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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2012
Reviews to date for Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes by W. Brett Wilson have been well, gushing. Reviewers are tripping all over themselves to write about how the book has empowered them. Yet if one really reads this book Wilson prefers an ‘upfront and respectful’ approach to life.

When writing a review I make notes as I go along because it is hard to remember all the nuances by the time the book ends. When I started Redefining Success words like grandiose and self-indulgent were showing up on my notepad until I suddenly realized while pouring myself a coffee one morning that I had been rethinking my own business for the last few days from a different point of reference. The framework in which I was examining it had changed due to this book and in particular the insights of Chapter 7, Tales from the Den.

Redefining Success is multilayered; it’s a biography, one of the best guides for entrepreneurs I‘ve read in a long time and part a reminder of life and business lessons all too often forgotten. Starting on Page 4 with the economic collapse of 2008 the tone of the book is set with a clear perspective on events unencumbered by murky sentiment. Wilson is equally candid in Chapter Three’s Making Choices here he seems to hit his stride. Descriptions of his prostate cancer journey are unabashed and lines like ‘For many entrepreneurs, the journey can be a lonely one’ also find their way into this crucial chapter.

One of Wilson’s intentions with the book as well as acknowledging certain key business friends and associates seemed to be to set the record straight on a few issues such as the Fiftieth Birthday Bash and the ‘rumour on the street ‘as to the size of donation per guest being sought for the event. Wilson explains (quite a few times) the difference between a large donation and a ‘meaningful’ donation. For me the numerous accolades and explanations were a bit self-serving but it is his book.

You cannot be in business and not read with great interest the rise and challenges of companies such as FirstEnergy but it is Wilson’s perspective on entrepreneurism that defines Redefining Success as a new classic among business books. Phrases such as ‘Entrepreneurs view risk differently’ and ‘Entrepreneurs are innovative thinkers, who are consistently asking ‘how can we make things better’ can only come from someone who has had his breadth of experiences.

I was pleased to be one of the ten bloggers/writers chosen to review this book. We received a smart package with two copies of the book but what struck me was the accompanying letter appeared to be hand signed as were the books themselves. In Chapter 9 Brett Wilson writes about hand signing over a thousand letters for his Kilimanjaro fund rising initiative; attention to details is ingrained in everything he does and this left an indelible impression on me.

Creatively presented is the photographic art (by Cynthia Robinson) and complementing short essays (written by Aritha van Herk) at the beginning of each chapter. Not every biography could carry off something so unique but this one can.

Upon reaching the end of the book I felt as though I had spent a long winter evening sitting in a comfortable yet eclectic living room listening to Brett Wilson talk and then all too soon it is dawn on a cold Alberta morning and I am finding my way home with an awful lot to think about. As I look back on my way out of his front door I think I would have seen Brett sitting quietly with his dog, J. Cash Wilson beside him, perhaps musing on his next challenge but ultimately quiet and content.

Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes is authentic – no gushing or superlatives needed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2012
Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes

I went into this book with zero understanding of the corporate world of investment banking and the philanthropic process but came away with a deep respect for all of those who give their time and energy into both.

W. Brett Wilson opened his world laying bare his successes and mistakes in his journey through life. He prides himself on giving to worthy charities and helping start-up businesses hit the ground running.

I'm not going to lie, this book is a deep read requiring focus to understand the business dealings with his company FirstEnergy Capital Corporation; it may be that I am sorely unversed in the investment world. I will say this book is a must read for students from the high school level thru to university and anyone looking for assistance in business startup.

Bottom line, I had a deep respect for W. Brett Wilson prior to reading this book and came away with the understanding that respect was and is justified. Well done Mr. Wilson!

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the author for an honest and unbiased review.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon January 21, 2013
I am in my mid 20's and now in the corporate community, right in Wilson's home city of Calgary. I went to the same school Brett went to for his MBA (UofC), and I even like a lot of the stuff he likes. But his book reads horribly, even as a commuter book.

What this book is:

-A random biography that goes from: getting ripped off when cutting lawns; his entrepeneurial pub crawl bus business; his MBA (Which was ANOTHER best choice in his life) - in a span of 2.5 pages.
-Rehashing moral rhetoric until you feel like you're experiencing deja vu
-Shout outs to many, many individuals that run on for more than a page
-An inspirational book on a superficial level
-A touching short chapter on how he hand an epiphany that he was a horrible father

What the book is not:

-A source of insight into the business community
-Advice or rationale on how to get things done (Like a handshake, prairie heritage, and
-Relevancy to any Generation Y or younger, or any of the younger dragon's den viewers
-Actual advice that works in today's world

Target audience for Dragon's den will be disappointed if you're looking here for an intellectual read or even an enjoyable biography. Instead we have page after page of shout out to this banker, that doctor, this YPO buddy, prairie people are awesome, how hand shakes magically make business better, and how awesome prairie people are (I am from Alberta, just FYI). Quite honestly, the book reads out like an old cowboy reminiscing about his glory days (in this case, an ibanker) and how wild he was and how he got here. Except chop in a few dozen random and pointless tid bits and dull anecdotes in the book. Yup, that's Wilson's book. The publish information page tags the book as 1) Success in business 2) Work-life balance 3) Quality of life as the top 3. I'll tell you right now , this book has maybe 5% to deal with those 3 topics when you distill the book down.
If you're a huge fan of Brett Wilson - 3/4's of this book will be old news to you. If you are not, get ready to read a very extra-ordinary investment banker's biography.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2013
First to give you some perspective, I'm a believer in *good* self-help books and have a keen appetite for business and entrepreneurship. I love Dragons Den and have always loved Brett's attitude of succeeding in business while maintaining integrity and your values as well as giving back.

With that out of the way... I wish my love for Brett in the Den translated to his output here.

If you like Brett a lot and go in expecting an autobiography first and foremost and just a sprinkling of self-help, little of which will be new to you if you've read a few books by Covey/Carnegie/Hill, then you will like this book.

My error was I reversed them and expected more on the advice/guidance side so you can imagine my disappointment. I think what made it worse is that I felt like I could learn everything useful in this book in 2 pages that took Brett 200 to say. His stories quickly got tedious and didn't add much to learn anything more than superficially. To be honest, I don't care about the namedropping of corporate bigwigs and hollywood stars that he knows or that inspired him UNLESS he would have talked about what they actually DID that helped him or taught him. I'm happy he was able to befriend people with big rolodex's to make big sales but that doesn't necessarily speak to his own business acumen.

I read Robert Herjavec's book Drive a year or so back and actually thought it was similar in the wordiness and also limited in advice but I felt his stories were to the point and clearly laid out. Even if I disagreed with some of his points, it was still a fun read. Whereas I literally had to start scanning pages with this book because I got so tired of it.

On the positive side, I felt like I got more out of the last few pages of the book where he summarized his insights/advice (as I mentioned there was little detail that added value to me personally), and also where his coach writes about what "new" Brett has learned and how he organizes his life now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2012
When I sat down to read the book, he had me at the Chocolate Lab on the back cover ... but what about what's in the book? Wilson describes his growing up in Saskatchewan with good parents and what he terms "strong prairie values". Somewhere along the way, he went off course and faced personal crisis.

Wilson chronicles how he fought his way back to his new definition of success. He reset his priorities to include health, family, friends, education, career and community. He returned to his prairie ethics. Having lived on the prairies myself, I can attest that prairie folks still stand by the ideas of keeping your word and doing the right thing. Wilson also reflects on how to choose the right people with whom to work - for example, looking for what he calls "demonstrated integrity".

My favourite part of the book comes when Wilson describes some of the companies he's invested in through Dragon's Den. I've never seen the show, but was totally motivated to start a business after reading about all of these successful entrepreneurs. I've actually bought several of the products already. I can't say enough about QuickSnap clips for kids' shoes! And 7 Virtues perfume should be on every Christmas list this year! Wilson also makes a strong case for mandatory business education in schools, particularly in marketing, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. And he encourages a charitable mindset - in fact, he makes clear that the bulk of his wealth will be given to charity, rather than his children, at the end of his days.

The overall message of the book is music to my ears - you can do the right thing, and be a good person and still succeed. In fact, that's the only way that you will!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2012
I enjoyed reading this book (kindle), especially the part about the Dragon's Den. We all see what's on TV and read little pieces here and there about most of the deals not going through, but this book give a little more of the puzzle about what happens after the cameras turn off. This was the most interesting part for me.
There is a portion of the book about how Brett got to where he is. It's refreshing to hear a story of someone that "climbed" the stairs from a "normal" engineering degree to where he is now. The rags to riches books are fine, but it's difficult to relate to these people when they had nothing to loose when they took their risks. Brett was more like most of us where we have a good job but would like more...
Of course, when you know even a little about Brett from the Dragon's Den, it's was obvious that a significant portion would be about philanthropy. The star missing to get a perfect score is because there might have been too much of it. At one point you almost start to read in diagonal. One thing I really liked though is that he clearly states multiple times that he made his fortune, THEN started giving money away. I did not feel like he was trying to push everyone to simply give everything, but instead to have a mindset that giving often yields more in return; and that integrity will also return more on the long run.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2012
Redefining Success is a hybrid of sorts, not easily genre-fiable. Most of it reads as a series of stories, each one embedded with bits of Brett wisdom. Having said that, it’s also got artsy riffs, mini case studies on businesses from the Dragon’s Den, and some of Brett’s Top Five lists, including ‘Five Regrets in Life’ and ‘Five Key Bits of Business Advice’.

So, whom would I recommend this book to? Well, let’s start with business students, people in power suits, farmers, leaders of not-for profits, leaders of for-profits, employees, do-gooders and anyone else needing a bit of inspiration (so I guess that makes just about everybody).

This book will inspire you – to think outside the box, give more, trust more, make fair deals, reassess your values, study marketing, hug your kids and to believe that creativity is relevant to any sector of business (and life).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2012
I enjoyed the last few chapters more than the first few. When he hits his stride and begins to expound on his philanthropic endeavors as a marketing tool the book takes life. For that portion alone the book is a worthy read.
It should surprise no one that anyone with any measure of skill, brains, ambition and perseverance can make a mint in Calgary.
Brett has done that in spades.
He seems to have avoided many of the annoyingly arrogant traits of his peers. He remembers where he came from, he champions it as his essence and he credits it for his success.
That alone differentiates him.
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on February 17, 2014
When I bought the book, I didn't know who Brett Wilson was. Watching TV isn't my thing these days, so the fact that he was on Dragon's Den didn't mean much to me.

The title was what hooked me to buy. Brett Wilson's philanthropic philosophy resonates with me. I learned a great deal about marketing and philanthropy, how they can go hand in hand. The community benefits and so does your business. His humanity strikes a chord too. He realized the importance of success in other aspects of life outside of financial wealth when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His passion for work destroyed his marriage, but he learned a huge lesson as a result.

I enjoyed reading the first half of the book. The second half was repetitive and a bit too self-serving. However, as a result, I did pick up the names of a few products that he invested in during his Dragon's Den days, and even went out and bought at least one that good marketing or what!

Overall, I would recommend the book.
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on January 23, 2013
Like most people, I became aware of Mr. Wilson when he joined CBC's Dragon's Den program. He provided a different style than the others who evaluate potential investments on this entertaining show. Mr. Wilson came across as thoughtful and empathetic with an appreciation for the various entrepreneurs challenges in starting a business while at the same time balancing life's other demands. At times, he was a bit 'new-agey' and referenced aspects of his own life that accounted for his interests in alternative therapy and medical products and charitable endeavours. It was a shame that he and the CBC could not come to terms on a contract to keep him.

So it was with great pleasure that I received this book as a gift from my stepdaughter. She even took the time to go to a book signing so Mr. Wilson personalized my copy. I thought it may answer some of the questions about his background. And in many ways it did. He is an investment banker with many professional accomplishments but unfortunately those came at a cost. He speaks of his divorce, alludes to an estrangement with his three children, loss of personal wealth in the downturn, and provides detail into his battle with cancer.

The book is hard to classify as it is at once: explanation and apology, introductory investing advice, self-help, self-promotion, and a call-to-arms to do good work in the world. All of which is appropriately packaged in the book's title with Mr. Wilson's admission of making many mistakes because of "a multitude of misplaced or misguided priorities". This prompts him to share a plethora of platitudes including, "happiness and success are at best loosely connected" and "I've come to realize happiness is a choice" and "There is a difference between doing the right thing, and not doing the wrong thing".

That content is all well and good but it was repetitive and I contend that if you remove the words "passion" and "integrity" from the text the book would be a third shorter in length. Do not get me wrong, these are great words but I got it first time around. Thankfully, there are some solid tangible bits in the book. I especially enjoyed his view that the three subjects everyone in business should study are marketing, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. That is a balanced curriculum and appropriately Canadian.

I admire the man's career but would not have known him had it not been for Dragon's Den. I think to a great extent he knows this and that there is a ping of regret or bitterness for no longer being a Dragon. He seems to take credit for the show's, "over two million viewers each week in my last season - four times the number when I joined in 2008". I am sure this book would have more interest if Mr. Wilson covered the contract negotiations and egos on the show. But I respect that this does not take place even if he was legally required to stay mum. Instead he steers for the high road and covers in detail the best investments he made while on the program.

At the end of the book I was left wondering, "Is he truly authentic?". From the television show, this book and interviews...he seems to possess a practiced personality based on a studied irreverence for standard business protocol. The book's cover photo with the high-backed leather chair, sneakers, and crossed legs supports this as does the odd photos and prose written by another party that appear between each chapter.

The bulk of his message is laudable and aspirational but for some reason the book left me melancholy. He is admittedly still making mistakes but he seems to have some serious regrets especially in the case of his children. At times I felt I was reading confidential correspondence between the author and his three now grown kids.

So where do I net-out overall (to use a business term)? I would do a deal with him and have him at a dinner party...perhaps that says it all.
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