Good Book (FREE) for a Good Deed: Creative Philanthropy Redefines Success

Wednesday, 19 December, 2012

Brett new book "Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes" interview pix - 2012

A few weeks ago I video interviewed Brett Wilson (businessman & philanthropist, “Dragon with a heart”) to talk about his new book Redefining Success: Still Making MistakesBrett‘s team was very helpful in sending an additional copy of the book so I can give it to one of my readers! That means YOU my readers have a chance to receive a FREE copy of Redefining Success!

Good Book (FREE) for a Good Deed

After reading the Creative Philanthropy chapter in Redefining Success and some careful thinking, I’ve decided on a creative way to give the book away! Here are the rules for a chance to receive a FREE copy of Redefining Success for yourself or one of your deserving friend!

1) Share a true story of a good deed that you’ve done during this holiday season in Alberta.

2) Please keep your story short, may be 100-200 words max. If possible, please post a link to a photo or very brief YouTube video, etc to help tell your story.

3) There is no age restriction, so if your young children want to submit their stories, feel free.

4) Please post your submission here in the comment section under this post. Make sure you leave your contact email (visible to me only to contact you if you win).

5) Contest starts today and closes Saturday Jan 12th, 2013. And the winning entry will be announced hopefully within a week after the end of the contest.

P.S. A good book give away lead to one happy winner. I am hoping the shared good deed stories here will inspire us all to do more good!

CBC Dragon Brett Wilson redefines Success and talks Mistakes in extensive video interview

Saturday, 24 November, 2012

Brett new book interview pix - 2012

Over the last four years since June 2008, I’ve the pleasure to interview Brett Wilson (businessman & philanthropist, “Dragon with a heart”) many (see my 2008 pre-Dragons’ Den interview videos) and many times. I also slowly get to know Brett from industry events (we’ve met at Banff World Media Festival quite a few times (see 2009 interview)) and from his annual charity garden parties (thx Brett for inviting me & my better half). I can honestly say the “up close & in person” Brett is pretty much the same nice & straight talking no non-sense guy that many viewers of CBC’s award-winning Dragons’ Den have come to know and love.

Earlier this afternoon, I had the pleasure to conduct an insightful, open and frank video interview with Brett to talk about his Globe & Mail best-selling book “Redefining Success: Still making mistakes“! I hope you enjoy my interview with Brett as much as I in conducting it. Please share this article & video. And comment too.

note: this article is cross-posted by me at

Brett & Kempton at 2010 Garden Party with book cover

Meaghan Buisson, BodyWhys, interview at 2012 Brett Wilson’s Garden Party

Friday, 22 June, 2012

It was wonderful for me to meet & interview Meaghan Buisson, Executieve Director of BodyWhys Youth Canada at the 2012 Brett Wilson’s Garden Party. Here is the interview video.

Note: This year’s charitable focus is Eating Disorders – “the slowest form of suicide” and “over 300K (net) was raised for #EatingDisorders – prevention/treatment”. And BodyWhys Youth Canada is one of Brett’s selected charities for the 2012 Garden Party.

Robbie Babins-Wagner, Calgary Counselling centre, interview at 2012 Brett Wilson’s Garden Party

Friday, 22 June, 2012

It was my pleasure to meet & interview Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner PhD, CEO of Calgary Counselling centre at 2012 Brett Wilson’s Garden Party. Here is the interview video.

Note: This year’s charitable focus is Eating Disorders – “the slowest form of suicide” and “over 300K (net) was raised for #EatingDisorders – prevention/treatment”. And Calgary Counselling centre is one of Brett’s selected charities for the 2012 Garden Party.

Watch Brett Wilson’s brand new show Risky Business online – Highly Recommended

Tuesday, 13 September, 2011

Brett Wilson's brand new show Risky Business

Watch Brett Wilson’s new show Risky Business online now if you missed the show’s premiere last night (Monday 9pm ET/PT), I love it. Highly Recommended.

I’ve got the pleasure to get to know Brett for a few years now, he is really a nice and fair guy off TV and on TV. Go Brett Go !!!

Brett Wilson video interview about his appointment to Order of Canada

Tuesday, 5 July, 2011

Brett Wilson at his Office

On June 30th, Brett Wilson along with a list of distinguished Canadians, was appointed to the Order of Canada. Here is my video interview with Brett to talk about his appointment.

Brett Wilson video interview – Risky Business update

Tuesday, 5 July, 2011

Brett Wilson, O.C.

In May 2011 Brett Wilson and I talked about a wide range of topics including his new TV show Risky Business (see video). Today, it was my pleasure to get an update about Risky Business from Brett. Have a watch.

Brett Wilson at his Office

Order of Canada: Brett Wilson, Eugene Levy, Malcom Gladwell, Bob McDonald, Hayley Wickenheiser (Love you all!)

Thursday, 30 June, 2011

I am happy and excited to see Brett Wilson, Eugene Levy, Malcom Gladwell, Bob McDonald, Hayley Wickenheiser and other distinguished Canadians being appointed to the Order of Canada today. Congrats!

As I get older, I realize and understand what is important is not just the honour itself but the great work these Canadians have done in service to their communities/groups/fields, to Canada, or to humanity at large. Congrats everyone!

What a great Canada Day gift for them. Happy Canada Day!

More reports from National Post.

Corla Rokochy, Snappy Socks, interview at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011

Friday, 24 June, 2011

Corla Rokochy, Snappy Socks

It was my pleasure to finally meet Corla Rokochy (Snappy Socks) in person after watching her pitched on Dragons’ Den and talked about her business in Feb 2011. The following is my video interview with Corla at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011.

The following are a few highlights of my video interview with Corla,

0:00 Corla talks about Snappy Socks and shows us some of her cool socks.

0:35 How much money did Brett invest in the business and what was the story?

0:52 How did the Brett’s money impact the business?

1:14 With that money, how many pairs of socks were bought and sold? Read the rest of this entry »

Elle Boetticher, Pro Elvis Jumpsuits, interview at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011

Friday, 24 June, 2011

Elle Boetticher, Pro Elvis Jumpsuits

It was my pleasure to finally meet Elle Boetticher owner of Pro Elvis Jumpsuits in person after watching her pitched on Dragons’ Den and wrote about her business in 2009. The following is my video interview with Elle at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011.

The following are a few highlights of my video interview with Elle,

0:00 Elle talks about her Pro Elvis Jumpsuits business and shows of her products.

0:43 How much did Brett invest and when was it? For the loan, what was the interest rate?

1:42 How was the money (both investment and loan from Brett) used? Read the rest of this entry »

Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011 attendees (plus gov/AB) raised $300K+ for Dare To Care

Friday, 24 June, 2011

Brett Wilson's Garden Party 2011 -

My better half and I always look forward to attend Brett Wilson‘s Garden Party. Great food, great party, and most importantly, each year there is a worthy cause that Brett ask attendees to support. (See the worthy causes for 2010 & 2009.)

For 2011, about 1,000 people attended the Garden Party, and the cause is Dare To Care. I think what Dare To Care does is very important work (especially in our SMS, Facebook age). Have a read of Dare To Care‘s intro (emphasis added),

The Dare To Care program is a fully comprehensive approach to dealing with bullying and challenges within school communities. This comprehensive approach involves students, teachers, parents and the community in an effort to eliminate bullying and other dangerous behaviours from their schools and, in turn, create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

The Dare to Care program helps school communities, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, create a common language which then allows for more consistent intervention and follow through when dealing with challenging issues.

The attendees of Garden Party 2011 (along with up to $100K matching fund from Government of Alberta) raised over $300K for Dare To Care!

Please have a watch of my video interview Dwayne Peace, (Dare To Care), video interview with Elle Boetticher (Pro Elvis Jumpsuits), and video interview with Corla Rokochy (Snappy Socks),

By the way, here some photos from the party. More photos here in this flickr set.

The Partyfilm crew

Brett with Lindsay Blackett, Minister of Culture and Community SpiritEleanor Boetticher, Pro Elvis Jumpsuits

Dwayne Peace, Dare to CareCorla Rokochy, Snappy Socks

P.S. Over the years, I have my serious difference of opinions with Minister Lindsay Blackett on various government policies and his views of the Canadian TV industry expressed at Banff. Last night, I set those differences aside and went up to warmly congratulate Minister Blackett on doing a wonderful thing for Alberta school kids by matching the donation to Dare To Care on behalf of the Alberta government and Albertans for $100,000. Alberta school kids deserve all the help and love we can give them. Thank you Minister Blackett and the Government of Alberta.

Brett Wilson interview – 05/05 – Maya Wilson

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Brett Wilson interview 2011

Few days ago I had the great pleasure of chatting with Brett Wilson, Calgary entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. Here is the video Brett Wilson interview – 05/05 – Maya Wilson (see below for interview transcript). [Click her for links to watch all five parts of the interview series.]

Brett Wilson with his beloved Maya

Kempton: Now I would like to end the interview on a personal question. Recently [on April 26th], your beloved Maya, a chocolate brown flat-coated retriever, passed away. Can you talk a little bit about Maya? And how has it affected your life?

Brett: Thank you for even noticing and being aware of it. It is a tough question.

Maya was given two months to live last August [2010]. And thanks to all sorts of interventions, from non-conventional medicines to chemotherapy, we kept her alive for another eight months.

We had decided two weeks ago on a Friday that Monday would be Maya’s last day with us. And we went to the vet on Monday morning. My daughter and I took Maya with Hilary to just say goodbye to the people at the vet clinic. But Maya was walking, she was spirit, she was positive. The vet looked at us and said, “What do you thinking?” I said, “I think today is not the day.” No, for sure it is not today. In fact, Maya had recovered over the weekend so well from Friday that we decided to start chemotherapy.

And unfortunately, we started the protocol but separately, another problem on her spine came along, eliminating her back legs that didn’t function. By Monday then … So I was already traveling. I was down in the Caribbean with all three of my kids. I got the call saying, “Looked like Maya had several more months, it looks like its several more hours.” So the decision was clear. It was simple to make but it was heartbreaking to do.

So I’ve lost a best friend. She was unusual in the animal world in that she herself is a bit of a healer. She was working with kids three days a week. She worked with an autistic child for two years. She went to old folks home. She worked with the developmentally handicapped. She was approved to go into the hospital, so she was up to visit people in all sorts of capacity. There were an awful lot of people that were touched by Maya.

Kempton: I saw her a few times. She was a really lovely dog. I think the last time I saw her publicly was her appearing on CityTV’s Breakfast TV show. That was touching.

Brett: She came down with me every morning to set. She would just laying on the chair and wait for me to come off. Then one day, she came onto the set started walking around. Then I looked at her and said, “Do you need to go out?” She kind of look at me. So we went out cross the street over to the courtyard and had a little pee, came back and they said, “Would you mind putting Maya up on the chair and we will interview you about her?” Well I said, “Sure, love to.”

Kempton: Well Brett, thanks a lot for doing an interview with me.

Brett: Its always a pleasure catching up with you Kempton.

Note: This interview has been condensed and edited.

Brett Wilson interview – 04/05 – Social Media (Twitter, Facebook)

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Brett Wilson interview 2011

Few days ago I had the great pleasure of chatting with Brett Wilson, Calgary entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. Here is the video Brett Wilson interview – 04/05 – Social Media (Twitter, Facebook) (see below for interview transcript). [Click her for links to watch all five parts of the interview series.]

Kempton: You are involved in social media a lot: e.g. Twitter and Facebook. With Twitter, do you actually write your own tweets?

Brett: I do probably 90% of my tweets but I have staff who feed me. Cause other outside organizations are now saying, “Look, you’ve got a large following in Twitter, would you make mention of our charity?” As long as it is causes that I am already active with, or events that are of use to my following and people I am working with, I will look into doing that. Some of the tweets are pre-formatted and provided to me. But I rarely just cut and paste. There is usually a little bit of Brett that has to go into them.

So typically Twitter is 90% Brett. Facebook is maybe 10% Brett because what will happen is my team will take the best of the Twitter announcements, whether it is an article that I have done or a story that I would like to recommend, they will pop it into Facebook. Cause if I can write it in 140 characters, they can then expand it into Facebook. It is harder to take the large story in Facebook and compress it to Twitter.

Now I know that you can feed stuff right through from one media to another. [Kempton: automatically] I don’t like doing that. I think that it is disrespectful of the [readers]. As much as I don’t write all the stuff that goes into Facebook, its based on my materials. It is not ghostwritten for me by others without knowledge of what interests me. I am very much on top of all of those things.

Brett Wilson interview – 03/05 – Canoe Financial

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Brett Wilson interview 2011

Few days ago I had the great pleasure of chatting with Brett Wilson, Calgary entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. Here is the video Brett Wilson interview – 03/05 – Canoe Financial (see below for interview transcript). [Click her for links to watch all five parts of the interview series.]

Kempton: I understand you are the chairman of Canoe Financial. Are you involved in the day-to-day operation?

Brett: Canoe is currently one of the top 20 mutual fund companies/asset managers in Canada. We’ve already got over two billion dollars in the system. One of the most impressive startups that I have ever seen. The company has really been running for 10 years. I stepped in as chairman and allocated about a day a week of my time to marketing, PR and development.

Its a team of ex-Fidelity, ex-EnerVest players. We’ve got a dozen people with more than 20 years of experiences, we are not a one man band, its not the Wilson fund. Its the Canoe fund. Its something I am very proud to be associated with. We are managing wealth in Canada, for the benefit of Canadians.

Our investment thesis is based on Bob Haber, one of our key portfolio managers, he has a book call Go Canada. The investment thesis is global growth will spur demand for commodities and resources that are common to North America. Resources including services that are common to North America. But within the North American complex, Canada will be the prime benefactor.

Kempton: You have a substantial investment in Canoe itself. Are you involved in selecting some of the investments within the mutual funds? 

Brett: No. We hire external portfolio managers. We have the ability to hire and engage the best of the best. We have an exclusive with Bob Harber, who is one of the top rated, ranked, and renown investment managers/portfolio managers in North America. He was managing, at one time, over $50 billions of Canadian equities. So to put another few hundred million to work every month is going to be pretty easy for him.

Kempton: What kind of style of investing was he using? Was it value investing or growth?

Brett: Bob has got a very interesting metrics. Read the rest of this entry »

Brett Wilson interview – 02/05 – New TV show “Risky Business”

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Brett Wilson interview 2011

Few days ago I had the great pleasure of chatting with Brett Wilson, Calgary entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. Here is the video Brett Wilson interview – 02/05 – New TV show “Risky Business” (see below for interview transcript). [Click her for links to watch all five parts of the interview series.]

Kempton: Can you talk about the new show “Risky Business”? Did you watch the UK Duncan Bannatyne version of the show (known as “Beat the Bank”)?

Brett: I watched a bit of one episode to get a sense of what he was trying to do. And I liked it. I thought it has potential. I want to do television that would be fun. I am working with a group of people … 11 entertainment is such a treat to deal with, in terms of, everything from contracting, to casting, web development, social media …

Kempton: Do you know them from before?

Brett: No. It was a complete cold call on their part. We knew people in overlapping circles. But I did not know anybody in 11.

Kempton: They have offices in Toronto, the US, …

Brett: Toronto, LA, and Sydney. We will see where this goes. Right now its a Canadian television show for Slice, one of the Shaw/Global family of channels. And I am looking forward to getting it on air this fall.

Kempton: Have you guys finished casting? Before I get to the casting question, were you involved in selecting the business opportunities appearing on the show? My understanding is in each episodes, two investment opportunities are presented and the investors pick one, and you are left with the other. So you don’t want it to be both duds. Or one good and one dud.

Brett: You are absolutely right. Premise of the show is that a couple who are willing to invest a good portion of their savings. So that makes it high risk & high stakes for them. Which comes down to the concept of Risky Business. But the two businesses that are coming on, we are screening right now, have to be investment opportunity, not necessary a business, investment opportunity that matures in 30 days.

These are real world experiences. People run across this sort of stuff everyday. Whether it is helping someone buy a wine collection or sporting cards or buy a car that needs to be tweaked and then be flipped in an antique auction. Or someone who is a pool shark and who could out hustle someone else that needs to be staked. Or may be instead of staking the pool shark, we put on a tournament, we see what we can win as the pool tournament sponsor where we’ve got the inside track in terms of partner that is one of the player.

So lots of different ways of looking at these things. But these are real world experiences and opportunities. Typical investments: $15,000 – $20,000. Some will have higher risks and therefore higher rewards. And you are absolutely right, whatever the investing couple doesn’t take, becomes my investment.

Kempton: Did you get a say, or did someone in your company get a say on what opportunities get to be on the show? After all, we are talking about real money here. Your money, plus, I guess more importantly, the investors’ money.

Brett: By the end of the show, I will have a quarter of a million dollars, give or take, invested in 12 different investments. And the entrepreneurs who have come on the show, similarly, in aggregate, will have that kind of money invested: ten to twenty thousand dollars per show. Read the rest of this entry »

Brett Wilson interview – 01/05 – Leaving CBC Dragons’ Den, TV offers, Uno bike, and Ben Gulak

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Brett Wilson interview 2011

Few days ago I had the great pleasure of chatting with Brett Wilson, Calgary entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. Here is the video Brett Wilson interview – 01/05 – Leaving CBC Dragons’ Den, TV offers, Uno bike, and Ben Gulak (see below for interview transcript). [Click her for links to watch all five parts of the interview series.]

Kempton Lam: I was shocked & saddened by CBC Feb 2011 press released that you won’t be part of Dragons’ Den. To be positive, did that motivate/excite you when the TV offers came in resulting in the chance to do a new TV show call “Risky Business”?

Brett Wilson: Those are very good questions.

First of all, I was and I am disappointed that CBC and I couldn’t reach agreement. I was very keen to do another season. CBC knew that. So just to be clear, I didn’t walk away from the show. I was very keen to do another season. Then CBC press released it that I was gone which also surprised me cause I didn’t think it was that big a deal. And I really thought that was the end of my television career. I’ve never studied acting. I can’t memorize lines. I don’t understand Shakespeare. So I had no interest really in doing anything else in terms of television. I certainly didn’t leave Dragons’ Den to pursuit other stuff. I wanted to continue with Dragons’ Den.

So first of all I was surprised that CBC wanted to press release it that I was gone. And then more importantly, I was surprised by the responds in the market place. All three networks reached out at various levels to say, “Hey, if you are interested, lets talk.” And I had two production companies say, “Would you like to screen test for shows we have in development?” And I did. I screen tested both. And we decided to move forward on one of the shows right now. The other show I am still hoping to do for another time.

And I’ve met with several production companies about doing some stuff in the world of philanthropy that I am very interested in doing. But then again, thats all in production, in development. Someone told me the other day that Mark Burnett  is telling the world that 90% of all television under production is documentaries and reality TV, which doesn’t bode well for those people who studied acting. Which does bode well for people who are playing in the reality TV genre which is what obviously now I am part of.

Kempton: When offers started to come it, did it surprise you too?

Brett: Well, I was very surprised. I really didn’t think there was anything else for me. You know, there is one television show in Canada that deals with business and thats Dragons’ Den. And I thought that would be it.

I am very proud that I’ve done 55 episodes with CBC. In terms of the 75 shows that they’ve shot, I have been involved with 55. And its the highest rank 55. I mean the first two years, the viewership was 200/300/400 thousands people. In the time that I was on the show, it has been running a million, and now up to 2 million a show. So it is in a league of its own. And its something that I am very proud of.

Kempton: You were one of five Dragons, and now you have your own show. Thats a big change.

Brett: Now I have my own show. When I left the show, one of the thing I said was, I like to challenge CBC and the Dragons to step up the game cause the quality, background, and knowledge of the viewership, of the people watching Dragons’ Den has gone up a bunch. Read the rest of this entry »

More Brett Wilson’s Risky Business

Thursday, 21 April, 2011

Here are some more news articles about Brett Wilson’s Risky Business from across Canada.

* Calgary Herald, “Brett Wilson turns ordinary people into high-stakes investors with ‘Risky Business’” Here is an excerpt (emphasis added),

“As the duo stakes their life savings on one investment, Wilson will invest in the other. At the end of each episode, shot over 30 days, it will be revealed how each investment performed.

That’s where the drama comes in,” says Wilson. “I have to be careful not to guide them to one pitch over the other, but rather, help them assess the fact that there is risk in investing.

“It’s full disclosure. They’ll understand what both of the investments are . . . And they go first. They get to pick.”

But as with any business investment, it is a gamble and Wilson says there is always a very real possibility that participants on the show could lose their life savings.

“I don’t want that for people, but you’ve got to step outside the box and take some risk,” Wilson says.

He stresses, however, that the contestants will be, by and large, younger couples who don’t yet have a huge life savings. Read the rest of this entry »

CBC reports Brett Wilson’s Risky Business but …

Wednesday, 20 April, 2011

CBC News, “Dragon Brett Wilson backs new investing show“.

Yes, the news was reported but for some unexplained reason, we see “This story is closed to commenting.” Huh?!! What’s going on?

P.S. Am I too tough to see this as an issue related to journalistic integrity (or the lack of)? Should I be happy that CBC reports the story at all? Is it acceptable to close the comment section so that CBC can avoid being criticized? I don’t know.

What standard, if there is one, does CBC used to decide if a story should be “closed to commenting“?

Please share what you think in the comment section.

Dragons’ Den star Brett Wilson to host “Risky Business” on Slice TV

Wednesday, 20 April, 2011

4:43pm Update: Here is a great radio interview with Brett  by @phoenixonair. Highly recommended. I have fixed this article to correct my mistaken impressions about some elements of the show. Sorry for the mistakes.


I am excited to report a new high-stakes investing television series with Brett Wilson called Risky Business is being launched and premiering on Slice in Fall 2011. The show is holding casting calls for both investors and entrepreneurs.

After gaining better understanding from listening to Brett’s radio interview, the entrepreneurs are definitely not the kind I have originally been thinking of. This makes everything really interesting and non-traditional. According to Brett, Risky Business is based on the UK BBC format “Beat the Bank“. Interestingly, Duncan Bannatyne, presenter of Beat, is a Dragon on BBC.

Here is an excerpt from the press release (emphasis added),

“In each episode of Risky Business, Brett will give the daring couple a chance to risk big and win big. As host, he will guide the investors as they choose between pitches made by two different entrepreneurs, each looking for capital and offering a big return. The options will be unusual – such as investing in undervalued vintage wine labels or betting it all on a high stakes one-night-only event. The duo will stake their life savings on one investment, and Brett will invest in the other.  It isn’t until the end of the episode that it is revealed how each investment performed.  Will the risk-taking couple win big or lose it all?  Do they out perform Brett?  Or does Brett prove he can make money just about anywhere? Read the rest of this entry »

In conversation: Brett Wilson

Wednesday, 16 March, 2011

Check out this great Maclean’s article “In conversation: Brett Wilson “. I’ve excerpted three questions and answers that I found very insightful. [emphasis added]

“Q: You’ve challenged the CBC to dole out what you’ve called “constructive criticism as opposed to abuse” on the show. What prompted you to make that challenge?

A: I want it to respect the intelligence of the viewing community—you know, there isn’t a business school in the country that isn’t paying attention to this show. I was the lead deal-making dragon. I don’t know how many deals the other dragons have actually done or closed, but I managed to get 60 done on the show, and we’ve papered 30, and 31 should be done in the next couple weeks. That’s where my own fan base says, “Thank you for showing us how to do deals.” It’s easy to say, “No,” it takes no courage, no brains and no wallet to criticize. Criticism comes free. Action comes at some cost, and I’ve been pretty active. Will the 30 investments I’ve made all work out? Absolutely not. I suspect I’ll write off four or five in the next year because they’re stumbling. But there’s four or five that could become iconic brands in Canada because of the power of the entrepreneur. Any one of those top-five investments will pay for all 30. So I take a portfolio approach. Read the rest of this entry »

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