How I Went from Part Time Employee to CEO of a Profitable Startup

Becoming a CEO is kinda cool.

On Wednesday, October 16th, 2013, I was working part time doing online marketing, sales, and customer support for a small SAAS company in northwest Austin.

On Thursday, October 17th, 2013, I was announced the CEO of a profitable startup and remember jumping up and down in my kitchen and doing rotating fist punches in the air because I was so excited.

Coincidentally, I was hired as CEO by the same person who had politely rejected me for a job a year earlier:

Email from Noah

In a year, I had gone from someone who wasn’t qualified to do PPC campaigns (in all honesty, I wasn’t qualified at the time) to someone who was qualified to be a CEO.

It felt surreal.

The coolest part about this is that you can do it too. Whether you want to start your own company or get hired to be the CEO of someone else’s company.

Much of the content in this series is hard and requires acting like an extrovert and doing real stuff in real life. So I figured I’d start with the easy stuff. The stuff where you can just read, and be passive, and learn. After all, you will need some basic knowledge to be a CEO. By reading the books & blog posts I recommend, you’ll have all the knowledge you need in about 2 weeks.

Note: if you click one of the links below to a buy book on Amazon, then I will receive a small referral commission. That’s not why the links are there, though. The links are in there for your convenience so you don’t have to Google for them.

I’ve probably read 100+ business books and blogs in the last 7 years. The ones in my list are the most useful in a journey towards becoming a solo founder / CEO.

Here’s the reading list:

– Read Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week. Got the entrepreneurial itch. Decided my goal was to be my own boss and spend my free time on learning and self-improvement. Also read these 2 motivating blog posts on Tim’s blog: How to make $1MM/mo selling ebooks, How to create a $1MM biz in a weekend.

– Read Robb Wolf’s book about the paleo diet, The Paleo Solution. Went Paleo. Have been eating paleo for 2+ years now. I’m more confident, more energized, more alert / clear headed, and more ambitious now.

– Read all the “Greatest Hits” in Patrick McKenzie’s Kalzumeus blog about SEO, email marketing, and SAAS sales. This helped me be more efficient and prioritize my workload at my day job (online marketing) as well as get a handle on the 80/20 rules of online marketing. Patrick is probably top 10 in the world at SAAS marketing when you mesh together his theoretical / tech knowledge and real life experience.

– Read all of Ramit Sethi’s blog posts on psychology, coming up w/business ideas, negotiating, and getting a dream job.

– Read James Altucher’s Choose Yourself for entrepreneurial motivation. Highly recommend. He’s a great motivator and storyteller and he has some top notch ideas, for, well, how to come up with business ideas.

– Read all of Andrew Chen’s blog posts about startups & growth hacking. Andrews’ blog is great for understanding startup terminology and learning the important metrics by which startups are measured.

– Read this blog post by Jakub Linowksi on good UI for websites. It’s super useful and also super motivating for some reason.

– Read all of Noah Kagan’s blog posts on life hacks & online marketing strategies as well as his incredible Quora post on how to acquire your first 100K users with zero marketing budget.


And that’s it. That’s honestly all the technical and tactical knowledge you’ll need to be a CEO or a solo founder. You don’t need an MBA or 10+ years of high level executive experience. Just 2 weeks and $40 to invest in a few books on Amazon.