Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Mike O’Donnell’s Goal Setting Framework

Posted on March 1st, 2014 in Business Development, Frameworks, Goal Setting, Lessons, My Story, Philosophy, Reflection, Self Improvement | No Comments »

Back in October, someone posted this article on Facebook http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304626104579121813075903866 and a bunch of us got into a very deep discussion about it. The article was written by the creator of the cartoon Dilbert and discusses how the Secret of Success is Failure.

The controversial part of the article and the reason it generated so much buzz is because Scott Adams says that goals are for losers! If you read the article it will make much more sense, but the point he is getting at is that there is always a feeling of emptiness when you achieve your goals. You have that slight high and then you are faced with the question “Now What?” I achieved my goal, I should be happy because this is everything I have been working for for so long. Often times people get depressed or lose their focus because they don’t have a proper road map for after that goal. Scott says you should be focusing on systems instead of goals. When you have a system in place, failure is just an obstacle on your way to success. Achieving goals are just milestones on your journey. I completely agree with everything he says in the article. In my opinion, the set “Short, Medium, and Long Term” goals mantra that you always here is bull shit. It doesn’t work and it sets you up for failure.

Today, I watched a 1 hour presentation by Todd Herman (Google him, he’s a fucking beast) in which he explained a framework for managing your goals. This framework was like the Scott Adams article on steroids and has inspired me so much that I stopped everything I was doing to do my own self evaluation based on his framework.

If anybody is reading this blog post, I recommend you open this diagram in another window so you can follow along as I build my goal setting framework. I have no doubt that once you understand this framework that you too will want to reflect on your own life as I am doing now.

 

goal setting framework

 

The top of the pyramid is “The Outcome” or what I ultimately want to do with my life. Ever since I read The 4 Hour Work Week, my outcome was to live that cush lifestyle and become a tycoon of business without having to work long hard hours.

As a full time entrepreneur for over 2 years now, I have gone through more bumps in the road than I care to recall. I’ve done the standard goal setting approach and have subsequently gone into mini depressions. I’ve lost my course more than a few times and at this point last year I was even calling it quits and looking for a “job” on career builder like a little bitch.

In Todd’s presentation, he talks about how “You set goals to feel alive. You’re searching for meaningful experiences of connecting a feeling to yourself deeply. “ But to bring things full circle you need to go Through your outcome.

The brain interprets things very literally. If your goal was to make it to the NBA, but you got a career ending injury 2 weeks after signing to a team, what kind of fulfillment is that? Yea you achieved your goal, but now what?

When Todd works with professional athletes, he gets them to tell him their outcome and then he repetitively drills them with the question Why? Why is that your outcome? It normally takes about 17-23 times of answering the Why to get a substantial answer from the person and to get them to see Through their goals.

If you asked me a few years ago what my outcome was, I would have said to live the 4 hour work week lifestyle. Some of my other answers would have been to make money, to have freedom, to achieve lifestyle design, to be able to move out and support myself on my own as a business owner.

The final “outcome” I just listed has been my biggest goal over the past year. I’m living at home right now and it sucks. I’m missing out on lots of things that I will never get back in my early 20s. Yea, I go out all of the time and do fun stuff with my friends, but I don’t have the autonomy I had when I lived on my own in Montreal. I can’t just bring a random girl home from the bar. It’s difficult to get into a relationship with a girl when everyone I meet lives 45 minutes away and I would basically just have to crash at their apt every weekend like a leech. These may seem like superficial kinds of desires, but they’re true and they are a major part of your early 20s. So that has been my outcome since I moved home from Montreal. Living on my own and supporting myself with my business has been the epitome of my “Success.” If I could just achieve that outcome.

The truth of the matter is that everything I just listed above is just a goal that if I achieved, I would feel empty inside and maybe go through a little depression because of the “Now What?”

Todd says that to get Through your goals, you need to add the words “so that.” The So That helps you build “Your Story” around your outcome goals. I want to move out of the house so that I can regain my autonomy. But there is so much more to that once you start asking Why?

I want to achieve these things so I can give back what? So I can do what? Why am I breaking my ass trying to build 2 companies at the same time and taking on ridiculous amounts of work? Is it to make a million dollars so I can be a young playboy and bang super models? Yea, that would be great for a while, but are money and lifestyle my true end goal or outcome? Or is there a different outcome that I want to achieve. Something that will give me a fulfilled life and make me feel happy.

Taking on my first intern has been an amazing experience for me. I have the opportunity to mold a young budding entrepreneur and pass on all of the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired over the years. Teaching my intern gives me an amazing sense of fulfillment and when I listen to myself giving him advice it puts everything into perspective on how far I have really come. Being a mentor and the person he looks up to for guidance and advice makes me feel truly happy. It’s like I’m experiencing what it’s like to be a father for the first time. Teaching your children the right mindset and giving them advice so you can watch them grow up and succeed in life in whatever they do because you helped them build a solid foundation.

Public speaking has also been a passion of mine for about 2 years now. I love the rush I get when speaking from stage and have often envisioned myself giving seminars to 1000s of people from stage and teaching them. That’s always been a goal of mine. The underlying motivation here really comes back to teaching and giving back.

I’ve always had a very capitalistic mindset. The idea of volunteering and giving back has never been something I could truly relate to. One day when I have tons of money I’ll give back, but until then I just need to focus on making tons of money. I remember when I was working with Wayne and he asked me why I was trying to launch the National Alliance for Student Debt Awareness with him? My response was that I wanted to make money and that I wanted to expose myself to him so I could learn from somebody that had much more experience than I did. I never really gave a shit about “The Cause” like Wayne did. My motivations were selfish (in a good way) and I was very clear about that.

Now that I’m reflecting and going through this exercise of using the goal setting framework, I see that I CAN give back and I CAN make lots of money and achieve all of those other goals at the same time.

So what is my Through Outcome that I’m busting my ass to achieve?

I want to build Hyacinth Marketing and Cave Tools into power brands and I want to build them in a highly scalable way that allows me to achieve lifestyle design. There’s no doubt about that. But I want to do these things SO THAT I can pass my knowledge on to my interns, students, family, and friends. So that I can speak from stage and help change people’s lives. So that I can do my Couch Surfing Across America trip. So that I can travel the world and have incredible life experiences. So that I can meet new people and share stories with them. So that I can be the exception and show other young people that if they really want something that they can achieve it. So that I can choose something new to learn each year such as learning a new language or becoming a true competition BBQ Pitmaster AND have the time to devote to these things. So that I can acquire all of the knowledge and skills and experiences that many people could only dream of.

That is my true Through Outcome when I look at my life as a full circle. Not just some empty goals that I want to achieve. I set out to start my own marketing agency, now what? I set out to build a physical products business, now what? Just like the NBA player I achieved those goals, but there has to be more. This is my more and this is my destiny in life.

The mid level of the pyramid is your performance goals. These are the goals you need to achieve to reach your desired outcome. Typically, for 1 outcome goal you will have multiple performance goals that you need to achieve to get there.

Here are some of my current performance goals:

  1. I will develop the processes for a call center so I can expand the website development portion of Hyacinth Marketing by 1 week from today.
  2. I will implement my project management software marketing strategy to build copious amounts of back links and increase my exposure and referrals for Hyacinth Marketing by 1 week from today
  3. I will start developing my 4th Cave Tools product line and launch by the end of May
  4. I will start to penetrate the Competition BBQ community and leverage my exposure to grow Cave Tools by 1 month from today

Before moving on to the final stage in the pyramid, we need to discuss the difference between Ow! Brainers and WOW! Brainers. Performance goals are great, but the difference between achieving your through outcome and failing lies in the way you have trained your brain.

Both Ow! Brainers and Wow! Brainers follow the same path in life. You have your starting point, your goals, and your Ideal Outcome.

People that are Ow! Brainers are stuck because they are constantly trying to go from Goal to Outcome. Wow! Brainers on the other hand, focus on getting from their starting point to their goals.

Ow! Brainers are fantastic at saying I started here and I’ve done all of this work and I still haven’t achieved my desired outcome. They quickly come up with all sorts of excuses as to why “This isn’t for me” or why it will never work out. They jump around from opportunity to opportunity and they eventually quit because they never get to achieve the desired outcome. They look at the top of the pyramid and say holy shit that’s a far ways away. They build their internal story around this mindset and then they quit. I’ve been on the Ow! Brainer side of things plenty of times so far in my life and I can completely relate to this mindset. I’ve accomplished a shit ton of things in my short career, but I still haven’t reached the financial success I have always been striving for.

Wow! Brainers are different. They go from the starting point to their goals and then they look back and say holy shit, look at everything I have just accomplished. If I keep making progress every day and knocking off my performance goals, I’ll eventually achieve my desired outcome.

Yea, I’ve achieved a shit ton of things in my short career and the monetary gain hasn’t been there yet. But the Wow! Brainer side of me says look at all of the knowledge and skills and experiences I have acquired. If I keep at it, I will achieve my Through Outcome because I’m building a foundation that can never be taken away from me.

This brings us to the bottom level of the pyramid which is your Process. Your Processes answer the questions of What, How, and When. The beauty of this stage is that YOU are 100% in complete control over your processes and how you spend your time. Performance goals are only about 90% in your control and there are other factors that affect whether you hit your performance goals or not. Processes are 100% on you. You need to take Personal Responsibility if you want to start hitting your performance goals.

A Process Goal for me would be that every day I am going to spend 10 minutes researching online and reaching out to BBQ teams and Pitmasters to give them free products or ask to be a sponsor. The great thing about the Process stage is the old 1% theory. If you work to get better at something by just 1% every day, then it will take only 70 days until you have doubled your effectiveness in that area. If you follow the 1% rule for multiple areas of your life every day, it will have a geometric compounding effect.

The Process stage sums up the entire framework with the word “INEVITABLE” By building and following your Processes, you make it INEVITABLE that you will knock off your Performance goals and reach your desired outcome.

It doesn’t matter that I haven’t been a huge financial success yet because I have a framework or system in place that I follow every day. It may take me a few more months or a few more years before I will be able to start living my Through Outcome the way I envision it. The point is that it truly is INEVITABLE that I will make it there.

As long as I am making progress each day, I will hit the bend in the exponential curve and everything will fall into place.

IT IS INEVITABLE

Mike O’Donnell Receives An Education That Can Only Be Earned

Posted on March 21st, 2013 in Business Development, Goal Setting, Lessons, Management, My Story, Philosophy, Reflection, Self Improvement | No Comments »

It all started on Sunday, January 27, 2013. Sitting in the same seat in the same Starbucks as I am now, I met Wayne Marquez. I had just returned from the Traffic and Conversions Summit out in San Francisco earlier in the week and I was busy thinking about my life and my business. I had been home from Montreal for 4 months and to put it succinctly, my business wasn’t working out. I could throw a thousand reasons in the air about why my business wasn’t taking off, but at the end of the day, those reasons were just excuses to soften the blow of reality. My goal at Starbucks on that Sunday was to come up with a new plan to generate business and dig myself out of the whole. If I failed, I was heading back into corporate America to live a life I absolutely dreaded.

While I was in the corner trying to figure out the next stage of my life, Wayne Marquez walks in and starts up a conversation with another person in the room. It just so happens that Wayne is from New York, so my noise cancelling head phones are no match for his loud and obnoxious accent. What’s worse is that he is spewing out business ideas left and right. I have a personal pet peeve with “idea men” who never take action and this guy kept interrupting my concentration. So I fired back with 3 or 4 comments about how he can monetize every idea he just talked about. I thought I was putting him in his place by calling him out, but then I discovered who this Wayne character really was.

Shortly after graduating from NYU Law School, Wayne started a non profit called Directions For Our Youth, which survived him and has a multimillion dollar budget to this day. He also created an educational software program which was used by inner city schools nationwide and a children’s software company. With the economic downturn of recent years, school budgets had dried up and likewise, his businesses were running at a fraction of the profit they once were. He was in Starbucks working on his newest business, Apprentice Force. A long conversation ensued and by the end of the day, I decided to work with him to help bring Apprentice Force to the market.

Apprentice Force is a company that facilitates performance based hiring relationships between small business owners and people looking for work. The problem with the company however, was that Wayne was doing all the sales himself and hadn’t figured out a way to scale the company. According to Wayne, this was “Mickey Mouse Money” and he wanted to use my internet marketing background so he could start making real money with Apprentice Force.

Wayne had a lot of what he called “Clay.” A laundry list of achievements, a history of taking action and building businesses, tons of connections, and a well thought out business model. Tons of time and money had been invested into Apprentice Force and the business model was solid, he just needed to start scaling. Since there was no cash flow, he wanted me to work for free and to prove myself by helping him build the company. He told me that with my skills and his “Clay” we could both work our way to the top and start making real money.

As concerned and persistent as I was about quantifying the money I would receive once we started generating cash flow or obtaining a piece of equity in exchange for helping him build the business, I couldn’t pin him down to a deal. He said that once we got some cash flow he would feed me money, but if we were going to work together it would be on faith and trust and he wouldn’t agree to any set “deal” for my services.

Of course with my luck, my business struggles of the past 4 months were quickly fading away. My consistent networking and public speaking was starting to pay off in referrals and new business. Things were finally starting to swing my way, but now I had to make a big decision. Continue working in my business and sign up a few new clients or devote my full time effort to working with Wayne for free. As I put it in a text to my brother, “I can either continue doing the day to day and make a couple grand this month, or I can cross my nuts and shoot for the stratosphere.” Needless to say, I decided to work with Wayne. Even if I didn’t make any money at all, I would build a valuable relationship, learn a ton from a highly successful entrepreneur, and have the opportunity to push my skills to the limits.

We were both in a position where we didn’t have a lot of money to spend and we needed to start generating cash flow fast. During one of Wayne’s story telling sessions (He has tons of stories for any business or regular situation you can imagine) he told me about how he organized a “Debt Burden Day” during his time at NYU Law School (most expensive law school in the country at the time). On this day, every student wore red to school and they also wore buttons proclaiming how much debt they would be in upon graduation. One thing led to another and we decided that since student debt is such a pressing issue today, we could probably have similar success if we organized our own Debt Burden Day (later renamed Debt Awareness Day). Since Apprentice Force appealed to the same demographic, we could use Debt Awareness Day to slingshot Apprentice Force into the spotlight and quickly start generating cash flow. Within a half hour, Wayne secured office space for us in Doylestown and 23 straight 13-15 hour work days ensued. Every day of this campaign was documented on our blog www.creatingnasda.wordpress.com if you would like to learn more about what we did.

This post is about reflection, so I don’t plan on recounting everything we did over that time period. However, I would like to recount what I learned and how I have grown in the short time period of working with Wayne.

Brainstorming

The first major lesson I learned was how to properly brainstorm. I had participated in plenty of brainstorms before, but never with anyone of Wayne caliber. By nature, my personality type has always been very analytical.  While this serves me well in many respects, it also serves as a blockage when I brainstorm. Without realizing it, I get very caught up in how realistic certain ideas are and I get tied down analyzing everything instead of just doing a pure brain dump of ideas. Give Wayne a white board and someone to bounce ideas off of and he can literally brainstorm for 5 hours straight without stopping for air. During one of our 4-5hr brainstorming sessions in the initial planning phase, Wayne reacted to one of my analytical comments by saying, “Don’t piss on reality in a fucking brain storm! You let the ideas flow.” This comment really hit home for me and will be something I constantly remind myself of every time I brainstorm in the future. He hit the nail on the head.

 

Communicating Like a New Yorker

By the way, Wayne curses A LOT and it took me a little while to adapt to his style of conversation. We definitely had our growing pains in the beginning of working with each other. Of course by growing pains, I mean shouting matches where the words “Fuck You” were thrown around like the word “Sir” in the military. It’s just the New Yorker way of communicating I guess. Here is a video of me imitating Wayne after an argument. We laugh about this video all the time now:

Like I said, it took us a little while to learn to work together, but after the first week or two things got a little better.

 

CEO Mentality

As a quick extension to the conversation that initiated that video, I learned one of the big reasons why only a small percentage of the population could ever become a CEO. As Wayne would put it, “the CEO is the person that will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. When the rest of the executives are cowering in the corner and whimpering about a disaster or some impossible task, the CEO is the person that presses on even when failure is seemingly imminent.” I don’t know if I have CEO blood in me, but at the same time, I have never been passionate enough about something that I would stop at no costs to achieve it. This seems counterintuitive considering how passionate I am about being a successful entrepreneur and achieving lifestyle design, but I guess only time will tell what I’m really made of.

 

Work Philosophy

A lot of our differences to this day stem from a major difference in work philosophies. Wayne approaches work with the philosophy of a perfectionist. Everything must be absolutely perfect before anybody can see it or before he can move on to the next item on his to-do list. This philosophy is great when it comes to producing super high quality work, but the downside is that everything takes much more time to do. My philosophy is the exact opposite. I prescribe to the 80-20 rule and like to get tons of work done in short periods of time. The principle states that 80% of the work you do results in 20% of results and likewise, 20% of the work you do results in 80% of your results. The Pareto Principle, as it’s called, applies to almost every area of life without fail. Since we were striving to achieve the near impossible task of creating a national movement in 75 days, I was of the belief that we needed to get things going Now and we couldn’t waste our time getting caught up in minor details that would only produce a marginal increase in benefit. We could always go back later to cover our tracks. In many cases our polarized philosophies kept us both in check, but in other cases it killed us.

 

Business Models

One of Wayne’s best attributes is his ability to develop, analyze, and compare different business models. He has been involved in so many different types of businesses and situations that this skill comes naturally to him. The best way to really learn about business models is through time and experience. By listening to all of Wayne’s stories and challenging him, I was able to learn things that would have literally taken me years of failures to pick up on my own. Wayne shared the following software development model with me one day as a way of disarming me from my action-action-action mentality:

 

 

 

 

The diagram illustrates that the cost of making a change in the beginning (inner circle) only costs you $10, while the same change will cost you 10x more each time you progress to a later stage of development. The point being that preplanning is incredibly important and you need to have complete clarity of your vision before you move on to the next stages of any project/idea. In this situation, he was completely right. Lesson learned.

 

Money Is Not Always The Answer

Wayne cut his teeth in business while starting his non profit. If there is any path to take to the top, this is probably the hardest. Many businessmen find it hard to accomplish tasks with limited budgets, but in a non profit you need to accomplish the same tasks with no budget! Something I’ve learned through my experiences is that having very little money can actually be a good thing. It forces you to be creative and find better solutions compared to when you have money that you tend to just throw at problems.

 

First Impressions

While working at his non profit, one of Wayne’s main responsibilities was to raise money. Through all of his “pitch” stories, there was always one main principle/concept that seemed to stand out. Once people categorize you in a specific dollar range, it becomes incredibly hard to remove that perception even when you’re worth more. This short story illustrates the concept perfectly: When Wayne was starting out and had a very small budget, he pitched a company for a $5,000 ish donation to the non profit. Years later, when they had a million dollar plus budget and companies typically donated 5 and 6 figure sums, he could never get that same company to ever donate more than about $5,000. The reason being, that they categorized him in that range and could never justify donating a larger sum. I see this concept hold true in tons of areas in life, including when you start a business relationship by working for free (more on this later).

 

Leverage

Leverage, Leverage, Leverage! Working with super short deadlines and a minimal budget has helped me internalize the concept of leveraging. Time is a fixed resource. Everyone has the same amount of time available to work each day. The main factor that separates the most productive people in our society from the least productive is the ability to leverage technology, resources, people, etc. Every time I noticed that our progress was slowing down, it correlated to us getting “stuck in the weeds.” When we realized this, we took a step back and figured out a way that we could leverage these tasks by either getting other people to do them for us or by using a piece of software. Is it worth 5 hours of my time to research the best ways to organize a student population or is it smarter to pick up the phone and call someone who has built their career on organizing people? Any time you can pull yourself out of the weeds and learn to leverage, you will cut out costly mistakes and be much more successful at what you’re trying to accomplish.

 

Building An Asset

One of the first books that inspired me to be an entrepreneur was Rich Dad Poor Dad. In this book, Robert Kiyosaki talks at length about the concept of building assets. I have understood this concept for a long time, but I never really internalized it until very recently. My goal on that Sunday at Starbucks was   to find a way to start building an asset (in the form of an email list or info product), but working with Wayne has given me much more clarity about what that really means. While most people would categorize me as a business owner, I would really categorize myself as self employed. If I stop working, the business disappears. Now of course you could say my service business has assets in my email list, business processes, personnel, brand equity, etc. but my view of an asset is something that will keep working for me even when I am not working. This is just one of the many things I have identified as wrong with my business model, along with my USP and my “appeal to everyone” strategy. Hyacinth Marketing has been a great learning experience for me, but it is time for me to start focusing on building a business I want to do for the long term. While I am still working on (in) Hyacinth Marketing, I am devoting my free time towards a business that will be more sustainable. More on this in a later post.

So why didn’t we continue pressing on with the National Alliance for Student Debt Awareness and Debt Awareness Day?

I had to be crystal clear on the answer to this question before I ever considered pulling the plug on this project. After all, my only downside was to fail publicly. Public failure may seem scary for most people, but this was the least of my worries because I knew I would learn an enormous amount through the experience.  My position on failure is summed up perfectly in one of my new favorite quotes,

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

My upside, on the other hand, was monetary gain, a successful new business venture, tons of media mentions which I could use as credibility to open doors down the road, pushing the limits of my ability, etc.

When I put it this way, it looks like I made a poor decision based on the fear of failure. Actions speak louder than words Theodore! Who knows, maybe this will hold true if I’m in the same position as I am now a couple months down the road. Either way, I stand behind my decision and think it was the correct decision based on my time opportunity cost and the lifestyle I want to live.

While it’s true that successful CEOs possess the ability to press on in the face of adversity, they also possess the uncanny ability to determine viability at a very early stage. That way they can focus their efforts on projects that will give them the largest returns.

From day 1, I knew that our success would be dependent on our ability to motivate large numbers of people to take real action against an issue that affected them indirectly. It’s true that student debt impacts every student in America, but many of them don’t feel the effects until many years after they graduate when they finally start to pay off their loans.  While we knew the typical numbers in this type of situation were very small, we banked on the fact that we were sitting on a mass media powder keg. Based on the timeliness of Debt Awareness Day and the severity of the student debt crisis, we were hoping we could create a social media firestorm around the issue. We also knew that tons of other organizations had attempted the same feat we were attempting and never created sustained traction. By uniting each of these organizations and utilizing the Apprentice Force project management software to bring accountability to action takers, we thought we could create enough momentum to get the ball rolling.

When we finaaaaaly launched and started marketing ourselves, we realized that the “pain” was too indirect to get a ton of people on board quickly. In other terms, it would take a prolonged effort to get enough traction to make a significant impact and it would be a long time before we started generating any money from this venture. From a time opportunity cost standpoint, would I rather spend 80+ hours per week struggling to make this a successful venture or would I rather spend those same 80+ hours per week working to build an asset that I would own. The fact that I stayed on board for so long is actually a tribute to Wayne’s amazing ability to motivate people.

[Warning: I am about to make a personality judgement based on how I feel right now. I would normally refrain from doing this, but this thought process was critical to my decision making]

My second determining factor was the lifestyle I want to live. What if we had succeeded? I would be tied in to working with Wayne for the foreseeable future. Granted, I could always leave and do my own thing at any time, but like the software development model, the cost would be much greater to myself and to Wayne when I left. As frustrating as it was working with Wayne for 14 hours a day, I could live with that. I could control his attempts to micromanage my projects and I could deal with his perfectionist mentality. My biggest mental struggle of working with Wayne was the belief that he was the same person as he was when he achieved all of those great business feats.

Wayne achieved everything he did in life because, in his words, “He was a man of action. He didn’t get caught up with all the minor details; he just took action and figured it out along the way.” Can you see why he took an affinity to me? The fact is, once he became super successful and wealthy, he lived the easy life. For the past 11 years, he never had to do real work. His business generated 6 and 7 figures a year income for him and he spent his time travelling around and enjoying life. I don’t blame him one bit. If I never met him and learned his story, I would be destined to follow the same path. What I learned however, was that time changes people. He could talk about all his past achievements as much as he wanted, but as great as they were, he was no longer that same man of action. My opinion, based on working one on one together for over 300 hours in a month, was that he had become an idea man, not an action man. Without a team of people to implement his ideas, he couldn’t pull the trigger. Ironically, this was the reason I started speaking to him in the first place.

Furthermore, I started my relationship with Wayne on the basis of working for free. Just like the business that only donated $5,000 to Wayne’s non profit, how would I ever justify a higher salary (salary because I would be working for him, not as a business partner) when he had already gotten all the “goods” for free.

To be clear, I haven’t ended my relationship with Wayne. He still has the ability and experience to rise to the top again, but I can’t be the person that does the leg work to get him there. Like the saying goes, you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t force him to drink. The only factor holding Wayne back right now is his ability to take action. I’m in a delicate position right now because I need to maintain my distance, but at the same time, keep our relationship warm. If he gets some traction again, I want to be there to amplify it. If he doesn’t, then he is still a friend and a valuable business contact that will be mutually beneficial somewhere down the road.

Wayne described me to his wife once using this metaphor, “Mike is like a boy that grew up in the country. He has an entire arsenal of weapons and can tell you everything about each weapon in great detail. He has even used a handful of the weapons at the firing range, but he has never been in battle.” Wayne almost didn’t tell me about this conversation because he didn’t want to offend me, but once I heard him I agreed wholeheartedly with his description. I have spent the last few years studying all the titans of business and learning as much marketing knowledge, techniques, and strategies as I could. Starting Hyacinth Marketing and working with Ben in Canada was just me taking my weapons to the firing range. I’ve been practicing for long enough, but now it is time for me to find my battle. Pretty soon I will be starting my next business venture and I’ll be looking for a fight!

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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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