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Intentional Living: Birthday Reflection and Learnings

​A few weeks ago I read an article where the writer said, “I’m only going to experience my sons birthday 8 times until he’s 8 years old.”

That finiteness of time really stuck with me:

How many times can I actually listen to this song?

How many times can I eat at Taco Deli?

How many emails can I ever send you?

There’s only so much of everything. That’s why it’s critical to be intentional about who and how you are spending your life every day.

In honor of that I thought I’d write up a few KEY things I’ve learned in the past year:


1- Surround yourself with people who are better than you.

I joined a ping pong league and I lose every week.

Normally when I play my friends, I completely dominate them. While it feels nice to win, losing and being around better players helps me elevate my game.


2- It’s your responsibility to make it fun.

I LOVE marketing. I could do it all day long. But as the leader of SumoMe, there are other things I should be spending my time on, and we have a great team doing marketing already. So I was “stuck” with the job of recruiting. I avoided it for weeks. Then I did whatever it could to make it more like marketing (new hacks to find people) and had WAY more fun with the interviews.

Pro-tip: Try for a week to embrace the hardest challenge in your life.


3- Winners suffer longer. has not been easy in the past 2+ years. People quit, we lose revenue, servers go down and more.

But, I truly believe in what we are doing and believe whoever can hustle the longest will get what they want. How long have you committed to what you’re doing?


4- Clear goals are the only way to get what you want.

I want to do a handstand this year. It’s freaking hard. Don’t glare at me you freaking yoga-hipster who can do some magic shit.

So I wrote my goal down on a piece of paper, added it to my calendar, and make sure it’s in front of me every freaking day. Then my buddy Chris sent me his handstand plan and I follow it. Each day it gets a bit easier.

You have to know your final destination and have a plan to get there to accomplish anything in life.


5- You can’t do it alone.

You’ll need support. You can’t have babies without a partner. It’s the same for everything in life. Get people around you to be there when you need them. The people in my life: Adam, Natalie, JR, Seth, Brian, Neville, Chad, Anton, all the Sumos, parents, you my dorky readers, and more!


6- It costs you nothing to ask.

One of the most effective things you can do to get what you want is just ask for it. Not enough people do this. I emailed our credit card processor and asked if they could lower our fees. That email took me 12 seconds to write. They lowered our fees and it’s saving us $15k+ a year. Worth it.

The worse they could have said is “no”. Since not asking is the same as them saying no, all you have is UPSIDE in asking.


7- Multiply yourself

SumoMe has grown from 5 to 20 people. There’s NO way we could be anywhere close to where we are without the dream team we’ve assembled.

In your company, multiply yourself (and therefore your business) by hiring people better than you. Name any company you admire and recognize that it’s all the excellent people supporting a great vision that make the business a reality.


Here’s to another 364 days of awesomeness. Thanks for reading, cheering, supporting and kicking ass for yourself.

Noah “tacos” Kagan

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14 responses to “Intentional Living: Birthday Reflection and Learnings”

Drew Sartain
July 13, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Couldn’t agree more, glad I stumbled across this. Also, a ridiculously belated but happiest of birthdays to you! This one hits home…

I’ve had a very similar reflective experience in birthdays past. “What was I doing at this time last year for my birthday and who did I celebrate it with?” “How many more times WILL I get to eat TacoDeli before taking my final voyage down the river Styx (Hopefully while listening to Carry on by Styx…)

While we are constantly forced to reflect on the state of our business (i.e. “How has my pipeline changed in the past month” “How has my skill set changed in the past 6 months” “How have my career goals changed in the past year”), I have much less-frequent, but personal reflection after a life event like a birthday (i.e. “How has my inner circle changed?” “Have I hung out with my family enough?” “Did my dog have a better year than the last – have I taken him on enough hikes?!?)

This past birthday I decided to take a trip down memory lane when going through my inbox and realized that I had dropped out of contact with one of the coolest guys I had ever met. We (my girlfriend at the time and I) met him next to our campsite at Caprock Canyon while on a hiking tour through North Texas. At the age of 70, he was running a charity that made prosthetic limbs for children and couldn’t be happier with his life’s work. Probably the most optimistic guy I’ve ever met despite his ongoing struggles with his family and self-admitted loneliness he struggled with (including on his various camping trips). After reaching back out to share my most recent additions to my picture gallery from recent adventures (Something that we had done back and forth for 4-5 months before going silent), I learned that he had suddenly passed away. Eye opening. My focal point soon after was to stay in contact with not only the people you want to surround yourself with BUT ALSO the people that might need you the most.

To Point (1), I’ve learned this most in sales organizations. Without fail, there is always one or two people on the floor (and hopefully not in your immediate vicinity) that “Just don’t feel like prospecting today” or are convinced that “it’s not their fault that their pipeline/book is looking so shitty.” Run. Run as far as you can. It’s easy to subconsciously pick up on this mentality over time, if you let it. Solution? Jump on a call with the most badass salesperson in the room. Ask to move your desk by them if you have to. See what they are sending to prospective clients. Hang out with them on the weekend! Can’t count how many times I’ve seen whole sales teams contagiously lose motivation “because it’s Friday.”

(4): Many people think that setting a goal for something is a win in itself. Don’t get me wrong, you’re heads in the right place, but if you don’t take the time to think about the specific steps it’s going to take to achieve the overall goal in a reasonable time frame, you’re celebrating meaningless wins my friend.

I remember this most vividly in high school when trying to knock out projects.

Drew: “I’m going to get started on my Psychology paper when I get home from wrestling practice.”

Drew @ 10:00pm: “Alright, let’s get to it. I mean, it’s TECHNICALLY still after practice, so I’m on track.”

Drew @ 1:00am: “Shit, I should have started on this paper earlier…”

Keep it comin’ amigo! I couldn’t help but notice from the pop up on this page when navigating away (I was coming back, I SWEAR) that you guys are using the free version of List Builder. My gut tells me that with some A/B Testing and more customized templates based on who is visiting the page (what you gain from List Builder Pro), you’d see a huge jump in subscribers to this blog. In the spirit of Point (6- It costs nothing to ask), we should touch base on getting OkDork on List Builder Pro 😉

Let me know when you’ve got a moment. First taco is one me.

Looking forward to your next post!

(713) 562-8601

Drew Sartain
July 11, 2016 at 11:55 pm

Great post, really glad I stumbled upon this. And a ridiculously belated yet happiest of birthdays to you! This one really hits home..

I’ve had a similar experience when it comes to Birthdays in the sense that they force me to think about what has been accomplished/changed since the last birthday I celebrated (and, of course, how many more times WILL I get to eat TacoDeli before taking my final voyage down the Styx river (while hopefully listening to Carry On by Styx)).

While we are regularly forced to reflect on the state of our business (i.e. “How has my pipeline grown in the last month?” “How have my career goals shifted in the past quarter?” “How has my skill set grown in the past 6 months?”), birthdays are a much more personal, less frequent type of reflection for me (i.e.”How has my fitness changed in the past year”, “Was this year better or worse for my dog – did I take him on enough hikes?” “How have I maintained friendships in the past year?” “Do I see any gray yet?” “Did I eat enough tacos?!?”)

This past birthday I remembering take this very trip down memory lane when looking through old personal emails and realizing that I had dropped out of contact with one of the coolest guys I had ever met. We had struck up a conversation near our campsite in Caprock Canyon when on a hiking tour with my girlfriend(at the time) and had learned over the campfire that he (at the age of 71) ran a charity that made prosthetic legs for amputee children. He was maybe the most optimistic person I had ever met despite his many personal/financial setbacks and ongoing problems with his family. After a number of exchanges of emails/pictures from our most recent adventures, he mentioned that we were some of the best friends he had. When reaching back out to apologize for my lack of response and send over my most recent additions to my gallery, I learned from his wife that he had passed away from an unexpected brain aneurism about 2 months back. That was an eye-opener and all too close personal reminder to never be “too busy” for the people who need you most. While I had the intention of picking the conversation back up, it was a day late/dollar short and I had missed the opportunity to be a good friend to him.

In regard to Point (1): I’ve noticed this the most in sales organizations where, without fail, there is at least one person who “doesn’t feel like prospecting today” or is frustrated ’cause “it’s not their fault their book/pipeline is looking so shitty.” It’s easy to subconsciously take on those mentalities over time if you allow it. Solution? Surround yourself with the most badass salespeeps on the floor. Jump on a call with them. Ask them for advice on how they cracked the biggest accounts. Hang out with them on the weekend!

To Point (4), I couldn’t agree more. I remember having issues with this starting in High School. “I’m going to start my physics project after wrestling practice”

Drew starts his project at 10:30pm: “Well, I mean, it’s technically still AFTER wrestling practice, so I am still meeting my goal.”
It’s easy to wiggle out of/procrastinate on things we are not exactly psyched about by setting a loose goal. I’ve seen it all too often in start ups that are afraid to commit to a specific goal out of fear that they will lose credibility in the case that the goal is not met. As long as the goal is specific enough and doable, it can be done (deep, I know).

I’ll be sure to read your other posts, really good stuff. Also couldn’t help but notice that you guys are using the basic version of List Builder based on the pop up that appeared when navigating away from the page (I was coming back, I SWEAR). My gut tells me that you’d see a huge jump in blog subscribers with a more customized pop up/message for different types of visitors and some A/B testing to optimize the performance a bit (which you get with List Builder Pro). In the spirit of Point 6 (It costs nothing to ask), was hoping we could grab a taco to discuss it at length. First taco on me 😉

Looking forward to the next post!


Joel Elliott (@AwkwardHandle)
May 18, 2016 at 2:45 am

One thing life has confirmed for me is that failure is a good sign. You can only fail AFTER you’ve applied yourself to a project. Failure is the surest sign that you’re trying to achieve a goal. It’s also the best way to learn. Every failure in my life has led me to be leaner, smarter and more prepared to tackle the next challenge.

Victor Blomberg
February 18, 2016 at 6:58 am

I just discovered you. Incredible content and thoughts.
Great work. Keep it up and happy birthday!

John Corcoran
February 18, 2016 at 12:05 am

Life lesson: it’s really all about who you surround yourself with. Do not feel guilty about focusing your time on people who engage and inspire you.

Second life lesson: read OKDork. And hope Noah will post more. : )

Nikolaos Beligiannis
February 17, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Happy Birthday Noah

Nick Mendler
February 17, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Happy Birthday Noah!….OK now that the BS birthday wish is out of the way how do I get this top secret handstand plan from Chris?!?

February 17, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Happy Birthday, Noah!

Jason Wade
February 17, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Happy Birthday!

Life Lesson:

Never underestimate the value of being underestimated. And…. never give up.

Lydia Sugarman
February 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Doing a handstand *is* hard! I could do it a few years ago, but now…. A key to successfully holding a handstand is to look out about six feet in front of you. Think of it as a geometry challenge where you’re forming an imaginary triangle to counter-balance your weight.

February 17, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Happy birthday

February 17, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Happy Birthday. I would like to thank u for your contribution and specially learning from you how to establish the business. Love your talk with Tim Ferris especially

April 18, 2016 at 6:35 am

These topics are so cofsinung but this helped me get the job done.

Justin Thiele
February 17, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Great article. I dig introspective-Noah.

“You can’t do it alone” is the lesson I have the hardest time with. I tend to lone-wolf it by default. It’s one of those things my head understands but my heart hasn’t aligned with yet.

P.S. Happy birthday!

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