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Speaker: Frank O'Dea

Speaker NameFrank O’Dea is a powerful and inspiring speaker with a story of triumph over adversity that brings audiences to their feet, and makes an impact wherever he speaks.  

Your browser may not support display of this image. He is currently founding Chair of AGSI Global, a developer that is using North American technology to build vast tracks of social housing in three states in Brazil; he is a Board member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He is also heading up an initiative by Royal Roads University to establish the Institute for Global Water Diplomacy.  

But he was not always a celebrated businessman and humanitarian. In his early teens, Frank O’Dea’s life went off the rails into a downward spiral. Within a few years, he was living in 50-cent-a-night flop houses, and then homeless in Toronto’s bowery district where just surviving was about all one could do in a day. At 23 years of age, with the courage to hope for a better life, and the spirit to forge ahead, Frank began the long road back. Fighting all of those obstacles that hold back the homeless, the impoverished and the destitute, he overcame and rejoined society.  

Within a few short years, he co-founded Second Cup, which, by the time he sold it, had become the largest chain of gourmet coffees and teas in Canada. Building on that success, he was instrumental in the founding of Proshred Security, a company that pioneered the entire industry of on-site document destruction. Before selling the business to a group of investors, Proshred had become an international organization with operations in Canada, the United States and Europe.    

As his businesses grew, Frank co-found Street Kids International, an organization developed to help homeless children in third world countries; and was the founding Chair of War Child (Canada), an organization that provides assistance against suffering and abuse for children in war affected countries. He was also a founder of the Landmine Foundation, an organization that raises funds and awareness for the dismantling of minefields around the world. With support from Colin Powell, Paul McCartney and the United Nation’s Kofi Annan, he went on to initiate that organization’s most successful, worldwide annual fund raising program, “Night of a Thousand Dinners”, with participation of donors from some 29 countries. 

 Frank’s achievements are, of course, a work in progress for which he has received much public recognition. He has received an Ontario Volunteer Award, several Phil Harris Awards, honorary degrees from two universities and has been invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada, that country’s highest award for contribution to a better society This incredibly inspiring story of resilience and triumph in the face of adversity is retold in his best-selling autobiography, “When All You Have Is Hope” (Penguin Books)

Topics: Motivation and Inspiration; Entrepreneurship; Teamwork and Leadership


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Top Speaking Topics

Power of Hope, Vision, Action 

As a young man, Frank O’Dea was a homeless person, living on the streets, panhandling for nickels and dimes. 

Today, he is a celebrated business person. He is currently the chair of AGSI Global in Brazil and is a founder of a number of other successful businesses including Proshred Security and Second Cup. 

This incredibly inspiring story of resilience and triumph in the face of adversity is retold in his best-selling memoir “When All You Have is Hope”. 

Change or Die

He is often referred to as a “serial entrepreneur”, in that he has been directly involved in the founding of a series of very successful enterprises - two of which are the Second Cup and Proshred Security - both nationwide companies. He was also a founder of several international, not-for-profit organizations - including Street Kids International and the Canadian Landmine Foundation.