The Proof

Matt Scanlan, Founder at Naadam


Matt Scanlan is the CEO & Co-Founder at Naadam, a luxury knitwear startup that offers sustainable Mongolian cashmere clothing. In July 2018, Naadam closed a $16 million Series A round. In the same year, Matt was honored as a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur. Matt also serves as General Partner and Co-Founder at Softmatter Ventures, a consumer-focused seed fund in NYC. Matt holds a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts & Sciences from NYU.


On his morning ritual. I wake up at 6, check email (for emergencies), check my schedule again, check Instagram for fun, and get up to make coffee. My morning ritual is super important, it helps me set my day. I stay in bed, watch the news, and read the news while drinking coffee for about an hour. I rarely ever eat breakfast, my first meal of the day often isn’t until 4. This is normally the only time of day I have that is my own. Most of the emails haven’t started and I can relax.

On his life’s motto. “Fake it till you make it.” When you start a company in an industry you don't know anything about as a 24 year old with no college degree, sometimes the only way to get by is to act like you’ve been there before. Essentially, it’s confidence.

You need to believe in yourself when no one else does. You need to believe in what you’re doing when no one else cares. Sometimes you just need to pretend like you have it all figured out. I don’t think this should be mistaken for ego. Confidence is knowing who you are, what you want, and being able to make decisions behind that.

On dealing with stress. I need to totally unplug from work and people. My job is basically talking all day, putting out fires, and getting people to either work together or follow along. I’m not actually an extrovert; I’m an introvert and people drain me over time. The only way I can reset is by not being around people. Unfortunately, when I’m very stressed I tend to spend more time alone. It’s the only way I know of, at this time, that lets me get back on track. Also, a good meal can fix a lot too. When I’m stressed I don't eat, I'll go a day or more without food so a good meal can revive me.


On taking a step back. I’m not good at taking a vacation and I hadn’t taken one for a long time. I work constantly and often push past the reasonable points of discomfort, stress, and anxiety that are normal. But this year, after the business had gotten to a more stable point, I took a vacation for about a week. I totally unplugged myself, invited my family and friends and came back entirely revived. I don’t make good decisions past a certain point if I’m too stressed or tired.

For the first time, I recognized that I was burnt out, not being supportive, and my judgment clouded by the anxiety I was feeling. Taking a step back let me not only recover but also gain valuable perspective. I’ve since worked with my team to walk them through the same process of gaining perspective and taking a step back when necessary.

On his physical fitness. When I’m overworked I stop going to the gym, I don't eat healthy if at all, and over time I not only don't feel physically well, but I start to break down mentally a bit. Looking good and feeling good are totally intertwined for me. That sounds vain, and to a certain degree it is, but I know that when I’m in good shape and eating well I’m happier.

On trouble sleeping. I’m terrible at it. I’m not a good sleeper. I get 3 to 6 hours a night and wake up frequently throughout the night either because I’m thinking about work or overheated. For a while, Olly sleep gummies worked for me, and I started taking some CBD to help me sleep as well. I was also taking melatonin but started getting headaches and wasn’t staying asleep well.

Admittedly, a few times I took NyQuil to fall asleep when I knew I didn’t have to be up too early. I since stopped because I could feel myself getting dependent. I normally get home from work around 8 or 9, order food, eat quickly, and get in bed. I watch TV until I fall asleep pretty much every night.

— Matt Scanlan, CEO & Co-Founder at Naadam