Books offer a study in contrasts

To become rich, entrepreneurs must be ruthless and tenacious — even if it means eating cat food to prove that you’re selling a good product.

Kevin O’Leary, the so-called “mean one” on the Dragon’s Den, reveals how he earned his fortune in his new book The Cold Hard Truth. To become rich, entrepreneurs must be ruthless and tenacious — even if it means eating cat food to prove that you’re selling a good product (which O’Leary did at the beginning of his career).

O’Leary’s Scrooge-like quest for money involves insane work hours and a willingness to chew up and spit out anyone who gets in the way of success. When deciding whether to take over a new company, the amount of money he stands to make is more important than the quality of the company’s product. That attitude got him kicked out of Steve Jobs’ office but earned him premium product placements at Wal-Mart and millions of dollars.

O’Leary’s story is not just a glimpse into a life of high-stakes investing, it also lays bare his failures — not all of them consciously disclosed. He asserts that no self-respecting entrepreneur would talk about work/life balance, and yet says a forced holiday with his family was the best two weeks of his life.

Around the house, I’ve been calling O’Leary’s book “The Cold-Hearted Truth.” It’s unfair to couple a review of his book with a reader-recommended book, Half the Sky. But because I found myself reading these books at the same time, the irony was too much to resist.

Half the Sky, by Pulitzer prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, is on the opposite end of the greed spectrum. Through a series of essays, the authors plea for an end to the three major abuses of women around the world: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honour killings and mass rape; and maternal mortality.

I didn’t expect to enjoy reading Half the Sky. I knew the profiled individual stories would be difficult to stomach, and I was worried that solutions offered to the problems would be unrealistic and simplistic. But I was riveted by this intelligent book.

Half the Sky not only lays bare the atrocities, it gives thoughtful ideas about how to fix the situation. Kristof and Wudunn suggest that the best answer to alleviating suffering is to educate women, and to help them become financially independent.

O’Leary’s motto is money equals freedom. And for many people around the world this is true. I have no idea how much time, energy or money O’Leary gives to charity, and can only hope that his quest for riches means he has more share with those truly in need.

Heather Allen is a writer, reader and book lover living in Penticton.



Just Posted

Okanagan a hot spot for film industry

Despite wet, smoky year Okanagan attracts $30 million in film production

Loaded shotgun found in vehicle during Okanagan Falls traffic stop

Okanagan Falls man facing a number of weapons related charges

Washroom blaze at Princess Maggie

Fire crews say the fire appears to have started in the washroom’s garbage bin

Penticton businesses in the running for Small Business BC Awards

Two Penticton businesses have made it to the finals of the 15th Annual Small Business BC Awards

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

ExpOCP kicks off with a packed house

Penticton trying to make community engagement more engaging

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

RCMP nail sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

TGIF: South Okanagan events

Live theatre, concerts, events, art exhibits and more from around the South Okanagan

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Train derails in Northwest B.C.

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved after coal train derailment.

Most Read