Kevin O’Leary, or often known as “Mr. Wonderful,” is a venture capitalist on the television shows Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank, and he co-founded the company O’Leary Funds and the software company SoftKey.
Starting from a young age, he was always learning about sales and the art of business from his family. At six years old, it was discovered that he had dyslexia. After seeking help from specialists, O’Leary says he learned how to focus more on his strengths. However, he also figured out at the age of fifteen, while he was working at an ice cream shop, that he never wanted to work for someone else again. He had been asked by his manager to scrape gum from under the shop’s seats and tables, to which he responded by simply stating that that is not what he was hired to do. O’Leary now believes that he owes this manger everything because if it was not for her, he would not have realized what he needed in order to be happy: to be an employer and not an employee.
O’Leary later met a businessman named John Freeman who had developed a printing program. O’Leary was hooked right away. He confronted Freeman about wanting to begin a partnership, knowing there would be a vast market for the program, to which Freeman agreed to. O’Leary admits that he did not know how to get this software to who he knew would need it, but he called manufacturers, he set up meetings, he travelled to those meetings, wherever they were, in order to get the software out there. O’Leary and Freeman later sold SoftKey to Mattel for nearly $4 billion US. O’Leary found a golden opportunity and turned it into billions of dollars.
Kevin O’Leary strongly believes all entrepreneurs should enable the mindset of the phrase he so firmly relies on: “Business is war.” The only thing they should take into account is money and time. Time is irreplaceable; therefore, they should spend it on something that they know would have positive repercussions and results, and on something that will grant them a sum of money. He states, “I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to make money.” Knowing the competition, knowing what it takes, knowing how to do it, and knowing who to see is what will allow those dollar bills to find their way to an entrepreneur’s hands. This is the real business world and it does not take pity, only money.
In many instances, O’Leary is confronted with the question of why he is so mean on Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den, to which he responds, “What do you think is going to happen in the real world?” He does not see it as being mean, but rather as simply telling the truth. He does not want to waste any time or mislead anyone. He thinks that anyone who tells an aspiring entrepreneur that they should continue what they are doing, even though it is not worth anything, should “burn in hell.”
Kevin O’Leary believes when one is out there being an entrepreneur, and competing with every other entrepreneur across the globe, it is a struggle that will let one down every time. The true test is if they have what it takes to get back up and try again.
Written By: MD