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how was your 2016?

Every year Warren Buffett writes a letter to shareholders. He does this for them but I’m guessing it’s great for him to recognize his growth, reflect on what he’s done that year and have a cool history to see how things have gone over the years.

I’ve done the same with my life and strangely feel compelled to share it with you.


Cause I think you may learn something about yourself, it forces me to write it out and I get to learn about you if you hit reply and tell me about your year.

Overall, I’d say the year was a 8 out of 10.

I became single, went through a low spell of extended drinking and partying. Got too complacent with where things are professionally and got more relaxed with my health from shoulder / leg injuries.

The main themes that really helped me get through the end of the year on a high note were:

1- Growth. This only comes through discomfort. If you aren’t feeling it on the regular there’s a good chance you’re not growing. (click to tweet)

2- Vision. How do you get anywhere without knowing where you want to go? I read amazing biographies of people I idolize and they had crystal clear pictures of their future. It’s easy to get what you want when you know what it looks like.

3- Problems => Solution. Too many times we complain about the traffic, the lighting in your building, a co-worker, yourself,etc. I’ve gotten into the mindset to continually notice things I don’t like or want improved and immediately explore the solution for them.


Some of the highlights of the year:

I started therapy again (thanks Lloyd!) which is a taboo topic. Reminds me of Woody Allen and how it’s an expensive hobby for the neurotics.

For me it’s the opposite, it’s a mind coach. They listen to patterns, things, activities going on.

A few of the things I worked on in therapy:

  • How I called myself a “man-child” cause I thought adults can’t have fun. Not true.
  • Noticing that I’m doing things to feel alive that were short term and fleeting VERSUS long-term sustainable activities.

Sometimes I feel like therapy creates more problems than solves but in deep reflection it HAS helped me resolve and move forward with positive actions in numerous parts of my life.

The only real way to solve problems is to go through them. (click to tweet)

I’ve reduced my drinking and been more aware of why I’m drinking (or not). A lot of times it was for escape. Now, the lack of waking up hungover or cloudiness is gone. The level of clarity made me feel like I was in the movie Limitless. Not being able to escape your problems and emotions forces you to face them without being able to cover them up.

Cut out a lot of people, activities and distractions that weren’t aligned to my vision. My friend Eric said it best, “You want to be in a serious relationship but you are partying and going out like someone who just wants to hook up. You lack alignment.”

A real friend tells you how it is and helps you become the highest version of yourself. (click to tweet)


Started journaling again. Thanks Jeremy. I’m on Day 130 (did I mention I love streaks). It’s an amazing way to honestly reflect on my growth, fears, feeling and maturity over time.

After a 3 week workcation in Thailand, I dreaded coming back to work. This is weird to write because I don’t want people who work with me to think I hate the work. On the contrary the people are the main thing that motivate and inspire me with Sumo.

I knew coming back we were not close to hitting our goal and those are the moments where your true character is defined. I had to step up and take over webinars, be more engaged than ever before and help make sure the company stays on track. Being away from work also gave me time to recharge, just like my iPhone.

It’s not the great days that define you, it’s the tough ones. (click to tweet)


Every year I make a bucket list of things I want to accomplish. I encourage you to do the same. I have this on everyone of my computers and even printed a list out I put on my fridge. I will tell you it was weird to have dates come over and ask why I didn’t want to be in a relationship, ha 🙂

Click here to use the framework for yourself.

My Word of 2016: Fierce

I don’t think I went as fierce as possible. I thought about it nightly and tried to repeat it daily to keep moving myself to go fierce on major activities.

Here’s the list of things I did this year and my scoring around them.

WORK 7 out of 10

I’m not here to brag about the below. It’s my goals. Disclaimer over.

  • Larger office

Done. Move in March 2017, come to our office party in ATX.

  • 30 teammates

At 34 Sumos. Who are all you people?? Love every one of you.

  • Attend 2 seminars

Done. Two12, Tony Robbins, DCBKK and a few others. Everytime I leave an event I always have a bunch of great ideas, contacts and energy. Highly recommended!

Note: You SHOULD worry about the people that brag about their size of office, # of employees or total revenue. Anyone doing really well doesn’t brag about this.

WORKOUT 8 out of 10

I worked out generally 3 times a week when I wasn’t injured. Mostly maintained my weight of 173 where last year I went from 160 to 200. Hello emotional Noah.

Last year, having a 6 pack was a lot of work and the amount of effort was not worth the reward = Reduced libido, eating crappy food and exercising 6 days a week.

  • Workout 3 times a week


  • Bigger arms

Done. Thanks Triceps and Adam Gilbert.

  • Go to the Arnold Classic

Done. So cool to see all these Instagram celebs. Recommend checking it out once.

PERSONAL 9 out of 10

  • Go on overnight boating trip

Didn’t do. Scheduled for June of 2017. Thanks Michael Port!

  • Visit Israel / Spain

Done. Went for Chad’s wedding. I love San Sebastian.

  • Consider building disc golf course / purchase 1 property

Passed. Realized I’m not playing disc golf enough to buy a property. Seriously considered buying a house but don’t want a large house to myself nor was it a great investment if I wasn’t going to live there.  Once I broke down the decision to those two elements passing it over my emotional desire became easier to do.

  • Handstand

Mostly Done. Thanks Chris from 28 day handstand. Did it for 7 months and held pretty well until I hurt my shoulder.

  • Biweekly content output (podcast, writing, vlog)

Mostly did. Missed a few weeks but happy with my content creation throughout the year.

  • Go to Alinea / French Laundry

Done. Fucking LOVED Alinea. French Laundry is seriously overrated. Also, got bonus of eating at Eleven Madison and Mugaritz in Spain. Both highly rated.


Not too shabby of a year. Writing out my bucket list each year, scheduling ahead of the year and then reviewing them regularly helps make them more likely to become a reality.


For next year, here’s what I’m thinking…

The word I’m thinking of choosing next year is… Discomfort.

It’s not that I always want to be comfortable but I want to keep growing, working on new things and challenging myself. Thinking if I’m too comfortable will make me aware of the opportunities I should be facing instead of avoiding.

My nephew Atlas is now walking. It was hard for him to go from crawling to walking BUT after he went through that challenge, he was able to explore so much more in life.


My temporary bucket list for next year, subject to management approval:     

Suggestion. Put your bucket list everywhere. Print it out and put it on your mirror and your fridge. The more I remind myself the more it helps me make it a reality.


  • $X million revenue goal
  • 100k downloads per episode podcast
  • 2 seminars
  • Work remotely in Israel


  • 3 workouts a week
  • Do 1000 miles in jogging


  • Do Stand up comedy (sober)
  • Fake bachelor party
  • Foster a dog
  • Zion park Trip with Adam Gilbert
  • Getting a chess coach. Don’t think we utilize coaches enough.


Hope you had an amazing 2016 and looking forward.

Hit reply and tell me how your year went!

Noah “tacos” Kagan


P.S. Stay tuned, launching a podcast on 1/17, The Inflection Point =) Click here to get notified when I launch.

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13 responses to “how was your 2016?”

Jorge Cano
January 25, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Hey Noah,

Have you found a ‘Chess Coach’ yet? I wanted to get in a few regular games a week. Mostly times 30 minutes per side… Either way I can get you started and recommend some great books. ( I played from 2nd grade up until highschool nationally and placed in state tourneys growing up)

In regard to my last year I went through/am going through similar changes. Upped working out, recently ended a relationship and hoping to progress professionally. Thanks for all the words you mediate upon and publish. They are helpful, never forget that..

Noah Kagan
January 25, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Add me on, user: okdork =)

have a local coach for now…

January 25, 2017 at 10:19 am

thank you

Will Chou
January 18, 2017 at 7:29 pm

It’s awesome seeing this. It shows even the great Noah Kagan has his issues, many of which are simple normal issues I face too.

The Giant Sagar
January 14, 2017 at 6:50 am

Thanks for sharing the whole 2016. Mine was pretty nice, learnt a lot of this in this year. Hopefully 2017 will be great 😀

Petar Prodanov
January 4, 2017 at 1:45 am

Hey Noah,
Good post, but I know you can do much better. I’d really like you to do more something similar to what Billy Murphy is suggesting.
Can you give a “why” for each of your new goals? Why do you want to achieve it? Why is it a goal of yours? How will it significantly improve your life?

John Corcoran
December 31, 2016 at 5:05 pm

I totally want throw you a fake bachelor party. Does it have to be in a fake city, or would everything else about it be real? ‘Cause you could do it in Cleveland but the irony would wear off real quick. That would be funny for like 30 seconds. So I say Vegas, 20 guys, baby Atlas, record it all for the podcast, and ship in Alinea takeout. Also: you should totally bring Neville in the sheikh outfit.

December 30, 2016 at 9:02 am

Noah – you have a gift of encouraging others to open up and show authenticity through your own vulnerability. That takes a lot of courage. Thank you. Happy New Year to you!

December 30, 2016 at 3:48 am

28 day handstand? I could’ve had you handstanding in 2 weeks or less w consistent practice, lol

Ankesh Kothari
December 30, 2016 at 2:12 am

Thank you for giving us a sneak peak in your life Noah. I had a pretty good 2016. Took off for 6 months of nomadic living with my wife. Stayed in 5 different countries. Took steps to shut down my startup that wasn’t looking it would grow huge – hard hard decision to shut something you’ve been working on since 6 years and which is doing okish. But it let off such a load. Hopefully it gives me enough space to work on something bigger. Question I’m pondering on: what can I be the best in the world at?

Jimmy C
December 30, 2016 at 1:52 am

This year was overall pretty good… I think. Let’s see, I failed miserably starting Gladiator Gear this year, big takeaway – blind trust in a partner you don’t know enough about is dangerously stupid. I set entrepreneurship aside this year after that biz and returned to school for the n-teenth time. Spent the whole year as a full time student without dropping out (unheard of), and hopefully I’ll get accepted to UCSD, moving closer to being a data scientist (Woot woot). My brain has healed tremendously this year, I even started working out again. My family has a better husband, better father, better me to love rather than the injured me they had to deal with before. My wife and I have been working on a healthy non-GMO diet, and a couple days ago I created 3 rules for my diet (I break them regularly but will less and less); the rules of my diet are 1. No Processed sugar (except fresh juice) 2. No meat 3. No dairy and I added a fourth 4. No soy. The diet is amazing! And lastly I want to list out my bucket list for ’17.

1. Write 2,000 words in 1 hour daily
2. Receive my AA Mathematical Studies
3. Get Accepted and start at UCSD Junior Level Fall ’17 Quarter, I find out by March/April.
4. Complete Data Scientist training so I can start creating data products
5. Learn programming and practice that one hour daily
6. Start fanclubs for my kids, my theory is I can make them more attractive for schools that way.
7. Master (like top 25% worldwide) and converge marketing, writing and data science
8. Successfully market (online) my dad’s practice, subsequently other docs, starting end of Jan.
9. Write a 12 story saga. (3 trilogy novels with short story pilots)
10. Help my sister, subsequently other thesbians, get fans
11. Write a Mental Toughness book
12. Get Noah in the foreword to #11
13. Teach my son jiu jitsu
14. Write Black & Blue. A what if novel about police brutality on black people.

Totally feeling the discomfort to try and accomplish all that. As long as it only requires 110% I can do it!

Thanks Noah, you inspired me to write this.

Alex Siletsky
December 29, 2016 at 8:59 pm

I admire you talking about your personal problems so publicly.
I think that will encourage many others to do the same without feeling shame and embarrassment.

Stay awesome,

P.S. This inspired me to make my 2016 review public

Tim Pittman
December 29, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Hey Noah,

Great to see more posts lately. This one and the Hamlet post were really helpful for me. Focus! Thanks dude. I look forward to some more.

P.S. Books: Helen Keller’s Story of My Life & Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington are Awesome books on attitude and a love of learning. Highly recommended.

PPS the Chorizo & Egg Taco at Pueblo Viejo on the east side is solid!

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