Twenty years after simplifying finance with his book The Wealthy Barber, David Chilton has another simple message for Canadians: cheer up, already.
“Canadians’ national pastime isn’t hockey, it’s complaining,” Chilton told the audience at the Home Hardware spring show Tuesday. “This country has completely lost the ability to distinguish between a major problem and a minor inconvenience. A long lineup at Tim Hortons is not a major problem.”
Chilton mostly kept the tone of his speech light, sharing behind-the-scenes stories of writing The Wealthy Barber and starting his own publishing company. He admitted he broke one of his own biggest rules, cashing in his RRSP to print the book.
Chilton was only 25 when he started writing it, and he questioned whether anyone would want to buy a book from a 25-year-old. He nearly gave up after sending it to a trio of financial experts for review and getting bad reviews from all of them. Then he gave it to the guys on his slo-pitch team – “beer-swigging, illiterate Canadians” – and they loved it.
“You’d be amazed at how many questions in the book came right from the mouths of the guys on my slo-pitch team.”
The Wealthy Barber was not a runaway hit but it built steam gradually and went on to sell more than two million copies in North America.
Chilton also described how he came to publish a series of low-fat cooking books, after sisters Janet and Greta Podleski wore him down through sheer persistence. The Podleski sisters have become as successful as they are through their creativity, perseverance, and simply by being nice, he said.
“We underestimate the importance of customer service.”
Chilton is back on the speaking tour after a hiatus of several years. While he enjoyed travelling across the country, he grew frustrated with the negativity he encountered everywhere; hence the final message of his speech.
“We just don’t see how lucky we are,” he told the crowd. “There is no better place and no better time to be alive than right here and right now.”