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4.1 out of 5 stars
Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
I was debating whether to buy this book or not when a friend of mine lent me one. I would actually rate this book 3.75 stars. There is a lot of good information in it, it is easy to read, and can be widely useful for many people.

The book begins with his life as a child which had a profound effect on his future life. He then talks about building up Softkey which ended up buying The Learning Company. The book then explains how TLC failed under Mattel management. Clearly from other case studies outside this book, Mattel really failed in its management. O'Leary discusses how blame was laid on him and his management staff by Mattel when Mattel was actually at fault.

The book then goes into his life on television including the Dragon's Den, The Shark Tank, and several other stints. The information in this section is useful for entrepreneurs who are somewhat myopic or are thinking of applying to the show. In fact, there are several chapters that will help with this.

Finally he discusses how he feels free by having the wealth he has and provides information about his funds.

The positive points are as follows:

1. The author illustrates, throughout, that money is a tool that can be used to grow more. He places a high emphasis on cash and that it should be carefully managed as a scarce resource. His illustration of dollars being soldiers that are risk adverse and must be employed efficiently was very well done and was a great teaching point. His style of management and investment reflect the underlying concept of market efficiency
2. The main lessons from each chapter are summarized as a review in the back of the chapters.
3. The author presents several questionnaires to help the reader determine if they are a good fit to be an entrepreneur.
4. He provides an excellent background to his life. This important because concepts he learned as a youth have now translated into his investment mentality. The experiences he had reflects in his style. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers has similar thoughts on what happens when people have a bit of luck, some skill, interest in what they are doing, and are born at a suitable time and how it all comes together. That being said, both of these authors highlight the need for personal initiative.
5. It is inspiring to the degree that it motivates the reader to use their money more efficiently.
6. Mr. O'Leary delineates his concept of risk very well. From this, the reader can determine if they have the intestinal fortitude to be a entrepreneur or not.

Some of the main lessons, and there are many more, I took away from the book (many of which I already know and practice) were:
1. There is no substitute for work, hard work and that is what you have to do to get to the top. Nevertheless, effective and efficient work must be done. This second statement is implied throughout.
2. There will always be naysayers and critics that will say "it can't be done."
3. There are opportunities around no matter what the circumstance for those that look.
4. Image is a factor in success.
5. Command ability will make one more successful.
6. Sacrifice is needed to win. In this case, O'Leary's sacrifice included most of his hobbies, friends, and family. The question then remains: Is it worth it?" To him it would appear so.
7. Match your weaknesses with a partner's strengths.
8. Loving what you do is a factor relating to the degree of success you will have. However, hobbies don't make money.
9. Time is precious so use it wisely.

The drawbacks in this book include the following:
1. Although he states that freedom is his ultimate goal, what do you do with it once you have it? For him, and many entrepreneurs, it appears that making money is a game. Perhaps there is no end state.
2. Other wealthy individuals such as Gates, Buffet, Zuckerman, Omidyar, have put a heavy emphasis on philanthropy. Although O'Leary states he contributes to five charities per year, there is only one paragraph in the entire book relating to this topic and by default what freedom can mean for others (he does say he makes his shareholders money, however). In this regard with the next point, the book seems unbalanced.
3. The focus is entirely on money and how he was able to get more of it. Although the lessons learned are good, it seems unbalanced compared to other wealthy persons approaches (e.g., Seymour Schulich) and does not deal with soft touch approaches. He states that the only thing that motivates people is money. I don't necessarily agree based on my own experiences as a businessman.
4. His perspective is very Machiavellian. Perhaps this is his media persona or perhaps not. But is certainly looks that way in this book. In this case, leadership is not a strong focus but quick, decisive action is.
5. Finally, if readers had only this book with which to learn management styles, this would not be a good choice. I have found the Jack Welch biography much better and he seems to achieve the same effect (if not better) using more soft touch techniques with the hard knock ones. This book is good to provide one perspective on a leadership style but should be accompanied by examples from other leaders.

All in all, I recommend this book to readers who enjoy learning about differing leadership styles, people who are in business, people looking to appear on Dragon's Den or The Shark Tank, and people who invest, want to work with, or are or will be associated with Kevin O'Leary.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I am working my way through the 's books the Canadian Dragons have written. Kevin's business experience comes closer than all the others to my own. Yes he is brusque, some say nasty but he is a real truth teller on Dragon's Den and Shark Tank. He also makes the best arguments for investing in stocks/bonds than have a dividend/yield. It works and I confirm it. After reading this book I would have much more time to listen to O'Leary (and Amanda Lang). All these successful people have a story to tell and lessons you can learn from. O'Leary my be seen as cruel - but he is being kind to let people know immediately where they stand or their idea is foolish. Worth a read - I could not put it down as it flows well.
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on August 10, 2015
Some people are natural-born entrepreneurs. There’s a particular strand of DNA that uniquely equips certain individuals with the ability to spot an opportunity and commit the required amount of time and energy and take the risks involved in capitalizing on the opportunity. Personal motivation often stems from necessity. Such was the case for Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary. When he realized, after completing high school, that he could never make a living doing what he enjoyed most, being a self-employed photographer, he resorted to Plan B, which meant getting a post-secondary education. Despite having dyslexia and not being a particularly exceptional student, O’Leary finished university and earned an MBA giving him the tools he needed to create the life he envisioned.
Kevin O’Leary has also had his share of failures and successes over the years. His little book (just over two hundred pages) is chock full of great business advice for anyone with an urge to start their own business. He stresses the importance of hiring the right people. There was no tolerance for people who didn’t contribute to the bottom line or caused trouble. “I went to school with guys and gals who were brainiacs with the books, but utter zeros when it came to making money and building a business. They had no people skills and no ability to forge valuable relationships, proving that in the real world, interpersonal skills often trump academic achievements.” When I was in the corporate world I also found that top marks didn’t always guarantee business success. A high energy level, the willingness to work long hours, often at the expense of family life and strong interpersonal skills are essential. He stresses the importance of stocking your toolbox with valuable skills and learn to make money from it. Hire others to do what you’re not good at.

His evolution from being a self-involved young jerk with a giant ego to becoming a billionaire business success story includes realizing the importance of failure in the learning process. Despite early missteps, O’Leary credits his frugal, fiscally-savvy mother and wise step-father with being instrumental in guiding him through bad decisions. It’s also worth noting that O’Leary’s career path did not follow a carefully layed-out plan. Circumstances and missteps that at first appeared as setbacks, ultimately led to opportunities. I think this is something young university graduates should pay attention to. Keep your options open and don’t restrict your future to preconceived educational constraints. Lessons learned the hard way, on the job, and the experience of having been there and done that are valuable advice not only for would-be entrepreneurs but any business person. I enjoyed the book; it was honest, easy to read and inspiring.
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on April 21, 2013
Here is what surprised me: to find so much valuable information, as a young entrepreneur.

I hadn't given much thought to distribution and my own business model until I read this book.
What I took away from his story is that he managed to democratize software by undercutting (yes, you'll say he's brutal) everyone in the software industry, adopting a volume and licensing strategy.

I'm 26, so I can definitely remember growing up and seeing all those 2-5$ games and software disks by the counter. I personally found most were total crap, yet I now realize it brought down a lot of giants who would otherwise charge software by the thousand.

In my opinion, his personal brand was built on the same principal. His personal brand is only as strong as the TV rating can be... and the rating is pretty high (in major part due to his own "Mr Wonderful" nature).

I took away something: when I have a kid of my own, I'm making him build a lemonade stand by the golf course, so he learns that Distribution Is Key.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2012
Lots of useful advice on money, investing and making a successful business.
If you know nothing or very little about financial stuff, this book is definitely a good starting point. It will not teach you any particular skills, but rather will show you a correct mindset you should have in order to become a successful entrepreneur.
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on December 11, 2013
Format: Paperback

Rating: 9.5

Review: Wow. This book truly surprised me. Of all the business books that I have read and reviewed so far, this one was by far the best. Kevin O’ Leary has a great writing style, which put him ahead of many other books written on business. O’ Leary tells his life story while giving tips for anyone with a business mindset along the way. He has written this book with the same personality he had on t.v, and as I’ve been told by several sources, off t.v. Brutally honest. (Maybe all capitals should be on the ‘Brutally’ part!) I know that some people do not like O’ Leary because of this, but I think it is the character trait that draws me towards him in his writing and on television. Overall, I suggest this book to any readers, young or old, who are interested in business, or just in O’ Leary’s story. I will be reading his other books in the future.
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on December 17, 2011
Picked up this book because I am a fan of Dragon's Den and Kevin's character on the show.

It's a very fun and fast-paced read. I couldn't put the book down. Probably due in part to the ease in which Kevin has been able to tell his story from beginning to end. Although I appreciated his tips and advice given in each major section that came to an end, I was more interested in learning about what an interesting life this man has lead. My biggest takeaway from his book would probably be the bit about weaknesses, 'doing' versus 'being' and whatever you pay attention to grows.

I'm giving this five stars because it was worth my money for $15 and I'd likely read it again. It was an entertaining and insightful read, which is what I hope you'll get out of the book. I've also purchased Arlene's Persuasion which I will be reading soon too!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is easy reading and like a good novel is hard to put down once you start going through it. This is due to the successful blending of family history and upbringing with business accomplishments. Nothing theoritical or boring, anecdotes and stories from the real business world are distlled at the end of each chapter with lessons to be learnt and guidlines for aspiring entrepreneurs.The underlying theme is that if you put your mind to it, you can accumulate wealth and reap the freedom that comes with it.Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2012
Very enjoyable read. Lots of good advice and content. The book exceeded my expectations and is quite well written.
He focuses a lot on marketing and being very aggressive once a path is chosen. Good job, good effort!
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on April 8, 2014
It's easy to become rich when you come from a wealthy family! It's easy to become rich when you can have great support and advisor's at age 8-9 to teach you about business and economics. Put anyone in these circumstance's and there's a good chance they'll be rich. Not so impressive.

For the book it self, it could have 5 pages of good tips. The rest his filling pages of personal non relevant crap that as nothing to do with how to make money. I don't care that you lived in a villa surrounded by pomegranates when you where a little boy. It's more about his personal history than the truth about money

That's the truth!
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