Temecula teen’s business book is latest in string of finance feats

Despite his young age, 14-year-old Jason O’Neill is hardly a novice to the business world. The Temecula entrepreneur recently added “published author” to his impressive resume.

After launching a thriving operation called Pencil Bugs five years ago, O’Neill last week celebrated the release of “Bitten by the Business Bug” at a signing at Murrieta’s Eclectic Books on Friday.

Although he is only a teenager, O’Neill certainly knows a thing or two about success in a competitive business environment. He shares his observations in his first publication.

“I say that this book can help people ages 9 to 99, and those aren’t the limitations,”   O’Neill said. “I tell people that if they have an idea they should try it, because you never know what might happen.” 

In fact, that’s how Pencil Bugs – rounded, painted Styrofoam balls with eyes and coil antennae that make the process of doing homework more enjoyable – came to be.

 “(Pencil Bugs) started with a craft fair,” O’Neill said. “I wanted to help my mom with her product, but she told me to make something of my own. So, I made 24 pencil bugs for the craft fair, and they all sold out.”

This product brought O’Neill so much attention that he won the recognition of the Young Entrepreneurs, was featured in publications like Forbes magazine. He has appeared on radio shows and at other functions, and will be featured in an episode of the new season of PBS Biz Kids – a television show that showcases the accomplishments of young entrepreneurs and business people.

O’Neill recently began ninth grade at Linfield Christian School in Temecula. His mother, Nancy, assists her son marketing and promoting his book and products. His father, Don, is a vice president of sales for a food broker.

The family self published the 186-page book, which took two years to bring to fruition.

O’Neill’s book is receiving the same type of feedback that his initial creation garnered. Cover designer of the book, Chaz DeSimone, is one those admirers.

“My favorite page was page 115. One of the principles listed on this page is the POPE principle. I read it, and the next day it helped me through a project,” he shared.

POPE is an acronym for Prioritize, Organize, Plan, and Execute. Its purpose is to avoid procrastination. The following is an excerpt from that portion of the book:

Don’t Procrastinate

I am the first to admit that I sometimes put things off longer than I should. I am a kid. That’s what we do.

Apparently adults are not that much different. I bet there are many people that would choose play before work if they could get away with it. Of course, there are the exceptions. My grandpa is one of those people. He still would rather go outside and do some work around the ranch than sit and do nothing.

“Don’t put off doing your work if you have time today,” Grandpa says. “You just never know what might happen tomorrow if you wait.”

Grandma then adds her two cents. “Tomorrow is not a promise. Make the most of today.”

My mom never seems to procrastinate. She hates waiting until the last minute for anything. Dad teases saying her idea of late is being on time and her idea of on time is being at least ten minutes early. His teasing does not bother her because she is proud of the way she is. “It builds credibility,” she says. People know that when you say you will be there at a certain time or get a project done by a deadline, they can count on you. She lives by her POPE method. She is not Catholic and it does not have anything to do with religion at all. It stands for Prioritize, Organize, Plan, and Execute. The result gets things done.

I hate to admit it too much but she is right. There have been times with my business that I did not want to prepare for a presentation or spend the weekend assembling Pencil Bugs.

“The presentation is two weeks away and we have plenty of products in inventory,” was my usual argument.

Sure enough. Something would happen that was unexpected making it very difficult to get things done on time. I guess for most of us, it takes more than a few close calls to make us change our habits.

All I know is that waiting until tomorrow usually does not work.

O’Neill shares his financial windfall as readily as his financial acumen. In December, he made a special donation to Rady’s children’s hospital in San Diego.

“I donated $5,000 dollars for 1,800 teddy bears. I’m hoping to do that again,” he said.

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