Side hustles can be good to get you enough money to live off of. Then you can spend your time working on a big life-changing venture.
2 types of side hustle businesses:
- Buying an existing asset. Like a business. Best to pay the owner in chucks from the revenue of the business. Engineer-led businesses are typically priced too low. If you buy one, you can often 2x the price and instantly increase revenue. You can buy an apartment building to use on Airbnb. Upload more and better pictures, respond to inquiries quickly, and make sure to get 5 star reviews.
- Supply side: add liquidity to a platform. Create content on new platforms or for underserved niches. Or buy apartments to put in airbnb.