U of G welcomes Dragons’ Den personality and Wealthy Barber author David Chilton
On Feb. 12, David Chilton – author of the bestselling Wealthy Barber books and a Dragon on CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den – shared his recipes for success in personal finance with a mixture of humour and common sense for a packed house at War Memorial Hall. Chilton donated all funds generated from ticket sales to the OVC Pet Trust Fund in support of the Mona Campbell Centre for Animal Cancer.
Before I left my office to interview Chilton, I had a chance to read a Maclean’s article about a generation the magazine is dubbing “the new underclass.” It delved into why many smart, educated, ambitious young people “have no future.” I fielded Chilton with some of the ideas.
“It’s a complicated subject matter and traditionally I’ve been optimistic of all generations having better lifestyles than their parents,” said Chilton. “I mean we are all beneficiaries of the tremendous innovation that takes place and of all the accumulation of all the things that have come before us, but I will admit the job market is very challenging. “
The entrepreneur says it’s a matter of adapting to technological advances and other progressions in our culture.
“We are automating and digitizing so many processes that society on a whole may be winning – we may be net up – but unfortunately there is a lot of displacement and people who don’t have the matching skills are really struggling right now,” said Chilton. “A lot of the types of jobs people first entered into – and not just the traditional factory, but also clerk jobs or lower level jobs at all major institutions – are being automated or have been replaced by foreign workers in some cases and computers in others.”
Chilton is finding that many intelligent 21 to 27-year-old people who have a lot of potential to add to society are falling between the cracks these days and are unable to find a solid footing. The economist notes that some of these people are turning towards entrepreneurship, but insists that’s not easy.
“As David Chilton I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life, and I love it, but I realize not everyone is well suited to creating their own enterprise and taking care of all the facets that are necessary to run effectively.”
Chilton says he was lucky enough to follow his passion at a young age and fell in love with the world of personal finance – and to wit, it’s served him generously over the years. That being said, Chilton maintains that we must be realistic and that not everyone can follow their passion and turn it into a great career.
“During the early stages of your life you often times find yourself doing some things you’re not too keen on and this generation – admittedly up against legitimate problems – is scuffling with that,” Chilton conceded. “They are really struggling with the fact that you’ve got to go in and do menial tasks on occasion or things you don’t like doing. But that is the nature of life unfortunately.”
“Following your passion sounds great in theory and looks great in books, but in the real world it’s not always easy to execute on, and again, if we push everyone towards entrepreneurship it may be good for society in the big picture, long-term situation, but we’re going to have a lot of people fail, and that’s just the nature of start-up enterprise.”
Chilton brought up personal debt levels, noting that they are very high and real, but also said he sees them much more in the U.S. – especially for students that have gone to grad school. He tends not to see those levels in Canada as often, but didn’t underplay the problem; according to Chilton, “a degree or second degree doesn’t guarantee you a high income job anymore and so it is difficult.” Chilton maintains hammering away at debt is always a good financial move which reduces stress and frees up cash flow. He says “we are looking at a different rate of return on the investment equation right now with post secondary education and all of a sudden, for the first time in decades, we have a lot of people saying, ‘I’m not sure that was a wise move.’”
As Chilton put it, it’s a more complex situation than it’s been in the past and the return on investment isn’t guaranteed. He feels education – especially with the digital revolution – is going to undergo dramatic changes in the next 10 to 15 years.
Discussing Rich Carlgaard, a digital revolution writer for Forbes who has predicted 50 per cent of post secondary education could be challenged because of the Internet, Chilton said this model might not be so healthy for the institutions that are entrenched, but that it could be healthier for society in the long run.
In respect to Dragons’ Den, Chilton says he and the other Dragons get along well. He bumps into Arleen Dickinson every so often in Toronto, he has a lot in common with Bruce Croxon, and loves Jim Treliving’s company although he lives in Dallas and travels a lot. Although they both work in the same industry David runs into Kevin O’Leary less frequently. They have had some conflict on air on The Lang and O’Leary Exchange, but they get along pretty well. Chilton says that when they all see each other on set it’s a lot of fun, and as the new Dragon they have been very warm, accepting and good to him.
Speaking about his spare time Chilton said he loves immersing himself in books related to world politics, economics and finance. He likes to play a fair amount of golf but has not been able to get on the green as much in the last three years because of commitments to his new book, The Wealthy Barber Returns. He says he’s still very close with his kids and hangs around them a lot.
Being a dog lover, Chilton says he “can’t live without them.” He has made deals with all three pitches this year that involve dogs, and as a result he has been razzed by some of his fellow Dragons, mainly Dickinson.
In regards to this event, Chilton was happy to help out this great cause and thought it was nice to be invited, plus he loved the venue. Given his fondness for the University of Guelph and its location just a short drive from Kitchener, when the U of G called him it was pretty easy convincing him to speak. As Chilton said, “I’m a pet guy so from every perspective it was ideal.” He did mention however he has to learn to be a little more discerning when it comes to pet deals on Dragons’ Den.
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