Podcast Interview #7 – Sol Orwell on Building Your Fitness Business

Andy MorganPodcast Interviews2 Comments

Sol Orwell Podcast Interview with Andy Morgan

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It is no exaggeration to say that Sol Orwell knows everyone in fitness. He is on the advisory board for Schwarzenegger.com, has built Examine.com into the world’s biggest supplement information site, and yet, he has only been in the industry for five and a half years.

This success is no accident. From SEO to online gaming, Sol has been building and selling businesses based out of his interests since he was 16 and retired twice now. How did he achieve this and what lessons are there for us in the fitness industry?

I spent the last week hanging out with Sol in Toronto, and took the opportunity to record an interview on the last day before leaving for the airport. We get stuck into the following topics: Building a business and network through cookies, the importance of letting employees shine, the importance of expressing gratitude daily. Controversies, the importance of seeing the bigger picture when looking to make an impact, and where Sol feels fitness professionals get it wrong.

Listen or download this episode on Soundcloud. (Direct RSS feed url for other players.)

Show notes

  1. Sol’s entrepreneur journey. – “I make businesses around my interests.” [2’30]
  2. What is examine.com? “We analyze research in nutrition.” [4’30]
  3. On the sensationalistic headlines in the media. [5’15 ]
  4. At what point did you monetize your site? – “For the first 2.5 years, we didn’t make a dime in revenue.” [6’30]
  5. How the business was born out of Reddit. – “There’s a big problem and you do your little bit to solve it.” [8’30]
  6. The business case for staying in the background and letting employees take the limelight. [11’30]
  7. On the insane questions they get asked. [17’30]
  8. Sol’s background and first businesses. From Pakistan to Saudi Arabia to Houston, USA to Toronto. [18’30]
  9. The mistakes people make when networking. How to go about it in a better way. [20’30]
  10. “Don’t ever use the phrase, ‘I want to pick your brain,’ instead, try something different, for example, ‘I’m going to bribe you with the best chocolate chip cookie in Toronto!'” [23’10]
  11. “People are too obsessed with the immediate thing they can get from somebody.” [25’30]
  12. Sol’s morning routine. [26’30]
  13. How Sol’s background has affected how he sees the world. [29’10]
  14. Where people go wrong in the fitness industry. [31’30]
  15. “Our job is to get access to more people. We publish anywhere that has an audience.” [34’30]
  16. “If there’s one thing that humanity needs more of, it’s travel.” [39’30]

Selected links

Thank you for listening! – Andy and Sol

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About the Author

Andy Morgan

I'm an online nutritional and training coach living in Tokyo, Japan. After seeing one too many people get ripped off by supplement and training industry lies I decided to try and do something about it. The site you see here is the result of a lot of Starbucks-fuelled, two-fingered typing. It's had a lot of love poured into it, and I hope you find the guides to the diet and training methods I use on this site useful. When I'm not helping clients you'll likely find me crashing down a mountain on a snowboard, racing around Suzuka circuit, or staring at watches I can't afford.

2 Comments on “Podcast Interview #7 – Sol Orwell on Building Your Fitness Business”

  1. Excellent podcast Andy!

    Great points on building a brand before monetizing your site i.e. 10k visitors first before selling. I also particularly like the part Sol talked about staying in your lane essentially, sticking to what you know and refer on what you don’t know and/or collaborate with and acknowledge the value they provide.

    Do you believe that this bonding/networking approach Sol mentions could be fostered organically entirely online? or face to face is a must at some point? (I’m leaning towards the latter)

    In your opinion (I know what the law of attraction and the secret tells me 😉 , would gratitude have more of an impact writing it down? is it enough just saying it in your head or verbalizing?

    I don’t agree entirely when Sol mentions “don’t give too much information, as it might confuse the audience” I’m speaking from a scientific/evidence based learning perspective. If that is your niche, your passion, and your audience then you should provide that information. I feel that the general fitness advice is highly undervalued and generic which has been exploited by supplement companies and/or overnight Insta fitness celebrities that can only provide pics of themselves shredded instead of valuable content.

    Regards, Matt

    1. Matt, thanks for listening and taking the time to comment. Glad you enjoyed it. To answer your questions:

      Do you believe that this bonding/networking approach Sol mentions could be fostered organically entirely online? or face to face is a must at some point?
      – Face-to-face is a nice way to cement a bond, but not a must in my opinion. Sol didn’t meet Kamal in person until two years after he hired him as CEO. I haven’t met Naoto, my second full-time Japanese employee (thus, big decision) in person as he lives in Vancouver. Many of the people I am friends with in this industry I was good friends with before I ever met them. It all depends on how you go about it.

      In your opinion would gratitude have more of an impact writing it down? is it enough just saying it in your head or verbalizing?
      – Test it. Try the latter for a month, then the former. See what you think. I think the answer probably lies in whether you had to write things down when studying for tests or whether you could just read and memorize. For me, writing things down is more powerful.

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