Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Choosing Freedom Before Money, Fame and Influence: An Interview with Sol Orwell

People choose the entrepreneurial path for a number of reasons, some want the ability to make as much money as they can, others don’t want to work for anyone else.

And yet others, like today’s guest, want the freedom to do what they want whenever they want.

Choosing Freedom Before Money, Fame and Influence: An Interview with Sol Orwell

Sol Orwell’s entrepreneurial journey began while he was still a teenager. But to understand his desire for freedom over his own course in life, he says you can look to his father’s life. His dad worked in the oil industry, but despite his hard work and dedication, he was never promoted above the manager role.

In fact, his dad was dedicated to his work that he moved Sol’s family all around the world. Sol was born in Pakistan, and then moved to Saudi Arabia when he was only two. Next Sol’s family lived in Japan before moving back to Saudi Arabia. By the time Sol entered high school, his family had also lived in Houston before settling in Canada.

It was in Canada, a suburb of Toronto, Ontario specifically, that he started two of his first businesses. The Internet had become something of a haven for Sol and he began fulfilling a need for virtual currency in the online MMPORG world (the online world of massively multiplayer online role-playing games).

Today on The Portfolio Life, you’ll hear Sol explain that venture in detail, and how he started Examine.com. He tells us why he was willing to spend $42,000 on the Examine.com domain, why he is never the face of any of his companies, what failures he has had throughout his life, and how he approaches them today.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).


Show highlights

In this episode, Sol and I discuss:

  • Where did his appetite for entrepreneurship come from?
  • What is his stance on joint ventures (JVs) and why?
  • Why does Sol consider his years in South America “lost years”?
  • Why the 4-hour work week is a myth.
  • Why he made Kamal Patel the face of Examine.com and not himself.

Takeaways from Sol on entrepreneurship

  • How did HostGator become one of his first SEO clients?
  • What is acquihiring, and why won’t he do it?
  • The reason he has never taken venture capital funding, and never will.
  • Why micromanaging actually says YOU are terrible at hiring.
  • What are the two questions he asks himself before starting a new venture?

Sol shares his thoughts on passion, focus and failure:

  • What persists after passion has waned?
  • Why being hyper-focused on one area at a time has been critical to his success.
  • What failures has he had, and how does he view them?
  • What is the Picasso Principle and how does it relate to success versus failure?
  • What are his feelings on philanthropy and entrepreneurship?


Would you choose freedom first, before money, fame and influence? Why or why not? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I am the best-selling author of five books, including the national bestsellers The Art of Work and Real Artists Don't Starve. Each week, I send out a free newsletter with my best tips on writing, publishing, and helping your creative work succeed.

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