Picture Left: Jim Treliving, Owner of Boston Pizza and Dragon on Dragon's Den with Stefan Aarnio
I had the great pleasure and honour of being in the "right place at the right time" in September this year when I was casually driving by a Boston Pizza on Taylor Avenue in Winnipeg and the sign outside advertised that Jim Treliving, current owner of the 1 Billion dollar pizza company: Boston Pizza and more notably, Venture Capitalist on the hit TV show Dragon's Den was doing a book signing.
I saw the sign in my peripheral vision and immediately went in to the Restaurant to see him. I am absolutely fascinated by Venture Capitalist shows like Dragon's Den and Shark Tank because I love evaluating business models and watching people pitch for money - it's a very visceral experience.
My two favourite Dragons on Dragon's Den are Jim Treliving and Kevin O'Leary. My reasoning for these two choices is:
- Jim is the most practical, down to earth, and hard working Dragon. He has a real street smarts from being a cop and has a "work till you drop" grinder mentality. He is often the Dragon on the show that the other Dragons look to for advice and if Jim is "in on the deal" then everyone wants to jump in. If Jim is "out", the deal often dies. He is a true leader and often leads the group of Dragons, quietly from behind the scenes.
- Kevin O'Leary is the most honest and real of the Dragons. He delivers a hard dose of reality and although many people think he's mean and harsh - he delivers the cold hard truth every time and can actually save entrepreneurs from BAD BAD BAD ideas. There is no shortage of bad ideas on the show, and Kevin punishes them mercilessly. After he tears their bad ideas apart, these entrepreneurs should pick themselves up off the floor and thank him for the beating.
When I arrived inside the Boston Pizza Restaurant, there was a line of people waiting to get their books signed. I had come in off the street and was ready to buy a book but the restaurant would not sell me a book. I immediately dashed out the door and had to run through the rain (in my suit) to purchase a book at the local McNally Robinson. I could not miss an opportunity to meet Jim and get him to sign his book.
Meeting Jim was was a humbling experience. He is 6'4, so am I, so we see eye to eye and I noticed how well he handled all of his fans who were there to get their books signed. He is very gracious and takes a great interest in children who want to get into entrepreneurship. jim has a great respect for all people big and small and it was a pleasure to exchange a short conversation with him.
When I got home, I immediately devoured his book "Decisions" in one day and the book is fantastic. It takes you through Jim's entire life from being born to building Boston Pizza into an international pizza empire with 1 Billion dollars a year in annual revenue. I also learned at the event, that Jim is (likely) the wealthiest of the Dragons because his Real Estate holdings set him head and shoulders above the others in accumulated wealth.
It has been close to a month since I finished JIm's book and the #1 take-away for me is Jim's decision making style. Often, entrepreneurs and real estate investors have the tough, tough job of calling ALL the shots for the team. Decisions need to be made throughout the day. Sometimes entrepreneurs have to make 100's or 1000's of decisions in a single day depending on the activity level of an entrepreneur. Strategic Decisions are exhausting, complicated, dangerous, risky and most people are AWFUL at making Decisions *period*.
Jim's book is rightfully called "Decisions" and over and over again, Jim breaks down his decision making style, which I have implemented in my own business.
Jim's style of decision making is as follows. We have 3 decision making parts in our bodies:
- Our head
- Our heart
- Our gut
People often make poor decisions because they assign the types of decisions to the wrong body part...
For example: Many people make financial decisions with their heart and will lend money to relatives in trouble. These same people are surprised when their relatives do not ever pay them back. Lesson: Financial Decisions should NEVER be made with the heart.
Likewise, When Jim was young, he had the opportunity to make fast, easy money in the oil trade which began to boom in Manitoba. Oil was the fastest, quickest, money that a young man at age 17 could make with no training or education. Jim knew he could make more money than his father right out of school and was seduced by the allure of fast cash. However, he also saw many young men get ruined by the "easy come, easy go" lifestyles of fast, unearned cash. However, Jim knew in his heart that he would be unhappy in the oil industry and would eventually dread getting out of bed in the morning. Instead, JIm wanted to full fill his childhood dream and join the RCMP. He knew, from a young age, that needed to become an RCMP officer and wear the badge of honour. Lesson: Make "work/career" decisions based on your heart and NOT your head. Never base work decisions on salaries, bonuses or money. Money comes from passion and energy, it does not come from labor.
When Jim was in the RCMP, he was trained to see through deception and use his gut to evaluate people on the street daily. Jim became very street smart while stationed in a rough mining town in BC and dealt with the rowdy population on a daily basis. He learned to only use his gut and NEVER his heart when judging people. Lesson: Judgement calls about people need to be based on your gut, never the heart, never the brain. The gut can sense what the heart and mind cannot and the gut is rarely wrong when judging character.
One of the most important decisions Jim ever made in his life, was a seemingly unsuspecting moment one night when he was in his mid-twenties and his fellow co worker asked him if he wanted to eat "Pizza or Chinese?". Jim knew nothing of Pizza, didn't know how to say it, didn't know what it was and had no interest in it at all. He walked past the original Boston Pizza every day without ever thinking about taking a look inside the building. Pizza was a foreign concept and JIm spent no time investigating it.
However, Jim kept his mind open, and made the decision to try something new (Pizza was new at the time), he took a chance and walked into the restaurant that started the Boston Pizza legacy. He instantly fell in love with the owners, the atmosphere, the menu and most of all - the experience of sharing and eating this strange new food called pizza with your hands. Lesson: You NEVER know where your next greatest opportunities and passions will come from. Keep your mind open and make the decision to take risks and try new things. If Jim had only said "I will only eat Chinese food after work like I always do", he would have never been introduced to his flagship, signature business that shaped him into the great man he is today.
To recap: Jim's simple, yet extremely effective decision making style focuses and simplifies your decision making energy:
- Decisions about money need to be made with your head. Not your heart or your gut. Your head is logical, cold and analytical and the numbers don't lie. Numbers and money are a cold calculated game, do not get emotional or you will get burned.
- Decisions about your work, your passion and your path in life need to be made with your heart. Your heart holds your passion and your passion will push you through any obstacles that get in your way. Do not make work decisions with your head or you will find yourself eventually unable to get out of bed in the morning because you need to be in LOVE with what you do on a daily basis.
- Decisions about people need to be made with your gut. Your gut is a 6th sense and can tell you if someone is genuine or not. Do not make decisions about people with your head or you will judge them incorrectly. Similarly, your heart can lead you astray if you judge people with your heart.
Jim has found in his 70 years of experience on this earth and 40+ years in business that this system does not fail.
I myself have implemented JIm's decision making style into my own business and have ignited my passion, tightened up my business model and can read people better than ever before.
It's simple and sound advice from an extremely successful multi-industry tycoon. If you get a chance, pick up JIm Treliving's book "Decisions", you will not be disappointed with his 70 years of knowledge, understanding and real life experience.
Thanks for reading,
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