Kevin O’Leary is known for being the tough investor on Shark Tank. But that doesn’t stop him from having a great time on the reality show. He said, “I’m having more fun on Shark Tank than I’ve ever had in my life. It’s what I love to do.”
It’s his persistence and can-do attitude that has gotten him worldwide recognition as an entrepreneur to trust.
Here’s what you need to know about the 59-year-old who wears suits every day of his life.
1. He Got His Nickname ‘Mr. Wonderful’ on ‘Shark Tank’
He told Boston Magazine how the moniker came about :
In season one, someone was trying to sell a publishing deal to us for music and I proposed an aggressive 51 percent equity position because I wanted control of the business. And Barbara [Corcoran] said, “Well aren’t you Mr. Wonderful?” and I said,’You know what Barbara, I am!’
The public have taken the name usage to an extreme.
He continued, “Now it’s at a whole new level. I show up at hotels and my reservation is under the name Mr. Wonderful. They don’t even know my real name. That’s just nuts.”
As you can see from Twitter, both O’Leary and fans alike use the nickname lovingly:
Mr. Wonderful is letting you keep your equity and your company! Don't be a bozo! #SharkTank
— Kevin O'Leary (@kevinolearytv) February 1, 2014
Mr. Wonderful aka @kevinolearytv you are my favorite shark because you collect cooking oils and know about the origin of the color purple
— lucky ghost gurl (@_LCKY) April 20, 2014
2. He’s a Guitarist
The above video shows him at the 2013 American Music Awards, jamming with One Direction guitarist Dan Richards on the red carpet.
He played on a Fender Voyage-Air Guitars, a fold-up instrument he once pitched to Fender executives Richard McDonald and Paul Meisenzahl on Shark Tank.
I have a guitar collection that includes a signed Gibson Les Paul. A friend who was playing in his band invited me to the Iridium Club in New York to meet him. We ended up talking for an hour, and then I was jamming with him. It was pretty cool.
The music aficionado has more than 129,000 songs in my collection. He told Toronto Life that all his music came from old CDs and records. “It was a labour of love that took me three years,” he said.
3. Steve Jobs Gave Him a Hard Time
Back when he ran The Learning Company, O’Leary tried to work with Jobs to have him use his software on Macs in schools.
Jobs was having none of it and was being quite adamant. After Jobs passed away, O’Leary wrote his memories of the businessman in a blog for the Huffington Post:
He stubbornly refused to give me a cent and insulted me for daring to ask for his money. He was so adamant about watching his company’s cash that he kept yelling profanities, even in the parking lot as I was getting into my car to leave.
He ends the article by explaining what we can learn from Job’s career, especially the fact that he wasn’t in business to make friends:
Steve Jobs had his critics. Some saw him as an egomaniac, and others, as a control freak. He would remember who on his team added value and who didn’t. And he never apologized for his relentless, visionary drive — because he understood that business is about making money, not making friends. Like every CEO should, Steve kept a laser-like focus on creating value for his shareholders.
As far as The Learning Company goes, O’Leary sold it to Mattel in 1999.
4. He’s Not Leaving His Kids Any of His Money
The shark has two children, a daughter, Savannah, 20 and son, Trevor, 18. He admits he was an absentee parent, but never wanted a nanny, so his wife, Linda, raised their children.
“I think it’s very crucial in the early stages to help raise kids with the values consistent with the family unit,” he said about his choice not to hire a nanny.
In a piece for In Between magazine, he talked about introducing his children to the value of money at an early age:
…I brought them up with the idea that an invisible family member sits at our table and it’s called “money.” Without it, we have no family. We need it to survive. When they reached their teens, they already had an account that was generating interest because I made them save 10 per cent of whatever they made — be it from gifts, jobs, whichever.
And as for all the money the shark has amassed, his children will not see it once they finish college.
He told Chatelaine, I am not planning on giving my kids any of my wealth. They know that when their education is over, I’m pushing them out of the nest.
He thinks that, in order to be successful adults, children cannot be coddled:
I tell wealthy parents that if they don’t kick their kids out of the house and put them under the stresses of the real world they will fail to launch – they will become unsuccessful adults.
He explained his views on parenting in Cold Hard Truth on Family, Kids and Money, his 2013 book.
— Linda O'Leary (@thelindaoleary) September 29, 2013
5. He Lived Away From His Wife for 2 Years
In an interview with Guelph Mercury, he said, “We were at the point of dividing the assets. But as we neared it, we decided not to do it,” he said. “We have reunited and kept the family together. I’m glad we did that.”
He told Collections magazine that the separation did have to do, in part, with his career and being on Shark Tank:
…but the pressures of being an entrepreneur and the time constraints probably were a factor…Certainly television is very time consuming and is probably a factor in what happened.