Catch Mark O’Brien on the #PirateBroadcast™
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Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings, where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. And let's get this party started.
Russ Johns: [00:00:21] Every day is a gift and we have to have #gratitude for where we are right now at this moment. And I have a lot of #gratitude, Mark O'Brien's in the room and I want to have a great conversation. Wendy's even up in the morning doing her thing, checking it out. So welcome everyone to the #PirateBroadcast™. And thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate it. Mark good morning. How are you, my friend?
Mark O'Brien: [00:00:47] Good morning to you. I'm terrific. And I cannot wait. Speaking of #gratitude to figure out how you're going to position me as an #interestingperson doing #interestingthings. Good luck with that.
Russ Johns: [00:01:03] It's fascinating to me how individuals navigate through life. And I know that you, little time, I've known you, there are elements in your life that are very fascinating. And just being able to draw those out and have a conversation around different subjects is one of the things that I enjoy doing and really it's about how we can add value to the community. Mark I know, first thing, when I met you, I saw the guitars in the back. I was a drummer. I played professionally for years. We have different creative endeavors that we go through and we can talk about that. The thing that we're fairly close to the same, I would say maturity experience in life. I'm probably ahead of you a little bit maybe, but the reality is...
Mark O'Brien: [00:01:52] You might be surprised.
Russ Johns: [00:01:55] I could be surprised. I might be surprised. I like being surprised, but the reality is that there's a lot of things that we could talk about. And one thing that I want to start out with is, we were talking about your first job out of high school. We both were fortunate enough not to have to... we were probably on the cusp of not having to go to Vietnam and not necessarily getting drafted into the military for that way. And because of that, I started playing music when I was 16 and I was a musician. That's the only thing I wanted to do in life. And that's what I pursued. And you mentioned that you hadn't necessarily really had something that you were holding on to. And so you started a job that I thought was fascinating. And maybe you could share that first impression of work with us.
Mark O'Brien: [00:02:46] Yeah. It was at the now defunct and abandoned Meriden Wallingford hospital in Meriden, Connecticut. And I was hired to be what was known at the time as a house orderly, which meant that anytime anybody needed help anywhere, they would call the switchboard and we would be paged over the Intercom. And if you ever hear somebody say 8-9-0 and I flinch that's because that was the page. But one of my responsibilities was to take care of the morgue. To say that I had an incredible spectrum of experiences, it's just a wild understatement and so many of them were positive, as you can imagine. People who have suffered strokes need a lot of care. And the nursing folks who take care of them need a lot of help. And there was a gentleman named Mr. Barry. And just to give you an idea how vivid these memories are we're talking about. My first year at the hospital was 1972. And I still remember this guy, Mr. Barry had been the Gardner in the Meriden recreation parks and recreation department and he suffered an absolutely debilitating stroke. So I used to have to go up to the stroke floor every morning, put them in an aluminum chair, take them into a shower and shower them up and help them get dried up and dressed and everything. And I just remember that the only thing Mr. Barry wanted to do was to be able to get home and work in his own garden. And it just so happened that my maternal grandmother lived in the same apartment complex that Mr. Barry did. And one day I was over at my grandmother's apartment and I looked out the kitchen window and Mr. Barry was outside working in his garden. That one still gets me, that guy... talk about courage and determination. And I think people like that are here to indicate to us that everybody has trouble. Obviously everybody has trouble, but I certainly never had anything like that to contend with. One of the first things you said in this call, #gratitude.
Russ Johns: [00:05:07] Those individuals and I've had that experience a long time in a lot of different ways in having exposure to people with grit, what I call grit, the ability and the opportunity. My dad passed away last year and he was coming on 92 and he would go out and walk around the yard and pick up leaves and, just do anything he could. And he had dementia. So he wouldn't remember that he did something yesterday. So he'd sweep the floor, mop the driveway or something. He was just always doing something and he always had to stay busy and active. And I remember telling somebody how, when I was a kid, I was always a little bit resentful that I got pulled out of bed on a Saturday morning, taken to the job site, told to pick up nails, sweep the job site. We grew up in construction and, do whatever was necessary to stay busy. And the reality was that's how we spent time together. And I learned a lot and it served me well over the years. And, I've built homes and everything, different types of construction activities. And it was really his attitude towards life. Stay busy, stay productive, do what you can with what you have and keep pursuing, moving forward. And it was really telling about life and what you can do with moving through life and those experiences. Talk a little bit about what was the position that brought the most joy to your day
Mark O'Brien: [00:06:55] You mean working position?
Russ Johns: [00:06:57] Yeah.
Mark O'Brien: [00:06:59] The one I have right now the ripe young age of 50 I had spent four years at an advertising agency and, just kind of had the realization that at some point I really needed to find out if I could survive by my own wits. So I gave my notice at that agency on my 50th birthday and never looked back and, I used to think and tell people that my fifties were the happiest, most creative, most productive decade of my life. That's true. Seriously. My, my wife once asked me, we were driving by a billboard on the highway and it was for some Powerball drawing that was just, ridiculous amount of money and she said what would you do if we won that? We don't even play. She said, what would you do if you won that? I said, you know what? I do exactly what I'm doing right now, but number one, I'd take less shit and probably sleep a little better.
Russ Johns: [00:08:09] Yeah. It's amazing when you're doing what you love, how easy it is to thrive and enjoy life every single day. Just enjoy what you're doing. It's just amazing to me. How would you describe yourself without telling people what you do?
Mark O'Brien: [00:08:31] Oh I would describe myself as the embodiment of the lucky Irish mint. I mean when I look back at things and especially when I look at the way I perceived particular moments when I was in them, I now recognize that I, for whatever the reason I had to go through every single thing I went through and everything that should have happened did, and I didn't have any idea of the breaks I was going to get. Some of them, I didn't even recognize it as breaks at the time, but, in hindsight, and I recognize it would be really easy to say, Oh, I forgot you rationalizing all that you clown, because you were such a goofball. But I don't think that's true. I think, in hindsight I recognize why particular things happened and in particular, when they did I never would have been prepared to go to college until I was 28 years old. Never. And when I got there, I was just so completely starved to learn. I knew it was the right place at the right time. If I had been, excuse me, in any way, prepared to, or had the capacity or wherewithal to start my business before I was 50, I would have done it, but I didn't. I don't look back. I don't wish if only this, they told me that it all played out in the context of my life. It all played out perfectly.
Russ Johns: [00:10:09] Yeah. We were talking on the show yesterday and I was mentioning how there are times where you have to go through an experience to prepare you for a future experience. And a lot of what you're saying resonates with that and how you have to, you can't have the experience of starting your own business at 50 until you've had the experience of other things traveling through life. So give us an example Mark of how that applies to your world.
Mark O'Brien: [00:10:42] Anybody who has known me for any time at all or read some of the things that I've written can probably predict that at this moment, I'm going to cite Joseph Campbell. And it seemed to me that anybody who reads Joseph Campbell's the hero with a thousand faces will understand exactly what you just said, how all of us have to and I, every time I talk about it do this, because he enters the hero's journey as a circular pattern, but yeah. Re reading Campbell, is it's not working with a crystal ball or a Ouija board or something. It's not going to predict or tell you anything, but what it will do is allow you to be more accepting of the things that transpire when they transpire. And, that was one of the things that I was fortunate enough because of a particular professor that I had to discover at age 28. When I finally got to school, very influential book in my life, very.
Russ Johns: [00:11:45] It's interesting to me, it's always fascinating. I used to at one career in my life or one chapter in the book of my life, I was in a situation where I was delivering office supplies, working with office supplies and I actually really enjoyed the job, helping people in the numbers and learning all of the somebody to call them and say, hey, I need such and such...a pad, you knew it was a legal pad. Cause the number that they gave you and the most fascinating part was being able to go deliver office supplies to these companies that have just a random name. You don't know what they do. And they're in a building in a warehouse district and I'd always ask him, so what are you. What do you manufacture? What do you make? Or what do you build here? And it, so this process for me, it is kind of an extension of that idea. Let's find more out about this individual and discover how that impacts us, because I think, we've had this conversation before Mark is that a lot of kids, especially in high school, like you said, have no idea what they want to do or how they want to behave or where they want to go. And this story that is told that we're sold on is get out of high school. You go to a good college, you get a degree, so you can find a good job. You got to fit into these boxes. So you could be a viable human. And the reality is there's a lot of different adventures that we can go down to become sustainable in our lives. It's reality is not necessarily a single line from point A to point B. And it fascinates me on the journeys that people take in order to accomplish their goals.
Mark O'Brien: [00:13:41] I think the thing that might...education did. And I deliberately don't say gave me I think what it did was encourage what was already my inclination to think broadly and critically. And I'm not exactly sure how to express this, but I think one of my I'm going to call it a characteristic rather than saying that it's necessarily a gift. I think of it as humility. Other people might call it imposter syndrome. And I'll tell you why. I say that my first professional job after school was at an insurance company. Here I am, this young 30 something buck with a suit and tie on every day, looking like he's on top of the world. And I had a buddy at this insurance company who knew what I had done, meaning he knew that I had worked in a hospital. He knew I had driven a truck. He knew that I had sold clothes. He knew I had worked at an appliance warehouse. He knew that I had put myself through school and paid my way. And he said, yet, here we are. And don't, you still feel like you're getting away with something? And I said, absolutely. Absolutely. So I think the way that translates for me, and I know this comes directly from my father, is I don't necessarily feel like I have to prove myself all the time, but definitely have to remain vigilant about doing my best. And I just want one quick story about my father, because you shared yours.
Russ Johns: [00:15:20] Wow, please.
Mark O'Brien: [00:15:24] My father died seven years ago in January and at five o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, he had been helping me clean up the shop of a person that I knew. So five o'clock, the shop closes up. He's going home. I'm going home. I hugged him and kissed him in the parking lot of the shop and I thanked him for his help that day. And he said to me, you don't have to thank me. We spent a terrific day and this was his phrase. And it was the only thing that was important to him. We spent a terrific day getting things done and at four o'clock the next morning, my phone rang, I hightailed it to the emergency clinic and he was pronounced dead at 5:17. That's what he said to me, getting things done.
Russ Johns: [00:16:11] Getting things done.
Mark O'Brien: [00:16:12] That's what informs me getting things done.
Russ Johns: [00:16:19] Every day is an opportunity to do something, to help us improve who we become, who we are, how we deliver to the world. What our gifts and our experience, that's the thing that we can do every single day and become a better person than we were yesterday. And go ahead.
Mark O'Brien: [00:16:41] I was just going to say, I love that notion of who we become because you said something at the beginning of the show about maturity. And I wanted to say to you I have no intentions of growing up because there's no future in it. It's just going, coming, learning, creating.
Russ Johns: [00:17:00] I never understood the concept of retirement.
Mark O'Brien: [00:17:04] Oh, no.
Russ Johns: [00:17:05] I just, to me, I feel like I'm just hitting my stride. Like you say, the sixties are going to be great for me. And I know that it's evolving. It's always evolving. And I was taking Sarah Elkins. I was talking to her one day and telling her about the aches and pains and things of life and how we fee and it's, to me, it translates into the feelings I have are from the experience I've discovered along the journey, as I break my hip or my arm or my leg, or break my ankle or, whatever it happens to be now, I feel those experiences in my life. And it just enriches everything that I do, say and deliver to the world. And I think there's a certain amount of wisdom that comes from experience, whether it be perceived as a good experience or a bad experience. And I really thrive in that concept and have #gratitude for it. I've been reading a lot on Marcus Aurelius and stoic and how every experience can be a gift instead of a curse. Cause some people see things and they're always all whoa is me. Why did this happen to me and everything else that it's like, what is the gift that is being delivered from this experience? And what can you learn? What is it teaching you and how is it delivering, just like your dad passing, that was a shock. That was probably a very traumatic event after just having had a wonderful, amazing day with him. And then you think. I had an wonderful, amazing day with my dad and it could have been much different and it wasn't.
Mark O'Brien: [00:18:53] My dad was not a guy who in any way, wore his emotions on his sleeve and on December 22nd, less than a month before he passed away we went to a show at this little iverton play house near where I lived at the time and we saw a show that actually had been written by the woman who was the creative director there called the bells of Dublin. And so we're sitting there and my dad is sitting to my right and this young guy, the quintessential Irish tenor comes out center stage by himself and sings. Danny boy. Oh, and my father was just sitting there, nothing about his posture changed nothing about his expression changed, but tears were just streaming from underneath his glasses. It was just such a perfect moment. So there's a gift I got to share that with my dad. I got to see him like that and I ll also say when things happen, why do these things happen? I want to see them in a bigger context, and I want to understand why those experiences even bad were given to me. What should I learn from that? That's what you gotta do.
Russ Johns: [00:20:05] Yeah, it's awesome. Hey, I want to highlight a couple of people that have joined us today, Don in the morning, Don from LinkedIn, and guess who's here. Oh no, I got to go. Good morning. My pirates, maybe the black team is not lost on me.
Mark O'Brien: [00:20:23] Wendy has an amazing spirit.
Russ Johns: [00:20:26] Chris stone is another pirate. He says let's have a pirate jam. I would love that I would love your pirate jam. I'm working on my third music career right now so it's just in the beginning and Jorge in from Spain. He's there. Hiett Ives pirates in the room. Wendy says mature. Ha.
Mark O'Brien: [00:20:50] She knows me.
Russ Johns: [00:20:52] Love you. I'm never going to grow up. Peter has nothing on us. Lorrie Scott. Good morning pirates. Wendy says Mark is a talented author on every level. I've enjoyed reading his children's books to the little people, possibly a little more than normal because his work is multilayered and full of powerful lessons for all generations. And can you talk a little bit about that? I want to talk a little bit about that just to make sure that people that don't know you...because, the show is seen by them, a lot of different individuals, a lot of different layers. And I bring a lot of different individuals to the #PirateBroadcast™ for those that don't know you Mark what are you currently at this point in time in your life delivering to the universe, to the people that are in the world, searching for something from Mark.
Mark O'Brien: [00:21:47] I think all I can say is I hope I'm delivering self faith. And I think if there's anything like a thematic thread that runs through my children's books it's that, and I always tell myself if I go to a school and I've been put in gyms with three and 400 kids at a time, if I always tell myself if I can be sure when I leave a school, that just one kid feels better than he felt when I got there, then that's a victory. And hopefully whatever it is that child derives from my being there that child will carry it forward. And I actually shared this with somebody this morning. I wrote a piece once called take the first step, because one of the things I learned is that, and I have children. I mean, I have grandchildren of pictures of behind me, but they're fearless. They're absolutely fearless. They'll ask you anything and having written those books and having had time to be with children. It caused me to wonder where does that go? Why do we let it go? Do we give it up? Is it taken from us somehow? I don't know. But we don't have to give it up and we can definitely get it back and writing those books helps me and sharing them with children definitely helps me because it's a reminder, every time I do it, I don't have to give up so I can be that kid and I can, adopt their perspectives and retain my sense of wonder Because I choose to. And if I can impart that to more people I'm going to feel like I've done something meaningful, valuable.
Yeah. In fact, Wendy, we were on a phone call one day and she said to me, she was talking about Simon Sinek and she said, can you describe your why in five words? So I cheated and I hyphenated a word, but I said, I write to restore self faith. And I don't mean mine. I mean, anybody who might, I don't know, might've had their stolen or might have given it up however, unwittingly, but you can get it back.
Russ Johns: [00:24:07] You can always get it back. There's a book. And I've mentioned this book many times because it made an impact in my world because it made so much sense. It's Big Magic and the idea that these ideas come to us, and if we don't do anything with it, It kind of travels on and goes to someone else. And it's kind of the same thing as kids, they have this big magic that hey're generating all the time, the imagination, the reason to ask why, the Explorer, the exploration of the world around them, this is just big and open. And eventually if they don't foster that and grow that and nurture that idea, eventually it goes away.
Mark O'Brien: [00:24:50] One young guy gave me a flash of #inspiration. I was with a group of 320 kids. And I was able to converse at a slightly higher level because believe it or not, the audience was preschool through eighth grade. So I had kids from three to 14. I talked a little bit about creative pursuits and kind of led them along. And then I said, is anybody afraid to write? And that was one of my first lessons in their fearlessness because about a million hands went up. Got the opportunity in part to improve them. And one kid said no, I have a lot of ideas and I've written them down, but I haven't finished. And I said, what are you going to do with them? And he goes out and that's when the #inspiration hit me. And I said, listen, one of the most powerful words I know has only three letters in it. And that word is "yet." Think about this. Think about the difference between saying, I don't know. And saying, I don't know yet. And if you say, I don't know yet it creates the opportunity to finish whatever it is that you don't know yet. And you can either finish it, learn it, whatever it is that you have to do. And it's entirely yours to do. And then he said when you write your stories, how do you know that anybody is going to like them? I said, I don't have any idea, but there's only one way to find out which is the right them. Put them out there. And they're either going to catch on or they're not, but I said there's a whole lot of people in the world. There have to be at least a few that think like me. So there have to be some things like you just do it.
Russ Johns: [00:26:29] Life is an experiment. You just have to experiment it. I want to give a shout out to Jenny Gold. Jenny Gold's an awesome individual that she is very supportive in the community. Thank you for being here, Jenny. Don says, the trades are the backbone of the country. Absolutely. Every single individual out there, just working hard and doing things, creating things, producing things. It's so important for us to remember and recognize that. Tracie is here. Tracie. She's the producer of the #PirateSyndicate™ and the #PirateBroadcast™. She's been probably able to assist you along your journey here. Mark and getting on the show. And I love her. She and Angie have a podcast it's called fab or far from fab. Go check it out. It's on Spotify and they talk about different things and it's fun. And my goal Tracie is to continue to improve my episodes. So filler words don't have to be in transcription.
Mark O'Brien: [00:27:38] I just want to say to Tracie I got so many reminders about the fact that this program was coming up, that I finally had to reply to one of her emails just to let her know I got them all. They're sitting there thinking, Oh my God, is this even going to show up?
Russ Johns: [00:27:56] The question exists every single episode. Warren, a friend from Houston doing some great work over there. Hi Warren. We need to catch up. We've got some very exciting projects on the roadmap while his books sound amazing. And that brings up a point Angie's here. Oh, the other half of far from fab is here. Russ Hedge in from Oregon. Love. Love you. Russ thanks so much. So good. Mark we have to step out and take action. Absolutely. Amen. I want to make sure that we don't miss out on the thing before we. One thing before we wrap up Mark is how do people access your books, your content, your writing. I know you write a lot of different locations and you you're very active on online and on some app some platforms and I know that we're connected. On LinkedIn. I know you write on medium. A couple of different places.
Mark O'Brien: [00:28:58] Yeah, so I write on medium. I write for biz catalyst 360. My website is obriencg.com. I don't blog on there as frequently as I should anymore. Cause I'm writing so much other stuff, but two things I want to mention about my other published work. When I publish, I use my middle name too. So if you go on Amazon and look up Mark Nelson O'Brien, you'll find my published work. And I need to offer, I guess a temporary apology. And what I mean by that is, and I'm going to this is one of my books, the printer. Who printed this book is gone. So I have to, fortunately I have all the files, so I have to find another printer to publish this book. So you'll find that on Amazon, there may be one or two left in stock. But I'm going to have to print some more of those but everything else is available there. And I've also written some short stories are available for Kindle and I've actually had a lot of fun with those too.
Russ Johns: [00:30:04] That's fantastic. Mark it's been a pleasure. I just want to make sure that we could go on for a while longer and Tracie would throttle me for, having to run through transcription. She doesn't care fo transcription.
Mark O'Brien: [00:30:18] Just do what everybody else does. Blame it on me.
Russ Johns: [00:30:23] I'll take the blame, but not the responsibility. Thank you very much.
Mark O'Brien: [00:30:28] One more thing about if anybody and I'm not trying to make sales here, but if anybody reads any of my work on Amazon, I would be so deeply grateful for review.
Russ Johns: [00:30:39] Absolutely. Go leave. Mark a review. It's amazing adventure you created Mark and I really appreciate you being here, sharing a few stories. Wendy thank you for getting up and appreciate all of you. Don says, great advice. Thank you Don. For being here. Love the beard. Got the beard action going on. Rick says awesome show guys.
Mark O'Brien: [00:31:02] Can I just tell you one thing? Rick is a buddy of mine. More than 30 years. Love that. Thank you, Rick.
Russ Johns: [00:31:11] Always being here, seeing your guitars. It's like Chris says, hey, we should have a pirate jam. I think a pirate jam is do let's figure it.
Mark O'Brien: [00:31:18] And I'll tell you I'm terrible at hiding. So anytime you want to do it, you'll find me.
Russ Johns: [00:31:24] Jenny Gold says, great show guys. Thank you so much. All the #gratitude in the world for being here. I also want to remember, I put this up earlier because I know, and shameless plugs are not really one of my priorities. However, I am in fact, going to pursue more growth this year. The #PirateSyndicate my goal is to be producing a hundred shows by the end of the year. I'd love to have a conversation with anybody that's interested in having their own show. Just like the #PirateBroadcast. And also go over on YouTube and and subscribe, and then also get notified on YouTube when a show comes up because it's a little more effective than LinkedIn or Facebook, I think. And it's really an opportunity for us to grow the community, share stories like this, meet people like Mark and collect a conversation. And continue developing this thing, we call the #PirateBroadcast™. So thank you so much, Mark, for being here. I really appreciate you. And I look forward to our next adventure and you're always welcome back as a pirate and anytime.
Mark O'Brien: [00:32:42] I look forward to it next time I'll wear my eyepatch.
Russ Johns: [00:32:46] Fantastic. And as always, #kindnessiscool, #smilesarefree and you #enjoytheday.
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