I'm a 36-year-old CEO who sold my first startup for $1 billion. I've learned more this year than any other year of my life because I made 5 important changes.

I'm a 36-year-old CEO who sold my first startup for $1 billion. I've learned more this year than any other year of my life because I made 5 important changes.

  • 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 explained how, on his 36th birthday, he realized that he's learned more this year than he has any other year. With his permission, we've shared his insights below.
  • Kan is recentering and putting others first, but also no longer trying to rely on external approval. Happiness doesn't come from things, but from yourself.
  • He's also trying to deeply appreciate each moment for what it is: a gift.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Today is my birthday. I've learned more in the last year than in any other year of my life.

In addition to giving up alcohol permanently and publishing my guide to Feeling Good, here are some of the things I've been working on.

Becoming comfortable in my discomfort

I used to flinch away from all forms of discomfort: pain, uncomfortable conversations, boredom. Through meditation I've become more able to notice the feelings of discomfort I experience, and much more ok with simply sitting with them.

Justin Kan twitch

Anthony Harvey/Getty

Cultivating non-attachment

Modern society is a trap that tricks us that if only we get X thing, we will finally be happy. X10,000 different things: jobs, possessions, likes, etc. Every day I re-learn that happiness doesn't come from the extrovert world, it comes from inside.


Generally I've found that when you stop desperately grasping, the thing you wanted will come more easily. I recognize that may sound like a privileged thing to say, but try it for yourself and see.

Read more: I've been an angel investor in 100 companies in 8 years, including a bunch of unicorns. Here are the most important things I've learned

Becoming the source of my own approval

I have always tried to source approval from others, desperately trying to make up for scarring from my childhood (of course, that never worked). I've been reminding myself that I approve of myself 100%, and that I am enough the way I am.

I never really got "intentionality" until I discovered it meant "do things with conscious purpose" (i.e. because you actually want to) instead of "do whatever random shit you happened to fall into."

Justin Kan birthday tweet



Being joyful

Every conscious moment is a gift. Even the ones that society has trained you to fear or avoid. I want to deeply appreciate every moment for the miracle that it is.

Joy is your birthright. You don't have to earn it or achieve it. You don't have to do anything. It is there for you when you choose it.

Putting others first in my life

I've lived the first half of my life feeding my ego's needs. I will spend the next half putting my community and family first. I now believe that true joy comes from the release of the self.

If things I've said resonates with you, that is beautiful. If they don't resonate, that is beautiful. Another person's learnings are just a mirror for you to figure out your own truth.

If the next year is as filled as this one has been with learning and deep connection to others, I have been truly blessed.