The True Saga of Indian Motorcycle

Jump First, Think Fast (book cover)

I’ve just finished Frank J. O’Connell’s book, Jump First, Think Fast, and found it more fun, interesting, and inspiring than I had thought possible.  I’ve known Frank and his wife Barb for more than twenty-five years. There was never a doubt Frank’s life and career would make a great story. However, Frank’s collaboration with writer Rich Marin exemplifies one of Frank’s core strengths—getting the best people onto his team to produce phenomenal outcomes. His first—and best—team member is his wife Barbara, the centerpiece of his success. But the drafting of Marin for this project should rank right up there and cannot be underestimated.

My motorcycle friends will snap up Frank’s book for the inside story of Indian Motorcycles. But it would be a mistake to skip right to those parts. Frank paves the way from the first chapter with lessons shaping his life and career. It’s fun to see all these learnings coming into play not only at the Indian Motor Company but at other high-profile companies which Frank led. O’Connell shows little interest in self-serving stories to polish his legacy. Instead, he candidly shares insights about what tactics worked, what decisions didn’t, and what he took from those experiences.

Frank’s fascinating and exhilarating life does not appear to be slowing down.  This wonderful chronicle will most benefit those in an early or mid-career stage. Reading the book, I wanted to go back and do my career again, based on some of the lessons outlined here. I’d be much bolder and I’m certain—more successful.

One might think it impossible to make attempting to turn around a distantly trailing greeting card company fun and interesting, but Frank does it. Trust me, if he can make the greeting card business interesting, imagine how much more fun to hear his exploits at the center of the gaming console wars at Mattel and Atari, the video rental explosion, and its ultimate decline. Athletic shoe stories from when Frank led Reebok are fascinating, including the personalities and parties.  Few executives have had the opportunity to apply their business talents in such diverse industries.

I loved seeing how and where so many of his friends became a part of his life, especially the ones I know through my association with the American Flyers Motorcycle Club (AFMC).  Frank’s enthusiasm, effort, intelligence, and dedication are something he brings to every activity.  Jump First, Think Fast captures Frank’s effervescence and allows anyone to enjoy his remarkable road through life.  I read the book and loved all the photos. Plus, I listened to the brilliantly done Audible version. I highly  recommend either one.

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