Chilton gets sharp for 'Dragons' Den'

Bill Harris, QMI Agency
David Chilton, author of The Wealthy Barber and The Wealthy Barber Returns. (File)

David Chilton, author of The Wealthy Barber and The Wealthy Barber Returns. (File)

The author of The Wealthy Barber understood quickly that he had to sharpen his scissors for Dragons' Den.

"I'll admit, my first week or so, I was quite weak - I really had trouble saying anything critical," said David Chilton, the newest dragon. "My whole life I've tried to stay very positive.

"But Arlene (Dickinson, fellow Dragon) actually pulled me aside one day and said, 'Dave, some of these people are doing nutty things, and with The Wealthy Barber they have a lot of faith in your judgment on those things. I think you should speak up a little bit more and tell them this isn't a great use of their money.'

"So as time went on I think I got stronger in that area. One of the things I'm trying to do on the show, strangely enough, is educate. I have an opportunity to say to people, 'This is a crazy way to invest your money, and even your time.' And I do that."

Chilton makes his debut on Dragons' Den as the seventh season of the highly rated Canadian series premieres Wednesday on CBC. Numerically Chilton is replacing Robert Herjavec, alongside returning dragons Dickinson, Kevin O'Leary, Jim Treliving and Bruce Croxon.

Chilton's claim to fame dates back to 1989 when - at exactly the right time, apparently - his book The Wealthy Barber was released. Teaching and preaching the basics of sound personal financial management in an easy-to-read and relatable way, more than 2 million copies of The Wealthy Barber have been sold in Canada.

"I only set out trying to sell 10,000 copies, that was my goal," Chilton said. "It wasn't like I had this master plan. In fact, I thought 10,000 was a stretch.

"So to get to (two) million, and it leads to a second book, and to publishing and calendars, it's all from one idea. I've had only one good idea in my life and thank God I had it when I was young."

Chilton is being modest, of course. But he admitted he was wary about joining Dragons' Den, which sees aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to the dragons with the dream of securing financing.

"I was a little bit mixed, not because of the venture-capital issue - in fact, I really enjoy looking at businesses," Chilton said. "But the reason I was apprehensive was that I'm very low-key and I like to live a low-key life. And Dragons' Den is about as high-profile as you can get in this country.

"But I went to an audition - they wanted to see me on tape, and I wanted to see how the whole thing worked - and I loved it. I was so into it. I actually said yes to a couple of the audition pitches.

"I have met so many great people. One common denominator about most of them is they're passionate about what they're doing. With the benefit of hindsight, I am so happy I did this."

And forevermore, David Chilton will be the answer to the trivia question, "What do you get when you cross an author, a barber and a dragon?"