Blunt, colourful and outspoken, Kevin O’Leary has become the Don Cherry of Canadian business. The entrepreneur, author and TV fixture (Dragons’ Den in Canada, Shark Tank in the U.S.) was in town this week and sat down with The Gazette to answer a series of questions submitted by readers. Here’s an edited transcript of that conversation.
GAZETTE: How did you get the name Mr. Wonderful?
O’LEARY: “Because I’m the only Dragon or Shark that tells the truth, and that’s wonderful. Everybody else tries to be coddling about people’s ideas, even though they have no merit. I just tell it like it is, because in money, there’s no grey, it’s only black and white. You either make it or you lose it. And if you see an idea that somebody’s mortgaging their mother’s home over, you’ve got to tell them the truth. When it comes to investing, the truth comes and bites you anyways. I just deliver it a little earlier, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
GAZETTE: Who’s your business idol and/or inspiration, if anyone?
O’LEARY: “(Writer) Ayn Rand. Some of you might remember a book called Atlas Shrugged. She was a hardcore capitalist. I’m slightly right of Attila the Hun so I appreciate her work.”
GAZETTE (from Alexandra): What advice would you give a 10-year-old girl, like me, to make money?
O’LEARY: “I would have her parents open up accounts in trust in her name and take 10 per cent of everything I was gifted or I made in an allowance or from small jobs and put it in that account from that age. It’ll save you when you’re older. It’s the absolute best way to go.”