Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons.


304 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 978-1-55263-942-9
DDC 650.1084'2





Reviewed by Louise Karch

Louise Karch is a career consultant with Carswell Partners in London, Ontario.


Seymour Schulich is a Canadian business success story known for being a billionaire and philanthropist. His name adorns business, engineering, and medical schools around the world. With Derek DeCloet, Schulich has written Get Smarter,an advice book for twenty- to forty-year olds. Schulich intentionally makes early chapters lightweight for the younger crowd, adding more detail to appeal to mature concerns as the book progresses.


This is a father’s, nay, a grandfather’s primer on work and life. How do you make good decisions? What careers and sectors should you avoid? What health practices matter? Why you should track your businesses’ cash and why being a market contrarian has its advantages. Ted Goff’s cartoons and appendices (such as Schulich’s lists of favourite movies and books, a traveller’s perspective on the Middle East, and the story behind Frano-Nevado) keep this book upbeat.


Trouble hits in Chapter 13, entitled “Love and Sex.” Schulich describes every failure as being attributable to ego, greed, alcohol and drugs, or assistants with big breasts. As a woman, I would have preferred he said men’s inability to control their libido. But when I read the list to a man born in Schulich’s decade, he laughed. He found it a true statement, especially as his friend lost half his business that way. In that moment, Schulich reveals a truth about the world of alpha males that I didn’t really want to hear. 


There are a few sideways remarks about women that could have been omitted, and while Schulich does credit the women who have helped him personally and professionally, I had to remind myself that he came of age in the macho mining industry and was born just after women got the vote. You won’t find social or environmental commentary here. This is, after all, the man who is banking on the Alberta oil sands.


Readers will likely appreciate his views on oil, gold, and global players such as China and the Middle East. His analysis of the overvalued US stock market was bang on and predates the crash. Will his book make you smarter? Maybe. Will it occasionally annoy? Possibly.


Schulich, Seymour, with Derek DeCloet., “Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,