In his first podcast interview, Jim Treliving, owner of Boston Pizza and several other businesses, original Dragon on Dragons’ Den, and investor in Elaine’s company Easy Daysies, talks about going from police officer to head of a billion dollar business, and talks passionately about giving back to the community!
Jim Treliving’s Book – Decisions which includes mention of Easy Daysies!
Elaine: 00:08 Hi, welcome to Elaine’s Kitchen Table. I am so honored to have you here with us today where we talk about the business of real life. The lessons we learned in business and in parenting right here off the kitchen table. Today we have an amazing guest with us that I am just so honored to have because not only is he Jim Treliving, but this is Jim’s very first podcast, so I am just so honored to have him at Elaine’s Kitchen Table. Now, Jim Treliving does not need an introduction, but I would like to tell you a little bit more about him anyways. Jim was born in a very small town in Manitoba and after trying pizza for the very first time as an RCMP police officer, Jim thought he might try his hand at the business of pizza and many people thought he was crazy, including his own parents.
Elaine: 00:58 But to make a long story short, he is now the chairman and owner of Boston Pizza International with over 400 restaurants across North America and him and his partner, George Melville, also own several other companies in the retail, manufacturing, real estate, and other sectors with an annual system wide sales exceeding over $1 billion. Jim stars as one of the original investor Dragons on the CBC reality TV show called Dragon’s Den, and this is similar to the Shark Tank show that’s in the USA where aspiring entrepreneurs secure a financial investment from the Dragons to start their own business or to take it to the next level. It is through Dragons’ Den that Jim and Kevin O’Leary became our investors in Easy Daysies and you could hear all about that in episodes 11 to 13 of Elaine’s Kitchen Table podcast.
Elaine: 01:56 In 2012 Jim published Decisions: Making the Right Ones and Righting the Wrong Ones. It’s a bestseller business book for aspiring entrepreneurs published by Harper Collins. I am very honored to interview Jim and I cannot wait to learn from him and have him share his wisdom and his insights to all of us. So right now, welcome Jim Treliving.
Elaine: 02:21 I’m so honored to have you on my podcast Jim, thank you for being here.
Jim Treliving: 02:26 Well, thanks for having me. This is great. I’m really enjoying this.
Elaine: 02:29 So my first question for you, Jim, is you have such an inspiring story of being a police officer who sat in a pizza parlor and then became the owner of Boston Pizza and many other businesses. Can you please tell us just off the top of your head, what are the top three qualities you think are necessary or identify someone who will succeed in business? Someone who will make an extremely profitable business.
Jim Treliving: 02:55 Well I think the three qualities that I always deal with and I, right from day one, is hard work. That’s the first one. It’s, there is nothing more than hard work. It’s long hours being in the business I’m in and any business you get into, you have to be really set on what you want your business to be and what it is so that you’re taking this to the consumer. So you want to make sure that the consumer wants the business in the first place. I think the third thing that you have to have or you have to know is that you have to have a time when you stick with it. Uh, we’ve always got to a point where it’s a great idea, thought it’s going to work. And oh, by the way, it’s a lot of hard work. Maybe I shouldn’t do this. I think you have to make sure that you push it to the last extremity before you either give up or keep going.
Jim Treliving: 03:44 And to me it’s always keep going and don’t look back. Don’t look back and find out that I would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. I think this is something you have to think about all the time. What’s the next move? What’s my next move? Always be ahead of the game. And to me that was the same as us. We started out with not knowing anything about business, going into business with a bunch of great people. They were selling Italian food in the, probably the smallest town in British Columbia and Penticton, BC where there was a saying there, at that point that they were, the nearly dead and the dead, you know, in that town. So pizza was hard to sell. So I think in looking back at that and looking at how we did it, it was hard work having to know your product, the third thing is sticking with it.
Elaine: 04:27 Thank you. That’s so true. Sticking with it. That’s the hard one. The hard one because it does. It’s a hard climb.
Jim Treliving: 04:33 Well, yes, and there’s peaks and valleys. You’re going to have these peaks and great days. I relate it a lot to a golf game. If you go out and golf, you have birdies, you have eagles and you have pars and you have terrible games, which is you know something as bogeys and I think it’s like that in the business world you have highs and peaks. Don’t, don’t jump off the bridge because you have a low, don’t jump off it when you’re having a high, so you got to have that even keel all the time.
Elaine: 05:02 I liked what you said in your book called Decisions you had said to work like a dog, with joy in your heart. Yes, exactly. Absolutely. My next question, Jim, is in your book Decisions you state that you make decisions about work with your heart about money with your head and about people with your gut. Can you please give me an example from your experience, either good or bad?
Jim Treliving: 05:28 Well, the good was, to my way of thinking was, I got to a point in business where I needed to have somebody come into the business with me and I had to make a decision five years into it who would that person is going to be. And I had to look at the person, not, it’s going to be the same as me because I know what I could do. I had to look at somebody that was completely different but have the same train of thought, had the same goals in mind as I did. And so I picked my partner, George Melville, he came in and he was the, I was thinking with, he knows, he knows about money. That’s the hard part. I loved what he did. Yeah. That’s the head thing, he was bright. The hard part was I had to feel very similar to that. What was my gut telling me? My gut was saying, here’s the guy you need to go with. And I had two choices. So that was my first big decision, which has been a great decision because that’s my partner now for 45 years. So I think that you have to look at every decision based on that. And that’s for me, it may not work for everybody, but that’s how I make a decision and they work very smart for me.
Elaine: 06:27 Thank you. Jim, one of the many things I admire about you and, your lovely wife, Sandy, is how you always give back to your community and to those less fortunate. Can you please tell me why giving back to the community is one of the best things that a business person can do?
Jim Treliving: 06:46 Well, I think more than anything else, it gets your name out there. It gets who you are out there. It gets you feeling good. I mean, I was raised in a household where there was less fortunate people than myself. And friends, where some were my very close friends. I thought everybody lived like I did because my dad was older when he got married and a question I asked him one day was, why did you wait so long to get married and have kids? And he said, I couldn’t afford me, nevermind you (laughter). So it was one of those funny things you look at back and say, wow, uh, you know, that’s what he wanted to, he wanted to think, but he said the one thing he always did, is remember to pay your taxes because without paying taxes, you get in deep trouble.
Jim Treliving: 07:29 And the second thing is the country doesn’t need your help. So as much as this is a great country to live in and we’re finding this more and more, and you’re seeing this with even the Greek situation going on now, nobody paid taxes. Wow. Surprise, surprise. Look at the mess they’re in. I think the biggest thing, and growing up and going into a business was there’s less fortunate people than you are, and you get to realize who they are and they need help. And how do you help them? You’ve done really well. I’ve often said, and I’ll say it over and over again, there’s never a Brinks truck following your hearse. When you die, nobody’s taking anything to the graveyard with you. You know, you’re getting a bunch of flowers that you can’t even smell and you’re going to be, all those people are going to be on cheering and beering and whatever they’re doing. But at the end of the day, you’re going alone. Yes. So with no money, nothing else. So why you have, why would you wait to do that? Why not sit back and enjoy what you could help and if your little bit of money or a little bit of time, makes a difference to other human beings, you get a great feeling in your gut.
Elaine: 08:30 I agree. I agree to be kind. Always. Yeah. I miss being a teacher because teaching little ones that importance is so important that the world is bigger than just yourself.
Jim Treliving: 08:43 -ell I think, the other thing you do Elaine, you get so much back, I mean it’s not monetary wise all the time, but it’s the feeling that, you know, wow. And it’s what we created with it, with our all companies. I mean I have a feeling that when you walk in some days and you hear me do stuff and my wife and I talk about it, what you’ve got to remember what happened with her is she had a brother, had suffered from schizophrenia. So where would we give money? We are going to give something to mental health. And when we, when we had the opportunity to do it, not, not, you know, I couldn’t do this a day after it was in business or in 10 years after. But as you get bigger and bigger, you know, the world becomes very small for you and you start to see that things you can do.
Jim Treliving: 09:27 I look at the Bill Gates Foundation and he said, you know, one day, no commitment, no signing papers. I just want your handshake saying that you’ll commit your billion dollars or whatever you to do to my fund. They’ve had 35, 40 people all jump on the board. And I think this is what it’s all about is giving back and they can make a difference. You can make a difference in your community, in your town, on your street, in your block. And if you do that, just look around and find out lots of places to help.
Elaine: 09:58 And you’re right, it’s not always monetary. It can be just giving your time, giving an hour a day.
Jim Treliving: 10:01 And you know, I have often said to a lot of our franchisees start with your own community. Start with your own block, start with your own friends. Every, it’s amazing we were talking to somebody with mental health problems and you’ll be sitting with family. God, these guys really got it together. They’re really doing really, really well. And I said, well, we’re involved with mental health. And they said, Oh yes, I’ve had somebody with that. And I look at him, you’d never think of that. Well, what was yours – well it was an addiction of this or it was this or was this, what are you doing for it. Well, I’m trying my best to do this and that’s when you want to get involved. That’s when you can help somebody. Start with one person. One organization. I’ve had, I’ve preached to a bunch of my ex-mounties. They’re all retired, their back, this is sore. You know the pension is not working well. I said, get off your butt. Go out and find out an organization you can go down and see every morning, get up and have your breakfast and go and see if you can help somebody.
Jim Treliving: 11:04 What’s this retirement age? What does that mean? Should you retire at 45? Should you retire at 25? Do you want to retire at 70? I don’t believe in retirement. I call it tired because when I’m tired and gone, I’m going to be sleeping a long, long, long, long time. So you got a chance to do something. You’ve got to do something with somebody that’s out there. Get involved, go and involve and work. You know, how am I, do you want to sleep for 10 hours a day, 12 hours a day? That doesn’t mean anything to me. If I get five, six, seven hours of good sleep, get at it. You don’t have, there’s no such thing as retirement. It’s just tired. Yes. So get up and get out and get going. And there’s lots of organizations you can help. Mentor other people! One other person. Exactly.
Elaine: 11:48 Thank you, I love that passion. And speaking of passion, I want to move on to your eureka moment. What is the best lesson, Jim, in business that you have learned either from a mentor or from your own journey that makes you who you are today?
Jim Treliving: 12:09 I think, it wasn’t a lesson it’s probably an upbringing. And I go back to my Irish grandmother and she was tough as nails. She was five foot nothing. And, uh, just a great, great lady. And for years when I went, as a young little young boy laying in bed, she used to sing us songs and they were all IRA songs, which she shouldn’t have been singing to me, but it was about the Englishman and she married an Englishman. But anyway, one of the things she, I got in the house one day and she came in and I said, ah, they’re going to do something at this school and I can’t do that. And she stopped me dead in my tracks. She said, what did you say? She was visiting with my mom and dad.
Jim Treliving: 12:57 I says well, Grandma, I can’t do that. She said, there’s no such word as, can’t. No such word. You can do anything you apply yourself to or want. You’ll do it better if you want it, but you can apply yourself to do it. Don’t use that word because there’s no such word in the dictionary as can’t. And I said, yeah, it’s in the dictionary, now it is, but maybe not in her day. But right now she taught us right from day one. There’s nothing you can’t do, you can do everything. And I think the biggest thing that’s my biggest mentor, and then I looked back and the different people I’ve met through life, my dad was a great businessman, very quiet. Uh, the most amazing story he told or did with me was when I left the police force, I remember I had a superannuation, a pension, I was being promoted da-da-da-da-da-da.
Jim Treliving: 13:51 And all of a sudden I’m in the pizza business with a bunch of Greeks doing, selling Italian food in a town where you don’t probably would go for the first time do business. So I went back and I had to get a loan from him. My first pitch ever was for that. Wow. My first pitch ever was to get $5,000. So I sat him down and he went through the whole thing and he said, let me get this straight. You’re going into business. You don’t have anything about business. You’re going in with a bunch of Greeks selling Italian food in Penticton, British Columbia. He said, that makes all the sense in the world. You don’t need help, you need a psychiatrist. So that was probably the next morning I was told to go to the bank. I got a phone call from my dad and he said, you’re going to go up and see the banker.
Jim Treliving: 14:37 So I went up to see the banker and when I sat down with Mr Doubleton, first thing he said to me was over his glasses. He was sitting like this with his glasses on and he’s looking over his glasses and he turns to me, and he said, don’t miss a payment, you’ve got your money. Wow. Three years later, I think it was two or three years later, I went to pay the rest of it off and there was never a loan. My Dad had already paid, but he made me give me a lesson. You’ve got a loan, you borrowed it, you pay it back. There was no loan, but I paid it. I never missed a payment because I was paying the bank. Now if it was my mom and dad. I probably would have missed a couple of payments.
Jim Treliving: 15:14 So those are the things that you can have, so that’s the life lesson. And I think those are the things you learn. Every person you meet is a mentor in my mind, they’ll give you the good or the bad. But they’re a mentor in the sense of they give me an opinion what I’m going to do with the rest of my life, if I’m going to do something. I’ve listened to people that you know, I can sit there and they’re telling me a barefaced lie. But I listened to them and they’re really good at it and I still have to make the decision whether they’re going to go. And I think that’s the thing that you learned from everybody. I think you learned something from everyone. It’s a bad day, you don’t learn something new. Always. So, remember that.
Elaine: 15:50 You’re saying so many great things.
Jim Treliving: 15:51 And I think those are the things that you learn. And when you get older you’ll look at it with a more jaundiced eye. But I still have fun with looking at, I want to be around young people. I don’t want to be around old people complaining about their sore backs and they’re like, what they can’t do. You know, it’s what you can do.
Elaine: 16:08 And I love that. It’s a bad day when you don’t learn something new. How true is that. If I was teaching in the classroom I’m gonna drag you in there with me (laughter). Get those seven year olds listening to you.
Jim Treliving: 16:20 I love it. That’s why I like Dragon’s Den. It’s great on Dragons’ Den. Because you’re seeing different, everybody from a different walk of life. You’re listening to everybody that’s going on and their business and what they think is going to be the next big thing. And it’s big in their mind. And when they first started Dragons’ Den, I remember Kevin and uh, Robert kidding about it and joking about it the first hour we were in the business and we’ve got a break at about 10:30.
Jim Treliving: 16:45 And I remember walking out and saying, guys, we gotta quit joking around here. These people are serious. They don’t believe what we’re thinking. We’re laughing and joking about this and how stupid the ideas are. They’re not, they’ve worked hard to get here. So we better take a it a little more seriously now. That changed the whole format. We started changing and thinking about things and I think they did the same thing. They started to understand that we weren’t just in there to make a TV show. It started out as that, but it ended up with something completely different. And now across Canada, you talk about it to people, you’ve got to remember with the replays we’re doing right now and the reruns that are being shown on television, 5.1 to 5.2 million people a week see our show. We’re in 14 different countries with 14 different languages.
Jim Treliving: 17:32 Think about that and all of a sudden we’re on Netflix and stuff like this. You can, you can see the program. Our episode’s on Netflix too. Exactly. So look at what your, what the media has done and you’ll be talking to Canadians, the young kids. Part of the thing I came up to, when I was telling you about being on the island this weekend, the most amazing thing for me was it’s always mom and dad come up and say, my kids love your television show. They love you. You know, or whatever. That’s really nice. But when I say, how old are your kids? Wow, they’re 12 and 13 and 10. Yes. Wow. What did I got in common with a 74 year old guy? I mean, it’s because you’re sitting there showing them something they’ve never seen or heard at home and they’re getting to watch.
Jim Treliving: 18:17 The prime minister and his wife. And I’ve sat with them and I know them very well. And their two kids watch our show. They sit down as a family. There’s more families that I’ve sat with and talked to and said, we watch your show as a family. What is it doing? One thing it’s doing right off the top – getting families together. They’re going to watch one hour. If nothing else, they saw an hour and there’s other guys or other people that see it and other, you know, I had a lady come up to me one day and said, you know, you’ve changed my life. Oh my God. You know, that’s scary. Uh, you’ve changed my life. You’ve made me think that I could go and do something I thought I couldn’t do. I’ve thought about for years and, and you know, one of the questions I said to you, one of the things I remember about Easy Daysies was you’re telling me you’re at home, you’re going, you’ve got two kids, three kids now and and you’re going to work and you’re doing this and you’re doing this Easy Daysies thing between two and four in the morning.
Jim Treliving: 19:16 What did you think? I’m thinking this lady is, now we’re talking. This is the same thing, the feeling I have when I do business. You started out being, have to be really tough with this. You weren’t allocating your time, but that was the only allocation you had. So I think that that’s what a lot of people have to realize when you’re doing a business or anything you’re doing, you have to allocate time. You know, your fun time’s going to come later. The one thing you two have done and I really appreciate it with your kids, the three kids and yourself is the fact that you’re both together. A lot of businesses get torn apart with this and it’s, you’ve worked hard to be together yet, both have to give a little bit.
Elaine: 19:55 Jim Treliving has so much great wisdom to share with us and we want to share it all with you, but we’re going to have to end it here because this is supposed to be short and sweet because we know how busy you are. So please do tune in for part two with Jim Treliving of Dragon’s Den. I love hearing from you, so please do find me on Twitter @chatwithelaine or on Facebook at Elaine’s Kitchen Table. I love hearing your feedback and hearing what you want to hear more about. Also, I would be so grateful and so very honored if you could take a moment and rate our podcast on iTunes. This truly, really, really helps me, and our podcast to show up in the rankings of iTunes. And so if you could take that time and let me know that you did do that, I would love to give you a shout out on our next podcast. So thank you so very kindly and I wish you everything wonderful. And God bless.