About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Decisions by Jim Treliving

Decisions by Jim Treliving – The Canadian Dragon gained public fame in his mid-60’s through his participation in the CBC television program, Dragons Den, on which budding entrepreneurs pitch their business plans to a quartet of prominent Canadian business people seeking to convince a Dragon to invest in their companies.

Watching him on television I saw Treliving as a direct, even blunt man, but had no idea he was a skilled storyteller. In Decisions he goes through his transformation from an RCMP constable to a pizza restaurant franchisee to a business tycoon as co-owner of the Boston Pizza and Mr. Lube franchises.

In one way the book is a manual on becoming and staying a successful businessman. At the same time it is an absorbing personal story.

Treliving grew up in Virden, Manitoba where his father had a barber shop. His Dad was a successful businessman who abhorred debt to the point of delaying marriage until he had enough money to pay cash for a house and enough money that his wife would not have to work. He married at 37.

Treliving is a passionate man about work. Play has always had a modest role in his life. His main recreation has been golf and he constantly uses golf games to assess those wanting to do business with him.

As a young man he joined the RCMP and was stationed in Prince George, B.C. and then transferred to Edmonton. He was a dedicated police officer. He enjoyed the work and the camaraderie with his fellow officers. As with all most everyone in the world he was a man of habit. He often joined fellow officers after work for a meal. He had his spots and rarely ventured into new restaurants.

It took repeated efforts for a colleague to get him into a Boston Pizza restaurant in Edmonton. It was the mid-1960’s and it was his first experience with pizza. His description of not knowing which pizza to order (his friend suggested the Hawaiian – ham and pineapple) and uncertainty on how to eat it reminded me that I had never had pizza until about the same time frame. If we had heard of pizza 50 years ago on the Canadian prairies it was some foreign dish in New York or Italy. After trying it Treliving, as with myself and every young person of that era I knew, liked pizza. It was so different from our meat-and-potatoes meal tradition.

Treliving describes the attraction of pizza to him:

The meal was easy, fast and kind of fun. Pizza was the kind of thing you could put down in the middle of the table and share with friends, everyone grabbing a slice, which to me seemed exotic ….. I was an instant fan.

He was soon an unofficial bouncer at Boston Pizza absorbing the business. When he grew frustrated with the RCMP and looked for an alternative he was ready to try the pizza business.

When he and another unhappy officer, Don Spence, raised with Gus Agioritis, the lead brother in Boston Pizza, opening the first Boston Pizza franchise Gus was excited. Treliving outlines the importance of the reaction of Gus:

He knew we had no experience in the restaurant business, let alone pizza-and pasta-making skills. But here’s the thing: Gus liked us. Most important, Gus trusted us, which was a big deal since this was going to be Boston Pizza’s first formal franchise. Thankfully, Gus had more confidence in us than we had in ourselves.

Treliving goes on with the heading:

            Trust People with More Confidence in You Than You Have in Yourself

Unconsciously I have had the benefit of that aphorism. Others can often see your potential better than yourself.

Every business needs money and Treliving was no exception. He rightly emphasizes that “asking for money is a skill – get good at it”. He refers to what convinces him on The Dragon’s Den to invest with a businessperson seeking money:

A pitcher’s sound valuation is the sign I can invest with confidence. They understand what they have, what they need and how I can help.

It takes hard long hours to succeed in business. Treliving sets out a quality needed in that quest:

Enthusiasm creates wealth …. Enthusiasm also creates stamina. When you can work like a dog with joy in your heart, you’re going to make more money ….. Enthusiastic people attract the same.. As a group enthusiasts create momentum, and money loves momentum. Passionate people doing something they love will always attract the right people to them.

Through the book he sets out how they made the decisions that turned Boston Pizza into a great business. There were setbacks.

Treliving candidly acknowledges that he has not always made the best business decisions. Expansions to Asia and Ontario faltered and, with the concurrence of his partner George Melville, they withdrew back to Western Canada. He analyzes where they erred in their expansion process. After retrenching they moved back into Eastern Canada with great success. It is less clear whether expansion to the United States and Mexico will be as successful.

Internet assessments put his net worth at $600 to $700 million dollars.

Treliving is a gifted storyteller and I would have enjoyed the book even without the business lessons.

Treliving is the second Dragon to have written a book about his life that business career that I have found riveting. In 2013 I was absorbed by Redefining Success – Still Making Mistakes by W. Brett Wilson.

It is a rare book that has made me reflect on what I should be doing differently in life and work. We never run out of decisions in life. Treliving’s drive has inspired me into thinking about how I make decisions. I will be keeping Decisions as a reference on the process of decision making.


  1. OH, this does sound fascinating, Bill. And it sounds as though he's not too self-serving in the book, which is especially appealing. And it's a sure sign that the book was well-written if you're still thinking about it, and if it's made you think about your own decision-making.

  2. Margot:Thanks for the comment. He is a frank and direct guy. I appreciated his comments that being a business owner is not for everyone and provides a reasoned approach for determining if business is for you.