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Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons

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This is a mentoring book primarily for the 20-to-40-year-old with entrepreneurial aspirations. Many older folks will also derive considerable inspiration from the life and business lessons contained in Get Smarter. In examining his own life Seymour Schulich, a Canadian billionaire and philanthropist, realized that at age 20 he-like others his age-knew very little and was aw This is a mentoring book primarily for the 20-to-40-year-old with entrepreneurial aspirations. Many older folks will also derive considerable inspiration from the life and business lessons contained in Get Smarter. In examining his own life Seymour Schulich, a Canadian billionaire and philanthropist, realized that at age 20 he-like others his age-knew very little and was aware of that fact. At 30, he writes, one thinks one has acquired a lot of wisdom. Upon later reflection, however, he realized he knew very little at that age, too! Get Smarter is Schulich`s brilliantly idiosyncratic and informative attempt to impart lessons learned in a lifetime to today?s youth by someone who has achieved success in both his personal and professional life. In short, stand-alone chapters he covers such universal issues as: -How to make a decision -Manage all types of relationships -Choose a career -Deal with adversity -Key business issues -Investing lessonsWebsite


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This is a mentoring book primarily for the 20-to-40-year-old with entrepreneurial aspirations. Many older folks will also derive considerable inspiration from the life and business lessons contained in Get Smarter. In examining his own life Seymour Schulich, a Canadian billionaire and philanthropist, realized that at age 20 he-like others his age-knew very little and was aw This is a mentoring book primarily for the 20-to-40-year-old with entrepreneurial aspirations. Many older folks will also derive considerable inspiration from the life and business lessons contained in Get Smarter. In examining his own life Seymour Schulich, a Canadian billionaire and philanthropist, realized that at age 20 he-like others his age-knew very little and was aware of that fact. At 30, he writes, one thinks one has acquired a lot of wisdom. Upon later reflection, however, he realized he knew very little at that age, too! Get Smarter is Schulich`s brilliantly idiosyncratic and informative attempt to impart lessons learned in a lifetime to today?s youth by someone who has achieved success in both his personal and professional life. In short, stand-alone chapters he covers such universal issues as: -How to make a decision -Manage all types of relationships -Choose a career -Deal with adversity -Key business issues -Investing lessonsWebsite

30 review for Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons

  1. 5 out of 5

    Peter N

    This book reads like afternoon coffee with a grandfather, whose pride, confidence and self-satisfaction at how well he’s lived his life initially deter you – you’re guarded and dismissive. But then, you’re humbled by his successes, his moments of insight, his laidback conversational style, and after enough cups of caffeine, you eventually find yourself stimulated and eager to pick his brain a little more. That grandfather just happens to be Seymour Schulich, the major benefactor of York’s school This book reads like afternoon coffee with a grandfather, whose pride, confidence and self-satisfaction at how well he’s lived his life initially deter you – you’re guarded and dismissive. But then, you’re humbled by his successes, his moments of insight, his laidback conversational style, and after enough cups of caffeine, you eventually find yourself stimulated and eager to pick his brain a little more. That grandfather just happens to be Seymour Schulich, the major benefactor of York’s school of business; a Canadian billionaire, businessman, and philanthropist. This is his only book. I suspect it’s a part of his giving back, that stage in life where our remaining energy goes toward leaving a meaningful legacy, to making one’s mortality more bearable; a passing-of-the-torch that I’m sure many old people go through, and that I myself will one day too. His name is on York’s school, after all. Anyway, it’s a book that, in his words, aims to deliver life lessons to a twenty-to-forty year old. It’s actually a book that has re-inspired my love of reading: Schulich claims that he has read about 2500 books over the course of his life, 80 percent of which comprise nonfiction, and that this habit has accumulated more knowledge for him than his three university degrees. I have so much catching up to do, and I’m glad to have that fire lit by a ‘local’. The information is scattered sporadically, with short and sweet chapters dedicated to a cornucopia of topics ranging from advice on life, business, investment, decision-making, sales, China (?), leadership, health, love, and plenty in between. Schulich, who made most of his money in the oil industry, attempts to impart dozens of potentially useful ideas, rather than two or three main ones. His writing is refreshingly simple. Sections are brief. This makes it all highly readable and re-readable, but the information sometimes feels random, challenging to retain, and almost impossible to summarize without re-listing. Light reading often makes for heavy amnesia. Consequently, I prefer to preserve some of his opinions that resonate here, return to the ones that don’t, and probably leave a copy on the coffee table from time to time. Memorable passages: “How do you beat Bobby Fischer? The answer: play him at anything but chess. Always ask, where do I have the edge?...All of these ventures went sour because the people running them had no advantage, no natural edge. It’s extraordinarily difficult for most mortals to develop expertise in several very different areas.” “The entire business world, and much of family life, runs on relationships that are grounded in reciprocity. I’ve never met a successful person who didn’t have a complete grasp of this.” [references Cialdini’s Influence] “Your twenties are a time for gaining experience on which you will build the rest of your life. It doesn’t matter all that much what you do, as long as it’s legal. By thirty, though, you should have a clear direction. Only you can know where you’ll find your niche; no career counselling service can tell you. In my opinion, a key is to find work in a business with high profit margins...today’s high-margin business is not always tomorrow’s.” “Virtually all the accomplished people I’ve known in my life had positive outlooks most of the time. Behind every success story is usually someone who beat the obstacles because he or she refused to accept the pessimist’s view. Accountants and lawyers are the major exceptions to this rule.” [bahahaha] [On his takeaways from Rules for Aging]” 1. Nobody is thinking about you. 2. Avoid swine. A swine will always be a swine, even if, for the moment, he is acting in an unswine-like fashion. You cannot reform swine. It’s better just to stay away from them. 3. Appearance is frequently reality. No matter what they told you in university. 4. Envy no one—ever 5. After the age of thirty, it is unseemly to blame one’s parents for one’s life. [arbitrary number? But true.] 6. Never bring news of slander to a friend. [counter-intuitive?] 7. Never expect gratitude" “Self-praise is no honour.” [On health and longevity] “Studious folks suffer much less wear and tear than the athletic jocks of our high school and college years...Exercise: aerobically, three times a week. Strength training, twice a week...Do not study diseases unless you’re going to be a doctor. There are a lot of diseases and health demons out there that you do not want to know or obsess about. Deal only with the issues directly affecting you and your family. Keeping yourself mentally stimulated is important – maybe even critical—to a long life.” “Success correlates to exposure. This doesn’t mean you should ignore my earlier advice to play where you think you have an edge and be patient..[but also] many successful people arrived at their niche in life through exposure and experimentation in areas that interested them.” “Real relationships are built up over twenty-, thirty-, and forty-year time periods. My wise, street-smart father told me I would be very lucky to have two close friends in my lifetime outside my family.” “Every profession is a conspiracy against lay people.” “In every company in which I was a principal or an investor, the first metric was always the level of cash.” “Financial history keeps repeating itself – I’d say it’s almost as critical as accounting, the language of business, and statistics, which teaches you to analyze probabilities and risk...it’s human nature to extrapolate current trends far into the future, to assume that excellent gains in the stock market (or any financial market, including real estate) foreshadow even greater wealth to come. Investors are too influenced by recent history.” “China may not be the biggest economy on the planet (yet), but it’s arguably the most important trading nation. If you want to prosper in the twenty-first century, you’ll need to understand it. [Entire chapter on this. He really, really likes China..] “What do I mean by discipline? To me it’s simple: it’s the ability to figure out what’s worth your time and effort, what’s not, and to cut out the latter. “’You must make enough in your chosen profession to afford to be screwed by every other profession or vendor of consumer goods.” “[on setting incentives/building a company] …very few things are more important to keeping those [good people] than having the proper pay scheme in place. Observations I have accumulated [more detailed]: a) Deferred compensation. B) 10-year option vesting c) Profit-sharing D) Communal compensation “[Poor choices for wealth creation: zero-sum games i.e. field of derivatives and hedging are kind of like casinos. Growth stocks also bad.] [revisit chapter and appendix on philanthropy when I’m more secure] “A human’s attitude and behaviour change completely if he owns something, or has “skin in the game." Compare home owners to renters in their care of the properties they live in...rental cars versus cars they own…profit-sharing plans versus government bureaucracies. Government’s record of managing is so poor because civil servants have no ownership or skin in the game.” “[closing thoughts] People who live in fear don’t live at all. Business is a means to an end, namely freedom to pursue the ultimate goal of trying to make the world a better place for your having been here for a very short while. People only die when they’re forgotten. Luck favours the brave. Don’t complain, don’t explain. The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is how to love and be loved in return.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    John Reiterowski

    TLDR: In short, skip this one and read better researched books. It is advice that falls short of wisdom. It contains business, management and life lessons without the science, mathematics or psychology to back it up. While you could take the author at his word (and his track record), I would recommend dozens of other, better written and better researched, books on the same topics. None of the comments below are meant to detract from the author's successes; his philanthropy and business successes sp TLDR: In short, skip this one and read better researched books. It is advice that falls short of wisdom. It contains business, management and life lessons without the science, mathematics or psychology to back it up. While you could take the author at his word (and his track record), I would recommend dozens of other, better written and better researched, books on the same topics. None of the comments below are meant to detract from the author's successes; his philanthropy and business successes speak for themselves. My comments are a critique of the book. The positive parts: 1. This book is concise. Each chapter is a very brief lesson the author wishes to impart. The intended audience seems to be someone with little time or attention span. Indeed, I believe that although the book is around 300 pages in the edition I read, but I think I finished it under 5 hours (I'm not a fast read either). 2. The cartoons at the beginning of each chapter are each a gem: witty, cute and sometimes teach the lesson ironically. The cartoonist deserves the praise the author heaps on him. 3. The lessons are more than business lessons; they are life lessons. It is indeed important whom one marries, to travel to gain new perspectives, to play to one's strengths, and the other dozens of lessons imparted by the author. 4. The best part of this book is the reading list the author recommends for further reading. Why this book gets 1 star out of 5: 1. The real issue is that this book is supposed to be a collection of lessons to young adults but falls short of wisdom. The brevity of each chapter undercuts the lessons it tries to impart. There is no real insight to lessons like "don't buy a house if you're not going to stay there for at least four years". The hard part is understanding why this is wisdom. This lesson alone can (and does) fill books on its own, for example "The Wealthy Renter". Lessons like marry the right person are too flippant to be of any use to the intended audience (young people), and no use to someone already married. These are only two examples, but I think they capture the book's biggest flaw, which is repeated in virtually every chapter. 2. The author does a decent job of telling his story of success humbly but offers truly little insight into how he achieved it. You must read between the lines and not take the author at face value to understand his success. The author does not explicitly hide his secrets to success, but it is extremely hard to understand the success without some business acumen of your own. To over-simplify: Franco-Nevada, the author's company, bought shares and royalties of other successful mining companies. That's it in a nutshell. The secret is not to create per se, it is to piggy-back off the work of others. It is not necessarily unethical advice; owning shares in a publicly traded company is legal after all, but it is not praiseworthy either. 3. The author never explains the economics of his choices. He simply explains it was a good idea or a good price or a hunch. The issue with this advice is that not everyone can follow it or appreciate why it is correct. Simply telling people that restaurants are bad investments and gold, or oil are good investments does not even scratch the surface of the economics of why the author may be correct. There are far better books on investing than this one, namely Millionaire Teacher and The Wealthy Barber Returns for lay people. The author's experience in analyzing investments in mineral / oil deposits and extraction played a huge part in his success, but it's not an education that is widely held or easily acquired, which puts his advice out of reach of the intended audience. I don't know which young person between 20 and 30 has that background. That is not to say one cannot go study these fields of investing in e.g. gold or oil - I dare say the author would encourage you to do so. I'm saying you won't learn a shred of it from this book. 4. The reader walks away with a handful of ideas, but extraordinarily little knowledge or wisdom. I won't begrudge the author for doing this; his stated intent in the introduction is to give ideas. However, the reader is not going to be able to make a go of business after reading this book. The aspiring CEO, investor or entrepreneur can read more thorough literature on each topic. 5. The management and loyalty advice given is not necessarily the prevailing school of thought. There are better books on management: I would recommend The Dichotomy of Leadeship or Extreme Ownership both by Willinck and Babin for management and leadership advice. His advice is also contradicted by other authors such as Gladwell in Blink and Mlodinow in Subliminal, which are better researched books about understanding people and their motivations. Concluding remarks: It is a book that bites off more than it can chew. The advice contained herein may be optimal business or investing advice. However, it falls short of imparting wisdom or the "know-how" of how to do anything the author achieved in his life. I will not say this book is a waste of time because it is such a short read. BUT there are so many more informative and better researched books on management, leadership, investment, relationships, psychology and business mentioned in this review alone, that I cannot recommend this book as good advice to anyone. Skip this one and read better researched books. P.S. - I am glad I did not buy this book; it was borrowed from a friend. I think the author would approve of that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Mostly ghost-written with little to add beyond what is contained in many other, better works.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Lewis Kozoriz

    "You will usually create much more wealth by starting a new business than buying an existing one....Scan the list of Forbes billionaires, and you'll see dozens of people whose fortunes were created not by what they bought but what they built-Bill Gates, Michael Dell, the Walton family (Wal-Mart), the Johnson family (Fidelity mutual funds)-and those are just some of the famous ones." (Seymour Schulich, Get Smarter, Page 192) Written by Canadian Billionaire, Seymour Schulich at the age of 67. He wr "You will usually create much more wealth by starting a new business than buying an existing one....Scan the list of Forbes billionaires, and you'll see dozens of people whose fortunes were created not by what they bought but what they built-Bill Gates, Michael Dell, the Walton family (Wal-Mart), the Johnson family (Fidelity mutual funds)-and those are just some of the famous ones." (Seymour Schulich, Get Smarter, Page 192) Written by Canadian Billionaire, Seymour Schulich at the age of 67. He writes his insights about business, a fulfilling life and philanthropy. His target market is mainly young adults between the ages of 20-40. I don't think you can ask for more from the author. I think he gives an honest account of what he thinks a person of this age should know or work toward. He also indicated in this book that he has read over 2,500 books, so he is writing out of experience and knowledge. There are appendixes attached to this book that share his top picks for books and movies, an account of starting one of his businesses and an account of his trip to the Arab world in 2006. If you are between the ages of 20-40 years old, this book can mentor you in some things that can help you in your life and business endeavours. To top it all off you are not being mentored by someone who hasn't done it, but a real billionaire, entrepreneur and philanthropist .

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Philpott

    Like others have said, this book initially comes off as pretentious. But as you read you find there is a lot of very useful advice contained within. As one of the chapters highlights - know your edge. Wealth creation and management is Seymour Schulich's edge, much of the advice on these topics is valuable and insightful. When in comes to love, sex, and friendship, take the lessons with a grain of salt. Overall, a quick and easy read, you'll retain some useful lessons and it is interesting insigh Like others have said, this book initially comes off as pretentious. But as you read you find there is a lot of very useful advice contained within. As one of the chapters highlights - know your edge. Wealth creation and management is Seymour Schulich's edge, much of the advice on these topics is valuable and insightful. When in comes to love, sex, and friendship, take the lessons with a grain of salt. Overall, a quick and easy read, you'll retain some useful lessons and it is interesting insight into one of Canada's most well known philanthropists.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shahab Y-achille

    You get the feeling that it’s more of an autobiography at the beginning . However ,throughout the rest of the book you get plenty great advice and insights on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. It’s like your father or your grandfather reminiscing the stories of his life with you and telling you what not to do and how you should approach different situations. I’ve quite a lot from this book and enjoyed the read

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brad Lockey

    This is one of those books that you can pick up, turn to a random page, and learn or build on something on that page. Advice along the way is always appreciated and this books packs short, short chapters which is welcomed when reading before you turn the lights out. I will revisit.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Youngju

    One of the best life lessons book I have read so far.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steve Walsh

    Clear, concise and engaging. This is a quick read jam-packed with valuable knowledge from one of Canada's great benefactors. Clear, concise and engaging. This is a quick read jam-packed with valuable knowledge from one of Canada's great benefactors.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jingwei Shi

    A simple book that I would recommend to all young adults. The book contains many simple mental models that are crucial to good decision making.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Yasir Khan

    A very simple and enlightening read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dujo

    “Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons” is a somewhat autobiographical, wholly inspirational book by Canadian billionaire Seymour Schulich. Most people in Toronto know him as the benefactor of the Schulich School of Business at York University (he donated millions to build the school). Schulich, who made the bulk of his money in the oil industry, wrote this book specificly for the 20-to-40-year old demographic, imparting wisdom and life lessons to help us become (hopefully) as successful as he “Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons” is a somewhat autobiographical, wholly inspirational book by Canadian billionaire Seymour Schulich. Most people in Toronto know him as the benefactor of the Schulich School of Business at York University (he donated millions to build the school). Schulich, who made the bulk of his money in the oil industry, wrote this book specificly for the 20-to-40-year old demographic, imparting wisdom and life lessons to help us become (hopefully) as successful as he is. Being the 23-year-old, Canadian entrepreneur that I am, I was definitely curious to find out what nuggets of knowledge I could gather from the now 71-year-old billionaire from Montreal. The book is a light and easy read that contains seemingly random insights on everything from sex to leadership to the development of China. Each chapter is only 3 or 4 pages long and they all start with a funny little comic that emphasizes the point of the section. The way it’s written, you don’t even have to read them in order, making it a good book to go back to and reference throughout life. Even though there are countless business advice books out there and more being written every day, this one resonated well with me because of the simple fact that the author is a local. I got a kick out of every time he mentioned Toronto or the 407 or the SARS outbreak. Not to mention the fact that his recommended reading list includes books like “Influence” by Robert Cialdini and “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, both of which I’ve already read and love. Overall, “Get Smart” is a great read that you can finish from cover to cover in one or two sittings. For any aspiring billionaires out there, this one is highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Being someone who is quickly approaching my high school graduation I found this book to be an extremly helpful read. I typically read young adult fiction, but I was pleasently surprised to find that this book was a fun read. Schulich throws in humour here and there which made the buisness parts of the book more understandable and entertaining, and he adds personal experiences that make the book more relatable. I picked this book for a school project and I am so glad that I did. It's a great easy Being someone who is quickly approaching my high school graduation I found this book to be an extremly helpful read. I typically read young adult fiction, but I was pleasently surprised to find that this book was a fun read. Schulich throws in humour here and there which made the buisness parts of the book more understandable and entertaining, and he adds personal experiences that make the book more relatable. I picked this book for a school project and I am so glad that I did. It's a great easy read containing very useful information! Highly recommend this!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Serena

    As a teen excessively worrying about her future, this book was something I picked up during my effort to read more non-fiction. I was definitely not disappointed by this novel. I was surprised by the simplicity of the novel, and how it did not use jargons or complex terms. It was a light read and an enjoyable one at that. Despite it's simple nature, it offered some very decent advice. There's a lot of things that I've taken away from the novel and I most definitely will be looking into more non- As a teen excessively worrying about her future, this book was something I picked up during my effort to read more non-fiction. I was definitely not disappointed by this novel. I was surprised by the simplicity of the novel, and how it did not use jargons or complex terms. It was a light read and an enjoyable one at that. Despite it's simple nature, it offered some very decent advice. There's a lot of things that I've taken away from the novel and I most definitely will be looking into more non-fiction.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vedran Kuljanin

    Good book...one of the first self help/growing/guiding books I read. There is a button much simplistic exercises and examples however. It's a very broad book which means something's you can't wait to finish skipping and others you may not understand as easily (depending on who you are). I liked it but it wasn't challenging or innovative enough to me Good book...one of the first self help/growing/guiding books I read. There is a button much simplistic exercises and examples however. It's a very broad book which means something's you can't wait to finish skipping and others you may not understand as easily (depending on who you are). I liked it but it wasn't challenging or innovative enough to me

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rob Mills

    It's 300 pages but took maybe 4hr to read. Big font, blank pages and fun comics. Mr. Schulich goes through the broad lessons learned in his life, most of which you've probably heard before but it's still fairly interesting and not much of a time commitment. He has some good book recommendations spread throughout. It's 300 pages but took maybe 4hr to read. Big font, blank pages and fun comics. Mr. Schulich goes through the broad lessons learned in his life, most of which you've probably heard before but it's still fairly interesting and not much of a time commitment. He has some good book recommendations spread throughout.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scythan

    This is the first book like this I have read. Most of the lessons really didn't apply to me, but I tried to absorb what I could. Maybe I should read other books of this type; knowledge like this seems like it could come in handy. This is the first book like this I have read. Most of the lessons really didn't apply to me, but I tried to absorb what I could. Maybe I should read other books of this type; knowledge like this seems like it could come in handy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Good little book. Very quick read. Each chapter is maybe 5-10 paragraphs. But some very interesting advice from a very successful businessman. He tries to give advice aimed at a variety of stages of life.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    Highly recommended by my company's in-house accountant, I read it on a Sunday afternoon in about 3 hours. It was written by a billionaire in Canada that gives LOTS to charities. Good financial advice for young people...I wish I would take it. ha. Highly recommended by my company's in-house accountant, I read it on a Sunday afternoon in about 3 hours. It was written by a billionaire in Canada that gives LOTS to charities. Good financial advice for young people...I wish I would take it. ha.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Mac Dougall

    Book Review/VBlog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20pV2... Book Review/VBlog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20pV2...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    good book. quick tips and advice. easy to read and his solid advice in life and business

  22. 4 out of 5

    J Chater

    Not as good as Robin Sharma, but pretty good. The list of books he gives at the end to read is great.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark Kress

    Quick possibility the single best book I've read, if not, in the top 5. With so many chapters it caught your attention with each page and allowed you to breeze through the book in no time. Quick possibility the single best book I've read, if not, in the top 5. With so many chapters it caught your attention with each page and allowed you to breeze through the book in no time.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Potter Phelan

    Easy and inspirational read by a well respected & successful Canadian entrepreneur Great read for young adults and students finishing high school and beyond.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eli Al

    I liked the style the book is written in. Short stories, easy read. Some very good advice.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marcel

    Charming and easy to read. More of a very casual read than anything.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    Great book! Light reading, Great advice for people of all ages and stages of life! Definitely will re-visit in a few years.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Harrison Jorritsma

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rojeh

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura Parkes

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