2160 books total
You know how, while randomly browsing online, you occasionally run into a brilliant piece of content? The kind that opens your eyes and instantly hooks you? So you want to read more articles written by that person, learn more from them… and, next thing you know, you end up reading their whole blog archive and social media updates, all the time wondering “WHY didn’t I know about them before?”.
Writing this interview’s introduction was hard for me. That’s because it’s with an entrepreneur and independent thinker I discovered exactly the way I just described. I tried to balance the amount of information about their accomplishments, while also keeping my enthusiasm in check.
You probably know Sol Orwell as the founder of Examine.com, the largest database on nutrition and supplement research. Forbes profiled him as a seven-figure entrepreneur, and Men’s Fitness considers him a Game Changer.
Sol’s been building websites and making money online for almost 20 years. While attending high school in Canada, he founded a gaming website, and then was involved in other industries, from domain names to local search, daily deals, and many others.
In mid 2000s, he made enough money that he was able to retire and live a digital nomad’s life. He traveled for 5 years before moving back to Toronto. That’s when he wanted to slim down and started to research nutritional supplements that would help him with that goal. Frustrated by the lack of reliable sources of information on the subject of supplements and nutrition, he recognized an opportunity and co-founded Examine.com.
Sol writes long-form articles about entrepreneurship on his blog, SJO.com – it’s addictive, don’t say I didn’t warn you! He also organizes events for charity, such as Chocolate Chip Cookie Off 2017, the Sausage Showdown, and the NYC Chocolate Chip Cookie Off.
I cold outreached him via email and persevered until he agreed to talk more about the books that impacted him. Keep on reading and you’ll find out more about his favorite authors, his reading habits, reasons why he dislikes business books, and more.
Business: I enjoyed Cal’s Deep Work. It helped crystallize some thoughts. Something more explicitly business would be Derek Sivers’ Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur – concise with wisdom and experience.
Non-business: Tough. I have to go with Count of Monte Cristo. An unparalleled revenge story.
I find that I rarely get anything brilliant while I’m reading. I love marginalia and often write down notes. I put down a book for at least two weeks after I’ve read it, and then go through it again for my notes. That is when things click.
I hate business books. They are full of wishy-washy inspirational stuff and rarely of anything actionable. And even when actionable, it’s from the context of that founder and the story they’ve spun, not the reality that most people face.
There’s so much value in building deep relationships and understanding how to communicate and bond.
I love reading with something in my hand. I’ve subscribed to half a dozen magazines and buy books non-stop.
I like to switch between fiction, non-fiction, and biographical. I like having a pen on me so I can scribble all over the pages.
I’m big on stopping work by 5-6pm. That leaves lots of time for reading 🙂
I love scribbling on the sides (marginalia) and I also start generating an index on the inside cover of things-to-note.
I’m about to start Jonathan Abrams’ The Inside Story of The Wire. I love oral histories on how amazing projects came to be.
Links where you can follow Sol Orwell or find out more about his projects:
All books mentioned by Sol in our interview: