Kevin O'Leary premiers his new reality show this weekend -- an all-too real show, in fact. The man who made a name for himself as the loudest and most offensive cast member of the Dragon's Den reality TV show will be testing the waters at the Conservative Party convention this weekend for a possible leadership bid. He would be a terrible leader. Terrible for the Conservatives and terrible for the national debate in this country. Being offensive and insensitive to the very real needs and wishes of Canadians is not leadership and it's certainly not prime ministerial.
On April 29, 2015, I entered the Dragons' Den at the CBC studios in downtown Toronto, armed with my business pitch and my two fellow knights, to fight for a business idea I had invested in for the last eight years, with two million dollars and the dream of making a difference in the lives of desk jockeys everywhere.
When entrepreneurial reality shows first hit the networks, I was totally hooked. Many of the inventions featured are family focused, unique to the market, and solve problems for parents. Here are three companies whose baby gear caught my eye and ended up in my online shopping cart because of reality television.
People would pitch us whatever awesome thing they would do with money. Whoever won, would get the entire pot of cash, no strings attached. Awesome Shit Club was born. I thought that since our beer consumption encouraged the name and concept that the event would die or at least stay underground, but it's had the opposite effect.
Kevin O'Leary has created an entire persona around a sort of modern-day Gordon Gekko. O'Leary is fond of and famous for employing phrases like "it's all about the money," "people only care about money," and "money makes the world go round." To put it mildly, this is a superficial, even one-dimensional understanding of markets.
When I defend the CBC, it's because I'm defending the idea of Canadian culture and identity and I see the CBC as, for now, a necessary part of that. But when people criticize the CBC, I suspect it's part of a deeper and far more, well, insidious agenda that stretches well beyond public broadcasting.
The general feeling is mean-spirited now. It's sneering and snide. Crass insults from people taking very little risk who now mock people who are risking it all. What was once about dreamers with big ideas looking for a little help in the right direction has just become a parade of bankers, asking what's in it for them and then rolling their eyes at anything that isn't a surefire hit.
Much as I like the intertwining of inspiring stories, witty repartee, and gong show ideas -- I don't watch 'Dragons' Den' or its American equivalent 'Shark Tank.' These shows, in my opinion, are misleading a generation of entrepreneurs into believing that the end game is a financing, not a business.