Search & Replace S04E11: Peter Sorgenfrei

Step into the world of Peter Sorgenfrei, a serial entrepreneur who learned the hard way that relentless ambition can come at a steep price. After founding six companies across three continents, Peter faced a health crisis that forced him to reconsider his lifestyle and priorities. Discover how he transformed his experience into a new mission: guiding fellow entrepreneurs away from burnout and towards a more balanced, fulfilling life. Tune in to Search and Replace as Peter shares his insights on finding peace in solitude, redefining success, and creating a life where personal well-being leads to professional prosperity. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialists at Johns & Taylor. More information follows this episode.  

[00:00:11] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if the only way to talk yourself through a big problem involves not talking about it? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace. 

[00:00:24] Peter Sorgenfrei will tell you that if he knows how to do one thing really well, it’s how to build a company.  

[00:00:30] Peter Sorgenfrei: Over the last 20 years I’ve built six companies on three different continents as a startup founder and CEO. I, kind of, stumbled into that because I took a master’s degree in economics, and when you do that in Denmark where I’m from, you go into government, or maybe. But I moved to the United States on an internship and ended up founding a bunch of companies, and some of them did really well, thankfully, and some of them tanked, and two of them still exist today. 

[00:00:58] Joe Taylor Jr.: By startup standards, that’s a great track record. Just like a baseball pitcher striving for a Hall of Fame ERA, Peter wanted to extend that streak. His body had different plans.  

[00:01:11] Peter Sorgenfrei: You get caught up in the moment of building companies and growing and answering to a bunch of people, whether it’s investors or those who think you will not succeed and you can prove them wrong. 

[00:01:21] In 2019, so now almost four years ago, I essentially got sick from all this work. Right? The hustle caught up with me. And I ended up being sidelined for more than two and a half months where I was incapable, or incapable, to work. My body physically reacted. I essentially thought I had a brain tumor, but thankfully it was just stress reduced incapacity. 

[00:01:47] And so that’s where I found myself, lying there not being able to function cognitively and not being able to function physically because of the pressure I’d put my body through building all these companies all these years.  

[00:02:01] Joe Taylor Jr.: Fortunately, Peter didn’t have to look very far to get an expert diagnosis.  

[00:02:05] Peter Sorgenfrei: I have an older sister, two years older than I, and she happens to be a psychologist and an expert in mindfulness-based stress reduction. So she talked to me and she was like, buddy you’re stressed out of your mind, you need to change your life. And finally I listened to her. Right. Because for years she had said, slow down, start meditating, do some yoga, you know, do other things at work.  

[00:02:31] And so how I got through it was working with another psychologist who, essentially, gave me very simple rules to live by. He said you need to sleep well and a lot. You need to get exercise every single day. You need to eat good foods for you. And then you need to, and this was the surprising one, not really talk to anybody about this. You need to kind of spend time with yourself, whether that be in nature, or meditating, or other things. So I spent almost six months actually not doing anything but those four things. I walked 15 to 20 kilometers every day, and I just took care of myself.  

[00:03:12] Joe Taylor Jr.: As a self-described serial entrepreneur, Peter had a predictable plan for what he wanted to do next. 

[00:03:19] Peter Sorgenfrei: I’m going to start another company, because that’s kind of the only thing I know how to do. But then I realized that I actually could have a bigger impact if I could help people that were like me. Right. So men and women who are founding companies all over the world and finding themselves being stressed and under pressure and almost breaking, or even breaking. 

[00:03:42] So I thought, why don’t I do that? I reached out to forty or something entrepreneurs around the world who did not know me. I described this idea of a very personal, intimate advisor who was there with you all along the way. More than a coach, more than a mentor, but really somebody was there for you. And lo and behold, a bunch of them said this sounds amazing. How much is it? And when can we get started?  

[00:04:06] I hadn’t seen myself as a coach, I hadn’t seen myself in this role, but it was kind of like the world telling me this is what you need to do. And so fast forward to today, I have customers in seven different countries.  

[00:04:20] And I sometimes pinch myself. Right? Because I speak a lot to people about figuring out what your purpose is. And I found mine. I mean, the darndest thing is I had to be almost 50 before it happened. But the fact that I can have an impact on other people’s lives, that I can have my own work life, which is, I’m sitting in my home in Copenhagen now, you know, I go to the ocean every day, I go for walks, I mean, I have the perfect life and I can help a bunch of people along the way. I can’t believe it. I’m really pleased with how things have turned out.  

[00:04:53] Joe Taylor Jr.: Peter shares some of the guidance he’s giving entrepreneurs to avoid the same predicament he found himself in.  

[00:04:59] Peter Sorgenfrei: Finding space to be with yourself is the first step. And the funny thing with that is, most people think they can’t. But in reality it is they do it all the time anyway. They just need to be aware of it.  

[00:05:11] So essentially, we start with some mindfulness. And once we get there, then we can start looking at, okay, I have now a clearer picture of what’s going on around me and outside of me.  

[00:05:21] A thing that I haven’t figured out quite yet is how do we, in a society where we’re very much focused on a hustle culture in the startup world, or in the corporate world. It’s about career advancement, more salary bonuses, all those other things. How do we teach people that when you’re 40, 50, 60, 70, all of that stuff is not going to matter.  

[00:05:45] So what do people really want? Everybody wants to be loved and be happy and be fed and all these other things. At the end of the day, they want to be sort of happy and calm. Right? And you get that, in my case, by meditating and having routines that are about me and my needs first, and then my son second, and my family third, and my business fourth. 

[00:06:09] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s entrepreneur and advisor Peter Sorgenfrei. We’ve got links to his work in our show notes and on our website at  

[00:06:18] Also in our show notes, human resources expert Cindy Travella notes that Peter’s advice applies to all kinds of people, not just entrepreneurs. She’s got notes for managers and company owners about how to improve team performance by investing in employees physical, financial, and mental health. 

[00:06:36] Plus the Harvard Business Review compiled research that shows your physical activity today contributes to your productivity at work tomorrow. You’ll get even better results if you’re motivated to go work out and maybe the thought of what you need to get done is enough to inspire a trip to the gym. 

[00:06:54] All that and more in our show notes and on our website at  

[00:06:59] Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor Jr.  

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production.  

Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns & Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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