Dr. Kaufman Kaufman, the “Ninjadoc” from the hit TV show American Ninja Warrior has dedicated his life to emergency medicine and helping people. He is the president & Co-Founder of the Wolfpack Ninja Tour. He has competed on ANW for 5 seasons. His company was funded in fall 2016, and he is on a mission to combat childhood obesity.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:18] – Dr. Noah is an ER doctor
- [01:33] – He has a son now and started to do the American Ninja Tour to encourage people to become healthy
- [02:21] – Dr. Noah’s strength is in getting people to band together and become passionate about a cause
- [02:51] – Lead an authentic and original life
- [03:10] – Success is an end point; value is a journey
- [03:37] – Medicine and fun are his areas of expertise
- [04:23] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Get soda pop or any sugary drink outside of the house
- [05:55] – Take care of yourself, first
- [06:19] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: After 5 or 6 years of medicine, Noah decided he wanted to make money and be successful. He went into finance and invested in a hedge fund for the Facebook pre-IPO. He was not involved in the trading, but in raising money. They raised $4.67M, then the Facebook IPO drifted down
- [07:43] – It wasn’t the loss of money that hurt, but seeing his family and friends lose out
- [08:39] – The passion to do better was what kept Noah going
- [09:09] – Give yourself time to grieve over your losses
- [09:51] – When you’re down in the quagmire, you really need to find your center
- [10:45] – Life is about happiness
- [11:10] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: It was doing American Ninja Warrior. After the exposure Noah got, he gained a large following and fans would tweet him their successes. The ah-ha moment came when Noah and his wife watched Katie Couric’s Documentary Fed Up on Netflix. Noah realized if he can marry his medicine skills with fun, maybe he could make a real impact and a business that provides real value
- [14:13] – Try to connect the thing that you want in life to your job or work—see where they intersect
- [15:28] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “We have created a national ninja tour called the Wolfpack Ninja Tour”
- [17:47] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Focusing too much on either side”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Chase your dreams aggressively and make your life completely daring”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “I really, really find it necessary and helpful to keep a short, medium and long-term task lists”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Apple Collaboration Feature
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach – “it’s a homily about self perfection”
- [20:26] – Follow Noah on Instagram, on his podcast, and website
- [20:47] – Create value in this world
John Dumas: Dr. Kaufman is the Ninjadoc from the high TV show American Ninja Warrior and has dedicated his life to emergency medicine and helping people. He is the president and co-founder of the Wolfpack Ninja Tour. His company was founded in the fall of 2016, and he is on a mission to combat childhood obesity. Noah, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Noah: Yeah, thanks so much, John. First, it’s just an honor to be here and over 16 episodes. You know, we do a podcast and we’re at 50, so that is so impressive. Congratulations on such a profound success.
John Dumas: Thank you.
Noah: And you’re really creating value in the world. You know, for me, I’m an ER doc, and that’s been my life, it’s been my vocation. And, you know, changing one person’s life at a time, hopefully for the better, has been, you know, what I do in the emergency department. But I’ve – you know, I have a son now. I’ve started to do this crazy American Ninja Warrior thing, and I’ve wanted more. I want a little bit more. I want to make a bigger impact and make more people healthy at the same time rather than just being a broken record. So that’s kind of led to this big social entrepreneurial thing that we’re doing, which is really cool.
John Dumas: I want to talk about your area of expertise because, Noah, you have a lot of things that you do really well. I mean, fitness, obviously, you’re a doctor. I mean, hey, let’s be honest, you have a lot of things you do really poorly as well and we’ll get to that, too. But I want to talk about what you consider your area of expertise. And so break that down for us. Give us one value bomb, something that we don’t know that we probably should as entrepreneurs.
Noah: Yeah, absolutely. So the thing that I do really well is I’m a great cheerleader. I’m really good at getting people together and getting them passionate about a cause or an idea or a mission, a belief. And right now, it’s really important to tackle childhood obesity and diabetes, and in this country it’s really an epidemic that’s gone out of control. My friend Jeff Sauls likes to say lead an authentic and original life. You know, so if you do things your way and you don’t try and copy others and you focus on relationships and you’re always trying to create real value for society, that’s something that is a lot more important as an entrepreneur than trying to profit for yourself or shareholders or be a success. Success is like an endpoint and value is kind of like a journey along the way. And actually Albert Einstein said, “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” And so if you can be of value to the world, I think that’s a – that’s a value bomb, right?
John Dumas: It’s a value bomb, but I’m still not clear on what you consider your area of expertise.
Noah: Yeah, absolutely. So I’m actually an ER doc, and medicine is something that is my obvious area of expertise. But I’m also an athlete. And I’ve done American Ninja Warrior for five seasons now, and I love athletics. I’m in top shape at 42 years old. I’m very healthy, and I know a lot about health. And I know a lot about having some fun, as an American Ninja Warrior. So my area of expertise is medicine and fun, and I’ve combined those two into an entrepreneurial business, which has really been a lot of fun.
John Dumas: What’s something that we don’t know about childhood obesity that could really help us out if we knew it?
Noah: Yeah, absolutely. Well, first, get soda pop out of the house. If there’s one thing that your listeners could take away –
John Dumas: Any kind of sugary drinks, right? Like vitamin water ain’t no vitamins, come on now.
Noah: No, that’s right, exactly. I mean, there’s no fiber in there. It spikes insulin, and insulin makes you store fat. And it’s causing our nation to be fat because we have so much sugar in our food. When I started medicine, type 2 diabetes was called adult onset diabetes, and that was 15 years ago. Now there are clinics for kids suffering with type 2 diabetes, and so it’s no longer adult onset. We’re seeing this happen in kids. And with 7 in 10 of our adults overweight or obese and 3 in 10 of our children overweight or obese, it’s an unconscionable epidemic that we really need to do something as a society to put a halt to.
John Dumas: It’s unconscionable. There’s just no other words about it. I mean, the people that are producing these products, it’s purely for profit and for greed and it’s absolutely disgusting. That’s the only words I want to say about it, is because there’s just nothing good about what they’re doing; it’s all bad, bad, bad. And Noah, I don’t know if you knew this, but recently I just made a little declaration on Facebook that at 37 years old – I’m not too far behind you, but my priority in life right now is to focus on my health, on my nutrition, and on my fitness so that I can continue to help inspire others, not just in business but just in life in general, because if I don’t have the energy, if I don’t have the enthusiasm, the excitement for life, I’m not going to be able to produce what I can produce. And the same goes for you, Noah, and the same goes for you, Fire Nation. If you take care of yourself first, then you can do so much great for this world if you’re first taking care of what you need to do when it comes to food and when it comes to health. And I want to talk a lot more about this going on, Noah, but first it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, as we both know. So what would you, Noah, say your worst entrepreneurial moment is to date? Take us to that moment, tell us that story.
Noah: Yeah, absolutely, John. And, you know, I have not really shared this with too many people. And so it’s something that it’s emotional, right, because you’re tied to the things you do and you’re tied to your goals and your missions and your dreams; and when they fail or when they go down burning, it’s hard. And so one moment that was really tough for me was probably after about five or six years in medicine. I decided I really wanted to – I wanted to make money. I wanted to make money and be successful, and I always enjoyed stocks and trading, and I went into finance. I got my Series 65. Long story short, I ended up joining a hedge fund and we were 10 percent owners. We all bought into Facebook pre-IPO, and I wasn’t involved with the trading or anything, but I was involved with raising money. And so, of course, I brought in friends, I brought in families. I trusted the owners and the operators of the fund, to who – you know, to their credit, were trying to do the best for their – for all the investors. And we raised $4.7 million.
Well, the fund took a bad situation, you know, when Facebook IPOed. It eventually drifted down, down, down. They made it a lot worse by trading options, and they ended up losing just an incredible amount of money.
John Dumas: Wow. I mean, Fire Nation, we’re going to have those low points. We’re going to have those swings and misses, just like we’re going to have those homeruns if we keep putting out great content and keep our nose to the grindstone. But, Noah, how did you deal with that? Like specifically give the feedback to Fire Nation when you were at that moment. What kept you going?
Noah: Well, obviously, my wife didn’t leave me, which was wonderful, and, you know, my friends and family stuck by me. And people were supportive. You know, I mean, I think what really kept me going was just a passion to do better and to take it and to learn from it. You know, it was very, very difficult and very painful, and so I kind of dropped back. I focused on medicine a little bit. I reengaged. I started rock-climbing a lot more. I tried to find my center, and I was successful. I spent some time really kind of grieving because it was such a painful, emotional time. And, you know, you have to give yourself that time. You can’t just ignore it and stuff it deep down. You have to grieve over your losses, whether or not it’s a loved one or a dream or a goal or whatever it is. But then really all these things do make you stronger in the end, and they do make you smarter and a little bit wiser. And so ultimately, it is a gift, and it’s just so hard to see when you’re down there in the mire, you know, in the quagmire of doom.
John Dumas: It really is hard. And if you could just maybe give Fire Nation one piece of guidance, maybe one lesson you learned while you were in that quagmire that could help us in the future, what would that be?
Noah: When you are down in the quagmire, which you will be – we all are at times – you really need to find your center. You really need to fall back on some of the things you love, on some of the people you love, have open, honest discussions, and really don’t shy away from it. Confront it head-on, be open in admitting that you might have been wrong about some things, that you made mistakes, that you want to learn. Ask others for a 360-degree evaluation, what do you think I could have done better? You know, and I think you’ll find that people will be very honest with you, sometimes painfully so. But that’s the type of learning and growth that will take you to the next level and make the next goal or your next, you know, mission more successful. And so really, you know, find your center, fall back on some of the things you love, and definitely remember life is about happiness and enjoying your time here on earth. So definitely fall back and do some of the things you love and try and find some enjoyment in life.
John Dumas: Noah, you just told us a painful story. Now let’s talk about one of your greatest ideas that you’ve had to date. Take us to that ah-ha moment. Talk us through how you had that idea, then how you turned it into success.
Noah: Thanks, John. It’s good to get that worst moment out of the way. This is really a lot of fun, and this is where it gets fun, because ah-ha moments don’t come every day. Those epiphanies where you’re like, wow, this is something I can utilize to make the world a better place, I can make money, I can do whatever I need to do and this could be the path. And so the ah-ha moment for me was really after doing years and years of medicine and learning what I can from my interactions with patients. It was doing Ninja Warrior. And at first, going out and doing Ninja Warrior was kind of a selfish thing, you know. I wanted to do this course, I wanted to see if I could make a million dollars, my friends were doing it. It was just fun.
But, you know, after the exposure that I got on NBC for a couple seasons, I started having a larger social following. And out of the woodwork, fans and kids would start Tweeting or hitting me up on Instagram and Facebook, and they would say, “My family lost 70 pounds, you guys are so inspirational.” “I got my dad to quit smoking.” “Oh, hey, I had my mom and dad get soda pop out of the house.” And, you know, it was really moving, and I was just so – it was such a wonderful kind of like psychic feedback that I was getting off of this. The ah-ha moment came when we walked – my wife, who’s also a physician – she’s an internist, I’m an ER doc. You know, and we were watching Katie Couric’s expose on food called Fed Up, and we saw it on Netflix one night, and it just hit me, wow, there’s a lot wrong with this country. This epidemic is out of control.
Kids and people are listening to me as the Ninjadoc, whereas when I wear my white coat and scrubs, it’s like I put people to sleep with big words, you know. So if I can marry this – my medicine skills with my fun skills, and combine that with the fact that I was like literally a cheerleader in college at the University of Miami, flipping across the field, if I combine those things, maybe I can make a real impact and make a business that provides value, provides a lot of fun, a lot of education, and makes the world a better and happier, healthier place. And that was my ah-ha moment, and then it’s been a shooting fireball ever since then. It’s just gaining steam; it’s really – because, you know, everybody wants to do it. Everybody wants to be involved with making the world healthier.
John Dumas: Well, we love shooting fireballs over here at EOFire, so thank you for sharing that story, Noah. And just in maybe one sentence, like what do you want to make sure our listeners get from that ah-ha moment? You just told that story incredibly well. I’m fired up about it, but what’s one tangible takeaway for us?
Noah: Yeah, the tangible takeaway is try and make an association between that thing that you love to do in life that makes you just have so much fun that makes you fulfilled. For me, it’s Ninja and climbing. And then take the other thing, which is your job or the work that you do and it’s like the thing that you know about – maybe it’s engineering, maybe it’s science, whatever – and try and take those things and see where they intersect. You know, maybe make a Venn diagram. That point is the point where you’re going to be able to define – you’re going to be able to marry your passion and your fun with your work and your knowledge and your experience, and that’s where you can create the most value in this world.
John Dumas: Noah, I love it. When you really sit down and think about things that you’re passionate about, what fires you up and gets you excited, but then you also on the other spectrum think of, okay, well, what value can I bring to the world? What skills have I acquired over the years? You start to see that comingling of those two; that’s your zone of genius, Fire Nation. Your zone of genius lives in the marrying of those two, because now you’re not only excited about the content but you’re also providing valuable content. That combination is a great one-two punch. And Noah, you’re obviously excited about Ninja, about climbing, about all of these things, but what’s the one thing today that fires you up the most?
Noah: Oh, yeah. So in one month – and this will probably happen after – you know, you’ll probably air the show after we do it, but we have created a national ninja tour called the Wolfpack Ninja Tour that is going to bring basically a ninja warrior course, a ninja sports course to everyone out there. 77,000 people wanted to do American Ninja Warrior this year; only about 6 or 700 people get chosen for the show. And it’s a TV show. So kids want to do it. You’ve got to be 21 to do the show. And everybody wants to try a course. Who hasn’t seen the obstacle course on TV and not said I want to try that? So we created this indoor national tour, and we’re going to be going city to city. The first one is here in Denver, April 29th and 30th. And I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be super fun. We are making a whole new sport. We’re going to inspire kids and plant seeds of greatness so that they can become their own superheroes and make a dent in this current crazy obesity and diabetes epidemic in this country. And yeah, I want to create this value in the world and marry my passions, and this is the way I’m going to do it. So go to wolfpackninjatour.com to learn more, but it’s going to be so exciting. All the top ninjas are involved. They’re under agreements.
John Dumas: So cool. Noah, one big question: When are you coming to Puerto Rico?
Noah: You know we would love to. We have to start in the main markets first. Our investors out in New York, the private equity firm, they own the Lehman Group, and so we’re exploring a lot of different verticals and we’re focused on arenas right now in the major ninja markets.
John Dumas: Okay. Well, I’ll tell you a lot of obesity down here. I was walking around the mall yesterday, and I was like they need to get soda pop out of the house, they need to get –
Noah: We’ll get down there.
John Dumas: Yes. Fire Nation, we are going to rock and crush the lightning round, so don’t you go anywhere. But first we’re going to thank our sponsors.
Noah, are you ready to rock the lightning round?
Noah: Oh, yeah. Bring it.
John Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Noah: Great question. Focusing too much on either side, either the fun side or the medicine side and not really finding the center there. So my career in medicine and time spent trying to make money really kind of held me back from my true passion and higher purpose.
John Dumas: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Noah: Helen Keller said life is either complete daring or nothing at all, and I really have seen that. I believe it. So I would say chase your dreams aggressively and make your life complete daring.
John Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Noah: I really, really find it necessary and helpful to keep a short, a medium, and a long-term task list, both a private one and one with my team. I adjust all those lists daily and I review them daily, first thing in the morning. And I answer emails and calls immediately and very thoroughly. I don’t put anything off. You know, so I focus on that and relationships. And I try and provide value in every relationship that I enter.
John Dumas: Can you share an internet resource with Fire Nation?
Noah: For my internet resource, it may not be that lustrous. You know, the Apple products and collaboration, just on numbers, lists, notes, pages, keynote. I mean, it just all works very well for myself and the rest of the team, because communication is so important. And so we are always using the cloud and just using the collaboration feature, which, you know, many people use notes or tasks lists or pages, but they might not realize that you can do this collaboration feature, which is huge. You can invite anybody on your team. And so that’s been the most important internet resource for us.
John Dumas: If you could recommend one book, what would it be and why?
Noah: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. It really is about self-perfection. It’s this really wonderful, short kids’ book, but you can read it on so many levels. And although there’s other books that I love, I come back and read this one yearly.
John Dumas: Let’s end today on Fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say bye-bye.
Noah: Yeah, absolutely. I would say you can follow me on Instagram at Noah Kaufman, M.D. It’s one F and one N in Kaufman. And then definitely check out the tour that we’re putting together, wolfpackninjatour.com. And we also have a podcast, Wolfpack Ninja podcast on iTunes.
John Dumas: Love it all. And the parting piece of guidance?
Noah: The parting piece of guidance would be create value in this world. Don’t focus on success or money. Try and be valuable. Try and help make this world happier or healthier, and everything else will follow after that.
John Dumas: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you have been hanging out with NK and JLD today, so keep up the heat. If you go to EOFire.com, if you type in Noah in the search bar, his page is going to pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, timestamps, links galore. And Noah, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Noah: John, it’s been so much fun. Thanks so much.
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