My Free Marketing Newsletter

Make an Impact

I’ve noticed patterns of people doing things one time and quitting.

Shit, I’ve done this myself a ton of times. I even used to wear JNCO jeans for those in the know.

Here’s a few personal examples that come to mind:

Buy Happiness, was a website where people could paypal me a $1 and I would send them a happy letter. That lasted about a week. was a direct knock off of Craigslist for listing items. This was about a month or two, added a ton of features, got some friends to use and it gradually flailed out. You know you are off track when your classifieds sites most popular feature was the hot or not thing we had of women’s pictures.

Jiujitsu. Tucker Max suggested I do this and stop being a pussy, plus my buddy Donald Park is one of the best in the nation. I originally went to Jiujitsu Barra which was the McDonalds of training, #pass.

Donald suggested I go to his gym which I excitedly did. 120 minutes later I was in some of the most pain I’ve felt in a LONG time. I forced myself to go back for the next few weeks. Everyday until the next class I dreaded it. L-I-T-E-R-A-L-L-Y. Eventually, I tucked up my nut sack and accepted that Jiujitsu was not my calling.

Rollerblading. PSYCH! I still love rollerblading.

There are a ton more but I’ll leave it at that. These are failures and great lessons learned which encouraged me to keep trying other things.

 Sometimes you got to know when to hold-em and know when to fold-em.

There have been numerous AppSumo competitors over the 2+ years we’ve been working on the business. A fair amount have folded and gone to the deadpool. Why you ask?

They saw a fad and figured they could “easily” put out a deal and get people to buy.

It is very easy to do that once BUT can you do that for 365 days a year. That’s where it gets hard and most people give up.

Well shit this is a depressing article. What are ways you can get past the one hit wonder and move into some everlasting value.

The secret to make real lasting impacts is three fold:

1- Purpose or the why. Check out Dan Pink’s the why video. This is CRITICAL. I can ensure you that the conviction and meaning when you are doing anything will GUARANTEE you to outlast anyone who’s doing it for an opportunity.

Change and sticking with things is hard. I know. At our peak with Gambit (payments for social games) we were processing $150,000 A DAY. Yea, a shit ton I know. (And NO I’m not as rich as you think. Most rich people get rich in boring ways).

We got banned by Facebook (techcrunch story) and also settled our lawsuit ON THE SAME DAY. Talk about best day ever! It became very clear to me there was no meaning, purpose or commitment I wanted to spend my life doing payments for social games.

At Facebook we had a team meeting where Zuck announced that he was rejecting the $1,000,000,000 offer from Yahoo! and to not mention shit about selling the company. What a fucking statement! It was super clear that the business was not about making money and truly about connecting people (+ stalking).

That was Zuck’s calling in life. Money wouldn’t compromise it.

A great question to ask yourself if there is purpose with what you are doing is: “If someone offered you $25 million for what you are doing would you give it up?”

If you just want money so you can do blah blah then pussy out and go do it. You’ll get true satisfaction when you end up doing your daily work and hobbies on things that wouldn’t give in to that question.

2- Accountability as one of my closest friends Adam Gilbert (also my health coach) would say.

The new app Lift is a great way to do it. Fitbit has my friends on it so they’ll see if I am walking or not. I weigh myself every morning which goes wirelessly to the internet. I’ve even used Google Forms to create accountability.

One of my favorite ways to hold myself accountable is to put it on my calendar. They call me Google-Calendar-Inviter in the AppSumo office. Although this is not true I like to plan things and it helps to be reminded on my calendar. This helps me stay accountable and follow through on new habits I want to form.

Pro tip: Set anything you want to start doing on repeat for 15 minutes a day.

Bonus tip: Check out Steve Pavlina’s article on 30 day challenges. Super helpful!

Book recommendations: Willpower and The Power of Habit (book review)

3- Start small. REALLY fucking small. How small?

I am starting to try out meditation. Instead of signing up for a 10 day silent retreat, I am doing baby steps with just 15 minutes a day for 30 days. (I have tried meditation in the past, but a formal process has been wildly helpful.)

Around New Years everyone commits to some big hairy ass goal. Then a week later they pussy out.

When I committed to being healthy last year I started with Adam just changing my breakfast for a few weeks, then I upped it to improving my lunch, then running once a week. Now I’m regimented throughout the week on 3 runs, 2 weights, 2 yogas and a pretty consistent diet of egg whites & good Bourbon.

So let’s review how you can have sustainable change and make an impact in the world:

1- Setup a goal that is WORTHY of you
2- Create a way and method to stay ACCOUNTABLE
3- Start it off TINY.

What is something you are starting or want to accomplish?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

31 responses to “Make an Impact”

October 2, 2012 at 2:27 am

Please forgive me, but your $25M question was one that I ask my audiences (in a different way). And, precisely because I don’t ask it in monetary terms as you did, when I read your question my answer made me lol. My answer?
Deena, my wife of 27 years.
he he he.

Cheers, and kudos for helping me See how I appreciate her.

October 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

Thanks for the great advice — especially liked that you changed breakfast first, then lunch, etc, rather than trying to overhaul everything at once.
I don’t necessarily agree with the $25M question, though. If someone gave me $25M to stop doing what I was passionately doing, I’d find something else I’m passionate about and go do that. That’s what keeps us from being one-hit wonders.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, my short list of things I’d do looks like this (in no particular order)
* learn to fly hot air balloons and launch in as many beautiful places as I can find
* lobby for a federal “bottle bill” like exists in OR, MA, WI, and all of those other states stamped on the top of soda cans.
* finally find a way to be a cartoon voice on an animated series or movie

Insiya Hussain
September 7, 2012 at 9:13 am

P.S. Every time I hear you or Neville talk about some of the random/dumbass/ failed businesses you’ve launched, I hear Michael Jackson signing to me in my head: “Youuuu are noooottt allllooonnnneeeee…..”

Insiya Hussain
September 7, 2012 at 6:37 am

Noah, don’t know how long you took on this post, but you’re a better writer than you probably know. The words just flow off the page. Consistency, consistency, consistency. That’s my word for the day.

P.S. Thanks for the Dan Pink video.

Dan Norris
September 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Good stuff Noah, I like the idea of being accountable. A few weeks ago I emailed Corbett from Think Traffic and told him I’d be spending 36 hours in total on 12 different traffic strategies next week and asked if he’s be interested in posting my guest post about it. I had no choice but to get it done (I also have to build my app and everything else that comes with a startup).

Another thing I’ve started doing it stopped working off my task list. I work off my calendar 4 days a week and task list 1 day a week. The 4 days I schedule time out for specific stuff I know I need to get done and I don’t do anything else other than those things. This is sort of personal accountability but it works really well for me. On the 5th day I go through my huge task list that has accumulated through the week.

September 4, 2012 at 5:05 am

Thanks Noah, good points above: Focus not only on acknowledging the problem, which is important, but more so on what causes it and how to stop it.

Hope you had a good Labor Day,

Ryan Brown
September 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Great specific advice. Similar to Berta’s point – One underlying thread you don’t call out specifically is the benefit of 1-on-1 tutors and mentors. They can’t give you purpose, but they can help with accountability and results.

By the way – I’m sure Neville has already pointed this out, but just in case I’ll make the obligatory Simpson’s reference (to ‘Buy Happiness’)

Hope to see you soon.

September 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Hey Noah,

Fellow Cal bear here (we’re currently losing to Nevada as I write this – surprise, surprise). Anyways… good article man. Regarding point 3, have you heard of Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg – professor @ Stanford and Ramit Sethi’s mentor(?). He has some good material about how to start habits and it sounds similar to your philosophy.

One thing I thought was pretty insightful was his emphasis on connecting your new “tiny” habit to a pre-existing “anchor” habit. You can read more about his philosophy here: and his website:

Noah Kagan
September 2, 2012 at 6:10 am

Thanks for adding this David. Just heard of it. Seams neat.

Mike Mallory
September 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Good stuff Noah-

I usually start at 5 minutes a day for stuf like that!

Also, if the meditation thing keeps going, we can help:


Mark Rose
August 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Great Post Noah. Really great. I find the real differentiator like you said is persistence. It’s truly hard and you really have to believe – and this makes all this difference.

August 31, 2012 at 1:51 pm

@Piaras I would discourage you from doing P90x. It’s an amazing workout program with great results but day 91 is a complete wash. Start small and build on a real health foundation for life.

August 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm

@Berta I’ve heard that from others. Buy another one! Good call on being around the people you want to be.

@kareem I have the book and reading it soon…

August 31, 2012 at 12:46 pm

What’s worked best for me is being around people who have already successfully implemented the change I’m trying to make.

Re: Fitbit–mine slipped off somewhere and I’ve mourned it ever since.

Clint Lenard
August 31, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Egg Whites and good Bourbon. Sounds like quite a diet! 🙂

Great post!

prince campbell
August 31, 2012 at 11:43 am

So there is a God.

Cool, important stuff. Thanks!

August 31, 2012 at 11:40 am

Welcome back to writing, broseph.

You’d also prob like The Power of Habit:

Our habits for our behaviors which dictate what we accomplish. At a fundamental level, our habits are the core building blocks of our success.

August 31, 2012 at 10:58 am

Holy Crap, its like 2007 all over again! Random musings from the Noah! You keep writing and we will keep reading!! Now the big question is how I take the 30 days I have done and get to the 90 needed for the full P90X. I may have to hit up Doug for advice as I can never get past the one month rest week!

David Kadavy
August 31, 2012 at 10:55 am

NIce, Noah! I’m glad you’re meditating – it’s going to change your life.

Try the iBrainWave iPhone app, too. It uses Binaural Beats to tune your brain. There’s also a white noise feature for drowning out outside noise.

August 31, 2012 at 9:49 am

@Derek Really solid stuff in there. I have a bucket list of places I want to go, restaurants and activities. Try to keep it within a year. Definitely spending more time trying to setup things to look forward to.

@Aaron So true. I’m noticing a clear distinction separating high performance people which is how they react to problems. 99% focus on complaining and recognizing the problem vs the 1% to look for the root issue and then try to solve it.

August 31, 2012 at 9:46 am

@Tony Awesome point. It’s nice to have delayed gratification. I did this yesterday where I wouldn’t open my new exciting Amazon packages until I showered. Yea! Seems small but it helped me go shower and accomplish something.

@Eric What would it be?

Tony Perea
August 31, 2012 at 9:30 am

Great stuff Noah! Thanks for sharing this. If I planned this for myself I’d probably add a step 4 and I’ll call it something like “give yourself small rewards!”. It’s hard for me to keep long term goals without some small recurring incentives along the way. This could be a cheat day if I am trying some diet or maybe a one day trip to other city once in a while if I am working hard on something for long time. Lately I have been planning to read more books. I’ll try your advise, let’s see how it goes 🙂

August 31, 2012 at 8:24 am

someone’s got a new goal!

August 31, 2012 at 8:13 am

Love the $25 million example. Now I’m asking myself, what would I decline $25 million to keep doing?

Patrick Foley
August 31, 2012 at 6:59 am

I agree with Rachel! Great to see your writing again, Noah. I will look forward to it each week!

See you in Boston in a month …

August 31, 2012 at 5:59 am

Glad to see you letting us back into that brilliant mind of yours sunn!

August 31, 2012 at 3:07 am

Hey Noah !

Some really cool and helpful stuff – Thank you 🙂

August 31, 2012 at 2:56 am

Great article, Noah. I’m witnessing, over and over again, that perfectionism doesn’t exist, and being all-or-nothing causes me to eventually crash and burn and give up. Consistency is the key!

I’m working on trying to be more positive – and starting REALLY fucking small. Just one time a day, when I wake up, I acknowledge one thing I am grateful for. It is pretty hard to screw that up, right? 🙂

BTW: An Indian friend of mine recommended one of those 10-day silent retreats for spiritual growth when I go to India in a few weeks. I said, “Hell no! I can’t shut up for 20 minutes!” I am going the “small” route, instead.

Hope this finds you well,

August 30, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I’m a big fan of 30 days challenges. I keep a list of things I might want to try in my calendar and have a recurring appointment with myself at the beginning of each month at which I browse the list. Some months I don’t do anything, but having it pop up every month reminds me to at least think about it.

Also, instead of making resolutions, I like to come up with themes and try them one at a time during the year i.e. January is practice guitar month, February is go to the gym twice a week month etc. This is really good for gradual lifestyle changes.

Also, something I started doing a couple years ago is keeping a short journal of things I do during the year. Not really a diary, just a list of things like movies I watched, dates I went on, funny jokes I heard at work. It’s really enlightening to go back at the end of the year and relive the memories. There are several web and phone apps that have popped up lately for this kind of thing, and they’re getting better with every iteration.

August 30, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Thanks Rachel. Going to be doing them at least once a week.

August 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I get so happy when your posts pop up in my RSS. I am glad you’re back!

Free Weekly
Marketing Newsletter

Join 100k+ subscribers to the Free Weekly Marketing Newsletter for insider tips, cutting-edge strategies, and personal tool recommendations.
Arrow right
Arrow down
All tactics. No fluff. Action Takers Only 🚀