Kevin O’Leary Tells the Truth about Marriage in his New Book Cold Hard Truth on Men Women and Money
By Ben Kaplan
Kevin O’Leary is out of the den and into the fire
On the day Kevin O’Leary sits down for lunch at Toronto’s Hazelton Hotel, orders the sea bass and talks up his new book The Cold, Hard Truth about Men, Women and Money, an article appears in The New York Times. Partly discussing the state of divorce, it reads: “In the past, spouses fought over who got to keep the house. Now, they fight over who gets stuck with it and the huge debts attached.” For the 58-year-old entrepreneur, who, it should be noted, is a happily married father of two, matrimony is no different than any business transaction — a merger that requires a careful examination of both parties’ books.
“The No. 1 reason marriages break up isn’t infidelity — it’s money,” says O’Leary, among the country’s most well-known faces of finance from his bully pulpit on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, The Lang and O’Leary Exchange and ABC’s Shark Tank. “Marriage isn’t just an emotional decision, it’s a financial one and if you can successfully sign a prenuptial agreement, that marriage stands a much better chance of success.”
The Cold, Hard Truth about Men, Women and Money is O’Leary’s second tome of advice and the financier is upfront about the assistance he receives with his prose. “I work with some great ghosts,” he says, “and the way I approach a book is I sit down with a team.”
However, both books are personal and pointed — the segment “How to Spot a Gold Digger,” from the new work, is a quintessential O’Learyian theme — and, despite buying and selling companies for millions of dollars, the Montreal-born, Toronto-based entrepreneur says he struggles with every word.
“This is the hardest thing I do — it’s a written record — and I’m a perfectionist,” he says, opting for sparkling water over the restaurant’s deep reserve of red and white O’Leary Fine Wines. “I know that the books will outlast me, which is why I generate stuff between 11 p.m. and 1 in the morning over a bottle of Bordeaux. At night, I read it and think it’s great and in the morning, I say: ‘This is s–t.’ ”
Culled from questions his audience sends in to his website — O’Leary says he receives as many as a thousand per day — the new book is a series of problems and solutions dealing with personal and financial train wrecks. Stressed out about the grown child who won’t leave your basement? Have family members circling like vultures now that you’re retired and saved your nest egg? Unable to climb out of debt? As if he were the Don Cherry of financial wisdom, O’Leary provides strongly worded, anecdote-driven answers, unafraid of the people he might offend.
“On the show, the other panel members will tell a contestant, ‘Don’t let him discourage you,’ but I want to say to them: ‘Are you out of your mind?’ ” O’Leary says. “When it comes to money, tears mean nothing to me because I know, without honest advice, you’re going to cry them later. You’re an evil person if you’re consoling someone when what they need is the truth.”
The truth about finance has become O’Leary’s stock in trade, and it’s something he’s learned at the side of his Lebanese mother, who took over the family’s finances after his father lost everything, including, ultimately, his life, to alcohol. The television personality sees his books as his legacy and, as the market sways with uncertainty and mass lay-offs birth new entrepreneurs every day, O’Leary feels proud of his latest work.
“When you’re dealing with something, when there’s a crisis, it’s always about money,” he says. “Men, women and money — it’s the new sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.”
The Cold, Hard Truth about Men, Women and Money by Kevin O’Leary is published by Random House ($22.95). For an exclusive video of O’Leary espousing the five commandments before marriage, visit nationalpost.com/arts.