What It's Like to Hang with Millionaires

What It's Like to Hang with Millionaires

A few weeks ago I was in Russia to speak at a conference. I spent a lot of time with a really impressive group of guys. I've joked in the past that I am "moderately rich". These guys were much richer than me.

It was a fun and interesting experience and I thought I would share some of the insights I gained being around them. (Also check out what I learned on my trip to Cuba.)

Noah Kagan in Russia

1. They do not ask for permission.

In Russia, the trip organizer rented a house in a remote area. A few of the guys didn't like the 1.5 hour commute and lack of internet access. Rather than complain and bitch, and ask if they could stay elsewhere, what did they do? They got a hotel downtown.

Successful entrepreneurs don’t wait for someone else to solve their problem. They take action.
(click to tweet)

2. They look at value, not cost.

They value their time and focus on the things they are exceptional at. Instead of figuring out where to eat dinner one night, one guy asked his assistant to figure it out.

An example in business would be the "marketing person" trying to learn to code even though he should be focusing on marketing and outsourcing his development.

3. They are Authentic.

How many people do you know that start businesses just to make money? They likely don’t know shit about the industry or field and end up quitting. This group of guys created and built businesses they were really interested in.

Two of the guys who sold out for 8 figures talked about how they rewarded their users for actions on the website. Think about how some sites focus on ads, more pageviews, upsells and other monetizations which all benefit the owners. These “good guys” genuinely appreciated people using their website and made the experience reflect that.

Authenticity is the moment your business is the same as your life. It’s pure, unadulterated, clean and truly what you want to represent in the world. These people live that.

Ultimately, being around these millionaires made me examine myself to see where I want to improve.

Before you delete or archive this email ask yourself this question:

How do you feel about these traits in yourself?

Stop and Evaluate.

It was a great trip with a great group of guys + lots of vodka shots.

Noah "your comrade" Kagan

P.s. Leave a comment with your favorite fiction book.

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152 responses to “What It's Like to Hang with Millionaires”

July 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm

The Great Gatsby

Terrica the Glamazon
July 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm

A Song of Ice & Fire (known to the HBO heaux as "Game of Thrones"). I have suppress my inner Lannister constantly.

Luckily, I don't have a brother, so I'm good on that front.

Patrick Foley
July 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm

The Prophet by Gibran. You'll love it.

July 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm

It was good to see you in Russia, Noah. See you somewhere in the world someday. 😉

Daniel Reifenberger
July 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
Richard Bach

Robert Jewell
July 3, 2013 at 11:24 am

If I had to choose only one of the many fictions books I love, it would be: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Kundera.

If you want my reasons, I would love to contribute them.

Steven Chan
July 3, 2013 at 11:19 am

Appreciate the post, Noah. I like seeing the kinds of things you do to improve yourself, and you're not restricting yourself to just American entrepreneurs!

My favorite fiction book must be Dune, by Frank Herbert. Love the symbolism and the setting.

Marcus Trujillo
July 3, 2013 at 11:14 am

The few times I've hung out with millionaires I noticed the same thing, they tend to try to find what value they can provide. They asked me if there was anything I needed even though I was a lowly sophomore in college at the time.

Favorite fiction: The Kite Runner by Khaled Husseini

July 3, 2013 at 10:56 am

A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini, heartbreaking and amazing!

Awesome tips Noah, cheers!

July 3, 2013 at 10:34 am

The Magus. What a mind trip.

If you liked the movie The Game, and how people deal with darkness, depression, and maturity, this is a good one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magus_(novel)

July 3, 2013 at 10:26 am

Nice post Chief Yoga Pants.

Good Summer in Seattle reading list you got going here.

Favourite Fiction Book: The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosi?ski. Makes The Hunger Games look like a fricking tea party.

July 3, 2013 at 10:19 am

Under the Volcano, by Malcolm Lowry. It includes my favorite quote of all time, also quoted by Bolano in the Savage Detectives (also great). The pithiness of it, the sense of a whole conversation happening and then being shut down right then, is why I love it.

"Don't you want Mexico to be saved? Don't you want Christ to be our King?"


Scott James
July 3, 2013 at 10:00 am

I love Franny & Zooey by JD Salinger and read it once every year or so. It has become my touchpoint to see what I respond to and how it's different or the same as when I was 15, 22, 28, etc.

The last 20 pages of Franny & Zooey are my favorite existential scene in 20th century American Literature, followed closely by the Cosmopolis haircut and the wheelchair assassins of Infinite Jest.

Omar Velayudhan
July 3, 2013 at 9:56 am

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

July 3, 2013 at 9:51 am

One of my favorites books is the Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy) by Cornelia Funke.

(Would like to find an original German version for kindle so I could re-kindle my Deutsch and maybe learn a thing or two).

July 3, 2013 at 9:47 am

The Picture of Dorian Gray

July 3, 2013 at 9:33 am

Hey man.

Commenting to leave a fiction book to check out:

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
(amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Shantaram-Novel-Gregory-David-Roberts/dp/0312330537)

"Shantaram is narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear.

Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter Bombay's hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere."

It's rad, and a quick, awesome read.

July 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

Thanks for keepin it fresh!

The Hobbit is a fantastic fiction book.
(the movies suck in comparison)

July 3, 2013 at 9:06 am

Thanks for the post!
My fav book - The Da Vinci Code 🙂

July 3, 2013 at 8:57 am

"Prince of Tides" by Pat Conroy...it is an experience.

July 3, 2013 at 8:55 am

Noah “your comrade” Kagan:)))
A very interesting essay about the adventures of American millionaires in Moscow 🙂

Mikhail Bulgakov's "Manuscripts don't burn"
A memorable and much-quoted line in The Master and Margarita is: "manuscripts don't burn" (Russian: ???????? ?? ?????). The Master is a writer who is plagued by both his own mental problems and the harsh criticism of most of the soviet writers in the Moscow of the 1930s. He burns his treasured manuscript in an effort to cleanse his own mind from the troubles the work has brought him. Woland later gives the manuscript back to him saying, "Didn't you know that manuscripts don't burn?" There is an autobiographical element reflected in the Master's character here, as Bulgakov in fact burned an early copy of The Master and Margarita for much the same reasons.

- It's the vodka? - asked Margarita
Resentful Cat jumped up on the chair!
- Why, the Queen? - he croaked, - how can I get you a drink vodka?? It's pure alcohol!

Kyle McDermaid
July 3, 2013 at 8:54 am

Catching Fire was the last one I read but I'm going to have to jump on the bandwagon and say Ender's Game

Corey Wadden
July 3, 2013 at 8:30 am

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

July 3, 2013 at 8:28 am


My favorite fiction book would have to be Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Fun and fast read.



Aaron Tull
July 3, 2013 at 8:17 am

I don't know why, but this blog was extremely compelling to me. I think it's because so many of us get stuck on a number (i.e. being a millionaire) and ultimately miss THE most important part: finding and doing what we enjoy/love and find interesting. I think I often discount the things which come easily for me and naturally, because I follow (or get distracted by) trends outside of my interests.

The thought of being authentic made me pause and realize how important it is that I do what truly interests me, not what simply appeals to others.

Great job on this one, Noah, and thanks for sharing it.

July 3, 2013 at 8:01 am

Favorite fiction book?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Noah Kagan
July 3, 2013 at 8:17 am

Really great book. His other book, A Thousand Splendid Suns is great too.

July 3, 2013 at 7:55 am

Sounds like an awesome trip Noah.

I really like the idea of not asking for permission and just getting shit done. I need to work on that.

I'm a bit of a fantasy nerd so I'll recommend The Wheel of Time. Take your time with this one: 14 books.

April 3, 2020 at 11:19 pm

The Red lion: the elixir of eternal life by Maria Szepes

July 3, 2013 at 7:50 am

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelo

Great little book that gets you thinking and feeling differently about going after what you want.

Scott Gold
July 3, 2013 at 7:50 am

SPHERE by Michael Chrichton...awesome premise.

Paul Foley
July 3, 2013 at 7:28 am

Ender's Game By Orson Scott Card, one of the greatest books of all time!

July 3, 2013 at 7:15 am

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The perfect ending to the greatest fiction book series of all time.

July 3, 2013 at 7:14 am

I liked this post from the perspective that it challenged some beliefs of mine. For example, I have this belief that all the rich people in Russia are Oil barrons that won state monopolies. It was cool reading about some internet entrepreneurs in Russia!

July 3, 2013 at 7:09 am

Fav fiction book currently:

Ender's Game

July 3, 2013 at 7:06 am

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

When I was in elementary school, my principal told my mother I'd like the book so she bought it.

Of course, I was convinced that no one besides me would know what I like so I didn't read it for a couple of years.

One day I picked up and I couldn't put it down. To this day I often think about this book, the story, character and themes.


(It was written in 1949--it is still relevant for today).

Ade Goldberg
July 3, 2013 at 7:05 am

A new acquaintance of mine has written a fantasy adventure book that blew my mind. I had zero expectations and read the book; I laughed, flinched and became engrossed. I was intrigued as the book features an African-Hebrew super hero character (exactly - Jewish super hero??).

The book is called 'The Lion of Umuna: The Legacy of the Nomads'.

I usually read non-fiction, so for me LoU is the 'Best fiction book ever'.

July 3, 2013 at 6:57 am


July 3, 2013 at 6:56 am

Enders Game by Oreon Scott Card, first read it in high school & it's been my fave ever since! (I'm 33 now!)

Alex Berman
July 3, 2013 at 6:56 am

Survivor by Chuck Palahnuik is my favorite fiction book because it's so creepy. The book's about the last survivor in a suicide cult who gets super famous once everyone else in the cult kills each other.

At one point the lead guy gets picked up by a marketing agency and they show him all the brands they have designed for things that haven't happened yet like aids drugs, cures for cancer and his rise to fame.

Best fiction book ever.

Mark vG
July 3, 2013 at 6:55 am

??????????! For those who don't speak Russian that is "pazhalusta" whish is best translated as "you're welcome".

Your story reminded me of my life in the former Soviet Union. they were once loaded with rules and had no freedom. Now they have nothing but freedom and that has produced alcoholics and billionaires. Very interesting.

How can anyone go past Don Quixote as an example of living the crazy life bereft of rules and responsibility.

??????? ???????

Garrett Ezell
July 3, 2013 at 6:53 am

The Harry Potter series obviously!

John Snow
July 3, 2013 at 6:47 am

Good stuff Noah, thanks for sharing. Favorite fiction book - Dragons Love Tacos, by Adam Rubin.

You know who else loves tacos? Me. And Noah Kagan.

I'll be on the lookout for my free year of Powtoon... whenever you're ready.

Calvin T
July 3, 2013 at 6:43 am

Really enjoyed the value > cost observation.

Favorite fiction book: Lord of Flies. While formulaic and incredibly cheesy in its use of symbolism, that book has had such a formative impact on my reading and writing abilities, since my 9th grade English teacher introduced it to me.

Ben Nesvig
July 3, 2013 at 6:42 am

Replay by Ken Grimwood is one that has stayed with me. It reads like an episode of the Twilight Zone while playing with a fantasy everyone has at some point. Stumbled on it from a book recommendation list from Seth Godin.

"Jeff Winston, forty-three, didn't know he was a replayer until he died and woke up twenty-five years younger in his college dorm room; he lived another life. And died again. And lived again and died again -- in a continuous twenty-five-year cycle -- each time starting from scratch at the age of eighteen to reclaim lost loves, remedy past mistakes, or make a fortune in the stock market. A novel of gripping adventure, romance, and fascinating speculation on the nature of time, Replay asks the question: "What if you could live your life over again?""

Chase Pursley
July 3, 2013 at 6:39 am

These days, I think 1984 (NSA/Snowdon) is appropriate as well as The Diamond Age (in regards to crypto currency and communicaton privacy).

Yael Grauer
July 3, 2013 at 6:27 am

I hope I never have to outsource my dinner plans. If I did, I'd instead ask for a list of three to choose from. 🙂

Favorite fiction book: probably Les Miserables, though the Brothers Karamazov is up there.

July 3, 2013 at 6:24 am

Very well said : "Authenticity is the moment your business is the same as your life. It's pure, unadulterated, clean and truly what you want to represent in the world."

This statement echoes exactly what I aspire to in my businesses. Great stuff.

Favorite fiction book: The Secret

Chris Stott
July 3, 2013 at 6:22 am

The action takeaway is the key one for me. I'm certainly guilty of putting up my own barriers rather than just doing things.

Book: "A Thousands Splendid Suns" by Khalid Hosseini

Christopher Walker
July 3, 2013 at 6:21 am

I second that ^ for The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

My other fav is The Great Gatsby.

Renita Smith
July 3, 2013 at 6:10 am

It's simply yet ironic at the same dam time. As a kid I loved Richie Rich. So much so that every pet I owned between 5 & 9 yrs old was named Richie Rich. The cat, the German Shepard, and the turtle- all Richie Rich. The only thing we had in common was our names started with an "R." I was a less fortunate little Black girl and he was the rich little white boy and yet at 5yrs old I knew that one day I somehow would be rich too!
How about If I win the Powtoon, I make a video about it!

July 3, 2013 at 6:07 am

Ahh.. to have an assistant!

The Alchemist
by: Paulo Coelho