Who are your business heroes, the men and women you look up to as outstanding examples of entrepreneurial success? I’ll bet there are a few Americans on your list. But what about Canadians? There aren’t a lot who have built billion-dollar empires, but according to Leonard Brody and David Raffa, there are enough multi-millionaries to create an all-Canadian list of mentors.Co-authors of Innovation Nation, a study of Canadian business leaders, their newest effort profiles the wisdom of 16 notable men and women. There are the obvious ones, such as B.C. broadcast and supermarket supremo Jim Pattison. But there also are names you wouldn’t have thought of: Marcia Kilgore, who created the Bliss spa and beauty chain; Nick Graham, builder of the Joe Boxer underwear brand; music impresario Terry McBride.
The authors say they sought through interviews to provide “new and incisive ideas” readers could take away. Each chapter opens with five key points summarizing principles each principal used en route to their accomplishments. The result, while sometimes a brisk and informative read, is uneven. Some chapters weave interesting tales, while others are thin on anecdotes and seem to be little more than essays on topics such as teamwork.
A few of the subjects are odd, as well. Joel Cohen has risen to become co-executive producer of the smash TV show The Simpsons, which qualifies him as a manager, not an entrepreneur. Ditto Paul Tellier, ex-federal bureaucrat turned ex-chief executive of Bombardier. Another odd inclusion is Leonard Asper, who didn’t build broadcast conglomerate CanWest Global; his father did. But by including him the authors must tread on that most dangerous ground, convergence. And the supposed lessons in this chapter are among the weakest, for convergence is still a work in progress.
There are a few missing elements whenever writers try to shrink into a few pages the tale of how a person or company became a success. Accept that, and reading this book could get you started on being the person you admire.

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