It took me a really long time to get down to reading Brett Wilson’s book, “Redefining Success Still Making Mistakes,” but when I finally did I didn’t regret the investment of my time. I’ve engaged with Brett in tweets over the years and met him once ironically around an investor meeting. People were looking to invest in my company Oil Authority an industry network site and Brett just happened to be at the same restaurant with large table of people. In regular fashion, he was wearing a bright patterned shirt. While I’m not unusually enamored with celebrity types I’ve definitely got a profound amount of respect for those that have a legitimate amount of success in building great companies. Brett definitely has a solid history of doing so and he talks about these successes in his book.
He caught me off guard when he said my name after talking about his book to a friend. This shocked me because as a rule most of us don’t pay attention to others names unless they have some significance to us. They say one of the key factors of success is not IQ but EQ (Emotional Intelligence). I can tell you from first-hand experience he’s definitely got a healthy hand of both but that hasn’t stopped me from throwing rhetoric because why not? His cowboy mantra of talk less and say more can be amusingly seen as hundreds engage with political posts.
Brett’s discussions around becoming a “Graduate,” aka prostate cancer survivor are a real wake up call to men. For every doctor that tells you that it isn’t necessary before the age of 50 ask them if they are familiar with Brett Wilson. If it wasn’t for a regular full annual medical in the US he said he probably wouldn’t be here today because most Canadian physicians do not run checks. Personally, most physicians live up to that stereotype and don’t test under 40. The intimate grueling details of his cancer were enough to send any hypochondriac running for the nearest clinic. More importantly, the reflections of healthy focus transitions to things that really matter in life.
While I really appreciated hearing about strategies and failures of building various businesses in minor detail the most profound was his discussions around philanthropy. Personally, philanthropy has always been a very private thing for me and it’s been frowned on around any open discussions of this used for business for a long time. However, Brett makes no reservations about openly talking about how philanthropy was used for business promotion. In my own personal observations working with the 1% the few times most successful entrepreneurs get out is to do public charity events. Brett is noted for his public events of which draw in many such people to raise hundreds of thousands. One such event also drew in the naming of the Urology Centre in Calgary which was beyond necessary. While I am happy that the centre is there I hope to never have to visit it.
Learning about the dynamics of what took a guy from Battleford, SK to investor and philanthropist was quite the journey. A guy that went to school, networked with the right people and grew the pool of success from a guy that won a bronze in swimming is pretty remarkable. It answered questions I had about the real value of getting an MBA which my father affirmed to many times was not in the education so much as the network of friends you build up there. As a businessman working from home and taking courses online my networking has been a very different experience. It was refreshing to see how the other side of things worked.
I guess you might say I learned that while it’s a short life it’s also a very small world. I learned a couple years ago that a friend’s Dad built First Energy with Brett and in reading his book that my very own even worked for one of his companies in Grande Cache power plant. Overall, I recommend this books but definitely didn’t get the art pieces in between which reminded me of the Hardy Boys expressions like, “Go to the museum and follow the swallows.” I’m not sure about how the arrival there was discussed but it must be something of that generation because I feel like my father’s unused philosophy degree would find use. I wonder if they both shared the same wish to own an armored pink polka dot Brinks truck?