Philanthropy For Lunch

The winners of Brett Wilson’s Vancouver Lunch Contest, do not need introductions to Brett, all ten of us recognize him instantly from The Dragon’s Den tv show, as he arrives at The Cibo Trattoria on Feb 28, 2014, wearing an animated Robert Graham designer shirt, accompanied by his lovely daughter.

Cibo Trattoria

Cibo Trattoria

He sits at the head of the table, entertaining us with anecdotes from his life, and sprinkles in highlights from the business conference he attended in L.A. the previous day. His enthusiasm energizes our eclectic group, in the stylish secluded room of the restaurant.

In his book, Redefining Success, Still Making Mistakes, Brett shares his story, and at Cibo, he invites us to share our stories, and gives us his full attention when we speak. The stories of our journeys go deep at times, and include “laughter and tears”, as Brett said.

Brett responds with a generous helping of wisdom, gleaned from years of experience working in the stratosphere of the Canadian investment banking scene, his role on The Dragon’s Den, and from his experiences with his family.

Sharing our stories is a cathartic release of emotion that bonds the group, despite our varied ages, genders, and professions.

It quickly establishes a rapport, which creates common ground between twelve people that were previously strangers.

Brett conducts the tempo of the luncheon like an expert, guiding the ensemble, as we enjoy a delicious lunch and friendship, and chat like a big family.

I feel grateful to be here, aware that tables for Brett’s fundraisers, like the one he organized under the sails at Canada Place in Vancouver go for $25,000.00 each, and high profile stars, like Gene Simmons from KISS, and wife Shannon Tweed are in attendance.

Ann with Brett Wilson

Ann with Brett Wilson

The lunch meeting was orchestrated so smoothly, as if Brett has been conducting luncheons his whole life. Witnessing that level of leadership will take me a while to process.

Before we head home to our various cities and communities, he autographs our books, and poses for pictures with us.

As I walk over to Richards Street, I try to figure out the meaning of the lunch for me, and the ingredient that bonded the lunch guests together.

As I walk in front of The Holy Rosary Cathedral on Richards Street, I have an epiphany.

The French Gothic style heritage building reveals the meaining of the luncheon.

art on Canadian stamp

Guido Nincheri art on Canadian stamp 1997 Holy Rosary Cathedral

This was my Mom’s church in the 1990’s, and when they needed a new roof, she donated $5,000.00 to the roof fund, which was a large sum for her.

Aha! It was about philanthropy. He did not preach to the congregation, he connected us, informed and entertained us, rewarded us with lunch, and empowered us to go change the world, by stepping up and spreading the seeds of philanthropy in the community.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing” – Albert Schweitzer

I had never realized that my mom was my original philanthropy mentor, when she took me on The Mother’s March as a child to raise money for the charity. Or, when I saw her giving bus fare to every hitchhiker she saw, so they would take a bus instead of getting in a car with a stranger. Sometimes small acts can change the course of someone’s life.

She gave either her time, or her talent, or her treasure, the three t’s, to express her gratitude for the gifts she was given.

To her, philanthropy would have seemed like a big word to describe it , but it takes a big heart to “love all of mankind”. I think she would have called it caring for others, or in a word ‘love’.

Copy this link to Read My Review of Brett’s book: http://annhoy.com/redefining-success-still-making-mistakes-book-review-by-ann-hoy/

http://www.holyrosarycathedral.org/stewardship/

photo by Clayton
photo of Cibo by Ann

Redefining Success – Still Making Mistakes – W. Brett Wilson Book Review By: Ann Hoy

work/ life balance

Finding The Way to Work/Life Balance

As mentioned on my previous blog post, I won a contest to have lunch with W. Brett Wilson, this month.  I watched The Dragon’s Den tv show where Brett was a panelist many times, but since I will be meeting him, I read his book:  “Redefining Success, Still Making Mistakes” and wrote a review.

I don’t go too deep into the subject of business on my blog, other than to promote wealth consciousness and the law of attraction.  But reading the book made me aware of the importance of ‘business consciousness’.

The book contains a wealth of entrepreneurial information, but, on a deeper level, the book explores some of the same topics that my blog does:  personal growth and development, optimizing your time, loving yourself, recognizing your ego, positive energy, fulfillment, nurturing your mental, physical and emotional health, love of pets and family, and forgiving yourself and others.

The book illustrates that we can be proud of our business achievements, while feeling pain in our personal lives, but if we are willing to change the things we can, we can harmonize our work and life, and achieve true success in both.

Book Review of : “Redefining Success, Still Making Mistakes”  By: W. Brett Wilson

Reviewed By:  Ann Hoy

Penguin Books

$20.16 Amazon.ca (hardcover) – Amazon review rating: 4 out of 5 stars

$14.44 Chapter’s on sale (paperback)

W Brett Wilson had an insatiable drive to succeed in business, and became one of the top entrepreneurs and philanthropists in Canada.  But his drive to achieve outward success, took a toll on him and others, and left him feeling “surprisingly hollow”.  The highs and lows on this investment bankers’ road to success, went up and down like the stock market, and taught him the importance of investing in his most precious assets – his health and relationships.  The main theme of this book is how he manages to balance his inner self with his outer self, to find the path to authentic success.

This book can be found in the business section of the book store, and contains a lot of business advice, but it also contains a lot of life lessons. It appeals to entrepreneurs who are inspired by Brett’s journey to become one of the top investment bankers in Canada, and to fans of the CBC’s Dragon’s Den, where Brett was a panelist who made deals with the contestants. He devotes about fifty pages of the book to describe those deals.  It also appeals to philanthropists, interested in how Brett’s generosity combined with marketing mojo helped to raise tens of millions of dollars for charities “to make the world a better place”.  While readers may not be able to relate to making million dollar deals in the boardroom, they can relate to the feeling that their life/work priorities are misplaced and need to be re-aligned.

Brett says that students should be taught how to make money in school, so when I finished reading the book, I gave it to my teenage son to read.  Being a man of action, and not only words, Brett opened The Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence at his alma mater, The University of Saskatchewan, so students could meet with the business community to share ideas and network with researchers, mentors, and possible investors.

Brett espouses the values of hard work, honesty and giving back to the community in the book, which were instilled in him during his upbringing in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, by his parents – a social worker mom and salesman father.  Brett lived those values, and carried them with him while initiating deals on a handshake, even as co-founder of FirstEnergy, the investment bank “with a conscience” in the lucrative oil and gas industry in Calgary, Alberta.

Brett also describes his mistakes – his adrenaline powered, all out work obsession, led to wealth, awards, and celebrity, but he neglected his inner self, and years of not spending time with his wife and three growing children eventually destroyed his marriage, and left him depressed.  He sought treatment for being a workaholic, cut back on his work hours when he got joint custody of his children, and worked on recovering his relationship with them, only to get diagnosed with prostate cancer.

This is the turning point in 2001, when the magnanimous spirit who had donated so much of his time and money to help others is battling cancer himself.  Instead of turning another’s  failing business around, he must now turn his own life around, to optimize his physical, emotional, and intellectual health. “Sometimes your greatest hardships lead to your greatest triumphs”, said Brett.

The book ends when he finds his path to health and happiness, has a strong bond with his children, and realizes the truth of what Ralph Waldo Emerson said: It’s not what you have, it’s who you are” that counts.

This thought-provoking book has inspired me to study more about entrepreneurship, marketing, philanthropy and work/life balance, in the coming months, and to incorporate these topics into my 52 weeks of optimizing yourself posts on my blog this year.

Photo of cover: Ann Hoy