another game changer brought to you by…and, well, me…


Daniel X. O’Neil helps to make things better by doing what he wants and messing things up.

By Megan Weinerman on September 28, 2011

DANIEL GOES ROGUE ALL THE TIME. He’s always taken the path less traveled by default because his personal history has taught him that you can do whatever you want and still have traditional success. His guiding principle: “Mess things up”. But he never seeks to destroy, just to change things for the better.

An example of his “Mess Things Up” theory is when in 2005, he started a wireless group that gave CTA riders a way to tell each other about service outages throughout the system. This was after he was frustrated with the CTA’s lack of clear communication with its customers. So instead of whining about it, he went in and “dive bombed” and started an outside group that could affect change. It did so well, the CTA quickly got on board.

But we’re jumping ahead, so let’s go back to the beginning…. Read the rest of this entry »


another article i wrote for


Reverse engineering propels David Kadavy forward.

Photo by Erika Dufour Photography

“I WOKE UP ONE MORNING AND I HAD THIS LUMP IN MY LIP. I’m sort of a hypochondriac so I was convinced I was dying. I searched the web and everything said, ‘Oh, you have oral cancer and you’re going to die.’ It kept getting bigger so I went to the doctor and was told that it was just a mucous retention cyst, which is when the salivary gland gets clogged, turns into a cyst, gets bigger and you have to get it removed. He took it out with a little oral surgery, piece of cake.”

“When I searched the Internet, everything still pointed to oral cancer.’ Then I wrote a post on my blog about if you got a lump in your mouth it might be a mucocele. Everything that was describing mucocele on the web was using words that nobody would ever use to search for those symptoms. That blog post became very popular and still is: it gets about 30,000 hits a month. I had 200 and some comments so I made a forum called I got all this traffic. I’d look at my analytics and thought, ‘God, wow, where is all this traffic coming from?’ I’d try to figure out how to make it better. I wanted to build a community and get people to work and interact with the forum in a better way.” Read the rest of this entry »

from point a to z with a winding road in between

i co-wrote this article about how there isn’t always a straight path to follow in becoming an entrepreneur. (written for technori, an online magazine.)


Jeff Leitner’s Long Strange Journey Has Only Just Begun. (Again.)


“In business schools and in business plans, they ask for exit strategies,” Leitner says. “I find that absurd. What I’ve learned at every stage in my career is that I learn more on the first day of doing whatever it is I’m doing than I will ever learn by planning for it.”

Read the rest of this entry »

making success habit-forming

i co-wrote this article about a man who turned his obsession with computers into a successful business. (written for technori, an online magazine.)

Turning an Addiction into a Bootstrapped Startup

Dan Ushman co-founded SingleHop and bootstrapped the company to $20mm in revenue

AS THE SON OF RUSSIAN IMMIGRANTS, Dan Ushman would struggle for years to find something he could focus his mind on and hopefully deter his wild tendencies.  Looking back now, he started out like so many tech entrepreneurs: obsessed with computers and no real interest in school.

“As long as I can remember, I was always a piss-poor student. Always. I failed a lot of classes because I just didn’t go. I was pretty reckless and didn’t like fitting into any kind of regimen. I got into trouble a lot, like the time a friend and I coated our principal’s car with mustard. It completely takes off the paint, you know. That’s why we did it.” Read the rest of this entry »

creating inventorland

here’s an article i wrote for the online magazine technori, about a chicago entrepreneur helping inventors and designers get access to hard-to-get materials.

Zach Kaplan Wants a World Full of Inventors

How Was Inventables — an Innovator’s Hardware Store — Created?

Photography by Tim Klein for

“I started my first company my junior year at University of Illinois. I studied mechanical engineering and looked forward to my senior design project where you actually got to build a product for a corporate client. As it turned out, there wasn’t enough corporate involvement my senior year and I was asked to do finite element analysis of the car designed by the Society of Automotive Engineers. This was a pretty crushing blow but I channeled all the energy I would have poured into a new product development project for a major corporation into starting my own company, LeverWorks, instead. Lever Works had 3 offerings custom web software, hosting services, and off the shelf web software products. In December 2001, 6 months after graduating and a year and a half after starting the company, it was bought out by LeoMedia. The next month we went to Disney World to celebrate.”

Read the rest of this entry »