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Mike O’Donnell Utilizes Over 28 Hours in Train Rides to Learn His Way to the Top

Posted on August 2nd, 2012 in Books, Efficiency, My Story, Philosophy, Psychology, Self Improvement, Time Management | No Comments »

This past week, I had the opportunity to take a little vacation from work and spend a week at home in Newtown. This is one of the great perks of being an entrepreneur that you have the flexibility to do what you want. It also shows the power of building systems in your business and striving towards removing yourself from the org chart and having a business that can just run itself. We’re not there yet with the business machine, but that’s the goal we are striving towards.

Thursday was my Dad’s birthday, so I decided to take the train to Morristown, NJ to Bob’s place Wednesday night so I could surprise him for dinner Thursday night. The train ride took me 14 hours from the time I left Montreal until the time I got to Morristown that night. They claimed there would be WiFi on the train, but it was very spotty the whole ride so I kept myself occupied with some good old fashioned offline learning!

I started out the train ride listening to an hour long podcast from my friend Alex Epstein talking about, “The Dangers of Not Fracing.” I met Alex during my senior year at Penn State when I helped promote his speech on campus entitled “Vitamin O: America’s Healthy Addiction to Oil.” Alex used to be a fellow at the Ayn Rand institute, but has recently set out on his own as the Founder of the Industrial Center for Progress. Alex has been making quite the name for himself in the Energy industry by taking Objectivist principles and applying them to energy rights. We have briefly kept in touch since meeting at Penn State and I hold him as my chief information source for any energy related issues I am interested in. With the current media buzz about the dangers of Fracing, I was really excited to hear his point of view on the subject. Like always, Alex did not let me down and I learned some very good information. The kind of information that for some reason is always left out in traditional media sources like the fact that Fracing is essential to Oil recovery and accounts for almost 95% of all Oil extraction already. After listening to Alex’s Power Hour episode, I did a little researching of my own and found out that the movie Gas Land is a scam. They purposely left out crucial information and misled the public into thinking Fracing was the cause for natural gas contamination in public water sources even though the areas that do have water contamination have had this problem since the 1930s before Fracing was even used.

After getting my Energy fix, I moved on to business and listened to the audio book for “Work The System.” Besides eating and taking a few naps, this 8 hour audio book took up the entire rest of my train ride and was well worth it. Sam Carpenter really helped me realize that you systems are not just important in your business life, but also your personal life. If you can view things through the lens of a system, then you can take the necessary steps to make sure the system works for you. Inspired by this book and what Sam teaches in it, I decided that I needed to start implementing more systems into my own life. On my train ride home, I created an excel dashboard to help manage my personal key relationships. I realize that everyone gets so caught up with their daily lives that it gets harder and harder to keep in touch with important relationships. This has happened to me on plenty of occasions, so I decided to make a list of important friends and business contacts and include fields for their contact information and industry expertise and also set a frequency of how often I want to make it a point to contact these people throughout the year. Some people are on a monthly basis while other people are on a bi monthly or tri monthly basis. Using formulas, my spreadsheet keeps track of the last month I spoke with the person and also tracks my communication progress so I know if I am behind schedule with keeping in touch. The spreadsheet is also conditionally formatted so if I forget to touch base with someone on a particular month that it will notify me to drop them a line and see how they are doing. Boom, just like that, I don’t need to worry about consciously maintaining important relationships anymore. I created a system and the system now works for me.

So I surprised my dad Thursday night for dinner and had the opportunity to see his whole side of the family which was great. On Friday and Saturday, I headed down to Manyunk to see a bunch of my buddies. Saturday was great because we went to Summit Aid. The way I would describe Summit Aid would be picture yourself at a swim club with over 100 people, most of whom you know, with a DJ and bars set up all over the place. All day long people are partying and drinking and swimming and playing volleyball and all the drinks are pretty much free. Needless to say, it was a really fun time and I got to see a bunch of my friends that I haven’t seen since I moved up here to Montreal. Sunday was another great day because we had an all day bar b q at my house with my mom’s family. Tons of food, people, baggo, and wiffle ball all day long. It was a great vacation and it rejuvenated me and gave me that extra boost to make me want to come back to Montreal and keep kicking ass with the business so I can eventually achieve the not so lofty goal of lifestyle design.

I left my house at 4:30 in the morning on Tuesday to catch my train out of Philly and never got back to my apartment until 8:30 that night. Much longer day than the ride down so I did a lot more sleeping on the train this time. However, I was still able to accomplish a good amount of learning.

I started out by reading “The Charge” by Brendon Burchard. I’m about 50 pages into the book now and I’m not quite sure it’s something I want to spend time finishing. The premise of the book is to help you activate the 10 factors in your life that lead you to live a Charged/Happy life. In my opinion, it’s just alright so far. Right now, I’m much more interested in the 3 books I picked up from my dad: “The Knack” by Norm Brodsky, John Paul Getty’s “How To Be Rich,” and “Quantum Leap Thinking” by James Mapes.  I also started reading and highlighting an info course I received for free from Glazer Kennedy called “Inside the Mind of a Millionaire Maker.”

After hitting the books, listened to a great interview from Ramit Sethi and BJ Fogg called the Psychology of Persuasion. Ramit is my personal finance guru and the one who helped me design my automated savings system (which sadly I had to halt to help myself make ends meet while we get things up and running up North). Psychology is definitely one of my primary interests right now as I continue my journey on becoming a master Marketer/Persuader.

Finally, I listened to another Alex Epstein Power Hour called “How to Think About Energy.” I have to say; Alex really got me thinking on both the train ride down and back. This Power Hour once again merged the power of Objectivist philosophy with the way we should be thinking about Energy and Energy rights.

As long as my travel time was, I think I would definitely opt for the train again next time because it forced me to dedicate time to my self improvement. I got to catch up on a lot of material that I’ve had on the backburner and I spawned a bunch of new creative ideas that I otherwise may not have had the opportunity to develop.

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    Mike O’Donnell Shares His Reading List

    Posted on July 16th, 2012 in Books, Canada | No Comments »

    I have been flying through books over the past 2 months while I have been in Canada. For this post, I would like to document some of the books I just finished reading, the books I’m currently reading, and the books that I have just ordered or am planning to read next. When I read I like to learn things, so all of these books are business and marketing related books. I believe that the best way to become the best is to emulate the best. These books have all been chosen because they were recommended to me by very, very successful people.

    Books I Recently Finished

    This book was written by copywriting legend Dan Kennedy and is a very good introduction to the principles of writing sales letters. I keep this book at my desk in the office and constantly refer to it when I am writing sales copy.

    This is a great book jam packed with proven successful advertisements and case studies. Since reading this book I have definitely noticed that I am starting to push the limits with my copy writing. The more outrageous the better!

    This book is like the Marketer’s bible. Known as “the most important book on persuasion ever published,” Influence dives in to all the psychological tricks and tactics of compliance professionals.

    Books I am Currently Reading

    This is my second time reading this book and I am picking up even more on the second time through. Oren Klaff shares the techniques he uses to raise 100s of millions of dollars in capital for investment deals. In short, this book is about how to master frame control to master the art of the pitch

    A little heavy on the material so it has been taking me a little while to get through this book. However, this book gives an excellent foundation for becoming an amazing storyteller.

    This book is more of a reference than anything else. This invaluable book is a compilation of over 5,000 proven phrases that sell. Broken down by category, you will never again be at a loss for that perfect headline.

    Books I Just Ordered

    Very similar to phrases that sell, this is another great resource for copywriting

    This book was recently recommended to me by Justin Lee. I am already applying many of these principles in my daily business as far as building scalable systems and out sourcing goes, but I am looking forward to reinforcing my current actions with the material presented in this book.

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