I'm a 36-year-old CEO who sold my first startup for $1 billion. Here's what I've learned this past decade.

justin kan

  • Justin Kan is a mid-30s entrepreneur who sold his previous startup, Twitch, to Amazon for $1 billion, and has raised millions in VC funding for his current project, the legal startup Atrium.
  • On Twitter, Kan reflected back on the past decade, and what's he learned in the 2010s.
  • "Lasting happiness comes from connection to other people, gratitude, and the release of self-tortured striving," he wrote.
  • With his permission, we've shared his Tweets.
  • He says the most important thing for success in work is who you work with. And that achieving your goals won't lead to lasting happiness - that comes from gratitude and connecting with others.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's been a wild ten years for me. Here's a bunch of things I've learned in the last decade: Things that seem disastrous at the time can happen for a reason. Some of my most important learnings came from failures that I thought were the end of the world in the moment.

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The most important success factor in your work is who you choose to work with.

The most important success factor in your work is who you choose to work with.

This has been more important to my success than having the right idea, the right resources, or anything else. Having the right people around you is the difference between success and failure.

No matter where you are at, you are probably giving up too early.

No matter where you are at, you are probably giving up too early.

Big things take time to succeed at.

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No one does everything well.

No one does everything well.

You are not an exception. Focus on your one superpower and be excellent at that, and the universe will take care of the rest.

There is an endless treadmill of goals.

There is an endless treadmill of goals.

Ten years ago we had a small startup called Justin.tv. I thought if I could just make a little money I'd be set. Thus followed a decade of trying to raise more money, achieve skyrocketing valuations, start bigger because ... it never ends.

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Achievement of goals won't deliver lasting happiness.

Achievement of goals won't deliver lasting happiness.

After hitting many of the goals I set for myself, some beyond the wildest dreams I had 10 years ago, the satisfaction never lasted. It was there in the beginning, but never created a permanent state change.

You can be anxious no matter what your situation is.

You can be anxious no matter what your situation is.

I thought my anxiety and fear was situational, but it turns out I'd just map the same level of fears on to whatever difficult experiences I was going through at any given time.

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There is no antidote to your fears.

There is no antidote to your fears.

I tried to escape from my fear lots of ways (alcohol, travel, TV). None of those methods delivered anything other than temporary distraction. I learned instead that meditation is key to sitting with your fear and accepting it.

I don't need to attract people to me to connect.

I don't need to attract people to me to connect.

All my life I longed to connect meaningfully to others, but felt I didn't know how. Instead I tried to be successful to attract other people to me. But that's not necessary: I've learned to start with vulnerability and curiosity.

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Lasting happiness comes from connection to other people, gratitude, and the release of self-tortured striving.

Lasting happiness comes from connection to other people, gratitude, and the release of self-tortured striving.

Nothing else.

Congrats on making it through the 2010s.

Congrats on making it through the 2010s.

I'm curious, excited, and open for what comes in the 2020s.

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