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Frank O'Dea

May 1, 2015 by Speakers' Spotlight

Big Ideas Motivate Second Cup Founder

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. Frank was in Kamloops last week and sat down with KamloopsBCNOW to discuss his life and what has inspired him to push forward no matter what life has thrown at him:

The founder of the coffee giant Second Cup recently shared in Kamloops about his life, his success and why big ideas motivate him everyday to live life with an unmistakable zeal.

His admirers and foes alike would agree that his life is marked by not only his triumph but also his ongoing philanthropy.

Philanthropy is a word often used to describe people who given significant amounts of money to hospitals or causes, however O’Dea has lived this term his entire life.

Philanthropy is part of what the businessman aims to do in every aspect of his life because of his drive to encourage young people to hope, have vision and act upon big ideas.

This passion comes naturally as he had a string of difficult experiences in his teens and early 20s that led to challenging circumstances, including abuse as a child.

Throughout the conversation that KamloopsBCNOW O’Dea emphasized the value of ideas and to never let anyone stop you from believing in those ambitious ideas.

“The year was 1971. I was thirty years away from being named an Officer of the Order of Canada, twenty years away from marrying a beautiful and successful woman … ten years away from earning my first milion dollars, and a week away from deciding that I must either change or die,” said O’Dea.

The Second Cup founder recalled how in the 1970’s when coffee sales were dramatically dropping no one believed that a coffee chain would be possible.

The coffee defied odds to see the chain become the largest chain of gourmet coffees and teas in the country. Canadians now consume more than 2.1 billion cups of coffee every year.

O’Dea took his success at Second Cup to co-found Proshred Security, which is a company that created the entire industry of on-site document destruction.

The company grew fast and went on to become an international organization with operations in Canada, Europe and the United States.

Street Kids International, War Child Canada, Canada Landmines Foundation are just a few of the organizations that the Ottawa resident has worked to establish in the midst of a busy business schedule.

“Failure is merely instructive but never invest any time or energy into failure,” emphasized O’Dea.

He passionately concluded that we must “do what is right and what matters then leave the outcome alone because we have no control over the outcome”.

The unwavering drive to make the most of each and everyday would be evident to anyone who talks O’Dea for a few minutes.

According to O’Dea, employment is the key to taking any community out of poverty and technology provides us a unique chance to help get more people out of property with new ventures.

YPITData is an initiative with a mission “to provide youth of all backgrounds with tangible employment opportunities that address their needs for personal development”.

This mission is achieved by providing a service to digitize all paper documents for companies, organizations and governments that allow anyone anywhere to do the work from their computer at home.

His compelling story is told in his book titled “When All You Have Is Hope”, which was published in 2008 to rave reviews.

While O’Dea’s stories about the ups and downs of life and business are numerous, hope permeates throughout every story the man tells.