Founder and CEO of RXBAR, Peter Rahal, has his own definition of happiness
Peter Rahal enjoys the simple things in life. He also hopes to keep his job “indefinitely.” Pretty impressive for a guy whose company just got bought out for $600 million. Here, we get to know a little more behind the method to this creator’s madness.
You’re an entrepreneur—did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I never said, “I want to be an entrepreneur,” but I was very entrepreneurial. I always made stuff and sold stuff. I think it’s a DNA thing. I always broke the rules. I never studied entrepreneurship. I never practiced it, my actions just reflected it.
People say entrepreneurship requires risk taking—what gave you the confidence to go for it?
I’d argue it doesn’t involve a lot of risks. It’s your ability to assess risk intelligently. I’m perceived as a big risk taker, but I’m actually not a big risk taker. I asses risk well. [With RXBAR], we were solving a problem that actually existed, and we were not alone. The market needed it.
What advice would you give other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Be super self-aware. Don’t solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Don’t think, “I want to be an entrepreneur,” and force it down a hole. That doesn’t work. Actually solve a problem. Entrepreneurship is miserable. It’s a lot of suffering. It’s not cool. Being a business owner is not easy or fun or cool. It’s a ton of responsibility. People think that I can have freedom. I actually don’t have any freedom.
Tell us about how you begin your day—do you have a routine?
I’m not a routine person at all. I wake up between 6 and 7 a.m., and that is dictated based on my first task or appointment that I have to make. And then I work (he thinks for a moment), I work until the day is done. I’m a very liberal, free flowing person. I’m not rigid at all. I prefer total unstructure. But I mean, that’s just a style. Everyone has a style.
What is a typical “free flowing” day in your life?
I will work from 7 or 8 a.m. until 5, 6, or 7 p.m. Go get food, and then go back to working in some capacity.
Do you work for the rest of the night?
Uh, yeah, in some capacity. It’s not always on RXBAR, it’s other things. I don’t like the discussion around fun. My definition of fun is very different than other people. Like entertainment, stimulation, not for me. I enjoy simple things, I guess.
I never studied entrepreneurship. I never practiced it, my actions just reflected it.
What kind of simple things?
Learning, helping people, eating. I do enjoy exercise, it’s just been massively deprioritized. I enjoy learning, and growing, and creating, and doing things like that. That makes me happy. So I just do what makes me happy.
I don’t watch movies. Or listen to music. Or go out drinking. I don’t celebrate. I sound boring, but I enjoy it. And, I found a woman who also enjoys it.
On paper it sounds miserable. But the thing is, it’s a definition of fun and happiness. If you’re an introvert, a thinker [the simple things] can make you happy. There is a status quo of what is fun, and it’s misassociated with happiness. I’m not going to prescribe to what society or Instagram tells me is fun.
So…what is fun for you?
I like to learn. I like maps—and actually like studying maps. I absolutely love cartography. It makes me happy learning and seeing how the world has changed.
For me, one of my passions is human history and humans. So like, culture, sociology, anthropology, all related to that. In my free time that’s what I learn and do. And business is fun because business is just problem solving. Human problems. It all works together. And that makes me happy. The thing about me, my work and what I do is so intertwined to my personal-professional—it’s all like one thing. I’m not a different person at work than I am here. It’s this integrated life. So, all I do is work, but it’s fun. I am so grateful I am in the position to incorporate everything in that way.
Did you have a mentor or someone you looked up to?
I’ve always admired Richard Branson. People with the same cognitive makeup as me—so like, unorganized, dyslexic, not structured. There are a lot of business guys like that who I’ve always admired. When you look at them, they are messy, but there is a method to the madness.
My father has been very influential in my life. His life is his work, his customers, his family, and that’s it. And he’s a servant to those things. He has no hobbies. It’s actually a shame, he has no hobbies. But he is a servant to those things.
You’ve been very successful in your career. Where do you plan to go next?
I’m keeping my job, for sure. I want to indefinitely keep my job. As long as I am capable of executing it, I’ll do it. And to keep solving problems for people.
There are no limits to where a career can take you. What is your ultimate goal?
There’s a disease. And anyone with a sort of ambition, has it. You’re just never satisfied. So, I’m never finished. The day we sold the company, announced it, we didn’t celebrate shit. A weakness of mine is not smelling the roses, for sure. There’s no end goal or objective. Maybe that’s wrong, and I need to figure that out.
What is one thing on your bucket list? To learn Arabic conversationally.
Favorite place you’ve traveled? Lebanon.
Favorite spot in Chicago? The office. I like Three Greens a lot, too.
Top place to find inspiration? Moving water, rivers.
It’s Saturday night—where are you? With my girlfriend or family. I’m an indoor cat.
How do you drink your coffee/cold brew? Straight, black, and through the nose.