Kevin O’Leary’s cold hard truths on business, money and life

September 29, 2011 | By | Reply More

Troy Media – by Faith Wood

What does it take to be a successful and wealthy entrepreneur? According to Kevin O’Leary (one of the original Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank Venture Capitalists), it takes hard work, strong partnerships and a willingness to think like money. “Money has no feelings” and, according to Mr. O’Leary, “it doesn’t care about yours”. “There is no place in business for emotional baggage.”

Whether you agree with his philosophies or like his persona on TV, there is no argument that Kevin O’Leary has carved out a wealthy niche for himself in the world of capitalism. Success in business is clearly something he can speak about with a level of authority and credibility.

O’Leary’s law of time

The book was written in the first person, and the tone feels like you could actually be sitting down having a coffee with him while he shares his personal stories of triumph and failure. (Of course he would never do that as his valuation of time comes down to whether or not it will actually make him or his shareholders a lot of money).

While reading the book, I grew to understand how Kevin O’Leary became the man he is today. Like many of us, his beliefs and values grew from childhood influences and real-life experience. He does not celebrate the typical rags to riches philosophy that permeates much of North American culture. Instead, he attributes his successes to a steady commitment of hard work, logical decision-making and money values established early on through antecedence and parental coaching.

Born a natural salesman, O’Leary believes strongly in clear communication and relationship building. He encourages business owners to be honest about identifying their personal strengths and weaknesses early and then partner with individuals who shore up those weaknesses while complimenting their strengths. Everyone needs to be committed to the journey with no overlap in decision making if a partnership is to be most effective. He encourages business owners to be clear and concise about the bottom line and never hesitate to ‘off-load’ those who are not contributing in positive ways.

Throughout this book are the stories which created his persona. I was touched by the challenges he faced as a child (such as overcoming dyslexia and long separations from family) and was fascinated by his manner of connecting the dots. With a candid and often witty look at the past and present, he crafts an easy to read and enjoyable story of the moments that shaped him. I was surprised to discover his reverence for creativity since we usually celebrate the left brain dominance in the business world. This was a refreshing approach to matching and celebrating the value both sides of the brain bring to business.

Need for solid relationships

As an entrepreneur myself, I absorbed some great take-a-ways from a book which speaks honestly and openly about the need for solid relationships on the road to success. No person can become wildly successful in isolation. The universe rewards swift action and constant and consistent course corrections. Success is rarely a steady incremental climb to the top.

For me, one of the most poignant gaps in the book relates to his relationship with his wife and children. There is little contained in the pages about their partnership or family ties. In his quest to succeed it is almost like he forgot about them. I was not surprised to discover that the marriage had broken down following the writing of this autobiography. Perhaps it is a warning to ‘WE’ entrepreneurs out there – never forget to remain committed to the partnership at home as much as the partnerships created for business. Or perhaps, the idea that “wealth creates freedom” may be truer than you first considered.

Kevin O’Leary, Cold Hard Truth on Business, Money & Life (Doubleday Canada, 2011)

Category: Arts, Opinion

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