This Toronto Star article provides an interesting perspective on the writing process from a celebrity's viewpoint -Kevin O'Leary of the Shark Tank and Dragon's Den fame.
Uber-capitalist Kevin O’Leary writes a book
Dragons' Den star Kevin O'Leary talks about the joys of writing his autobiography, Cold Hard Truth. By: John Goddard Business Reporter, Oct 1, 2011
It might not make money but a book can enhance self-branding, says the TV personality from Dragon’s Den on CBC, Lang & O’Leary Exchange on CBC News Network, and Shark Tank on ABC.
At a Toronto coffee shop, the first-time author spoke about the writing process.
Did you enjoy book-writing?
It was much harder than I thought it was going to be and it took a lot longer. I thought it would be a six-month process. It took 18 months and now it’s so much part of my life — the process of doing it — that I miss working on it. I used to spend a couple of hours every day and now I don’t do that anymore, so I’m starting a new one.
Wow. What’s the new one about?
Well, let’s talk about this one.
Okay, why write? Writing and money-making don’t seem to go together.
No they don’t, I agree, but I think I’ve realized why people write them. It forces you to put on the record with accuracy what happened. You’ve created a permanent record of what you’ve done, good and bad.
I needed to do that, because there is a lot of misinformation about this deal or that deal, or what I do, or if I’m a mean guy and all that stuff.
I try to address all of that in this book and it was a very cathartic process. I feel much better having done it. I feel I’ve just given birth to something. If a man could give birth it would be to a book — it’s an 18-month gestation period.
Did you have a ghost writer?
Yes. Lisa Gabriele, the senior producer of Dragons’ Den, is my ghost writer and George Kanawaty, my stepfather, is my researcher. That was the team, the three of us back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Lisa was perfect because she knew my background. And George was more than a researcher. He would say, “No, Kevin, that’s not what happened in 1956. Here’s the article from the Montreal Gazette with that information. It was in your mother’s files.”
So it got really interesting as we started digging through all my family’s archives, which is where all those pictures came from. The book is peppered with pictures.
You thought you could finish in six months?
Boy, was I wrong about that. You have to step back, read it and then let it gestate and then read it again. And then as time passed I would say to Lisa, “I’d like to do a chapter on this lesson, or that lesson, or this person.” It just kept growing.
Writing must have been like a minimum wage job. Was there a financial benefit?
I didn’t do it to make money. I don’t know if I’ll make any money. I think a book is your calling card, your business card. I think I’m going to give this to people for years to come — “Here’s who I am. Here’s where I came from.”
The dragon Kevin O’Leary didn’t do it to make money?
Well, I think there is a lot of brand building that does help me. You don’t make any money on TV either but TV has let me build a pretty successful mutual fund company (O’Leary Funds) that I’m pretty happy with. People are aware of what I stand for through television.
Nobody gets rich on TV but you build brand. That’s what I’m attempting to do.
So the book complements the TV work?
Yes and something else. It’s cathartic. I think about the discipline of what I do all day as an investor and a mutual fund chairman. Those are finite black-and-white duties. You either make money or you lose money.
The chaos of making television is completely different. So (the two together) is a balancing act. I love it. It’s the left and right side of the brain interacting, which I think keeps me young and keeps me interested in working. I’m happy with where I’m at with these two careers intertwined.
Arlene Dickinson, your fellow-panelist on Dragon’s Den, has also published an autobiography, Persuasion: A New Approach to Changing Minds.
Did you both know you were writing books?
We didn’t know originally but we’re having a lot of fun now because we’re promoting them together.
She has a completely different view of the world, obviously. Hers is Kumbaya, hold hands around the campfire, but it’s good because she has been very successful in her talents of persuasion.
Her journey is remarkable. It’s fascinating. It’s a completely different perspective but it’s very good.
Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life, by Kevin O’Leary, hardcover, 256 pages, Doubleday Canada, $29.95