John Edward O’Malley – Founder of Planet Sun

John Edward O’Malley was born on January 1, 1965 in Athens, Ohio. The eldest of 6 children, John and the rest of the O’Malley clan grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania where family, community, sports, religion and music were key influences in his life.

During his childhood and high school years, John excelled more at sport and adventure than academia, but he shifted that focus in college, with profound interest in his studies at the University of Scranton. One of John’s mentors encouraged him to consider the ROTC program; John did, and jumped right in. In May 1987, John graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate with a Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army (Signal Corps).

Military life suited John’s personality and love of adventure. He ended up serving a full 20 year career with assignments throughout the U.S., Europe and the Pacific. John was the grateful recipient of some of the best military training in the world, as well as operational experience in virtually every continent and ecosystem on Earth. One of John’s most memorable experiences was serving in Kigali, Rwanda during Operation Support Hope; far favored over a stint as a speechwriter.

During his first assignment at Fort Carson Colorado, John met Kathleen Conden of Clinton Township, Michigan. In 1992, John and Kathi wed and immediately made their way to Germany. After 10 years of globetrotting and the birth of 2 beautiful daughters, Kaitlyn and Jenna, the O’Malley family ended up in Hawaii for John’s next assignment at the U.S. Pacific Command Headquarters. Instantly mesmerized by the Hawaiian Islands, John threw himself into triathlons, adventure racing and any other exploits that put him in the mountains and ocean. John retired from the military in 2007 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and today he and his family still call Hawaii home.

John’s experience in business began in 2005 when he and Kathi established Outer Limits Adventure Sports, LLC, a sports representation and marketing company based in Oahu. The impetus for the company came from John’s love of the outdoors, multi-sport experience and fascination with high quality gear. The Outer Limits represented a number of highly regarded sporting goods companies, promoting and placing their products throughout Hawaii. The company also conducted product development and testing and eventually grew into marketing and advertising work; doing everything from photo shoots to AD layouts to campaign development.

Upon retirement from military service, John decided to pursue his passion as an entrepreneur in the outdoor sporting industry. The experience gained from efforts with his first company, combined with a strategic planning background, passion for adventure and a never quit work ethic, gave John the “will and the skill” to go for it.

While training and racing in the Pacific, a region with the highest UV Index levels in the world, John quickly became aware of the importance of proper sun care. He also saw more and more of his friends and fellow athletes dealing with skin cancer. These experiences, along with the need for sun care products specific to the demands of endurance sports, led to the creation of Planet Sun. In February 2008 the company was formed in Hawaii.

John currently serves as President, Chief Motivator and Inspirator for Planet Sun, leading a team of physicians and world-class athletes in developing high quality performance sun care and UV protection products.

What are you working on right now?

Training new sales reps.

Where did the idea for Planet Sun Hawaii come from?

The desire to live and play safe in the sun forever. While training and racing in the Pacific, a region with the highest UV Index levels in the world, we quickly became aware of the importance of proper sun care. A number of my friends and fellow athletes were dealing with skin cancer.  These experiences, along with the need for sun care products specific to the demands of endurance sports, led to the creation of Planet Sun.

What does your typical day look like?

Typically I am up by 6:00 AM, I hug my wife and kids and tell them how much I love them.  I begin collaborating with East and West Coast based manufacturers and partners. I workout and train through lunchtime.  In the afternoon, I work primarily with my Hawaii based reps and major accounts.  Later in the afternoon I typically shuttle the kids to soccer, cross country practice or other appointments and try to spend quality time with them.  After dinner around 6:30 PM, I go back at it and typically work on marketing efforts, and since this is a sole “me thinking” effort, it allows me to squeeze a second workout in.  I typically spend from about 9:00 to 10:30 PM with my wife and teenage daughter-professional reading with Discovery Channel in the background. Lights go out around 11:00 PM.  I do most of my strategic thinking in the evening and when I work. Product research/development and testing happens around the clock.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Vision, creativity, perseverance and a GOOD PLAN.  And, oh yes…we work our asses off!!!!  Our Planet Sun sponsored athletes and our efforts supporting numerous sporting events each year serve as the R/D, proving grounds and the ultimate inspiration for all we do. Did I mention that we work our asses off?

3  trends that excite you.

– Big business helping small business. I saw that Starbucks is executing a fundraising campaign that will yield low interest loans for folks like us. THANK YOU.

– Americans becoming more aware of safe sun practices.  The Aussies and Kiwis are still years ahead of us out of sheer necessity.  We Yanks are getting with it and we are proud here at Planet Sun to be doing our part.

– Today’s kids being “Good Kids.”  At least where I am in Hawaii, I see that kids are getting in less trouble and refraining from bad influences, far more than when I was a kid.  I think this is because today’s youth are very conscious of how hard their folks are working these days given the economy, how volatile the world is right now and how tough life can be if you are not prepared for it.

What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Speechwriter. I learned that you need to find out who the heroes are of the person you are writing for and then use their heroes’ quotes in their speeches.  It typically results in them expounding on the quotes and in turn, providing you more material.

If you were to start again what would you do differently?

Start a service based company. There are so many more considerations and to-dos with being a product based company.

What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?

Read and never stop learning.  Counsel and guide your employees.

Tell us a secret…

I enjoy gardening at night.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Always remember that someone who is far less capable than you are figured it out and got it right. You just GOTTA WANT IT BAD ENOUGH.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Wooden On Leadership by John Wooden and Steve Jamison.  John Wooden offers one of the best roadmaps to success and leadership philosophies ever written.

If you weren’t working on performance sun care, what would you be doing?

Looking at the heads on Easter Island.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why.

I am sorry, I don’t tweet.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Last night I gave a sun care clinic to a running group and a young 11 year old, who was with his dad, was sporting an expensive pair of running shoes. I told him that his dad was really kind to buy him such a nice pair of shoes.  He instantly told me that his mother bought them for him.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Our General Legal Counsel, Jeff Butler.

What is the single most challenging thing about owning and running your own company?

Making the absolute best possible use of every second of the day.  John Wooden calls it Industriousness.  It is also one of the greatest challenges of life.

What inspires you?

My wife, my kids and adventure. Watching my children becoming great people–and wanting to do as much as I possibly can to help them.



Facebook:  Planet Sun Hawaii

I am very happy to share lessons learned and provide advice, as so many have done so for me–life is a team sport. If you are sincere about making the best use of my time, feel free to contact me at: [email protected]