Winning the Battle to Tell the Truth

In my last post, I described the battle in which I am engaged to see to it that the case study which was created by the Ivey School of Business - one of the top business schools in Canada - based upon my book “Don’t Let Your Dream Business Turn Into a Nightmare” remains available to students at Ivey and at other business schools around the world which may have interest in using it in their programs.

In the spring of 2009, I submitted a copy of my book to the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, with a view to having it added to the curriculum of their courses in entrepreneurship. In May, I received an email from the Executive Entrepeneur in Residence at Ivey, expressing interest in adapting my book - or my story as I told it in my book - into a case study, as Ivey is one of a number of business schools that uses the “case study” methodology. The case study was written in the fall and posted on the Ivey Publishing website in November of 2009. In December, I received an email from Ivey informing me that my former friend and associate, who is now the president of The Men’s PowerSpa, had lodged a complaint, on the basis that the majority owners of the company did not give their consent to use the case study that bears the name of the company.

My book is a very personal account of one man’s entrepreneurial dream that turned into a nightmare. I wrote it as a cautionary tale to warn other would-be entrepreneurs of the dangers of starting a business - especially a “dream business” - with someone else’s money. Someone who may not share your passion or vision.

I did not expect the majority shareholders of the company that I founded to like my book because it is not a very flattering portrait of the way that people can behave when money is on the table. The lesson of my book is that when money is involved, a number of values which we cherish, such as fairness and even “niceness” can go out the window. You might think that all is fair in business, but I don’t, and that is why I wrote my book.

Prior to self-publishing my book, I consulted with several lawyers, and was advised that as long as my book was truthful, I could defend myself against any claims of libel. Since my book was truthful, I went ahead and published it. And the Ivey School of Business deemed that the story that I told in my book - the story of how my “dream business” turned into a nightmare - was of value to the students at Ivey and at other business schools around the world.

But in December, because the majority owners of the business had not approved of the use of the case study, they pulled it.

This, to me, is analagous to a newspaper pulling a story about the problems at Toyota becasue the owners of Toyota don’t like it. Talk about freedom of the press.

The upshot of all of this is that, as of this week, I was informed that the case study will go forward, in a disguised version, so that readers will not be able to recognize The Men’s PowerSpa.

So, somewhere in the future, students of entrepeneurship at Ivey and other business schools around the world may get to read the story of an entrepreneur who had a dream, and saw that dream turn into a nightmare.

It won’t be my story the way I told it in my book. But it will be as close as it can be, thanks to the majority owners of The Men’s PowerSpa.

A couple of guys who should be ashamed of themselves.

What is a "dream business"?

I took considerable interest, some months ago, when the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team hired Brian Burke as their new General Manager and, at the press conference to introduce him to the media and fans, he described his new position as a “dream job”.

A “dream job”? What is a “dream job”? Is it a job in which you make a lot of money for very little effort? Is that a “dream job”? Is that what Burke meant when he described the General Manager’s role with the Leafs as a “dream job”? Clearly, not. Burke had already been a General Manager in Anaheim, had won a Stanley Cup, and was one of the highest-paid G.M.’s in the game, so what did he gain by moving to the Leafs? It wasn’t more money or power for less work. Yet, it was a “dream job”.

A “dream job” is one which has special meaning for you. It is not about money, power or working a few hours a day. It is about the challenge of achieving a personal mission.

A “dream job” has to resonate with a personal mission - for Burke, that mission is, obviously, to lead one of hockey’s most storied franchises to its first Stanley Cup in over 40 years. That’s a challenge worth taking on, if you are a G.M.

As I said, I took considerable interest in Mr. Burke’s comments because I wrote a book entitled “Don’t Let Your Dream Business Turn Into a Nightmare”.

What is a “dream business”?

For me, a “dream business” was one which provided me with an opportunity to accomplish my personal mission of helping men look and feel their best.

That was my personal mission, and that was the mission of the “dream business” which I created, called The Men’s PowerSpa.

If you have a personal mission, and create a business to provide you with the opportunity to achieve that mission - i.e. your “dream business” - you had better have your own money to do it or only bring in investors who share your personal mission and the mission of the dream business.

Otherwise, you won’t have a “dream business”.

You will have a nightmare.