“Hope. Vision. Action” - Frank O'Dea

Frank O’Dea

Innovation, Entrepreneur, Humanitarian and Business Expert

A brilliant and charismatic keynote speaker, ground-breaking business man, Canadian philanthropist leader and author, Frank O’Dea, founder of the Second Cup, inspires and motivates audiences from all walks of life.

Frank O’Dea’s story of triumph over adversity in business and in his personal life inspires audiences around the world. Against all odds, O’Dea went from being a homeless panhandler to a successful entrepreneur and a founder of The Second Cup chain of coffee stores. From there, he went on further to launch a number of other innovative and successful businesses and international not-for-profit organizations. O’Dea’s powerful message inspires audiences to hope for a better future and learn from his example.

Building on that success, he went on to co-found Proshred Security, a company that pioneered the entire industry of on-site document destruction. This company soon became an international organization with franchised operations in Canada, Europe and the United States. Frank also founded Samaritan Air Ambulance Services.

In the not-for-profit sector, O’Dea was also successful as the co-founder of Street Kids International, an organization developed to help homeless children in third world countries, and the Landmine Foundation, an organization that raises funds for the dismantling of minefields around the world. Together with the United Nations and world figures such as Colin Powell and Sir Paul McCartney, he led an international fundraising event, “Night of A Thousand Dinners,” that was taken up in 29 countries around the world.

Frank O’Dea is currently the Chair of the Royal Roads University Foundation and serves on the board of directors of a number of private corporations and not-for-profits. Recognition for Frank O’Dea’s achievements includes Ontario Volunteer Award, Lifetime Board Member Renascent Treatment Foundation, Paul Harris Awards, Doctor of Laws Royal Roads University, Doctor of Laws Carlton University and Officer of the Order of Canada.

O’Dea is also the author of two books: his memoir, When All You Have is Hope and, in response to the demand from people who have reached out to him for help in dealing with their challenges, his newest book: Do The Next Right Thing, Surviving Life’s Crises.

In addition to currently leading two social enterprises, O’Dea is Chair of “My Idea of Canada”. In celebration of Canada’s 150 Anniversary, “My Idea of Canada” is a multi-million dollar national initiative by the Governor General and the Order of Canada to get young people energized and involved in the future of Canada.

Audiences identify with him and his unforgettable message and are invariably moved, empowered and filled with hope. As one of Canada’s most sought-after speakers, Frank O’Dea is an investment that pays off hugely for any organization that books him.

Topic Presentations

With hope – all things become possible. With hope, one has the courage to change the present into a very different future. With hope, dreams are possible; with hope one has the persistence to follow the dream and with hope one can – and will – become much more than you ever dreamed possible.

Frank O’Dea demonstrates this power of hope by using his own story and experiences of hope, courage, change and persistence. Humble yet powerful, he relates how he went from the bowery, panhandling for nickels and dimes, to the successes he has achieved today. This is truly a motivational story. Audiences from all walks of life identify with this very real story of achievement, and Frank’s warm style convinces his audiences that he is speaking directly to them.

Frank O’Dea shares with his audience how he started his various businesses.

The engaging story of the early years of the Second Cup gives his listeners the inside story on the growth of a Canadian retail landmark.  O’Dea then talks about some of the challenges he overcame in starting Proshred Security, a document shredding service, which, today is a national business stretching across Canada and into the USA and Europe, but in the early days, was one that potential clients didn’t even think they needed.

Bringing his entrepreneurial spirit to the not-for-profit sector, O’Dea’s listeners will hear about the serendipitous meeting that led to Street Kids International, how War Child (Canada) came into existence and how a late-night phone call from the Minister of External Affairs became the Canadian Landmine Foundation.

Frank O’Dea uses these real-life stories to demonstrate the three fundamentals that made all this work for him.  His presentation leaves his audience with clear examples of where one person can go, and provides a road-map on how to get there.

Frank O’Dea introduces his audience to the powerful theory and practical applications of Blue Ocean Strategy – creating uncontested market space. These concepts are based on fifteen years of research across thirty industries by Professors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne of the European business school, INSEAD.

In today’s overcrowded markets, competing head-to-head and searching for competitive advantage results in nothing but a bloody 'red ocean' of rivals fighting for a shrinking pool of profit. Frank O’Dea is the international spokesperson for "The Value Innovation Network", a worldwide group of experts supporting the Blue Ocean Strategy to the corporate community. Frank talks about a radically different way of thinking about business strategy, and he outlines the how companies have created “blue oceans” by challenging conventional assumptions about their industries and making the competition irrelevant.

With real-world examples of companies that have created uncontested market space by rewriting the rules of established industries, Frank’s presentation shows his audience that the methodology exists, along with the tools, for companies to create their own “blue oceans.”

Frank O’Dea has launched numerous successful enterprises over the last fifty years. In this presentation, Frank draws from his personal experience to discusses the great opportunities that this country has afforded all of us.

O’Dea paints a picture of the changing face of entrepreneurship that is taking us into the next fifty years. He looks at the different motivations, lifestyle preferences and rapidly advancing technology as new driving forces. This is a uplifting and inspiring speech about new opportunities and new entrepreneurs.

This is a speech for CEOs and senior management of organizations in highly constrained industries where margins are under huge pressures. Creating a game-changer is all about new thinking and new applications in established industries.

Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, Samsung did not invent the cell phone and Second Cup did not invent coffee. What they all had in common is that they created new applications for existing products and services and completely changed the game in their industries, dramatically outpacing their peers.

O’Dea, who has created game-changers in several industries, shares with his audience how any organization can outpace its peers, using excellent examples from his own businesses and from others, such as Casella Wines and Bosch Chemicals. This is a business strategy that was dubbed Blue Ocean Strategy and was first documented in a book by the same name by professors at INSEAD University. O’Dea leaves his audiences with the blueprint on how they can find a “Blue Ocean” for their own organizations.

While we all want to be innovative, few of us know how to go about it. Frank O’Dea, one of Canada’s most inspiring entrepreneurs, is one of those few. In this speech, he lays out the four keys that enable anyone to be innovative in what they do, whether it is someone who is a sole practitioner or someone working in a large organization.

Drawing on examples from his own experiences and those of other companies, from coffee to Zipcars, O’Dea reveals to his audiences how organizations successfully use the four keys to innovation. Almost magical, this speech enables audiences to see completely new opportunities for themselves that they had never even thought about before.

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For entrepreneur Frank O’Dea, it was a long road from street life to the high life. Born in Montreal to an upper-middle class family, Frank’s life took a downturn as a young man when he was sexually assaulted by a priest. He began drinking at an early age and was soon destitute, living in degradation on the streets of Toronto. By way of a sympathetic employer, the Salvation Army, and Alcoholics Anonymous, O’Dea quit drinking and started a small business that developed into the Second Cup coffee chain. Over the years, his philanthropic activities extended to AIDS fundraising, child literacy in the Third World, and landmine removal. His message is simple: HOPE, VISION, ACTION.

Do The Next Right Thing

Frank O’Dea is no stranger to overcoming crisis. He was a victim of abuse as a teenager and at twenty-four, a homeless alcoholic. But he was able to turn his life around and become a successful businessman while creating a family. Now he’s sharing the lessons he’s learned, offering guidelines that anyone can follow to help him or her through crises.

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