December 26th, 2010 | Author:

In the beginning (2005)

In 2005, quite by accident, a little creature was discovered by a nine-year-old boy named Jason O’Neill.  The small, round creature was colorful and very playful. It loved to sit on top of Jason’s pencil as he did his homework and wrap its black, fuzzy body around the pencil. Before long, Jason found more and more of these cute creatures in all different colors. He appropriately called them Pencil Bugs.

Over the next five years, Jason shared his Pencil Bugs with people all over the world. He found thousands and thousands of them. It seemed like there was an endless quantity. However, as time went on, Jason noticed their numbers started to decline and there were fewer and fewer Pencil Bugs.  No matter what he tried, Jason could not get them to reproduce like he used to. He worried that they might become extinct.

The numbers dwindled down to a few hundred. Jason tried everything he could do to keep them alive but it was no use. Little by little, it was clear. Pencil Bugs were in danger. In December 2010, Jason made one last attempt to preserve their species for the future. He put several dozen of them in protective captivity.

No one really knows what will become of the few remaining Pencil Bugs or if they will produce more in the future but Jason is happy that his cute, little creatures found their way into the hearts and homes of so many people around the world for as long as they did.

Signing books (2010)

Although the actual Pencil Bugs may not be in existence anymore, Jason continues to share his story with kids and adults alike through his book, interviews, speaking engagements, and charity work.

If you were one of the lucky ones to have owned a Pencil Bug, congratulations! If you really want to get some before they are completely extinct, place your adoption order now at www.pencilbugs.com.

December 07th, 2010 | Author:

“Where did the time go,” is usually something you hear old people say.  But even for me, I wonder where this whole year went too.  It seems like it was summer not too long ago and that I just started high school last week.

With Christmas right around the corner, I  just finished my 2nd Annual Teddy Bear Fundraiser for Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California.  Through the support and generous donations from people all over the country and even a few in Japan, I was able to raise $1,475, including my own money, to buy 500 teddy bears for the kids.  Although we didn’t reach last year’s amount, I know each bear will make a difference in someone’s life.

Bears of all sizes, colors and shapes have been ordered and should arrive by the end of this week. They get unpacked from their boxes, sorted, and then my parents and I will tie a donation tag on each and every bear with the name of the person that donated. After each one has their special name tag around their neck, they are neatly packed again in larger bags ready for their trip to San Diego on December 18.

500 bears will be fill about 10 large bags.  Since we don’t have a mini-van, we contacted our local Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Temecula, California.  They were generous and offered to give us a half-price deal on a rental and said they would check to see if they could make a full donation. So hopefully, by the time the delivery date comes, they will be able to do that.  Either way, I appreciate their support and help toward this effort.

Thank you to every person who donated to this great cause. I couldn’t have done this without you. To see a list of the supporters, please visit Pencil Bugs. After we deliver the bears, I will post a short video and update to this story. The video is now online on my YouTube Channel.

Charity should not be just at Christmas. Since I started my business, I have been donating to help kids in various ways throughout the year. There are so many good causes and people that need help in different situations. 2011 may be the start of something new in my charitable efforts. Stay tuned.

November 20th, 2010 | Author:

On Friday, November 19, I had the privilege to giving a presentation at the California School for the Deaf in Riverside. It was the most fun I have had in a long time. We arrived early since they wanted to give us a tour of their 62-acre campus. We took a golf cart around since it was so big!  We met many students and teachers and saw their diverse curriculum which included mechanics, silk-screening, technology, cooking school, art, among many other programs. There are some amazing art students there and we talked with a couple of them about possibly illustrating a picture book that I’ve written.

I have been taking ASL (American Sign Language) at my school for about two months now. My parents and I did have an interpreter in the beginning when we talked with the superintendent but during the campus tour, I acted as the interpreter for my family. Mom and Dad were surprised and very proud that I was able to communicate as well as I did with only two months of ASL.

In my opinion, ASL is probably the easiest language to learn since it is made up of a lot of common sense gestures. For example, the phrase “I will go and come back” or “I’ll be right back” is signed by simply pointing to your chest for “you” and pointing with both hands in the direction you are going, then pointing back with both hands. It makes sense. So even with limited ASL training, I was able to understand almost everything that was said.

I did make one crucial mistake at one point since I wasn’t paying attention as much as I should have. One of their deaf teachers asked if I was deaf. I knew what he was saying since we had learned that early on in our class. For some reason I said “yes.” He did not know any different so he assumed I was deaf. Our tour guide had a surprised look on his face and laughed, realized my mistake so signed to the teacher, “No he is not deaf!”  That was a funny story that I can’t wait to share with my ASL class. 🙂

Before we knew it, it was time for me to speak at their assembly. It was so exciting! I stood in their gym in front about 180 high school students.  I had an interpreter sign as I gave my presentation. I wanted to show the kids that I knew some sign language so I did my introduction in ASL. They all cheered when I signed and seemed excited and happy that I was learning ASL.

Again, time flew by so fast and the day was over. The kids went home for their Thanksgiving break. The school services kids all over southern California so many of the kids are bussed as far north as Bakersfield and all the way down to Mexico.  I wished we had to leave but could have stayed longer.

I loved the opportunity speaking at their school! It was so much fun. I hope I can go back at some point. Maybe someday I will be their interpreter.

Update:

The video of my presentation is now on my YouTube channel.  Click here to watch it.

November 14th, 2010 | Author:

How many times have you left a voice mail, email, or even a text message and haven’t gotten any response or at least not soon enough? It shouldn’t matter if it’s a personal situation or a business one. Everyone deserves to be recognized.

It is especially important in business. A good business person is one that gives great customer service. Not only should your business offer a product or service with great quality but you should also know how to take care of your customers. When people order your product, get  it to them in a timely manner. If you say it will be shipped in 7-14 days, try to ship it out sooner. People will love your great customer service which gives you more business and happy customers. They say some of the best free advertising is word-out-mouth referrals but bad news can travel even faster. One unhappy customer can do a lot of damage.

Quick shipping times aren’t the only thing you should be on top of. When you receive an email, respond to it as soon as possible. My policy is to respond within 1-2 days and unless there is some major catastrophe and I can’t get to a computer, I have always stuck to that timeframe. People don’t want to wait forever for a response. This also applies to comments. If someone takes the time to write a nice comment, you should at least recognize them and send some type of response back, even if it’s just a simple thank you. If they have a question or issue but you don’t have an immediate answer, at least let them know you are looking into it and will get back to them as soon as possible. Then follow up and do what you say.

Remember to always treat people how you would want to be treated even if it is over the Internet. One of the most frequent comments I receive is how quickly I send out my products and people are even more surprised when I respond to their emails usually within the first day. That is a huge compliment and it also shows that they are a little surprised, probably because not every business has good customer service.

If your business is so big that you can’t do everything yourself, then make sure you hire someone just for customer service. Whatever it takes, that should be a high priority.

Golden Rule:
Good customer service=customers
Bad customer service=no customers=no business

You can read more common sense tips in my book, Bitten by the Business Bug: Common Sense Tips for Business and Life from a Teen Entrepreneur. Order your autographed copy directly from my website. Part of all proceeds go to support Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA.

November 07th, 2010 | Author:

One of the best tips for business or life in general is that when you make a commitment, you keep it. If you don’t keep your commitments, it’s the quickest way to have people not trust or believe you.

My parents have had this saying for as long as I can remember. “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” If you say you will do something, then do it. If you think you won’t be able to do what you say, then you better not make the commitment in the first place.

Sometimes no matter how hard we try or even if our intentions were right, things can still happen where we can’t keep our commitments. If something unexpected happens, the best way to deal with the situation is to communicate right away. Never let the other person wonder what happened to you because chances are, especially if they don’t know you prior to that, they could think of you as a flake.

Stick to your commitments. People will know they can count on you. There’s no secret to this. It’s just common sense.