Thursday 20 October 2022

Book ~ "No Bootstraps When You're Barefoot" (2022) Wes Hall

From GoodreadsWes Hall spent his early childhood in a zinc-roofed shack, one of several children supported by his grandmother. That was paradise compared to the two years he lived with his verbally abusive and violent mother; at thirteen, his mother threw him out and he had to live by his wits for the next three years. At sixteen, Wes came to Canada, sponsored by a father he'd only seen a few times as a child, and by the time he was eighteen, he was out of his father's house, once more on his own. Yet Wes Hall went on to become a major entrepreneur, business leader, philanthropist and change-maker, working his way up from a humble position in a law firm mailroom by way of his intelligence, his curiosity and his ability to see opportunities that other people don't.

When people expected his thick Jamaican accent, lack of money and education, not to mention the colour of his skin, to shut down his future, Wes was not to be stopped. He is still overturning expectations to this day. Well aware of racism and injustice, his lack of privilege and the other roadblocks to his success, Wes has always believed that he can walk along any cliff edge without falling. His book teases out and shows how he fostered that resolve in himself, exploring his childhood and the milestone successes and failures of his career in order to share not only how he stopped himself from falling, but survived and thrived, and then dedicated himself to bringing his family and his community along with him.

Now, with the founding of the BlackNorth Initiative, Wes takes aim at ending systemic anti-Black racism. It's a huge goal, but one he's tackling with heart, soul, smarts, and every connection he's made in an extraordinary career that's taken him to the centre of the Canadian establishment. Throughout his life he's resisted sinking into despair or getting lost in anger; now he wants to tell truth to power and pave a path forward.

This is Wes Hall's second year on CBC's Dragons' Den and it was nice to get to know more about him.

Hall was born in poverty in Jamaica just over 50 years ago. After he and his siblings were abandoned by their mother, his maternal grandmother took them in and raised them. He was about 10 when his mother had him move in with her and her new family and she abused him physically and emotionally. He ran away when he was about 13 and bounced from friend to friend and until his father, who he barely knew, summoned him to live with him and his family in Toronto. Finding his father's rule too restrictive after all he'd been through, he moved out when he was 18.

His first job was in the mailroom of a law firm, which inspired him to go back to school to become a law clerk. From there, he moved from job to job and industry to industry gaining experience until he finally landed in a proxy solicitation firm. Knowing he could improve how they did things but they wouldn't listen, he struck out on his own and became the entrepreneur he is today.

I thought his story was interesting and must applaud him for all he has accomplished considering his beginnings. I liked the writing style and found it to be honest. I must say, though, that I found the first part of his story more interesting than the end ... I thought there was too much detail when he described leaving the proxy solicitation firm and starting his own company and then competing against them.

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