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.