Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category

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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    From Unpaid Virtual Intern to Owner of an International Marketing Company in 14 Months

    Posted on February 11th, 2012 in Efficiency, Goal Setting, My Story, Sales, Time Management, Training | No Comments »

    From Unpaid Virtual Intern to Owner of an International Marketing Company in 14 Months

              Its spring semester of my junior year at Penn State and internship season is in full swing. I just came back from a semester abroad in Ireland so I’m already behind the ball after missing the fall career fairs. After many interviews and many rejections I have finally narrowed my internship selection down to 3 companies. The first 2 companies are offering standard paid Marketing internships. The work responsibilities don’t look very challenging, but on the brighter side: (1), they are paid job opportunities in my industry, (2) if I take either internship I will probably get hired right out of school and (3), they will be reputable names to add to my resume for future jobs. The 3rd internship opportunity is an unpaid virtual internship working for an entrepreneur named Justin Lee and his wife Dreama. To be completely honest, one of the reasons why I applied for this internship was because it was unpaid and I figured there wouldn’t be much competition if I wanted to use it as a fall back. Like many internship-hungry students, I didn’t even research the opportunity until I received an email about a phone interview. In my research, I learned that Justin and Dreama were successful entrepreneurs who owned multiple businesses. I always dreamed of owning my own business, so I figured working directly with someone who has already accomplished this goal would be a good start.
    My internship started during the first couple weeks of summer. It was a virtual internship, which meant that I would be working on the computer from my house. It was also unpaid, which meant that I wouldn’t be spending a ton of money that summer. At least my meals were free and I didn’t have to pay for gas to go to work. I told Justin that I would work 7 hours a day and made a commitment to myself that I would stick to my promise. We decided to correspond daily by email and weekly on the phone to track my progress. During the course of the summer, I would be helping Justin build an information product called InternProfits. InternProfits was going to “provide entrepreneurs the tools and resources to find, hire and manage interns to help grow and expand their business while creating educational opportunities for tomorrow’s talent today.” My first responsibility was to help build the internship database. This included calling every college in the United States with 3,000 students or more and collecting data on their internship programs.

    I made phone calls every day for roughly 2 months to help build the InternProfits’ one-of-a-kind College and University Database. At this point, many interns probably would have quit because they weren’t seeing the immediate returns they expected. When friends and family asked me how my internship was going, it was hard to explain to them that I was making phone calls 7 hours a day for free. They didn’t see the value in it and at times neither did I, especially when I compared myself to friends with big time internships at companies like Proctor and Gamble. I would be lying if I told you that the thought of quitting never crossed my mind, but my phone skills were getting better and better and I knew that if I could prove myself to Justin, I would be able to take on more responsibility.

    Eventually, I proved myself to be the most hardworking and productive intern and I was able to move on to bigger and better things. As Justin hired more interns, he allowed me to manage/train them on the most efficient ways to build the database. At this point each intern had his or her own roles, some focused on learning to write press releases while others learned social media. We all contributed a portion of our time to build the database. The next few months were extremely exciting for me because Justin brought in industry experts to create his famous Easy Intern Assignments. As top dog intern, I was given the privilege to learn internet marketing techniques and strategies from gurus such as Sam Bell, Sean Malarkey, Yaro Starak, Brian Horn, and Michael Taggart, to name a few. Google their names real quick to get an idea of the opportunity that was in front of me. It was HUGE, and I was sucking it all in like a sponge! After each training session, Justin gave me a set of goals that he wanted me to accomplish and then he set me loose. Instead of telling me exactly what to do, he allowed me to learn through trial and error. I quickly mastered article and video marketing, search engine optimization, blogging and link wheel creation, social media integration, and many other important strategies.
    At the end of the summer, Justin presented me with the opportunity to stay on until the end of the first semester. It was my senior year and I already had a full schedule with school, club lacrosse, and making time to go out partying with my friends. However, we were building up for the InternProfits soft launch and I was learning so much about internet marketing and business in general that I couldn’t possibly decline. I became a time management expert and was able to work about 3 hours a day for InternProfits without any significant changes to my schedule. As the soft launch approached, we gained momentum and were excited to finally see the result of all of our hard work and effort. The launch week came and went, and when the post launch numbers were calculated, our high expectations were crushed. InternProfits didn’t do nearly as well as we all expected it to do. We were all pretty depressed for the first few weeks following the soft launch after seeing what looked to be a lot of hard work go to waste. However, after the Thanksgiving holiday, Justin and Dreama realized that InternProfits was still an amazing product and they decided to restrategize.
    While Justin and Dreama focused on changing the InternProfits service offerings and price points, I set a goal to start my own business during the spring semester. I was no longer working on InternProfits, but I was still speaking with Justin on a regular basis. He became my mentor and offered me as much training and guidance as he could to help me get my business off the ground. He still included me in high-level decisions with InternProfits, like redesigning the sales funnel and planning out prospect communications because he knew it would benefit me. He also offered me more free trainings on Local and Mobile Marketing from Laura Betterly and Adam Horwitz. I took all of this training and tried to launch my own local and mobile search marketing company at Penn State. With Justin on my side to keep me focused, I was able to land multiple meetings with prospective clients. However, I quickly learned that all of the techniques and strategies in the world wouldn’t help me if I didn’t know how to sell them. By the time graduation came around, I didn’t have a single client and I lacked the confidence I needed to start my own business. Time for the real world.

    Three weeks after graduation, I started working in sales for a fortune 500 company. I set conservative goals of learning about business for 2-3 years and then one day setting out again to start my own business. With no short-term plan to get me there in 3 years, I fell into the 8-5 rat race and became a bum. I went from overflowing with ambition, to coming home from work to take a nap on the couch and watch television. I may have given up on myself…but Justin didn’t. Every time we talked on the phone he asked me what ideas I was working on and when I was starting my own business. It’s pretty hard telling your mentor, who has provided you all the tools you need to succeed, that you are wasting away on the couch every day when you come home from work. Eventually it wears on you and you have to snap out of your funk. I had to either set a plan to achieve my goals or stop pretending and get some new goals. The thought of working towards my first promotion 3 years down the road didn’t appeal to me, so I whipped myself into shape.

    In mid September, 2011 Laura Betterly was hosting a conference in San Antonio on the topic of Local Search Optimization. This was exactly the type of business I wanted to start and the perfect opportunity for me to get focused again, but I wasn’t planning on going. I was paying my student loans and trying to put some money into savings and the idea of spending money on a plane ticket to go to a conference on something I already failed at wasn’t at the top of my priority list. That is until I had to face Justin on the phone again. I attended that conference and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Within 40 days of returning from the conference I had my first paying client, a used car dealer in Philadelphia named Millevoi Bros. Auto Sales. Not only did I return from the conference super focused, but I also had the chance to network with people who were interested in the same business as me. My relationship with one of those people in particular, Benjamin Beauregard from Convernet, has helped launch me into the position I am in today.

    So how did I go from having a single client in October to being the owner of an international marketing company by February? First, I started my company called Hyacinth Marketing, LLC and began offering local search engine optimization services to companies in Philadelphia. I was finally able to put to use all of the knowledge that I had been learning for the past year and half and apply it to my own business. As I started to see outstanding results, I communicated them with my friend Ben who already had a successful local search marketing business. When the time came for Ben to expand his business into working with clients all across Canada, my business was the first business he approached to partner with.

    Unfortunately, my story has to end here because I am still living it! I’m building my client base here in Philadelphia and we are on-boarding over 100 clients throughout Canada within the next 2 months. I wrote this article because I wanted to reflect back on where it all began, with an unpaid virtual internship. Unpaid internships are a very controversial topic in the news these days and every time I turn around I hear another horror story. Yes, I agree, there are some terrible unpaid internships out there that offer no value whatsoever to the intern. The sad thing is that these are the only stories that make the headlines. There are plenty of unpaid internship success stories, and if designed correctly, they can provide immeasurable benefits to the intern. I went through the InternProfits system and I am living proof that an unpaid internship can be a win-win for both the intern and the company.

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      Mike O’Donnell Time Management

      Posted on June 20th, 2011 in Time Management | No Comments »

      I have always worked on trying to manage my time as efficiently as possible. While I was in college, I was a master at making the best use of my time during the day so when night time rolled around, I would be able to go out with my friends. I read and incorporated all of the time management advice I could find on the internet to make sure that I was optimizing my free time. This allowed me to get my work done earlier and in less time, so I could spend the bulk of my time doing the things I enjoyed.

      One of the key strategies I used was outlining the goals/assignments I wanted to complete each week on a post-it note. Then, on a separate post-it note, I would outline the steps I needed to complete the night before I was going to do them. This allowed me to get my thoughts together and plan my work out ahead of time so I knew exactly what I needed to do each day. If I had a research paper do on Friday, I knew that on Monday and Tuesday I needed to spend time doing research, on Wednesday I needed to make a quick outline of the paper and start preliminary writing, and on Thursday, I needed to fill out the rest of the paper. By constantly cycling through short and medium term post-it notes, I was able to segment out both my personal and educational goals into manageable chunks.

      The next element of my time management strategy was setting specific time limits on every task. Having an end time is extremely important because it keeps you from swaying off track. If you know that you are only going to spend an hour on a given task before moving on to something else, then it forces you to be as efficient as possible. It sounds self explanatory from a time management perspective, but time and time again in both the academic and working world, you attend meetings that seem like they have no end in sight. Without having a predetermined agenda and time span, you are wasting your time and the rest of the group’s time.

      Finally, the third element of my strategy was to approach each task with complete focus. This means no distractions or multitasking! With the exception of light music, nothing else should distract you from finishing a task once you have started it. If you’re checking Facebook, watching TV, texting your friends, and trying to write a paper all at the same time, you’re never going to get anything done. Every time you switch between tasks, it takes time for your mind to switch gears and start thinking about what you are currently doing. If you focus on each task separately, you can reduce the amount of wasted time and increase your overall productivity.

      Since I have graduated college, I have added a new element to my overall time management strategy. Once I started working, I quickly realized that my time was limited from when I got home to when I had to go to bed. There just wasn’t enough time for me to play sports with friends, read books, relax, write on my blog, etc. So I started thinking about even more ways to optimize my time. After analyzing my time, I realized that I spend about 2 hours a day in the car. Instead of listening to the same old songs on the radio  everyday, I started downloading audio books and podcasts. I’ve only been using this strategy for a short period of time, but during my “wasted time” in the car, I have already read Jeffrey Gittomer’s Little Red Book of Selling 3 times and listened to Alex Epstein’s The Triumph and Tragedy of the Oil Industry once. This week I am planning on downloading more audio books or just stopping by the library to check out their audio book collection.

      No matter how old or how experienced you are, there is always room for improvement in time management. I have outlined the 4 most important elements of my time management strategy, but there are many more effective techniques that you can adopt. The most important part about self improvement is taking action. You can spend all day researching different time management techniques (But you wouldn’t because you have 100 percent focus and set deadlines now) to find the perfect strategy, or you can take action now and start managing your time efficiently.

       

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