Recently one of my best friends, Noah Kagan, wrote a brave and detailed story around how he was hired as Facebook employee #30, then fired soon after. He didn’t collect any stock options and thus wasn’t part of the big windfall after the IPO. There are some really great lessons in there that I think that everyone should learn. Very much worth reading, and I wish more folks would share their struggle like that.
I wanted to add one little bit to to this story, of what happened after.
I met Noah almost 10 years ago at a BBQ via some college friends. From my first 5 minutes of meeting him, my first thoughts were: man, this guy is a hustler. I thought that whether it was now or later, he would go on to do something great- he was just off the charts in some very positive areas, but also frankly, a little strange in others.
It reminds me of a famous quote: “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.”
We kept in touch for many years, and I’d call him up whenever I was down in the Bay Area, and followed his experience at Facebook. He loved that place, but felt every sense for boredom and struggle that he describes in his blog post. Noah had no doubt that Facebook would eventually become a tremendous success, but also struggled as the company grew.
I got the bad news right away. I talked to him soon after he was let go – maybe the day of, or the day after – I remember telling Noah that he had learned a very important lesson from the experience. I said, “You’re fundamentally unemployable, but that’s a good thing. Now go start a company.”
It took him a few years to get going on that, but once he started, there was no turning back.
Many entrepreneurs are a little crazy. That’s a good thing. Some of us can’t do anything else, and can’t take a normal job- and if we did try to take one, no matter how good of a situation it is, we’d blow it up. I think having an experience like the one that Noah had at Facebook teaches a lot of different things- not just who we are, but also who we’re not. It’s lucky, in my opinion, that he had such a pivotal experience so early in his career. It means that he’s free, for the rest of his life, to pursue who he really wants to be. Everyone should share that kind of experience, though obviously we’d all like it to be less expensive than what Noah went through :)