How will you know when you've reached the mountaintop of success?
When I earn a seven-figure income.
Once I have thousands of online followers.
When I'm free to enjoy really good cookies with friends, at any given time of the day.
A recent conversation with Sol Orwell, the co-founder of examine.com, revealed that he'd most likely pick C without hesitation.
Orwell has reached milestones that people pay gurus and coaches to help them achieve; but if you were to ask him what it took to reach this point, you would be surprised to find that hustling was never his strategy.
"The word hustle used to imply something a con would do to you, it was a bad thing," said Orwell. "Nowadays, we look at hustle as if it's a great thing."
As someone who built and sold a multitude of profitable ventures, Orwell found relationships, reputation, and passion-based projects vital to his success -- none of which required a hustler's mentality.
The independent encyclopedia on supplementation and nutrition, known as examine.com, is the most recent passion project headed by Orwell. The venture organically branched off from a personal interest to a business; which is reminiscent of his start online in 1997.
At that time, Orwell was an adolescent who'd come to know many cultural experiences due to frequent relocations. His father's career as an engineer moved the family from Pakistan to Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S., before settling in Toronto at the age of 14; but the move from Saudi Arabia to Texas proved to be the biggest culture shock for the Kashmiri teen.
While trying to navigate the drastic change in belief systems, Orwell used the internet as a source of comfort. The time spent online cultivated his desire to build websites of his own.
His first site gained popularity and passive income two years after its launch, which gave him the incentive to experiment with additional opportunities that fell within the realm of his personal interests.
With 100,000+ daily visitors to one of his sites alone; and passive income in the $10,000/month range, venture capitalist begin to take notice.
When offered opportunities for funding, Orwell rejected the idea. He valued his independence as an entrepreneur too much to risk losing control of his freedom to investors.
"Even in my professional capacity I'm enjoying my time and I work hard," said Orwell during our interview, "But I make time to have a lot of play in there too."
When the rush of monetary success lost its appeal; Orwell did what any smart entrepreneur who values their play time would do; he delegated tasks to the experts in his businesses and compensated them.
By creating more time freedom in his life, Orwell was able to travel the globe while maintaining four-hour work week.
During his travels to Argentina and Manhattan, desserts became a favorite past time for the digital nomad. He had access to an online ice cream delivery system in Argentina and lived steps away from a cafe that fueled his appetite for cookies in Manhattan. These luxuries soon caught up to him through weight gain.
In need of a solution to a visibly growing problem, Orwell sought fitness information and support from Reddit. As he progressed in his journey, he noticed a commonality of questions regarding supplements in the Reddit fitness community. Seeing a lack of unbiased information available online, Orwell, his co-founder, and a slew of experts in health and nutrition took on the task of filling this need through examine.com.
While many boast about their healthy eating practices; Orwell has no qualms about acknowledging his ongoing love affair for cookies. This simple, relatable quirk gained the attention of an unexpected set of followers online who now unite under a popular hashtag surrounding the #cookielife.
"What it's done for me is open me up to a lot more people that I would have never met, and it's made my life a lot more interesting," said Orwell.
The cookie aficionado is more than equipped to turn this passion into a business, but he has no plans to profit from his growing popularity in the dessert world.
Deciding to keep his pleasure separate from a business was viewed as a mistake by a fellow entrepreneur. They expressed that Orwell was wasting his "Social Media Capital" --which might be true for someone driven by a hustler's mindset.
As someone who comes from a different school of thought about success, Orwell rebutted by saying, "you're missing the point. I'm enjoying myself because I'm not chasing money anymore."
Knowing the ups and downs of multi-million success Orwell understands the importance of making time for your core values. I mean, what's the point of a freedom based lifestyle if it keeps you from enjoying the #cookielife?