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Mark O'Brien Writer, Blogger

I'm the founder and principal of O'Brien Communications Group (obriencg.com) and the co-founder and President of EinSource (einsource.com). I'm a lifelong writer. My wife, Anne, and I have two married sons and four grandchildren. I'm having the time of my life.

Books Authored By Mark O'Brien

By Mark Nelson O'Brien

Recent Content

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Big Brother By Any Other Name &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Big Brother by Any Other Name

Among the many magazines that come to our home for Anne, because she’s a designer and decorator, is one called, Architectural Products. A recent edition ran an article called, “The Smartest Buildi…

Among the many magaz…

Among the many magazines that come to our home for Anne, because she’s a designer and decorator, is one called, Architectural Products. A recent edition ran an article called, “The Smartest Building in Austin” (starting at page 28 in the print edition, page 30 in the digital edition). I don’t remember if Big Brother was identified as the architect of the building. But I do know he’s involved somehow. I know that because the article said this, in part: Sensors — approximately 6,000 of them — are attached to the spine. These connect to an automation system that allow[s] ownership …

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Moving On &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Moving On

Author’s Note: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I offer this post as a means of sharing my experience, even as I grant I’m more fortunate than many. If you or a loved one struggle with mental…

Author’s Note: May…

Author’s Note: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I offer this post as a means of sharing my experience, even as I grant I’m more fortunate than many. If you or a loved one struggle with mental health, call the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text “HelpLine” to 62640, or email helpline@nami.org. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health crisis, dial or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There’s more help available in the world than you might think — and more people in the world…

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Third Stone From The Sun &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Third Stone from the Sun

When I was growing up, our next-door neighbors had some … uh … peculiar notions about housecleaning. As sons of a Marine, my younger brother, Keith, and I would walk into their living room and be …

When I was growing u…

When I was growing up, our next-door neighbors had some … uh … peculiar notions about housecleaning. As sons of a Marine, my younger brother, Keith, and I would walk into their living room and be astounded at the volume of Clutter, the nature of the Clutter, and the general lack of order or cleanliness. One day, Keith, who’s always been the smarter and sharper-witted of the two of us, said, “Holy shit. If aliens ever came down and landed in their living room, the aliens would open the door of their spaceship, look around, and say, “What the hell?!” To this day, the idea that extrat…

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Our Friend, Psychology &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Our Friend, Psychology

If you’re anything like me, you don’t believe in indecision. In an earlier post, I wrote about self-faith and our inner genius. Consistent with what I wrote, I typically assess the situation requi…

If you’re anything…

If you’re anything like me, you don’t believe in indecision. In an earlier post, I wrote about self-faith and our inner genius. Consistent with what I wrote, I typically assess the situation requiring a decision, trust my senses, apply my intelligence (such as it is), and decide. If my decision turns out to have been wrong — and presuming it wasn’t fatally so — I assess the implications of my first decision and make a different one. Since my stethoscope tells me I’m still among the living, I have to conclude that approach has worked pretty well, so far. Nevertheless, I do understan…

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The Fine Art Of Idiocy &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
The Fine Art of Idiocy

Author’s Note: This post isn’t intended to be how-to. Rather, it’s intended to be a why-not. The stunts we can pull — and the trouble we can get into — are limited only by our imaginations. …

Author’s Note: Thi…

Author’s Note: This post isn’t intended to be how-to. Rather, it’s intended to be a why-not. The stunts we can pull — and the trouble we can get into — are limited only by our imaginations. And if you’d known Grandpa O’Brien, none of what you’re about to read would surprise you. To the south of us, between our home and the next one down the street, there are two empty building lots. Across the field behind our home, running east, and on the hill that rises up from the field, there’s a street that runs parallel to ours. Two new houses have been built on that street. The sewer …

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My Spiritual Journey &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
My Spiritual Journey

Author’s Note: I was once asked by a devotee of Simon Sinek if could state my why in five words. Because I’m a writer, I cheated; that is, I hyphenated. My response was, “I write to restore self…

Author’s Note: I w…

Author’s Note: I was once asked by a devotee of Simon Sinek if could state my why in five words. Because I’m a writer, I cheated; that is, I hyphenated. My response was, “I write to restore self-faith.” When I said that, I didn’t mean my self-faith. I meant I write to restore the self-faith of all those who’ve abandoned theirs, surrendered theirs, or had theirs stolen. I seem to be developing a morbid case of FOMO (fear of missing out). It stems from my increasingly empirical sense that I may be one of the very few people on the planet who’s not on a spiritual journey. Please don…

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Heard It In A Love Song &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Heard It in a Love Song

The Marshall Tucker Band released its self-titled debut album on Phil Walden’s Capricorn Records in 1973. As soon as my buddies and I heard “Take the Highway” and “Can’t You See”, we were …

The Marshall Tucker …

The Marshall Tucker Band released its self-titled debut album on Phil Walden’s Capricorn Records in 1973. As soon as my buddies and I heard “Take the Highway” and “Can’t You See”, we were instant fans. In 1977, the band released its sixth album, Carolina Dreams, which was certified platinum in the same year and was their most commercially successful album. It contained the track, “Heard it in a Love Song”, that reached No. 14 on the Billboard charts. “Heard it in a Love Song” provoked philosophical debate that endures to this day. The controversy is about the last two lines…

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Byline 360° Revisited

On Monday, April 8th, we’ll conduct Byline 360˚ as you’ve come to know and love it. Then, we’re going to take a nap for two months. Starting Monday, May 13th, 2024, we’ll begin meeting twice …

On Monday, April 8th…

On Monday, April 8th, we’ll conduct Byline 360˚ as you’ve come to know and love it. Then, we’re going to take a nap for two months. Starting Monday, May 13th, 2024, we’ll begin meeting twice a month, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time, for three months. But this time, Byline 360˚  will be an actual workshop, with actual work to be done between sessions. In short, we’ll talk, draft, share and discuss our drafts, then revise and refine them. Over our six sessions, we’ll figure out why we do the things we do when we write, which of those things we might do better, and which of those things …

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Hope, Control, And Letting Go &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Hope, Control, and Letting Go

On April 23rd, I’ll be leading a discussion in Salon 360˚. The title of the session will be the same as the title of this post. Inspired by some of my recent experiences with a longtime friend, the…

On April 23rd, I’l…

On April 23rd, I’ll be leading a discussion in Salon 360˚. The title of the session will be the same as the title of this post. Inspired by some of my recent experiences with a longtime friend, the discussion has ties to the Herman Melville short story, “Bartleby the Scrivener”; to Unsheltered: Voices from the Street, a book being compiled and published by 360˚ Nation and Peggy Willms — and to A Bronx Tale. In short, the session will be about reconciling: The desire to bring about what we believe to be favorable outcomes The illusory and presumptuous nature of control The relinquish…

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Chicken Or Egg &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Chicken or Egg

I was recently in a conversation with a client. We’ll call her Petunia (not her real name; although, I wish it were). Petunia happens to work in a very large (as in global), very dysfunctional (as i…

I was recently in a …

I was recently in a conversation with a client. We’ll call her Petunia (not her real name; although, I wish it were). Petunia happens to work in a very large (as in global), very dysfunctional (as in no responsibility or accountability) company that has her beyond frustrated. Part of her frustration is that she’s very responsible and very willing to be accountable. But her responsibility and accountability aren’t acknowledged, rewarded, or reciprocated. During the conversation, I asked a question it had never occurred to me to ask before: Do companies like that breed irresponsibility and…

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We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

We live in a horse race. Two nags, Gluefoot and Gimpy, are neck-and-neck coming down the stretch, and we have no idea which horse will cross the finish line first. Gluefoot represents the uncertainty …

We live in a horse r…

We live in a horse race. Two nags, Gluefoot and Gimpy, are neck-and-neck coming down the stretch, and we have no idea which horse will cross the finish line first. Gluefoot represents the uncertainty of whether we’ll persist in our belief that we can control (because we’ll be blamed for) everything. Gimpy represents the uncertainty of whether we’ll come to realize we’re insignificant and ineffectual beyond the ability of our imaginations and our egos to comprehend such a thing. Exhibit A is climate change. I came across an article in The New Yorker entitled, “What a Major Solar Storm…

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The State Of The Onion &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
The State of the Onion

I was going to excerpt portions of President Biden’s 2024 State of the Union remarks and annotate them with snide comments. But four things happened: I realized snark is indistinguishable from trut…

I was going to excer…

I was going to excerpt portions of President Biden’s 2024 State of the Union remarks and annotate them with snide comments. But four things happened: I realized snark is indistinguishable from truth at this point, and snark doesn’t sit well in some circles. Neither does truth. And here we are. I wouldn’t have enough time to peel the onion sufficiently enough to respond to all the delusional falsities in Uncle Joe’s remarks and still have time for everything else in my life. I found this post in The Federalist that highlights 30 of the lowlights. So, I decided to let it go at that. I f…

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What’s In A Name? &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
What’s In a Name?

I happened to see a notice that, Melanie, one of the singer/songwriters who achieved some popularity during my wayward youth, passed away earlier this year at the age of 76. It started me thinking abo…

I happened to see a …

I happened to see a notice that, Melanie, one of the singer/songwriters who achieved some popularity during my wayward youth, passed away earlier this year at the age of 76. It started me thinking about the plethora of famous people who’ve managed to become known by a single name only, often just their first names. This is just a partial list: Cher, Madonna, Sting, Rihanna, Charo, Sade, Usher, Prince, Adele, Beyoncé, Sinbad, Bono, Flea, Liberace, Zendaya, Lizzo, Pink, Twiggy, Slash, Yanni, Snoop, Drake, Kesha, Fabio, Shakira, Björk, Aaliyah, Eminem, Ashanti, Banksy, Seal, Oprah, Morrissey,…

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My Musical Calendar &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
My Musical Calendar

I have a theory that, for some people, the calendar just stops. It stops at different times for different people. But it definitely stops. All of their cultural influences — sartorial, tonsorial, mu…

I have a theory that…

I have a theory that, for some people, the calendar just stops. It stops at different times for different people. But it definitely stops. All of their cultural influences — sartorial, tonsorial, musical, et al. — freeze. I don’t know if those freezes could be considered time warps. It’s more likely they reflect periods of time in which the frozen people were most comfortable. I developed the theory in sixth grade. It was 1966. I was 12 years old. I had a classmate named Dennis Kennedy. I don’t know how old Dennis was. But he shaved, smoked, and drove his own car to school. His calen…

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A Silly People &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
A Silly People

On The Scale of Self-Deceit and Frivolity Unto Extinction, there are points well beyond first-world problems. They indicate the extent to which life in the United States is luxurious enough that we ca…

On The Scale of Self…

On The Scale of Self-Deceit and Frivolity Unto Extinction, there are points well beyond first-world problems. They indicate the extent to which life in the United States is luxurious enough that we can afford to make shit up to worry about. They also confirm the point made by Bill Maher that Americans are a silly people. Consider this item, which was brought to my attention most recently: On February 9, 2024, The Virginian-Pilot newspaper ran an article with the headline, ”PETA wants carousel maker to stop creating rides with animal figures”. Not animals. Animal figures. At the very least,…

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Digital Marketing &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Digital Marketing

I had occasion to speak with a prospect on a Zoom call the other day. She was looking for help in establishing her brand and marketing her online workshops and published materials. She insisted those …

I had occasion to sp…

I had occasion to speak with a prospect on a Zoom call the other day. She was looking for help in establishing her brand and marketing her online workshops and published materials. She insisted those things could be accomplished only by a digital marketing agency. I suggested digital marketing (or online marketing) simply means promoting stuff through digital channels using electronic technology, as opposed to print. I told her we employ tactics like email, social media, web-based advertising, text and multimedia messages, webinars, search engines, online customer communities, and other digita…

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Six Strings &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Six Strings

Author’s Note: This story was prompted by my wife, Anne, with whom I shared the story I’m about to share with you. When I told her the story, she said, “Six strings. You should write about that.…

Author’s Note: Thi…

Author’s Note: This story was prompted by my wife, Anne, with whom I shared the story I’m about to share with you. When I told her the story, she said, “Six strings. You should write about that.” And people wonder why I love her as I do. The woman is like the tide she comes and goes. She knows the things that I can just suppose. (Dan Fogelberg, “Comes and Goes”) On January 13th of this year, Craig James and Mac Bogert included me in some email correspondence having to do with the fact that Craig was changing the strings on his acoustic guitar for the first time in something like …

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Winter Wonders: Part Two &Raquo; Notes To Self By Mark Obrien
Winter Wonders: Part Two

Last week I wrote about the lethal peril to which we find ourselves subject as the result of anthropogenic climate change and two of its perniciously wayward children, bomb cyclones and weather whipla…

Last week I wrote ab…

Last week I wrote about the lethal peril to which we find ourselves subject as the result of anthropogenic climate change and two of its perniciously wayward children, bomb cyclones and weather whiplash. Well, just when you thought it was safe … Last week, the Washington Post ran a story — “This weather phenomenon on Lake Michigan stunned meteorologists Friday” — that’s sure to keep us on Red Alert until the vernal equinox, at the very least. Get a load of this: An extremely localized but intense band of lake-effect snow … [dropped] nearly three feet of snow in a narrow swath on…

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