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Frank O'Dea

Innovative Entrepreneur & Humanitarian

Frank O’Dea’s life went off the rails in his early teens. Within a few years, he was living in 50-cent-a-night flop houses in Toronto’s bowery district where simply surviving was a challenge. Against all odds, at the age of 23, with the courage to hope for a better life, and the spirit to forge ahead, Frank began the long road back. Fighting the formidable obstacles that hold back the homeless, the impoverished and the destitute, he overcame and rejoined society. Then, as if that were not enough, he turned that same determination to the many obstacles in life that we all face. Within a few short years, he co-founded The Second Cup, which soon became the largest chain of gourmet coffees and teas in the country.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Presentations

The Power of Hope Vision Action
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 demonstrates this power of hope by using his own story and experiences of hope, courage, change and persistence. Humble yet powerful, Frank relates how he went from the bowery, panhandling for nickels and dimes not so many years ago, 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.

The Spirit of the Entrepreneur
Frank shares with his audience how he started his various businesses. First, 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. Then he talks about some of the challenges he overcame in starting Proshred Security, a document shredding service, today a national business stretching across Canada and into the USA and Europe, but one that his potential clients in the early days didn’t even think they needed. Bringing his entrepreneurial spirit to the not-for-profit sector, Frank’s listeners will hear about the serendipitous meeting that became Street Kids International, and how the War Child (Canada) came into existence, and how a late-night phone call from the Minister of External Affairs became the Canadian Landmine Foundation. Tying all this together with his view on the three fundamentals that made all this work for him, Frank leaves his audience with fine examples of where one person can go, and provides a roadmap on how to get there.

Blue Ocean Strategy
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 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 actual examples of these 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.”

Canada 150

The New Entrepreneurs Frank 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. He paints a picture of the changing face of entrepreneurship that is taking us into the next fifty years. Frank 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.

Awards

2004
Officer of the Order of Canada

  • He masterfully wove FSGV throughout his speech and empowered everyone in the room to make a difference right there and then. I couldn't have asked for anything more. It was perfect. Preliminary numbers: more than doubled what we raised last year [and] tripled the number of people who came on board as monthly donors.

    - Coordinator, BC Family Services Fundraiser
  • I found your presentation to be very motivation and also challenging (good!) in terms of one believing that they can make a difference. I received nothing but amazing comments and feedback from my team on your presentation, so I know others were impacted similarly…You Radiate peace and hope and you also show your energy and passion for results. A wonderful combination.

    - VP, Operations, Atlantic and Eastern Ontario, Farm Credit Canada
  • We found Frank to be an engaging speaker, who was able to tailor his message to be relevant to his audience. As a result, we felt that our group was very connected to him as a speaker and we were able to look at Frank’s experiences and draw relevant and realistic similarities and lessons.
    - Topper’s Pizza
  • Of all of the convention speakers that we've had over the years, I don't think anyone captivated the audience the way you did. You have such a good message that empowers people.

    - Association of Parent Support Groups in Ontario Toronto
  • That was incredible…Listening to his story and seeing where he came from to where he got to today. You really can change the world. You leave the conference with that attitude.

    - Attendee, University of Alberta Student Conference

Summary Profile

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. Early on, Frank took steps to give back to the community. He began by serving on the boards of directors of charities and not-for-profit organizations. But the entrepreneur’s desire to innovate and build was not to be denied.

In 1985 he co-founded Street Kids International, an organization developed to help homeless children in third world countries, through education and self-reliance programs. A few years later, he became the founding Chair of War Child (Canada), an organization that provides assistance against suffering and abuse of children in war affected countries. In the same year, Frank co-founded the Canadian Landmine Foundation, an organization that raises funds for the dismantling of minefields around the world. He went on to initiate that organization’s most successful fund raising program, “Night of a Thousand Dinners”, with participation of people in 29 countries, raising millions of dollars.

Frank 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. His inspiring story is retold in his book, When All You Have is Hope published by Penguin and available through this website or in bookstores across the country.

A brilliant speaker who inspires and motivates audiences from all walks of life wherever he speaks, Frank is the highlight of the event, never failing to engage his audiences. He delivers a “pin-drop” speech, with his audiences hanging on his every word, as if he is speaking to each one personally. With his quiet passion, he is low key and down to earth, using anecdotes ranging from his days on the street and the start-up of The Second Cup to a happenstance meeting that gave rise to Street Kids International. Because he talks about ordinary things his audience can easily identify with him and his message. In fact, by the end of his talk, his audiences invariably feel moved, empowered, and full of hope for themselves.