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:


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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



Michael O’Donnell moves to Oh Canada

Posted on May 27th, 2012 in Canada, My Story, Reflection | No Comments »

Michael O’Donnell moves to Canada. Wow, never thought I would here that before. Well, its been 18 days since I’ve been in Canada and I can’t believe I haven’t had a chance to write about my experiences yet. There is so much to talk about so, this is definitely going to be a jam packed post.

I did a lot of thinking during the days leading up to my move. A couple days in a row I took Bailey to Tyler Park and just sat and watched the waterfall for a couple hours. This move was going to be the biggest move of my entire life. On April 28th I was starting my life over with a clean slate in a new country where I only knew 1 person, my business partner Ben. Everything I had built up over the years in the Philly area: my friends, my family, my comfortable life, all gone. The original plan was to only move for 6 months, but I’m starting to get the feeling it will be much longer than that. I guess we’ll see.

Since I’m starting my life over from a clean slate, I figure the best place to start is with working on myself. I’m looking at this experience as a chance to incubate myself and become the best that I can be in as many areas as I can.

For starters, I want to get back in to really great shape. I was in some of the best athletic shape of my life during college, but I became lazy once I fell into the 8-5 grind. Like most people my age, I worked all day and then drank and partied all weekend. Gone were the days of playing intense sports at least once a day 7 days a week. So while I am in Canada, I am making a commitment to myself to get healthy again. This includes not only working out and playing more sports, but also eating healthier.

The next major commitment I am making to myself is to learn French. I mean really learn it. Montreal is a bilingual enough city that I could get by with never learning French, but what fun is that? I’m starting a fresh new life, no room for laziness at this stage of the game. My goal is to be able to speak an entire day in French by the end of 6 months. Lofty Goal? Yea, I would say so. Right now I am doing Rosetta stone, but depending on how my skills develop, I might enroll in a 2 month French immersion program. Combined with work, this would take up all of my time so it’s definitely not my top priority right now. Whatever the means, I will learn the French language.

One of the ways I have always worked on myself was through reading great books. The kind you learn valuable knowledge and strategies from. I have never been much of a TV person, but since graduation, TV has been my biggest distraction to reading during the weeknights. Luckily for me, our apartment doesn’t have cable. We have a computer hooked up to the TV for movies and sports games, but that’s it. I have so much learning material that I have yet to go through, so this is my chance to really spend my evenings learning as much as I can.

The last self goal/aspiration I will talk about before reviewing the last 18 days is my desire to become an outstanding speaker. I have always had a natural talent and charismatic delivery when speaking in public, but now I am planning on actively developing the skill. I attended my first ever Toastmasters meeting this past Tuesday and it was really amazing. The club I went to was bilingual so I only understood half the meeting, but nonetheless, I still received a ton of value from it. Eventually, I plan on hosting seminars and speaking in front of large audiences. Toastmasters is the vehicle that will help me achieve this goal. Next week, I will be attending an English Toastmaster club at Concordia University. Hopefully I’ll kill 2 birds with 1 stone and also meet a bunch of students my age.

We arrived in Montreal late Saturday night and drove a half hour past the city so we decided to spend the night in some random hotel. The next day my mother and I moved in to my apartment and then started exploring the city. My mom stayed with me until Tuesday and helped me move in and get acclimated to the city. It was just as therapeutic for me as it was for her. She dropped me off for my first day of work Wednesday and then she left.

By sheer fate, I ended up sub leasing an apartment in the best location in the city I could have ever hoped for. I am a block away from St. Laurent, which is the equivalent to South Street in Philly, and about a 5 minute walk from Mont Royal. I am surrounded by the nightlife epicenter of the city and the mountain which provides the most gorgeous views you could ask for.


My roommate is a 27 year old graduate student named Matt and I sub leased my room from a 28 year old guy named Joel. Joel recently graduated and decided to go 13 hours north of here with a bunch of buddies to build a log cabin in the wilderness before starting his career. They will be about 150 miles from any civilization for 4 months – Wild. My roommate Matt is the man. We hit it off instantly and it feels like we have been friends for years. Being able to find a friend like Matt so quickly up here has undoubtedly had a major influence on my stay so far especially compared to the alternative. He has introduced me to a bunch of his friends and I have fallen in perfectly. One of his friends in particular, Adam, is a Montreal comedian. I have been giving him pointers on promoting himself through video marketing and gathering testimonials.

The city itself is truly amazing. During the summer, they literally have festivals and concerts almost every single day. Many of which are free to attend. Just 2 blocks from my house is Jean Mance park. A couple nights per week Matt and I play pick up soccer on the turf fields with a bunch of South American people. It’s a weird mix of French, Spanish, and English speaking people from all over the world joined together by the game of soccer. With so many different languages being spoken at once, it’s hard to understand what people are saying 90% of the time, but the game brings everyone together. I have never been much of a soccer player, but I feel like I am going to be pretty damn good by the end of the summer. Besides the sports fields, Jean Mance is most notably recognized as the home to Tam Tams.

It is hard to describe, but Tam Tams is this crazy drum festival that naturally forms every Sunday throughout the summer. Literally, 1000s of “free spirited” individuals all gather around in the park and play hand drums. You can hear the beat of the drums going, almost without stop, all day on Sunday in the park. The fields are covered with 1000s of picnickers and women sun bathing. You have hippies smoking marijuana and hookah and selling blown glass and incents. Then you have the folks from Circ De Soleil practicing tight rope walking 10 feet in the air between large gaps in the trees in the park and another large group of people who dress up in full battle gear and go to war with each other. Tam Tams is truly a unique experience that brings all kinds of people together.

Tam Tams is just one example of the types of festivals that are regular occurrences during the Montreal summers. As someone who is new to this “festival” culture, I would have to say that this is one of the happiest places I have ever lived. When you walk around, you can just tell that people are enjoying life. As an American, money and striving for excellence and success are ingrained in our culture as being key measures of self worth. From what I have gathered, the key measure here is happiness and the enjoyment of the gifts life has to offer. It’s very refreshing when you see everyone around you smiling and having fun, no matter how rich or poor they are.

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Montreal is full of culture. In my opinion, the city has not yet been engulfed by the big “brand name” stores you see in American cities. You still get that mom and pop shop feel in so many of the bars and restaurants here and I love it. I live in a primarily Portuguese neighborhood, but there are so many different types of people in the area. Last Sunday, Matt, Haseeb (my friend from Pakistan), and I picked up food at a Venezuelan restaurant and took it to the park to eat. Within 10 minutes, we met an entire family from the Congo in Africa. Everyone but myself spoke French the whole time, but they tried to include me by speaking some English. The one lady from Congo spoke Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, and English! By the end of our meal, we were all taking pictures together as if we were long time friends. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think anything like this would have ever happened to me where I’m from. The mix of so many different cultures is really opening my eyes to how amazing the world really is.

My initial thoughts on the work arrangement is that this is going to be a long lasting relationship and we are going to accomplish some pretty amazing things together. Having the opportunity to work with another like minded entrepreneur has been really great so far because all of our ideas build off of each other. Ben is also much more experienced and established than I am so I am getting the chance to learn a lot from him. Although my work so far has been mostly operational, I am also getting the chance to work on more strategic parts of the business. Becoming more and more strategic is very important for me because anyone can run the operations of the business. Eventually, we will hire people to run the operations, so strategy and vision is where I need to make my mark.

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    Michael O’Donnell – Equity Investors Network, Montreal, and Penn State

    Posted on April 16th, 2012 in My Story | No Comments »

    Today is April 16, 2012 and I am moving to Montreal on the 29th. My time in the USA is running short so I figured I would reflect on what I have been up to lately.

    Towards the end of March I went out to Del Mar, San Diego for the first Equity Investors Network meeting. I went out 2 days early and stayed at Justin’s house in Pacific Beach on Thursday night. It was great to out and spend time with Justin and Dreama and also meet their two kids Stella and Sebastian. They are also in the process of moving and on April 29th they will be moving to Panama for 4 months and then back up to Vancouver to raise their kids.

    Friday through Monday night I stayed with Ben at a hotel in La Jolla. This was really beneficial because it gave us another 4 days to build our relationship and get to know each other better before I move to Montreal. The EIN conference provided some really good information and was definitely worth my while going. The material itself was good, but in my opinion it was very high view looking down kind of information for the most part. I picked up some actionable items and things I can do, but I received the most benefit out of the networking and relationship building I did on the trip.

    During the conference, Ben, Heidi, her friend Galen, Farukh, and I decided to form our own Investment group between us. For now we are joking calling ourselves the AMAYA group after the restaurant we were in when we decided to go in on deals together. Basically we will bring any deals we find to the table and the 5 of us will review the deal and do due diligence and then if it is a deal we want to pursue then we can all join in or only a few of us depending on whose services we will require. As the low man on the totem pole from an experience standpoint this has been great. We have already had one conference call in which we discussed presenting to a major Golf Appliances company. As the person with the least concrete experience and money to invest, I have positioned myself as someone who will basically do a lot of the grunt work so I can get in on some deals. This will be great experience for me and give me the chance to implement the knowledge and techniques I know. I am also excited to get to Montreal because Ben has already had preliminary discussions to get involved in 7 different Equity deals in Montreal. By becoming his right hand man, I can move my way in to his Equity Investment deals too and be of great value to him.

    Shortly after returning from San Diego, I went to a BenPhilly meeting in West Chester. This is a premier entrepreneurship group full of business owners from Pennsylvania, New jersey, New York, and Delaware. I met a ton of great people and also had a chance to hear James Malinchak speak. My biggest take away from his speech was that I really need to focus on Income Generating Activities and pay people to do the $10 an hr work instead of wasting my time doing it myself. After his speech he gave away a ridiculous offer because he is best buddies with Charlie McDermot, leader of BenPhilly, and I was able to get his “Millionaire Secrets Revealed” product, a Sales Letter Template collection, and the chance to go to a 4 day event at his house in Las Vegas all for only $297. This truly was a ridiculous offer and I am excited to delve in to the material.

    This upcoming weekend is Blue and White weekend at Penn State. I wasn’t planning on going because I’m moving so soon, but my buddy Jordan is flying out from Texas so I want to see him before I leave. Today, I emailed a couple of my old marketing professors to see if I can speak to their classes on Wednesday or Thursday while I am up at Penn State. I don’t know what I will speak to them about yet, but as someone who was sitting in the same seat as them last year I think I have a lot of value I can bring to them. At the end of my speech I am going to try and see if any of them want to intern with my company. It would be designed similar to the internship I took with Justin where it would be unpaid and they could commit as many hours as they want. I have a ton of information products and things I can teach them during the internship. I’m hoping that I can get them to write a lot of the content for my website and also help me launch a side website that I can use to sell some products on the internet. I guess it will depend on the skills of the intern and how much I can teach them, but I think it would be awesome to get my own intern.

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