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SHIFT with Michael O’Brien

5 years ago

For Michael O’Brien, July 11th, 2001 was his last bad day. It was on that fateful day that he had a head-on bicycle collision with an SUV in the middle of nowhere out in New Mexico. Michael is an executive coach, professional speaker, and author of the book Shift – Creating Better Tomorrows: Winning at Work and in Life. He says reaching this level of success was borne out of his lowest time. After his life-changing accident, Michael realized that in order create a better tomorrow for himself, he has to shift his mind from feeling sorry for himself and seeing only his limitations to focusing on getting his life back together and living in gratitude. Michael shares his inspiring story and the lessons he learned along the way.

Michael O’Brien is an executive coach, professional speaker and author of the book, Shift, which is available on Amazon and other bookselling platforms. In 2001, Michael was involved in a head-on bicycle collision with an SUV that almost took his life. If he survived the crash, he promised himself that he would dedicate his life to helping others accomplish all their goals and dreams. Michael has one of the most inspiring life stories I have ever heard and I am very excited to share his journey with you on the podcast. Please welcome, Michael O’Brien.


Listen To The Episode Here

SHIFT with Michael O’Brien

On the show, we have Michael O’Brien. Michael O’Brien’s got a great story. I’m very excited to talk to him. Michael, how are you doing?

I’m great, Dr. Kevin. Thanks for having me.

I’m looking forward to this episode. Michael, where are you from originally?

Originally I’m from Upstate New York, Rochester, a good town to grow up in. Also, a good town to leave to go away for college because I was sick of the winters. I went to school in Virginia and then ended up being in DC after school.

I went to college down in Washington DC. Did you go to the University of Virginia?

No, I went to James Madison. It’s a beautiful part of the state, nestled in the Shenandoah Valley. After the kid’s graduation, they go to Richmond or go to DC. I was like, “I’m going to go to DC and get my first gig.” I know the Catholic University well because my first job as a sales representative, the Catholic University was in my territory. Occasionally, I’d go to campus and try to find some prayer.

What were you interested after you graduated? What did you want to get into?

Coming out of school, I wanted to marry what my mom did and what my dad did. My mom was a nurse and my dad was in sales. When I first began college, I thought I wanted to be an ophthalmologist and then I was like, “I don’t know if I want to go to a school that long.” I didn’t necessarily have a whole love affair with school. I did okay but looking back, I didn’t apply myself as I could have. I wanted to do something that was going to make a meaningful difference in the world. If I was going to sell something, I wanted to sell something that made a contribution. I saw my mom’s job as like, “That made a huge contribution.” I married the two. I wanted to get into pharmaceutical sales right out of college, but they said, “You don’t have any sales experience. Go, young lad, and go get some experience.” That’s why I moved up to DC. I got a job selling copiers and facsimiles. I said I wanted to sell something that I thought I was making a meaningful contribution to the society and it’s hard to say that a copier was doing that.

EM 76 | Shift Shift: All the hiccups in life that we all experience can be beautiful lessons in terms of building one’s life.

I’m glad you brought that up too because everybody’s got to start somewhere. There are people who will refuse to start wherever they get an opportunity. It’s like they want to be at that top level, but you’re not just going to jump right there. You have to start somewhere.

You have to start the first rung of the ladder. I knew I needed to do that. It was a tough gig and it was during one of our recessions of the ’90s. I had Capitol Hill. I learned a ton in that job. I had a lot of gratitude for the fact that I had the job. I always had a lot of gratitude the moment I could leave the job. I learned a lot about financial management, managing my own money, all of it. You’ve got to start somewhere and most people don’t start.

*After that stepping stone to the copiers and printers, where did you go after that? *

I had a vision that I wanted to execute on and that was to get into pharmaceutical sales. Eventually, I got one my first gig and it was with a small company. They gave me a shot and I worked my tail off. I did that with them for about four years. I also realized one of my first professional setbacks and the whole spirit of developing resilience. I was downsized, and this was in 1996. I was shocked. I was part of a special division. I thought we were totally protected. I was like, “They won’t do this to us. The leadership is telling us everything that we want to hear.” I felt secure because we want security as people. Then when the news came, I was blindsided. I was angry at first. From there, I knew this. I had to start diversifying my experience, diversifying my résumé, my skill set, if I was going to have long-term career success. At the moment, all these hiccups in life that we have, that we all experience, they can be beautiful lessons. Although I was irritated, frustrated and angry at first, I turned that into another valuable lesson in terms of building one’s life. It’s to try to diversify and have some agility in how you approach life.

*Just a little speed bump there and you’ve picked everything up and you kept going. *

We all go through them. They’re not easy but they will define us. There was a good Viktor Frankl quote around, “Your events in your life do not define who you are. It’s how you respond to them,” in so many words or less. I didn’t get it perfect but it’s an essence that how we respond to things, that’s going to dictate what type of life, what type of career we’re going to have.

*That’s the only thing we can control. We can’t control what happens. It’s how you respond to what happens. What was next for you? *

I left that company because I got downsized. They joined another company. Then three months into that, I got a call from this company that was coming over from Japan. They had this innovative drug for Alzheimer’s disease. Some of your audience may know it as Aricept. I was like, “I’m part of this huge company.” I felt a little bit of a Social Security number within the company. I didn’t have my identity yet because I’ve only been there for a few months. I figured at the age I was at, I was recently married, I was going to take a shot. I was like, “This is a startup. It could be a great thing.” They came over, the drug got approved and the rest of it is history. I spent eighteen years there until I started my own firm. I moved my career up over, sideways, up and down going back to that lesson I learned, “You’ve got to diversify your résumé, Michael, diversify your experience.” I took that mentality or that approach into that particular company.

You probably hit the biggest roadblock of your life eventually. What exactly happened? When was it? Where was it? How did you end up in that situation?

It was definitely the biggest roadblock. There’s no doubt about that, Kevin. On July 11, 2001, I call it my last bad day. I have not had a bad day since. On July 11th, 2001, I was out in New Mexico, north of Albuquerque and south of Santa Fe. We were in the middle of nowhere. We’ve got a great deal on a hotel because it was offseason and we were there for a typical meeting. We arrived on Monday and departed on Friday. The guys and gals could golf or do spa on Thursday. It was 2001, a different time back then than it is in 2018. I decided I was going to bring my bike out because I was an avid cyclist since high school. I raced all the way through high school and college and I wanted to get back into racing. Our youngest daughter had been born about seven months earlier and I took a little bit of break from cycling.

When I graduated college, I moved to DC, so I was like, “I’m going to get back into it.” I brought my travel bike out. I found a little loop in the hotel, out the back service, road and up the main entrance. It was about a two-mile loop and I thought, “This is going to be perfect.” By design, I could ride my bike in New Mexico, cross that state off the states I’d rode my bike in because I have a goal of riding in every one of 50 states. I thought, “Maybe I can avoid the hotel gym before we have to sit through hours of PowerPoint all day long.” On that Wednesday, it was the fourth lap. I came around a bend and this massive white SUV Ford Explorer at the time had crossed into my lane. It was traveling about 40 miles. He was coming at me fully in my lane. The speed limit was 25. I was going probably eighteen, nineteen, twenty miles an hour. I’m not exactly sure, but I felt around that pace. Based on the impact, the skid marks and where my Ironman watch broke off my left wrist and flew 250 feet the other way, they estimated that he was going right around 40. It crossed this apex in the band and he was fully in my lane. I had nowhere to go.

*How much time did you have to react? *

It was not enough. It was one of those things where I came around and I was like, “He’s in my lane.” We were starting to get into the slow-mo and I was like, “He’s going to move. He’s not going to move.” All that happened within five seconds. I couldn’t move fast enough. I almost missed him. If I had another fifteen feet, maybe. I remember everything that morning, the sound of me hitting his grill. I went into the windshield. The screech of his brakes and then the thud I made was off his hood onto the asphalt below. That knocked me unconscious. When I regained consciousness, all the EMTs were around me doing their work on the road. I couldn’t move. The thought of moving was painful. I could feel I was in a world of hurt. I could see the body language and facial expressions that they were concerned.

What was your first initial reaction waking up and seeing EMTs? What went through your mind at that point?

That was like the WTF moment of the morning. It was like, “What happened?” I had a memory of the SUV hit me. What I tend to do is I use humor to cut the tension and there was a whole bunch of tension. I asked the EMTs like, “How’s my bike?” and they looked at me. That’s only a question probably another cyclist can appreciate. We might get all scarred up and still care about our bikes. They didn’t laugh at that, they were probably worried I had a TBI. I remember at that moment willing myself not to fall asleep. I felt if I fell asleep I would lose control over the situation as crazy as that sounds. I said, “Whatever you do, Michael, stay awake.” Back then as a young professional, I thought I had to be Superman at work. I thought I had to be Superman at home too. I did a good job of trying to control everything. I did a great job of pouring all my stress inside of me. I thought at that moment as crazy as it sounds if I can stay awake, I can control this. Then they told me, “We’ve got to call the medevac to bring you to Albuquerque.” That was the only one trauma center in the States at the University of New Mexico.

I tried to rationalize or argue my way out of the helicopter trip because back then, I had never been on a helicopter and I was scared of flying. I go, “Do we have to do that?” They were like, “We have to get you there. The ambulance ride would be 45 minutes at best. We need to get you on the helicopter.” I remember as I got pushed up onto the helicopter, I promised myself if I live, life would be different. I would stop chasing happiness. I knew my life was in balance. I didn’t know the extent of my injuries. What I later learned is I broke a whole bunch of everything, both legs, shoulders. I had glass all through me because I went into the windshield. My left femur shattered. When it shattered, besides breaking off the skin, it lacerated the femoral artery. The doctors told my wife after my first surgery that lasted about ten to twelve hours, that I needed about 34 units of blood product. They said, “Had Michael been ten years older or not in shape at the time, he would have passed away before he got to the hospital.” A lot of people are like, “You lived for a reason because most people would have died that.”

*It’s funny that you brought that up because I was thinking about this. I didn’t have that type of injury that you had, but I was in a similar situation with the hopelessness and two years of every day being on the worst day of your life. I remember thinking to myself, “If I ever get out of this, I am going to live my life completely differently. I’m going to do it right. I’m not going to chase whatever’s going on. I’m going to do it right and make a difference.” That’s great that you brought that up. *

Part of your story, Kevin, resonated with me, that whole darkness piece. After that first surgery, I spent multiple days in ICU. Then I came out of the ICU and the doctor started telling me about the extent of my injuries. The driver had a revoked license. It was almost like that first doctor who said, “You’re going to have to live with it.” They basically shared with me like, “You’re going to have a life of dependency. You’re going to have a life of limitations, a life of more surgeries.” I listened to all this and I was like, “My life is over. My identity as a man, as a human has been tossed upside down and shaken violently and now who am I?” All I saw was what I couldn’t do and didn’t have anymore. I got dark quickly. I was frustrated, angry, bitter, revengeful. I wanted to get back at the driver. I tried to put on a smiley face and tell my visitors, but deep down inside when the hospital went dark at night and the visiting hours were over, if I could fall asleep, I would cry myself to sleep. I wondered, “Why did this happen to me? This is so unfair.” I stayed dark for a while and in the spirit that we go where our eyes go, I continued just to see all my limitations, which then validated my whole victim story of like, “Pity me.” A lot of people validated it because something horrific happened. It not only impacted me but impacted my whole family.

What was the recovery process like for you?

EM 76 | Shift Shift: Motivate the challenged and challenge the motivated.

In the beginning, it was brutal. They did a fasciotomy in my left leg to allow my body to expand because all the blood, plasma and whole thing that I lost had to be replaced. For the first few several weeks, I was treated as a burn victim because I had these open wounds. It was crazy. It was a very painful process. I had this tug of war even back then in 2000, one of not wanting to be on pain meds. I was concerned about I don’t want them to be a crutch. I was sitting at a whole bunch of pain and moving in the hospital bed was painful. I couldn’t put full weight on my legs for quite some time. When I finally was able to move out of the bed into a wheelchair, that gave me at least some ability. I was dependent upon people to do almost everything for me. Probably one of the lowest moments from a dignity point of view was I couldn’t even use the bathroom by myself. When you’re a baby, everyone’s goes goo-goo gaga over you when you need to change your diaper. Now here I am a man, a father, a husband in his early 30s and I have to ask for the bedpan. I have to ask someone to clean me up. Those moments from a dignity point of view were like, “Is this what my life is going to be where I have to ask someone to clean me?” It was in some ways very easy to be angry, frustrated and dark.

Those initial phases were hard. Then they flew me back home here to New Jersey. I went to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. Before that, I was at Hackensack. At Kessler, much like you saw that sign “Expect Miracles,” when I came into Kessler, I saw a sign. It was, “Motivating the challenge and challenge the motivated.” Even saying it to you now, I got a little goosebumpy rush. The fog started to lift a little bit and I liked that mantra. It wasn’t a light switch. I had some difficult moments when I first came into Kessler. There was a moment during one of my rehab sessions when I looked around the room and I noticed that some people were getting better and some people weren’t. I concluded that was all about mindset. It was like who was looking at life through a lens of abundance despite their injuries, despite what they were going through and who was looking at life through a lens of scarcity or loss? I raised my hand. That’s how I was up until that moment. Then I made a commitment like, “Michael, if you’re going to be the best you can be the, the best husband, father, leader, person, you’ve got to get your butt and gear and you’ve got to shift your mindset.”

You seem like a quote guy. I want to throw this one out there by Oscar Wilde. He says, “Two men look out a window, one sees mud and one sees the stars.”

At that moment, I made a commitment that I was going to show up differently and show up fully. I was showing up in a half ass way. It was more of like, “You’ve got to show up full ass tomorrow. We’re going to work hard today to create a better tomorrow.” I was committed to putting July 11th, 2001 as my last bad day. The next morning, I started with a new routine. I started weaving gratitude into my life. In 2001, we didn’t know about gratitude. We didn’t know about vulnerability. We didn’t know about a lot of these things. What I knew in my heart and maybe in my head is that if I could start being grateful for what I have, I could shift my perspective. I had spent all this time up until then looking at all the things I didn’t have, and it was not a light switch. It wasn’t like, “There’s dark and now there’s light.” It was almost like a dimmer switch.

That’s exactly how the healing process goes. It’s very rare where you flip the light shine fully. It’s usually just a little brighter, a little brighter every day.

Then you string together seven days of a little brighter and it’s like, “It’s pretty bright.” Then you do it again the next week and you do it again the next week.

Sometimes it gets a little dim again.

I had people read in my book. I had moments where it went dark again. I had moments when I had a surgery. The knee became infected and I had to go back in for emergency surgery. They had to irrigate the whole knee. I had to get an IV PICC line in my chest. That’s how bad the infection was. Up until that moment before the first surgery, I started peaking. My writing was coming back. I was thinking about racing again. All of a sudden it was like, “Go directly to jail. Do not pass, go. Do not collect your $200.” I was like, “Why does this stuff always seem to happen?” The whole thing like why do bad things happen to good people? It was another challenging moment but another opportunity to demonstrate some resilience.

You were recovering and then what happened after that?

I recovered from that and then I was like, “I’m going to get back into bike racing because that was something I wanted to do.” Fast forward to 2007, 2008, I did my first ride back. I did it, not because I thought I was going to win the race. I still race in 2018.

*How are you physically at this point? How’s everything feeling? How does your body feel six or seven years after the injury? I could only imagine your family’s face when you were like, “I’m going to start racing again.” *

There were so many people who would ask my wife, “How do you let him get back on the bike?” She was like, “The bike is part of who he is. There are risks in life and there are risks in sitting on the couch all day looking at the television. He’s going to live his life fully and this is part of it.” Does she get nervous when I go out riding? Yes, probably but it’s all part of the package. I would say then in 2007, 2008, six, seven years post-accident, I was starting to feel stronger. Definitely, I have limitations. There are things I no longer can do. I can’t run anymore. I did the Boston Marathon when I was younger, the Marine Corps Marathon. Those days were over. My left leg is shorter than my right and the extension-inflection are nowhere near normal, but I have just enough to ride my bike. When I ride, I love to joke with the other guys around me. I’m like, “I have 1.8 legs and you have two, so you should be so much further ahead of me.” It’s like my way of talking trash. I pinned a number on as a testament to what we can do with the right mindset, a little resilience and the right type of community, which I call my Peloton behind me. I’m here talking to you, riding my bike still and doing all the things that I enjoy in life and it’s not because it’s just me, it’s my wife, my daughters, our friends. We had so many people come to our side, to our aid. There is no way I would be here without their help all those years ago.

What did you get into because of this accident? What are you doing now?

What people will learn as they read the story is there was a seed that was planted when I was in the ICU. The ICU experience was funny. I was all drugged up and I have a clean life up until that point. I got some powerful drugs and I don’t remember any of this. I interviewed my wife for a job to be one of my sales reps on my team. I told her to buy Amazon stock. In 2001, Amazon stock was $15 a share. We didn’t buy Amazon stock and they didn’t hire her, but we have forgiven each other for those faux pas. I also mentioned this guy’s name. His name is David Kolb. He’s the first guy I met who is an executive coach. When my wife asked me, “Who’s David?” I was like, “Why are you asking about this?” She goes, “You kept on mumbling his name.” I knew if I was mumbling anybody’s name there must have been a reason behind that.

Did you know him?

I had hired him to be our team executive coach about six months prior. I wasn’t referencing my mom, my dad or some best friends. I was like, “What’s up with that?” I knew a seed was planted that one day I would follow in his footsteps. It took thirteen years of watering that seed, a little fertilizer, a little tilling of the soil.

EM 76 | Shift Shift: Stop the comparison and just become the best you can be and live that life.

That gave me goosebumps a little bit with how all the people in the world’s name you could have mumbled or could have thought of and you weren’t even conscious of it, you came out with his name. That’s wild.

She had written it all down. I kept on saying, “Find David. He’s our leader.” I had come up with my company, the type of people I wanted to do executive coaching for when I was in the hospital. For those who don’t know, a peloton is a group of cyclists in a bike race. It’s my metaphor for tribes at work. Teams at work need leadership, trust, collaboration and communication the same as those cyclists in a peloton riding in the Tour de France. They need trust and communication and all that jazz. I had come up with the whole concept. When I came back to work, the one thing I did was I came back to work on my own terms. I stopped chasing happiness. I was trying to be. I was going to show up at work and try to be purposeful to the values I wanted to honor. I knew as I started going through this path, as I came back to work that eventually, I would leave to follow in David’s footsteps. I opened my own coaching firm and I had all the parameters set. As soon as I saw that I couldn’t honor my values at that place of employment, I would leave.

When that happened, I was able to make that call within 36 hours to quit. I raised my hand and I said, “Eighteen years, it’s been a good run.” It was about to go through another change and where it wants to go, I don’t want to go there. It doesn’t mean that they were going to a place that was wrong and I was right. It just meant that they were going somewhere where I didn’t want to go, and we could all be good with that. We could depart and be grateful for each other and grateful for the eighteen years. It was time to do my higher calling, my higher purpose and passion. When that all happened, I made a quick decision through the lens of a lot of people. A lot of people were like, “You’re making this decision so rashly. It’s so quick.” I said, “Actually, not. I’ve been making this decision for the last thirteen years. I’ve just been building my experience.” I knew I was going to be an executive coach. I was working my career and eventually, I got to the executive suite. I got there because of how I changed my approach. If I didn’t change my approach, I probably would’ve never gotten there. All those experiences from where I was prior to the accident, to then leaving as an executive, those were all fundamental to help me be a better business leader when I opened my own firm up.

In that situation, you can’t sit on that decision too long because your brain will talk you out of it. It’s almost you have to be like, “This is it. Let’s do it.”

It was like pulling the Band-Aid off and you’ve got to go. Many people let the start to stop them. I talked to my wife, “Let’s do it. Here’s our time. This is as good a time as any.” I made that call to the appropriate people in the company and say, “Let’s talk about me leaving,” because I was in a big role. It wasn’t like a typical employee like I can say, “Here’s my two weeks’ notice.” We did have to work through a transition plan. I made that within 36 hours. I was like, “This is no longer a good fit for me.” I was cool with where they wanted to go. I was also cool with where I wanted to go.

*What was the next transition phase in your life? *

It was building my practice, Peloton Coaching and Consulting. Now I get to do something I love doing all the time, which is helping leaders grow and develop but what I want to help them do is avoid their SUV. There are so many people in all the cities across America. Definitely, we see it in our area here like in New York and New Jersey, a lot of people have a great career. They have all their stuff. They have a ton of stuff. By one definition, they’re wealthy but they’re not wealthy within. They’ve got the stress. They’ve got the worry. They’ve got the anxiety. They’ve got the shame. They don’t have the happiness, joy, fulfillment and peace of mind. I was a lot like that before my accident, before my last bad day, so I could feel. I can feel where they’re at right now. What I want to help them do is have that great career but to also have that greatness, that wealth inside of them so they don’t pour the stress inside.

If you’re pouring stress inside of your body, then your alignment’s all off and that energy has to go somewhere. If we don’t do anything with it, that energy stays as pain and suffering or in my case, literally and figuratively, that SUV knocked the stuffing out of me, knocked all that energy out. Now I try to help leaders lead in their own way, bring their full selves to work, have a great career, climb that corporate ladder if they want to and also have wealth inside. That’s what I do now. I speak on my accident, my recovery and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I try to translate it for those people in corporations in a very relatable way.

*That’s a beautiful thing too because it’s part of you. What you’re doing is what you do. You’ve lived it. What I do, I can help people get coached through like a traumatic brain injury and very serious life stuff because I’ve been there. It helps to reassure them that they’re in the right spot and they will get better because they have seen where I’ve been, where I’m at now. If I came up to you on the street, I would have no idea. You look like you’re in shape. You’re looking good. You have overcome some very severe obstacles and it’s very impressive. It’s a very inspiring story. *

When people first meet me, they’re like, “You’re normal.” I start to show the pictures and what happened. They read through the book and we talk. They see my scars because my legs are filled with scars. They’re like, “You got nailed.” I’m like, “Yes.” They’re like, “You’re lucky to be alive.” When you first look at me, if you saw me do a talk, they’re like, “He’s the guy that I see online at Whole Foods. He’s the white dude in suburbia in New Jersey.” That’s what I try to relate to folks. I don’t try to give them, “The definition of success is climbing Mt. Everest or doing Ironman.” Those are awesome feats. I know people who have done Ironman. I don’t know anyone that’s done the Everest. I try to say, “Let’s stop the comparison and become the best you that you can be. Live that life.” I want to give you a roadmap to do based on my own personal experience. There are more people out there who want to be great husbands and great dads. There are more people like that than want to climb Mount Everest or do an Ironman. In today’s society, we need more good dads and good moms and good husbands and good wives, much more now to help our society grow in hopefully the way we want it to grow.

*If there’s one piece of advice you could give the audience with that you’ve carried with over the years that’s resonated with you, what would it be? It could be absolutely anything. *

I’d say breathe. Back in 2001, I didn’t know anything about meditation or mindfulness. Meditation was something for people who ate grape nuts. It was like a very California woo-woo thing. I’m not saying that your audience should run out and do a meditation practice, but I am saying connect with your breath. It’s the first thing we get when we come into the world. We leave with everything else in our lives changed, but we always can be connected to our breath. When we have greater control over our breath when we can slow it down, in some ways we can go faster. It just slows everything down, so it can be thoughtful and mindful instead of being triggered and reacting. We can be a little bit more thoughtful and responsive. When I was coming out of my recovery, I developed a little micro mindfulness. I didn’t call it that back because I didn’t have the vocabulary, but it’s called grabbing a PBR.

Life’s too short to drink bad beer regardless of all those people in Brooklyn, what they have to say about stuff. It stands for pause, breathe and reflect. When we have moments where we feel we’re getting triggered, what I invite people to do is hit the pause button, spend a minute or two connecting with their breath. It’s simple as I breathe in for a count of four, hold for two. Then exhale for a count of four, hold for two and do that for a minute or two. Then have a moment of reflection in terms of like, “What do I want to do next?” Often, we start to go on with our days like we’re on autopilot. It’s important to note that we’re not responsible for the first thought that pops into our head, but we are responsible for our second thought in that first action. The more we can have that pause be part of our life, we can be mindful or thoughtful and purposeful about what that second thought is and what that first action is.

*What you mentioned, being able to reflect and spending time with yourself is a very powerful thing. Me and you experienced that by default. There were so many nights where I was just staring up at the ceiling like, “What is going on here?” You start running through everything and you start to work stuff out. You find out what’s important, what’s not. It’s an unfortunate circumstance but look where it’s led you and it’s powerful. *

Both of our experiences, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves through it. We’ve learned a lot about others and now we’re in a position to help others. Hopefully, I can relay that wisdom that I’ve learned through our pain and suffering, so they can avoid some on their own. That’s one of the greatest gifts of this. A lot of people have asked me, “If you could turn back time, would you want this to go away?” I’m like, “No way. This has totally shaped me. It’s put me in a position. There’s no book, there’s no business, there’s none of that without the experience I went through.” As a family, we’re closer together. I see myself in a completely different light. Hopefully, I can share a pearl or two with people so they can also live a life that is wealthy.

Where can people find you on the internet? What’s your company called?

The company’s called Peloton Coaching and Consulting. You can find me at Then you can find me on all those other places like Facebook and LinkedIn. Just type in Peloton Coaching or Shift and that connects you with Michael O’Brien because there’s a ton of us out there.

What’s your book called?

EM 76 | Shift Shift – Creating Better Tomorrows: Winning at Work and in Life

It’s called Shift: Creating Better Tomorrows. The cool thing about the book is that all the proceeds go to a charity called World Bicycle Relief. They’re based in Chicago and they help girls in countries like Kenya, Malawi and Zambia conquer the challenge of distance by giving them a bike. They give them mobility. The book was about not making money but about the message of mindset and resilience in the community. I wanted to give the proceeds to an organization that helped basically promote mobility. It’s a great organization. When those girls get their bikes, they get to stay in school longer, graduate later and have more independence. It also helps them to get to the marketplace as well as to healthcare. We all know here in the Western part of the world, what our first bike meant and how excited we are. World Bicycle Relief comes into their village. At age of ten or eleven, they give the bike to them and it totally changes their life. It ties nicely to my whole experience. When people buy a copy of Shift, know that someone halfway around the world, their life has changed because you bought a copy of it. Hopefully by reading it, they also get a little bit of a shift in their life too.

Michael, thank you for coming on and sharing your story. I love this episode. I look forward to talking to you soon.

Thank you, Kevin. Thanks, everyone. I enjoyed spending the time with you.

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