Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Mike O’Donnell Spends a Week in Montreal – Sex Appeal – Championship Ring

Posted on June 24th, 2013 in Canada, My Story, Reflection, Toastmasters | No Comments »

It’s been over 8 months since I’ve been living back in the states. Canada is warm and the ladies are out, so I decided to go spend a week in Montreal on June 9th. Father’s day was the following Saturday, so I figured I would go up anyways from Sunday to Friday and hang out, work, and see a bunch of friends.

This is me driving up to Montreal in style:


2013-06-09 12.55.56



I stayed at Ben’s apartment for the entire week and he even had an open desk for me to work at in his office:


It’s crazy how we both have gone in completely separate directions. He transformed his marketing agency into a high quality video marketing company. He recently did a speech at Linked Quebec, which is the largest business group in all of Quebec. His speech on video marketing was 45 minutes long and he absolutely killed it. Ever since then his business has been booming with tons of video orders. He also has 3 people on staff working with him in his office. When we used to talk about our future plans, he always said how he wanted to get into video more because that was his passion and I always talked about getting into physical products one day. Very cool that we both followed our “Long Term” business goals in less than a year from separating.

I showed Ben my entire business model for Physical products and he’s actually super interested in getting into the space. I’m going to wait about 3 months so I can show him solid financials and then we discussed that I might take him under my wing and show him the ropes so he can get started himself. Personally, I love physical products because you don’t have to sell (there’s already demand) and you don’t have to deal with know it all business owners like I am now in my Marketing company. The best part of all is that I’m able to pick up and work from anywhere with an internet connection like I did for this week in Montreal (more on this later ;).

It was great to be able to see all of my old friends as well. My roommate Matt had been living in England for the past year and just moved back on that Saturday so I got to hang out with him. I also hung out with Hokuto, Mia, Adam, Synden, and everyone else. Here’s a picture of me and my sneaky little 32 year old Japanese friend Hokuto out to dinner:



Synden works as a chef assistant in 5 star restaurants in Montreal and it just so happened to be the grand opening of his new restaurant while I was there. Me and Adam were added to the guest list and got to hang out with tons of “Important” people and hot chicks for 2 hours while sipping on free wine and eating oysters. It was a really fun time and I also photo-bombed a few pictures from the Press.

Aside from my Montreal friends, I also hung out with Bob’s friend Mike Ruane and his brother for 2 nights. I’ve only met Mike twice before, but he’s a really cool dude so I called him up and we went out. Him and his brother are professional poker players and since online gambling is illegal in the U.S. they have been traveling the world for the past year and a half ish.

I also went out to lunch with the McGill Lacrosse coach, Tim Murdoch. He knew the owner of the restaurant so we got free food and he picked up all of my beers. It’s always a good time catching up with Tim and I need to do a better job personally of staying in touch with him. He went to Princeton and Harvard and is super connected. He lives a real relaxed life doing high level consulting for international companies. A couple months ago he actually introduced me to the CEO of a large franchise here in the U.S. They were locked in to a year contract with their marketing agency in New York, but he said he wants to do business together when he gets out of it. Sweet!

Tim and I also had a very interesting conversation about one of his buddies (My numbers for this story might be a little off, but they are in the ball park). Tim’s old neighbor sold his company for 40 Million a couple years ago and moved down to Miami. The guy had always asked for Tim’s consulting advice and Tim would help him out without charging him. Last year when the guy and his pregnant wife were visiting Montreal, they realized that her passport expired and they weren’t going to be allowed back into the United States. I’m not completely sure on the details there, but I don’t think she was an American citizen. They were terrified because they didn’t want the baby to be Canadian. They called Tim and within 24 hours he had his friends at the U.S. consulate clear everything and get them back to the U.S. Needless to say, this guy loves Tim.

So the guy has been getting bored just hanging out in Miami and he decides to start a new business. He hired a linguistics PHD from Oxford and together they created an algorithm that analyzes all public twitter feeds for investor sentiment on stocks. The idea being that most trading is done on inside knowledge and these guys all tweet little hints out without knowing it. Well, the guy invested 1 Million of his own money using just his Twitter analysis system and his smallest monthly ROI has been 6%. He averages around 30% on his money every month using just this Twitter algorithm. The guy is now in talks with Bloomberg and Bloomberg is going to be adding his Twitter algorithm into their main suite of products. Basically, this is going to revolutionize the way people invest. So cool that I’m only 2 people removed from this guy. Tim is always trying to hook me up with new business and the fact that they are going to be working together soon is going to expand his network even more. He’s a great person to know and I run a ton of ideas off of him.

That Tuesday while I was up there I also gave a speech at the McGill toastmasters. I called them up the week before and they scheduled me in and  made a big deal that  I was returning. That was awesome. I’m going to write a dedicated post to this speech, so more on this later…

On Friday before leaving Montreal, I went with Ben to the Atwater market to pick up some bacon and steak that he couldn’t stop talking about (with good reason). I picked up 2 different types of bacon from a small farmer. The first was called farmers bacon and the second was smoked bacon. Both were literally the most amazing bacons I’ve ever had in my life and up there for the best ever cuts of meat I’ve eaten. They were almost like pieces of Ham they were so thick. I actually grilled them up and made a video for Cave Tools about how to grill bacon. The steak was aged 30 days old and was the type of steak you buy in a restaurant for $120 – $150 apiece. I got 2 of them for $25 from this farmer and they were ridiculous as well. I shared all of this with my dad for father’s day:





One of Tim’s comments while we were out to lunch was that I need more sex appeal in my Cave Tools marketing. After looking at my Youtube demographics, close to 80% of my views are guys. He’s so right. As a marketer I’m embarrassed I didn’t even think of this, but I guess sometimes you are just too close to realize things like that. During my 7 hour ride home I had a lot of time to think and scheme and I had 2 major breakthrough ideas.

The first is the sex appeal idea. My friend Claire has huge tits and a great body. Why not have her do a grill brush review in a bikini? We were supposed to do the video this past weekend, but she backed out. New boyfriend wasn’t so keen on the idea (it won’t last).

My idea was way too ridiculous:

Scene 1: She jumps off a diving board and I slow motion as she comes out of the water with focus on her tits. She says something along the lines of, “Hi guys, I’m Claire. I have 2 favorite things to do during the summer time. The first is go swimming and the second…well we need to go back to my apartment for that”

Scene 2: Slow pan to the left and you see her taking a bite of a hot dog. She goes Opps and wipes her face off. Then she goes into how she loves grilling and likes grill brushes with a long handle and gives the review.

I talked to her today and we’re going to tone the video down a bit and shoot something next weekend. My big plan is to use that video to launch a big online contest. Any girls all summer long that send in a grill brush review video in a bikini get a free grill brush. I’d promote the hell out of the thing and see how many video submissions I can get. Any video with tits on Youtube gets thousands of views so I could brand every video and drive massive traffic to my product page with them. Afterwards, I want to set up a profiles section on the website for Cave Tools Girls and let them each have their own profile with a bio. Kind of like Barstool Sports. In all seriousness, think this could be huge!

My second idea has to do with my “Couch Surfing Across America” trip which I haven’t wrote about on here yet. More on that in my next post…

When I got home on Friday night, my McGill lacrosse championship ring was waiting for me. This thing is such a beast. It’s heavy and just in your face huge. The diamond all around the McGill M ruby shine off the light as well so it’s always sparkling. I’m not sure what to do with it because it’s so expensive and I don’t want to wear it or anything like that. Somewhere down the line I’m definitely going to just wear this thing to a business meeting where I need to impress some big whig or something like that haha



Mike O’Donnell Keeps in Touch with McGill Redmen

Posted on February 2nd, 2013 in Canada, Coaching, My Story | No Comments »

The other night I received an email from one of the Seniors on the team asking if I could make it up for the team banquet. I really wanted to go to the banquet so I could see everyone again and because I wanted to congratulate them in person on such an amazing season. However, the banquet was on a Thursday night and I had a major work meeting during the day on Thursday that there was no way I could miss.

I figured that if I couldn’t be there in person, I would be there in spirit. So I shot this quick video and put it on YouTube so coach Murdoch and coach Steinwald could show it to the team:



This is the email that coach Murdoch sent out to everyone on Thursday before the banquet. Tim is a stand up guy and I appreciate his kind words. This email is definitely a keeper:




Unfortunately, Mike O’Donnell is unable to attend our team’s annual banquet tomorrow night at the MAA Club.   Nonetheless, Mike took it upon himself to create a video to share with the team:  


Coach O’Donnell was a big reason for our collective success in winning a national championship in 2012, and he now joins a colorful caste of ‘Redmen lacrosse alumni assistant coaches” alongside Brendan Simeson (McGill Redmen) 2003-2011, John Threshie (UNC Tarheels) 2004-2006, Trevor Tierney (Princeton Tigers) 2006, and Sachin Anand (McGill Redmen), our team’s founder and original player-coach from 2001-2005.


On behalf of our entire team, I wish to thank Coach O’Donnell for his unwavering support as an assistant coach from late August through September. He helped Coach O and me to assess talent, to organize and to run early-morning practices, to determine the depth chart, and to strategize on game days… as well as at the Bagattaway Cup.


Mike’s fresh perspective, high level of energy and an unwavering passion for the game made him a delight to have on our coaching staff.   The fact that Mike decided to drive solo round-trip 20 hours from Philly toPeterboroughfor the Final 4 says it all.    Thanks, MIKE!




Also, at the banquet, everyone measured their ring sizes so we could get the championship ring orders in. I can’t wait to get my ring in a few weeks when they ship out. Mine is going to have the words “Coach O’Donnell” engraved on the inside of the ring. The team/school picked up the entire cost for all of the rings too (base version), which is really cool because these things are probably about $800 a piece.

I never got a high school ring or a college ring, so I decided to go with the upgrade and get the real ruby as seen in the picture below:

The story of our championship season will be something I will be telling for a long time. Might as well remember it in Style!




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    Mike O’Donnell Becomes the Assistant Coach of McGill University Varsity Lacrosse Team

    Posted on October 9th, 2012 in Canada, Coaching, My Story, Self Improvement | No Comments »

    I’m really excited to talk about this new venture because lacrosse has always been such a major part of my life. Before actually moving to Canada, I expected there to be lacrosse leagues everywhere. After all, lacrosse is the national sport of Canada. To my dismay, I quickly found out that the Canadian lacrosse hotbeds were in Ontario and British Columbia. I was living in French Canada, so lacrosse leagues for people my age were few and far between.

    Shortly after arriving in Montreal in May, I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be playing any lacrosse over the summer. The closest place where there may have been some lacrosse was an Indian reserve over a half hour away and I didn’t have a car so that wasn’t going to work out. I was busy with work anyways and I was playing pickup soccer with my roommate Matt 3-4 times a week so not playing lacrosse wasn’t a huge deal breaker for me. That is until Matt moved to London towards the end of August. When Matt left, I lost my best friend, my drinking buddy, and my sports buddy. In the few weeks leading up to his departure, I started actively joining groups in the city and trying to expand my network so I could make more friends and fill up my schedule.

    During my search for groups in Montreal, I decided to revisit the idea of finding a lacrosse team. This time instead of searching online for leagues, I decided to go right to the source by emailing the coaches for McGill University and Concordia University. I figured that if there were any leagues in the area, they would be the ones to know about them. I went back and forth with Tim Murdoch, the head coach of McGill, through email and he invited me to come observe the team tryouts. There were over 50 players at the tryouts so it was incredibly hard to get a good look at everyone. Nevertheless, I gave the coach my notes on who I thought were the stand out lacrosse players and who I thought needed to be cut. I continued coming out to tryouts and communicating with Tim. Luckily for me, the Assistant coach for McGill and also one of the best attackmen in Cornell lacrosse history, Sean Steinwald, wasn’t able to make a solid commitment to the team this year because of family obligations. One thing led to another and I became the Assistant coach for the team.

    I’ve played lacrosse my whole life, so I was expecting coaching to be a breeze. It turns out that coaching is not a breeze and I had a whole bunch of obstacles that I needed to overcome. The first obstacle was my credibility. I was introduced as the player coach of the Penn State club lacrosse team. This may sound pretty good to some people, but to the players of what is arguably the number 1 ranked lacrosse team in Canada, this means nothing. If this team was playing in the NCAA they would be the equivalent of a high ranked D3 team. In my opinion, I could have definitely made this team, but many of these players were still better than me and I needed to prove myself. On top of that, I was only a couple years older than these guys so I really had to establish myself if I wanted them to listen to me.

    I faced some resistance from the players in the first couple of practices. If I were to review myself in these practices, I would have given myself a “D.” I blew the whistle for drills and I was timid when I tried to express my opinions or give pointers. For me, this was a whole new learning experience.

    Our first 2 games of the season were an away round robin at Queens University against Queens and Trent. This was a crucial weekend for me because I was finally being put to the test as a coach. Tim relied on me for strategic discussions and also running the sidelines and helping manage the middie lines. While coaching in these 2 games, I realized another big difference between being a player vs. being a coach. As a player you are always in a reactive mode as you watch the game, but as a coach you need to view the game proactively and always be thinking about your strategy. You can’t get caught up in “watching” the game all the time. You also have to be analyzing everything at all times and be able to put together speeches on the spot. This first weekend away really gave me a new found appreciation for coaching. It’s much harder than it looks.

    I proved myself to the players and the head coach that weekend and started getting the respect I deserved from the players at practice. My role in practices became highly focused on the offense and making sure we were performing. I was also able to get over my own personal barriers of credibility and age because I realized that no matter how good a player is they still need to be coached. I had tons of lacrosse knowledge and experience and there was a lot that I could offer to these kids. I finally started to sink into my role as the assistant coach and was able to coach 5 more games with the team before I had to leave Canada. One of these games included a nice all expenses paid trip to Niagra falls 🙂

    I was sad to have to leave Montreal on September 28th because I was becoming such an integral part of the team, but sometimes that’s just the way it is in life. I’m proud to say that even though I am writing this from Newtown, I am still the assistant coach of the team. I coached more than half the season while I was in Montreal and I have been watching the rest of the games on live stream from home. I still communicate on all of the team emails and give my notes from what I see on the live stream. The team is now 7-1-1 (My record: 5-1-1) and is projected to at least make the final four, if not win the national championship. I will be heading up to Peterborough, Ontario during the first week of November to attend the Final Four and help coach the team on the sidelines. I can’t wait to get back up there with the team and hopefully secure a National Championship!

    Here’s a quick highlight reel of the team from midway through the season:


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      Mike O’Donnell presents “Winning the Battle for Attention”

      Posted on October 1st, 2012 in Canada, Speaking, Toastmasters, Video | No Comments »

      After my first toastmasters speech I set goals for myself that my second speech would be engaging, inspiring, and spoken from the perspective of me teaching from the stage. In this speech, I think I accomplished all of those goals and also was able to use this video for sales purposes to help spread the word about our Doodle Video services. When I first shared this video on Facebook, I was hosting it on Brightcove because I wanted to test out their analytics software. In my opinion, I was expecting a little more from Brightcove in terms of data tracking, but I still think they offer a great service and could be a great up sell option for my Video Marketing packages.



      Overall, I think I knocked this speech out of the park. From a pure speaking standpoint, I memorized my entire speech, utilized pauses, never used a single crutch word, and made great eye contact, and engaged the audience. From a content standpoint, I think it was very well written, convincing, and my call to action was really strong. My favorite critique from a toastmasters member was that he felt like he was sitting in on a TED speech. From an improvement standpoint, the best advice I have been given was from Ben. In his opinion I scored an 89 on the speech and a 98 on the call to action. His 2 points for improvement were: 1.) I need to tighten my core and stand strong when I am making my points. 2.) Every time I emphasized a point I followed this pattern: bum bum beh dum. Instead, I should mix things up a little bit so it doesn’t get repetitive. I’m not sure if this makes sense in writing, but when I watch the video I can see what he is talking about.

      For the record, I won the best speech ribbon for this speech!


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        Mike O’Donnell Learns an Important Lesson in Professionalism and the Ever Lurking Browser Cache

        Posted on September 24th, 2012 in Canada, Lessons | No Comments »

        Being able to laugh and have fun at work is important and helps lighten up the work day. I’m all for playing practical jokes on co-workers, but this particular joke didn’t turn out so well for me.

        A couple of weeks ago, we met a massage therapist in Montreal who was in need of a website. This guy was unique because he practiced a special kind of massage therapy called Active Release Techniques. He was in a rough financial situation and if he didn’t start generating some more business soon he’d be out of business. He didn’t have much money to pay for a website, but we liked him so we decided to build him a website at cost and send him some PPC traffic to help get him up and running. Basically, we looked at it as an investment and figured that if we helped him out we would have a client for life.

        Instead of outsourcing the website development, I decided to build the website. The website I was building was a pretty simple wordpress site, but it still had some nice features to it and a clean design. We didn’t have any content for the website so we had to purchase some images and also take a couple of our own pictures. We had to wait a little while for our client to provide us with the written content, so in the meantime I was using place holder content.

        I had integrated a testimonials slider, so I needed to use a sample testimonial to see if it worked while we were waiting on real testimonials from the client. Keeping with the theme of Active Release Techniques and in-office practical jokes, I decided to go with this testimonial: “Luc helped solve my erectile dysfunction with his Active Release Techniques. His hands are sooo SOFT! – Benjamin Beauregard” The website was being built on our test servers so I was really just messing around with Ben. As far as I knew, the client hadn’t been given the link yet.

        Well, it turns out I was way wrong on that one. The client had been given the test link and had been monitoring our progress the entire time. What’s worse, the client’s father is the person who saw the fake testimonial. Apparently the father had given his son a loan to purchase the website from us so he was very interested in the final product. To make matters 10 times worse, the father was an extremely homophobic ex drill sergeant with acceptance issues about his son being a massage therapist in the first place. Think of a really big and tough dude yelling at his son saying, “What? You want to be a massage therapist? What are you a fag? You’re going to make your living rubbing other guy’s legs?” Needless to say, a testimonial about curing erectile dysfunction with his soft hands and Active Release Techniques didn’t sit well for him, especially because it was his money we were building the website with.

        I remember receiving the phone call from our client and trying to apologize and not laugh at the irony of the joke at the same time. I took full responsibility for the joke and from then on, Ben took over all client interaction with this one. The client stopped by the office a few days later to meet with Ben and I had to keep him occupied for 15 minutes while Ben was in another meeting. Very awkward.

        So what did I learn? I’m not for 1 second going to sit here and say I’m never going to pull a practical joke in the office again so don’t worry about that. I think communication stands out because I didn’t know the client knew of the test URL and more importantly, I learned a lesson in the Browser Cache. When I traced back the timeline, I realized that the fake testimonial was deleted a good couple days before the father saw it and freaked out. At that point we had received a handful of testimonials and they were working properly in the testimonial slider. My understanding of the cache is that it retains certain information so the entire website doesn’t have to load each time you visit it. I had never cleared the cache on the test server and the father had never cleared his browser cache. The result was that even though it was a few days later, the deleted testimonial still showed up on his computer.

        In the end, we handled the situation and the website is up and running. No real harm done, a lesson learned, and a funny story to tell. I guess you could say it was a net positive…

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          Mike O’Donnell Declines the Deal of a Lifetime

          Posted on September 20th, 2012 in Business Development, Canada, My Story, Reflection, Self Improvement | No Comments »

          It’s been over a month now since my last blog post and this time I actually have a good excuse. I’ve been busy as hell! Here’s a quick recap before I delve in to the meat of this post.

          In late August, I started taking an active role in business development and sales by actively focusing on Networking. My strategy was to start attending cocktail events, groups, and BNI breakfasts to start meeting as many business professionals in Montreal as I could. I learned quite a few things by attending all of these meetings. The first was that my public speaking skills have increased dramatically since I joined toastmasters. When combined with the strong elevator pitches that I have been writing I have been successful at being the most captivating person in the room. When it’s been my turn to stand up and address the crowd, I have easily been the most articulate speaker and have positioned myself as the person everyone wants to talk to. Second, I have learned that I really know my services inside and out. In personal conversations, I have done an excellent job of getting people to open up about the problems they face in their businesses and procure significant interest in my services as a solution. Third, I learned that I can effectively use strong networking as a way to build my own business, hence the title of this post. While I didn’t close any sales on the spot, I guarantee that if I didn’t “decline the deal of a lifetime,” business would have followed from my networking exploits. Along with focusing on business development, I have also given my second Toastmaster’s speech and spent a significant amount of time coaching. More on these in later posts. <= Shout out to Andre Chaperon of Autoresponder Madness for that “Open Loop

          Ok, so what happened? Well, Ben and I have been discussing/negotiating this merger since I moved up here in May. We started off speaking once to twice a month to keep the topic fresh and make sure we were on the same page. As the middle of August approached we started talking about the deal in more detail. At this point, we had a good feel for each other’s capabilities, potential, and style. My Visa was up at the end of October so we needed to get a jump on things if I was going to apply for a temporary work permit. Throughout our talks, I was very persistent on acquiring 40% of the company in return for me moving to Canada and leaving Hyacinth Marketing. While negotiating for this percentage I always had a very good idea of the company financials, but had never physically had them to be able to crunch the numbers. I just knew that for me to move my life to Canada and go through with this partnership, I would need to have at least 40% to feel comfortable. Still a minority stake, but Convernet had and still has huge upside potential. Over the prior 3.5 months we had systematized so many parts of the business that we were now both focusing completely on growth and taking the company to the next level. We had just launched our Doodle video line called JazzyVideos and we had hired and trained a top tier salesperson to help bring in more local business to the company. For me, the 40% number seemed very good because we were in such a position for growth.

          At the end of August, Ben took a weeklong vacation to St. Johns in Nova Scotia and said that when he returned he would offer me my proposal. After consulting many successful entrepreneurs and business mentors, Ben finally offered me the deal. The deal was that I would obtain 20% of the company up front with an extra 10% added in each of the following 2 years. From Ben’s perspective, he wanted to get me vested in the company by working for 2 years to obtain my full equity stake. This was a very smart and thought out proposal, but for me it just didn’t sit right. There was also a good degree of risk involved because at this time a proportionally large percentage of our revenues was coming from our national client, the Consumer Choice Awards. For the next couple days I was noticeably “off my game” because I had so much going through my mind. I confronted Ben on that Friday afternoon and the negotiations began.

          As far as my negotiation skills go, I tend to be very stubborn and persistent. I have studied the art of negotiation very extensively over the past few years from listening to audio courses and reading books. At the time, I was re-reading the book “Pitch Anything” because I wanted to prepare myself for what I knew were going to be intense negotiations. This book not only covers negotiation, but also Social Dynamics and the art of Frame control so in my opinion I was at the top of my game. When we sat down to talk on Friday I let loose. I was extremely aggressive and in hind sight, came across very bitter. The thought of anything less than 40% right away actually really bothered me and the fact that he offered me 20% made me feel like I was going to be an employee again working for 2 more years to reach my goals. After our talk on Friday, Ben revised the proposal to 30% up front with 10% the following year and also gave me the historical financials of the company so I could do a proper analysis. I was going to Ontario that weekend for 2 away games so I had plenty of time to think things over.

          Over the weekend I had cooled down and was able to take an objective view of the proposal. We had only worked together for 4 months and Ben was giving me 30% of a company with enormous upside potential accompanied by a negligible financial contribution almost equal to the percentage of cash assets I would acquire right off the bat. Basically the financials were a wash and I was in the position to get 30% of this company based solely on my expertise and value as a partner. There was also the glamour of the deal. If I went through with it, I would have been a 22 year old guy who within 1 year out of college started and grew a marketing company to the international level and then moved to Canada to do an international equity deal. Sounds pretty damn flashy right? For most people, this deal would be an absolute no-brainer, but for me I still felt very uneasy about the whole thing and I didn’t know why. It took me hours of self reflection to finally understand why I was so hung up on this deal. What I finally realized was that I don’t think I have tested myself enough or developed enough yet as a business owner/entrepreneur to handle the psychological aspect of partnering up with Ben. There are just too many unanswered “What Ifs?” in my life. I had only owned my business for about 4 months before moving to Canada and during that time span this deal was in the mix so I never really focused on developing my own business. The eventual 40% would have satisfied me now, but what about a few years down the road when I looked back. What could I have built on my own and retained 100% ownership? During the past 4 months I had learned and developed so many crucial business skills. I always had a solid grounding in Marketing, but now I was equipped with management, outsourcing, and business development skills. My mindset had also been transformed from that of an employee into a full on entrepreneur’s mindset. The thought of building my own business to the size and potential of Convernet was not out of the question. Furthermore, the time opportunity cost of living in Canada to achieve my financial goals didn’t seem to outweigh the time I could spend working on my own business. As tough as the decision was, I knew I had to challenge myself and really see what I was made of by setting out alone again. I decided to decline the deal of a life time.

          Declining the deal was only the first step. I still needed to work on the end game and make sure I could salvage both my personal and business relationship with Ben. It turned out that Ben was very understanding of my decision. As an entrepreneur himself, he could see where I was coming from. We are both the type of people who are overflowing with ambition and will stop at nothing to achieve our goals. From the business end, we ended things very professionally. I will be returning home on September 28th and will be White Labeling the JazzyVideos doodle video service with a profit share on each sale I make. Convernet will also become one of my clients as I will continue to run the non-systematized operations of the company invoiced at an hourly rate that I will raise as my time capacity becomes more valuable. Basically, what I said is that in the beginning I will have extra time that I can spend working for Convernet while I build my client base. As my workload increases I will start charging him a higher rate until he decides to hire someone to take care of the operations and he can faze me out of this role. It’s a win-win.

          On the personal side, well, we are still very close. The other night, Ben and I had a Consumer Choice Awards cocktail event we needed to attend. This was an incredibly boring awards ceremony so we showed our faces and then snuck out after about an hour or two. We ended up having beers on Montreal’s nicest terrasse, the Jardin Nelson, and then meeting up with his girlfriend Fanny for more beers, shots, 2 plates of oysters, beef tartar, bison tartar, scallops, and some big juicy steaks. Ben insisted on picking up the entire tab. I see us being lifelong friends and business associates who vacation together on our yachts in the not so distant future 🙂

          As for my business, I have a lot of work ahead of me. Right now, I am focusing on developing my website, generating content, interviewing for key positions, and working on my business development strategy for when I move home next week.

          The past 4-5 months have been an amazing time in my life and as a person I have grown more than I can even imagine. The next chapter of my life starts on the 28th and I am ready to hit the ground running!

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            Mike O’Donnell Gives His First Toastmasters Speech (CC1)

            Posted on August 17th, 2012 in Canada, My Story, Speaking, Toastmasters | No Comments »

            I have been attending the McGill Toastmasters club since the end of June and because the members are so actively involved in the club, I wasn’t able to schedule my first speech until 2 weeks from now on August 28th. That is until Sunday, July 15th when I received an email at 10pm saying someone canceled their speech. With less than 48 hours until the next meeting they were looking for someone to fill in with a speech. I decided to jump on the opportunity and since I wouldn’t have time to write a speech, I figured I would just edit the article I wrote back in February that tells my “Heroes Journey” story about becoming a business owner.

            When I showed up at the toastmasters meeting, I was told that my speech had to fit the requirements of a CC1 since it was my first Toastmasters speech. It was supposed to be a 4-6 minute speech that introduced myself and told everyone a little bit about me.  Of course, my speech did not fit the requirements because I didn’t write the speech to be a speech, it was written as an article and even with extensive editing, it sure as hell wasn’t going to be 4-6 minutes long. One of the senior women in the group actually tried to say I couldn’t do my speech because I told them it was longer than 6 minutes. However, I was able to talk her into letting me speak by saying it would only be 7 minutes at most. Of course that was bull shit, but I was filling in for someone else with very short notice so she could deal with it.


            What I did well:

            • I memorized my entire speech by studying it in 20 minute intervals throughout the day of the speech. I probably spent about 2-2.5 hours total memorizing the speech and it was over 1,400 words! I delivered the speech almost word for word as I wrote it, so that was pretty kick ass.
            • At about 3:50 into the speech someone walks into the room and interrupts my train of thought. I quickly recovered and was able to continue with my speech unaffected
            • I spoke confidently and clearly and used very few crutch words
            • I used good body language and gestures with my hands

            What I need to work on:

            • I spoke very quickly (mostly because of the time constraints, but still something to work on)
            • I think my walking around the room was more sporadic instead of natural
            • I could have done a better job making eye contact with individual members of the crowd
            • My emotional level in the beginning of the speech was very low. It picked up as I went on. Either way, I could have been less monotone and injected more vocal variety
            • Even though my delivery flowed well, I feel as at times it sounded like I memorized the speech

            Overall Impression:

            I’m very happy with myself and I think I did an amazing job for my first speech. I did 3 speeches in college as part of my public speaking requirement, but that was almost 2 years ago. For being fresh on the scene again I am happy with my results. My next speech is coming up on August 28th and this one I am going to be writing specifically as a speech. My goals for this speech are to utilize pauses for emphasis and to engage and inspire the audience. I’m thinking of writing my speech from the perspective of me giving a seminar to a group of business owners. Since that is my goal, I might as well envision it and act as if I have already been there.



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              Mike O’Donnell Learns How to Utilize Outsourcing and Delegation to Build a Business Machine

              Posted on July 23rd, 2012 in Business Development, Canada, Management, Outsourcing | No Comments »

              One of the things I often hear success coaches and business mentors say is that you need to put yourself in the mindset and act like someone who makes the amount of money you desire to make. For instance, someone who makes a couple hundred thousand dollars a year does not spend their time doing $10 or even $30 an hour tasks. Their time is much more valuable and much better spent doing other more strategic things in their business. As someone who has yet to ever have considerable spending money, I have developed the personality traits of always trying to do things myself. Although this method saves me money and gives me the opportunity to learn many new things, lately I have been realizing just how powerful outsourcing and delegation can really be. It is good for me to learn and understand these new things, but when it comes to implementation I have been reminding myself of this valuable quote, “A Jack of all trades is a master of none.” My biggest strengths are in Marketing strategy and business management/development and that is where I need to focus the majority of my time.

              Now that I have explained my current mindset, I would like to dedicate the rest of this post to the discussion of outsourcing and how it plays a vital role in the creation of a business machine. You see, I have actually known how to outsource for a few years now, but it wasn’t until I started working with Ben that I was really able to start shifting my mindset from relying on myself to utilizing other people’s expertise. Before coming to Canada, I actually did my own SEO and manually built citations every day because that way I didn’t have to pay anybody to do what I already knew how to do. Now, we have a team in India that we have trained to provide SEO the way we want them to and I can spend my time on other more strategic projects. The key lesson here is that if you want to make your business scalable, you need to remove yourself from the equation. You need to train people and build bulletproof systems so the business can run without you.

              As far as the SEO team in India is concerned, that was in place before I got to Montreal. My personal experience with outsourcing has been from developing our system for posting reviews for businesses throughout Canada. Ben had developed a system before I got here, but as our reputation management client base has grown, I have been in charge of modifying the system and hiring, firing, and managing our outsourced work force.  So let me give you an overview of what this “system” really is.

              We have almost 300 businesses throughout Canada that have the ability to send us anywhere from 12 to 120 reviews per year. These are real reviews from their customers and we are in charge of making sure they get distributed across the internet in a natural pattern over a certain period of time. We receive these written reviews either by pdf in an email or through a fax number which gets forwarded to an email. Some weeks we receive only a handful of submissions and other weeks we can receive over 100 review submissions. With only a few hours per week of management, our system allows us to have every review transcribed into a spreadsheet, posted on various business review sites, and double checked that the review goes live. At any point in time I can tell you both the macro and micro metrics of the system. For instance, how many reviews a certain business has submitted, how many have been posted, where each review has been posted, how many have been verified as live, and the percentage of plan usage that business has utilized so far.

              To make this system work, I have been utilizing a Filipino work force. Before Montreal I never actually implemented outsourcing, so this alone has been a tremendous learning experience for me. Like most learning experiences I’ve had to make a couple of mistakes before I really got the hang of things. Originally we relied on 1 person to do the review transcriptions, a girl named Emmalyn. She was the first person I had the opportunity to manage and I learned a lot from her. The first lesson was how important communication really is even for a data entry position. When I was managing Emmalyn, I didn’t have any form of regular communication with her and I just accepted her work as is. I mean, how bad could she mess us data entry, right? Big mistake. One day, I noticed our queue starting to back up and when I checked in on Emmalyn I learned that she hadn’t worked in 2 weeks. She claimed a bad storm had been disrupting the internet for 2 weeks, but when the internet was available, she never notified me of the situation and that she wasn’t working. From then forward, I learned that I needed to have a standard daily communication from all of my workers and that I needed to encourage communication so I could plan ahead. I also learned that we needed to have redundancy in the system. Emmalyn not working became a single point of failure and the queue backed up. We needed to have multiple people trained to do this job so when something broke down we could react quickly.

              My next big outsourcing lesson was a hiring mistake. Interviewing for a data entry position is tough because it is hard to distinguish between good and bad candidates. It took the hiring of a lady named Dennise to teach me how important my job was to frame the importance of her position and motivate her to want to work. I hired Dennise through a simple sms chat on Skype instead of speaking with her live on audio. This was a big mistake because I just took her word that she understood everything I had been saying. Dennise ended up not being a right fit for the job because of her lack of attention to detail and I eventually had to fire her. It was my fault that things had to end the way they did because I made a poor hiring decision. On all future hires, I have made it a point to really get to know the person before deciding to hire so that I know they will be a good fit.

              Taking the lessons that I learned, my system now consists of two people who are both cross trained to do 2 separate jobs. They work on Mondays and Wednesdays and alternate jobs so 1 person is doing job A on Monday and the other is doing job B and vice versa for Wednesdays. At the end of every day, I get a detailed report from each of them letting me know exactly what they did so I can spot check for quality and also letting me know any questions or comments they have. All questions get added to an FAQ document which is available for all future hires for the position so I can speed up the learning curve. By having them work strictly on Mondays and Wednesdays, I can quality check on Tuesdays and Thursdays and also make modifications to the spreadsheets as needed. My current employees, Jonnel and Caecilia, are highly motivated and really enjoy working for me because of the open communication and level of respect that I give each of them.

              When I say this system only takes a couple of hours per week to manage, that’s because I am still involved in the quality control process. While this is good because I have a certain level of comfortablity, the next phase is to remove myself all together and bring in another person to do quality control. For me this is a big step because I need to relinquish more control, but it will allow me to spend my time more wisely and help shift my activities away from operational and towards managerial.

              When I talk about how we are focusing on building business systems, this is an example of just one system. Both Ben and I are spending the majority of our time building systems like this into the business so we can quite literally build a business machine that generates profit without our daily interaction in the operations.

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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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                  Michael O’Donnell Becomes a Toastmaster

                  Posted on July 12th, 2012 in Canada, Goal Setting, My Story, Reflection, Speaking | No Comments »

                  Once again, this post is long overdue, but now that I know my blog has an audience I will try to be more consistent in my writing. Tonight, I would like to write about my experiences with Toastmasters in the context of my overall goal of becoming a professional speaker.

                  I have always enjoyed public speaking, but I never considered it as a possible career option until I heard Bill Glazer speak at the 2011Traffic and Conversions Summit in Austin, Texas. It was during Bill’s speech that I realized the immense credibility and authority you gain just by being a speaker. At this time, I had just finished signing my first client for local search marketing and was thinking of ways to strategically grow my business and get more clients. I decided that if I could do informational speeches for organizations like the chamber of commerce on subjects such as B2B marketing, SEO, Direct Response Marketing, etc. I could leverage my speaker authority to grow my business. If I gave purely informational speeches on what the businesses needed to be doing (not how to do it) then all I would need to do is sit in the back of the room and wait for listeners to approach me to ask about my services. After all, as the speaker for the night, I would be the expert. Eventually, I learned that this was the strategy that many successful speakers use to build their businesses because it reverses the selling situation from a push strategy to a pull strategy.

                  I have always found myself to be a natural public speaker with the innate ability to be compelling and persuasive. However, to become a professional speaker, I would need to practice regularly to turn my raw talent into a mastered skill. Realizing this, I decided to put joining Toastmasters on my to do list. Of course, Toastmasters stayed on my list of things I would do “some day.” That is, until I got to hear James Malenchak speak at a BenPhilly meeting back in April. I attended the BEN meeting because it is a group of some of the top entrepreneurs and marketers in the Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York regions where they all meet to discuss the things that are working in their businesses, what isn’t working, and what they are planning to do to grow their businesses. They are also the official Philadelphia chapter for GKIC which is my primary educational source for direct mail advertising techniques. Before listening to James speak, I had already wanted to become a speaker one day and I already knew I wanted to become a Toastmaster, but I never took action on any of these goals. To this day, I don’t remember specifically what James talked about, but the important thing is that I left that day Inspired, inspired to take the necessary actions to prepare myself for my eventual speaking career.

                  When I first moved to Montreal, I placed joining Toastmasters as one of my primary goals. It would allow me the dual benefit of working on my speaking skills, and networking with other business professionals. I attended weekly meetings at several Toastmaster clubs throughout the city before eventually choosing to join the McGill University chapter. McGill is Canada’s equivalent to Harvard and their Toastmasters club is the premier English speaking club in the city.

                  Having been accepted as an official member now for several weeks, I am already seeing improvements in my public speaking. Every Tuesday, we meet for 2 ½ hours to work on our public speaking. The meetings are very structured and are designed to make sure that everyone speaks at each meeting. As a Toastmaster, I am challenged to take on a variety of different types of prepared speeches throughout the course of my public speaking journey. I think there are about 80 different types of speeches of varying styles and lengths that you can do. Each meeting, we get the chance to listen to and evaluate 3 different prepared speeches. What I really like about the evaluations is that everybody is there to learn, so it is a very constructive environment. My first prepared speech is scheduled for the 3rd week of August. As excited as I am to get started with my prepared speech challenges, my favorite part about each meeting is a section called Table Topics. This section of the meetings focuses on your ability to deliver a 2-3 minute impromptu speech with an introduction, body, and conclusion. The Table Topics leader randomly calls on people at the meeting and asks them a question they are not prepared for. They must then take the center of the room and answer the question in the best speech they can. I really enjoy this part of the meetings because it forces you to always be on your toes and be able to organize your thoughts very quickly.

                  As I think about the path my career is taking, I’m not sure how or when my speaking skills are going to come into play. I guess a lot of it depends on the outcome of my current negotiations with Ben. Whether I use speaking to sell info products, become a business coach and consultant, or promote my marketing business, only time will tell. What I know now is that I am preparing and positioning myself to achieve a goal I have set for myself. When the time comes, I will be ready.

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