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  • Toby Sinclair

Summary: Million Dollar Weekend by Noah Kagan

Updated: Jun 4


📚 Should You Read This?

Toby's Rating: 7/10

Even if you don't want to start a business, you will resonate with these fears. The twin fears of starting and asking. In particular, the fear of asking and then hearing NO! Learning to ask for what you want is a skill that benefits all aspects of your life. If you want to get more of what you want and start a business, then read Million Dollar Weekend by Noah Kagan.

👋 Hey - I'm Toby. This summary wasn't written by AI. I'm a real leader, managing teams in large organisations. I read to solve tough problems. I share book summaries to help other leaders tackle scary challenges.

💡 3 Big Ideas from Million Dollar Weekend by Noah Kagan

Here are three big ideas that business leaders can apply to lead their business and team more effectively:

Big Idea 1 - Overcoming the Twin Fears of Starting and Asking.

The journey of entrepreneurship is fraught with the fears of beginning and getting rejected. Noah Kagan underscores the importance of viewing every business move as an experiment in a never-ending cycle of ideation, validation, and iteration. Embracing rejection and persistence in following up are highlighted as essential traits for success. This approach encourages leaders to adopt a mindset of continuous learning and improvement, invaluable in navigating the unpredictable waters of business. Who is the type of person that starts a million-dollar business? The type of person who asks for what they want. If you want a new job at a new company, you have to Ask for it. If you want more money from your boss, you have to Ask for a raise. If you are selling something, you have to Ask the customer to buy it. Even at home, if you want your spouse or kids to treat you better, you have to Ask them.

Big Idea 2 - Don't Spend a Dime, Until You Have Validated Customers Will Pay

Million Dollar Weekend emphasizes the importance of validating your business idea by securing your first customers within a 48-hour window using direct preselling, marketplaces, or landing pages. Many entrepreneurs spend months, and years and invest significant money to develop a product. Only to find out that customers are not willing to pay. At the heart of the book is the idea that within a weekend, you should be able to launch a product and validate if there are paying customers. No purchases? Kill the idea and move on. Get purchases? Run another experiment to move a few steps forward, whilst staying agile and nimble.

Big Idea 3 - Is Your Business a Vitamin or a Painkiller?

Noah shares that many businesses fail because they are vitamins. Nice to have and no immediate repercussions to the customer. Instead, he says you should focus on building painkiller products. These are not optional and customers will beg for your solution. A key part of this is learning how to market the product well, focusing on slaying the villain in the customer's story. Coaching can easily be positioned as a vitamin, not a painkiller. An optional behaviour that managers might do if they have the time. Instead, it could be positioned as a painkiller, by focusing on how it helps managers stop becoming a bottleneck or helps them gain a promotion.

💬 2 Best Quotes From Million Dollar Weekend by Noah Kagan

I was beginning to see that to live well as an entrepreneur, I just needed to stop thinking so much and go get busy. That meant starting small, starting fast, and not worrying about what I didn’t know. I became an expert at taking leaps. Being unafraid to start new things meant that, unlike most people, I was constantly conducting experiments in my personal and professional lives, in both big and small ways. New industries. New hobbies. New technologies. New roles. New people. New side hustles. That’s where I found my superpower, which taught me a lesson I want to pass on to you: focus above all else on being a starter, an experimenter, a learner.

The thing is, most people don’t ask for what they want. They wish for it, they make “suggestions” and drop hints, they hope. But the simple fact of business is that only by asking do you receive what you want. No ASK? No GET. That applies to every part of life. Seriously, every part.

Toby's Top Takeaway From Million Dollar Weekend by Noah Kagan

The Unlimited Upside of Asking

I'm a people pleaser and I'm British. This means I do not like asking.

I'm not alone. 28% of Brits admit they put up with situations including queue jumpers, sub-standard meals and poor service because they lack the confidence and know-how to ask for something.

Top 10 things people want to complain about – but don’t:

  1. People who queue jump

  2. A poor meal when eating out

  3. Being ignored by a shop assistant

  4. A parcel arriving late

  5. Travel delays

  6. Inadequate service in a shop

  7. Smoking in a public place

  8. Someone playing loud music on public transport

  9. People who take up extra space on public transport

  10. A haircut you were unhappy with

The problem. To get what you want, you have to ask for it.

Noah Kagan explores the twin fears of starting and asking in Million Dollar Weekend.

I'm good at starting. I am terrible at asking.

I often make excuses. I'm a giver and not a taker. But honestly, it's because I hate the sting of rejection.

Noah shares that asking is a habit. The more you taste rejection, the easier it becomes.

I'm committing to ask more. To get one hundred rejections.

To ask better, Noah shares this challenging exercise. I haven't got the courage to do it yet, will you?

Million Dollar Weekend by Noah Kagan Summary Image

Turn Your Knowledge into Action 🛠️

Here is an exercise you can do based on the lessons from Million Dollar Weekend by Noah Kagan

Exercise: Asking When It's Awkward

Objective: To learn how to ask for what you want, so that you can build your business and validate product ideas.

Your Challenge:

Go to any coffee shop or any place in person. Make a simple purchase and ask for 10 percent off. Don't say anything else. The whole point is for you to feel uncomfortable.

Once you've done the coffee shop. Dial up the pressure. Ask for 10 percent off your car gas or your groceries. Repeat the exercise often.

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