Brett Wilson has handed out millions of dollars on Dragons’ Den. The Saskatchewan-born entrepreneur made a fortune in the oil and gas business, starting his own Calgary-based investment firm back in the 90s. And now he’s become the deal-making king on the CBC reality show, where cash-hungry entrepreneurs pitch for investment money.
But Brett’s willingness to take a chance on people has earned him ridicule at times from the other Dragons, who appear to believe Brett is a softie in terms of needing a solid financial return on his investments.
“Sounds like a deal for Brett,” one of the other Dragons will sometimes snicker, when faced with a weak pitcher.
I think Brett is a softie – in a good way!
“I get a return in my heart when I’m able to help someone step up their life,” he told me, talking about the happiness he’s seen on people’s faces when he’s delivered a cheque made out to their business venture.
But there’s more to Brett Wilson than heart. This son of a car salesman didn’t get a mansion, a jet-setting lifestyle and the ability to play in any industry he wants by being soft in the head. Brett has the guts to play the odds.
“I know I don’t have to pick a winner every time,” he says. “I know that out of 20 investments, 17 or 18 may not pay off. Two or three may carry the weight of all of them. And I’m quite comfortable with that.”
He makes sense. Even in our own working lives, we all know that we can’t count on 100 per cent success in everything we do. And no one ever got ahead by playing it safe every step of the way. We have to take a chance sometimes, stretch ourselves a bit - hoping there’s someone like Brett around, who is willing to look at the positives.
He’s done that with his hiring policies also, saying he’s willing to give good people a second chance – once deciding to employ someone who was fresh out of rehab for cocaine.
"I'm not afraid of people who've made a mistake," says Brett. “They have likely learned from it.”
Maybe it’s because he’s been given the benefit of the doubt too at times.
“Certainly in my first job, they took a chance on me,” he says.
Brett is in fine form on our latest episode. Tune in tonight to see what surprising deals the kind-hearted Dragon makes.