Aspiring to Inspire
Former engineer Andres Orrego pens an unconventional self-help book
By Eric Newman
When most people think of life coaches, they imagine successful figures who have achieved the pinnacle in business and personal goals, someone who spouts poignant platitudes in TED Talks, someone to admire and aspire to be like, someone who knows exactly what they want and how to get it.
North Phoenix resident Andres Orrego is not that someone. The self-proclaimed “fanatic” about self-help and psychology books rarely walks around without a Tony Robbins paperback in hand and frequently quotes Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. But to hear him talk about his own maiden voyage into the sea of self-help books – the self-published and verbose-titled Transforming coulda, shoulda, would into… I did, I created, I succeeded – it’s apparent the author, at just 25, is still searching for some answers himself. He’s a Millennial with a degree in engineering who is embarking on a very different career path, one more dependent on philosophy and charisma than technical know-how and mathematics.
Orrego was born to a single-mother who emigrated to the U.S. from Colombia nearly 30 years ago, and moved around the metropolitan area to avoid crime and economic hardship. He says many of the people he went to high school with ended up in much worse situations, but his mother and a vast interest in sports kept him relatively on the straight-and-narrow. He went to college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated with a bachelor’s in civil engineering. He began a career as an engineer in Colorado Springs shortly after, and launched a podcast titled “Accidentally on Purpose” that tackled everyday philosophical questions he believed twentysomethings strive to answer.
Last year, looking for warmer weather and a life change, Orrego packed his Ford sedan full of his possessions – while in Colorado he never bought furniture or a bed for his apartment, knowing he would not be there long – and moved in with a friend in North Phoenix.
He initially applied for engineering jobs to supplement income while pushing toward the founding of his publishing and entrepreneurial company, Cuervo Toro, as well as writing his book. But he never found the right position and has yet to work as an engineer in the near-year he’s been in Arizona. He has held a job at Fry’s grocery store for several months and is living off savings from his past engineering positions. He says he’s realized he does not have the same passion for engineering as he does for other business ventures.
Orrego hopes the early details of his journey – both good and bad – inspire others to begin to work toward their own goals, and to not be afraid of getting started.
After graduating college in 2016, Orrego said he felt lost in his current career and path through life, but felt at home between the pages of his favorite authors. He knows he has a long way to go in his business career, and certainly is not at the same point in his career as those he loves to lean on, but wants people to join him on the journey.
He took to self-motivation books as a guide to how he could find his own purpose. When he decided to write his own, the readings made a difference in his life. “I’ve read so many of these books and listened to these amazing authors, and a lot of times I think, ‘OK, I understand that they’re successful now, when they’re able to tell me about it. But tell me about before you were a success, tell me about that process,’” he says. “Because, I think that’s where a lot of us are, is we’re in that process of getting to where we want to be. We know where we want to get, but we don’t even know where to start sometimes.”
His book, Transforming coulda, shoulda, woulda into…I did, I created, I succeeded, was self-published in August. In just the first month, he sold 13 copies, and he’s working toward a plan to gain more publicity. Within its 116 pages, Orrego hopes to share the minutiae of his journey to economic success, with both lows and highs, as it happens, rather than a recollection of stories afterward.
“Something in my body told me that if I were doing something I didn’t love my whole life, I wouldn’t live at all,” he says. “So I wasn’t even upset or anything when it didn’t work out for me to get an engineering job here. I just said this confirms everything I’ve been thinking. It really made me feel like what I am going for is right for me.”
While living in Colorado Springs, Orrego would often venture a couple hours north to Denver, where former podcast co-host and college roommate Christian Krauspe currently works as an engineer. On free weekends, Krauspe often joined Orrego in tours of businesses around Denver, asking owners and managers about their own success stories and accumulating knowledge about starting a business for their podcast.
Krauspe says he and Orrego met in 2012 as sophomores at Marquette University, and Orrego immediately stood out as somebody that would stop at nothing to accomplish his goals.
“You could just tell how motivated he was. He gets laser-focused on something, and really won’t think about anything else. It’s how he’s always been,” Krauspe says.
Orrego says authors of self-help books often forego recalling the toughest trials in their lives. He remains convinced, though, that brutal honesty is the best way to connect to a reader, and also to show a clear example of how the right attitude and focus can triumph over life’s challenges.
“There are some very heavy stories in this book for me in my experience. So, being able to be open about those and have somebody think that they have gone through something similar really makes me feel like I’m connecting with them. Even the most successful people in the world have gone through stuff, and I want to show how what I’ve done changed me,” he says.
As much as anything, his book seeks to capture this period in his life and professional career. He plans on writing his next titles down the road, welcoming readers to view his progression as it happens. Essentially, each book will chronicle a point in his personal and business life, letting time write the story as much as he does.
“I’m almost irrational with how much I just believe in what I’m doing,” he says. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have doubt, because there’s a lot of days that I do. But those are the days I make sure to push myself extra hard, read that next page or talk to another person to make the goal a reality.”
“Someone will ask you your plan and sometimes you don’t know the how and every little detail quite yet,” he adds, “but you don’t need to know. That’s not the point. If you knew exactly how everything was going to end up and why, there wouldn’t be a journey.”
Transforming coulda, shoulda, woulda into…I did, I created, I succeeded by Andres Orrego is available at lulu.com.