Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes – A Book Review and Giveaway

http://www.wbrettwilson.ca/

W. Brett Wilson’s book, Still Making Mistakes, arrived with a form note with my name hand-written across the top and Mr. Wilson’s signature at the bottom. An included branded eraser with a label inscribed ‘still making mistakes’ was a cute little extra. I can relate: I still write the drafts for all of my articles and content in pencil.

W. Brett Wilson is a Canadian businessman well-known for his role as a co-star of CBC TV’s Dragon’s Den (Canada’s version of Shark Tank) and penchant for investing in people as a means to profit. The attention to detail with the book’s marketing was not unnoticed and indeed this attention to detail plays a large role in his business strategies.

Many of us, myself included, in the Oh My! Handmade community are self-employed as a means of flexibility and control over our respective futures. His formal education, like mine, is in engineering and while this book covers a great deal of territory, it does read like a technical report. Initially the book begins as a cautionary tale of a life lived in the business fast-lane and the toll taken on his family. He is open about his regrets of having worked so many hours that he sacrificed his relationship with his wife and barely knew his children.

Wilson’s decisions led to the breakdown of his marriage and while he treats his wife with utmost respect in print, any hopes of gaining insight into achieving work life balance with a young family was quickly glazed over with a random mention of the children’s nanny in favour of a string of stories, character references and case studies of business ventures in which he has succeeded, failed and invested. There are a series of letters written by other prominent Canadian business people that seem to ‘vouch’ for Wilson’s credibility and business acumen that feel a bit like artificial name-dropping.

There are lessons to be learned in this book: stories of leading with your heart, community involvement and philanthropy as a means to achieve a better bottom line, updates on some of the most memorable Dragon’s Den deals and the high value Wilson places on integrity and old-fashioned business deals built on a handshake. In today’s world of litigation it is refreshing to know that there are highly successful businesspeople out there who value trust and integrity above all and how this integrity has culminated in huge financial success.

Above all Wilson’s humility is apparent. So many entrepreneurs are in business because of passion, not because of a formal education in business. Many of us feel like we are climbing a mountain alone – as though someone out there must surely know more than we do or that we will be found out for the business poseurs we are! This book has reinforced that entrepreneurs truly do work on instinct and gut far more often than by the book. It is also a testament to no matter how successful we appear to be as judged by the outside world, questioning our value in an organization or our skills comes with the territory. It is refreshing to hear such a highly-respected, financially and socially successful entrepreneur admit that he has doubt about his own skills and that he, like all of us, is still making mistakes. It is what you do with the learning opportunity that comes with the mistakes that help define success.

I would love to send an autographed copy of W. Brett Wilson’s Book, Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes to a lucky Oh My! Handmade Goodness reader in Canada. In the comments briefly describe a business mistake you made and how you turned it into a learning opportunity. A randomly selected entry from the comments will be selected on December 5. You’ll also receive your own “Still Making Mistakes” eraser. I used mine no less than 20 times while writing the draft of this article, which reads nothing like the pencil version.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book to review and a signed copy to give away. I was not paid to review this book nor was I told what to write.

11 comments

  1. Meryl says:

    Oh April you have many hidden talents! Great review. When I was teaching Bowen across Canada I made the mistake of not always insisting on deposits from students. One trip in particular ended up costing me money as several students dropped out at the last minute. I no longer teach, but if I did I would require a deposit on registering and the balance before I actually get on a plane.

  2. Julia says:

    I made the mistake of believing that the more clients the better. In most cases this is a good thing but you have to know your limitations. The relationship must be beneficial both ways. It got to the point where I was so excited to have someone to want our services that I would take on anyone. I got in way over my head. I pride myself in customer service so I wasn’t able to deliver the way I always had in the past. So I took a long hard look at the overall picture and made some hard decisions to either sever a few business relationships or just not renew contracts. In the end it has worked out so much better and realizing it is about quality not quantity has been the major difference.

  3. lana says:

    A few years ago, I made the mistake of committing to a craft show (re:paying in full) before carefully doing my homework. Things that are important warning signals included an out of date website (3 years), no facebook, twitter, or other social media presence and a complete lack of vendor communication. I should have known!

    I turned my rookie mistake into a learning opportunity. I ended up creating my own facebook event, invited all of my friends and even created flyers to hand out at coffee shops and community centers. I was able to pay back my table and my supplies, but what I really gained was a solid understanding that if I am going to pay a company/person for a show, they better be the ones prepared to pimp their show too!

  4. Edna Siu says:

    Lately, I have been able to read some books. I read while I am having my lunch. It is the best time to read. The more books I read, the more I get my eyes open. There are so many good books, An never ending of resource that I can enrich myself. I get excited to read your recommendation, and thanks for the chance to win.

  5. Benny says:

    Wow, business mistakes?
    Getting so personally attached to an idea that it was more than heartbreaking to be shot down by those that could have made my dream a reality. In hindsight, they were totally right and pushed me down a wonderful path of learning and new opportunity…
    but, lesson learned. If I get attached to a certain product idea, I first make enough to surround myself with.. and fully think every aspect of manufacture through before dipping my toes into the vast world of sales.

    ;D
    p.s. to lana, I’m still working through that same mistake.. agreeing to do shows that acquaintances are putting on (and ending up pimping their shows just to try and get traffic).

  6. Ariane says:

    Back when I was in university I had a small business sewing organic cotton bags and housewares. My big mistake was that I really didn’t grasp pricing. How high I’d have to price things to cover both my time and the sustainable textiles which then I could only mail order from the US.

    It was far from profitable, but I’m glad that I had that experience because as I look at starting a new business years later, I have an immensely more realistic view on this and will be able to plan accordingly.

    Making the most of my mistakes! 😉

  7. Laura says:

    I enjoyed your review. You tell it like it is and don’t show only the good or best aspects of the book.

    Like most others, I’ve made my share of mistakes. In fact, I am still making them. It is a bumpy ride.

  8. Anu Rao says:

    As a young entrepreneur, I am terribly excited about my current venture- a software solutions venture tailored to small business owners with limited resources- that I have started along with my friends. However, the ride has not been smooth and I have made a few mistakes along the way. In the first month of operations, I made the ever so common mistake of over promising my clients. My enthusiasm for my project and the resulting unfounded optimism, made me take up more orders than we could fill. Hence, I ended up disappointing a few clients.

    However, my great team mates helped me convert this mistake into a learning opportunity which is in fact now the motto of the business- under promise and over deliver! My clients haven’t been happier and the result is strong customer loyalty and great business success.

    Thank you!

  9. Shall I email you the list? It could be lengthy. I believe that everyone makes mistakes in business some much bigger & costlier than others. Just remember to learn from them! Here’s a short list:
    1. under priced
    2. over committed
    3. didn’t charge upfront for custom work
    4. forgot to reorder business cards

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