5 Lessons on Life & Business from Seymour Schulich

Seymour Schulich speaking to students at University of Western Ontario.

Becoming a success in the business world is an intricate tango that is difficult to master. No one knows this better than I.

As a business student at Simon Fraser University and a hopeful entrepreneur, the process of becoming successful seems utterly overwhelming at times.

Luckily, there are those that have mastered this tango and are willing to pass on some wisdom to the rest of us. One of those masters is Seymour Schulich. Mr. Schulich is an esteemed Canadian born and bred billionaire, yes billionaire with a “b.”

We are excited to share an exclusive on Mr. Schulich via Michael Zipursky, on valuable lessons that will come in handy for business and life.

Michael is the founder of the wildly popular is a Canadian talent recruitment website (hooray for local businesses!) that connects talent in the marketing, communications and creative fields with great opportunities.

Read below as Seymour Schulich drops invaluable gems that can help you achieve your dreams of success.

5 Lessons on Life and Business from Canadian Billionaire Seymour Schulich

By Michael Zipursky

Seymour Schulich is a self-made billionaire. He made his fortune in the resource industry with a career that spanned stock brokerage, investment counselling and mining industries. He is has also donated over $200 million to universities and music institutions.

Here are 5 life and business lessons from one of Canada’s best known billionaires.

Create Your Own Career

Young Canadians face too much pressure when it comes to getting into the “right career” early on. There really isn’t a right career or a wrong one to get into. Don’t be afraid to try different careers to get a taste of what’s out there and explore. You’ll then get to find out firsthand what kind of career you really want to get into and specialize in.

Be Positive

It may sound corny but the power of positivity is great. Each week, if not each day, we face challenges. What sets us apart is how we handle them and coming out the other end with a positive attitude is the key. Schulich provides a great example from a colleague who used to suffer during Canada’s cloudy winter days. Then one day they read a book by Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski that described the suffering the sun causes for many people in Africa. The author wondered if people living ‘North’ appreciated their weather…we all know most Canadians don’t. This brought a change of attitude and the colleague no longer saw the cloud days as a negative, but was rather thankful for what they had. As Schulich says, “positive people form the vast majority of life’s winners.”

Be Patient

In this day and age it seems like successes are made overnight and everything needs to be quick, quick, quick. Schulich proposes that patience has been proven as critical to business success. Avoid rushing into a career or business without first fully researching it. The most successful investors act quickly, but only after they have gathered the necessary intelligence. While their decisions may seem quick, they have often been waiting patiently to pounce on the right opportunity knowing full well what they are getting into.

Become an Expert at Saying “No”

Life will throw all kinds of opportunities at you. The most successful people have learned to say “No” to 90% of the deals and opportunities that come by their desk. They only go after the most meaningful, lucrative and best ideas. This principle can be applied to a wide variety of daily issues. Learning to say “No” to meetings, new projects, and even socializing when the fit isn’t good for your life and goals may be hard to do sometimes, but again, it’s what sets you apart.

Don’t Change People

One of Schulich’s most powerful lessons is on relationships. It’s just as applicable in a personal setting as it is in a business one. The concept is this, don’t try to change the way people are, because you can’t. Many of us enter into personal or business relationships with the notion and hope that we wield the power to change our partners. That over time they will ‘mold’ into the shape you envision best for them. The reality, however, is quite the opposite. In almost all situations you can’t change people. They are who they are. The more you try to change someone the more frustrating it will be for you and for them. The result will be a strain on the relationship and nothing good can come of that. So when you enter into a relationship, regardless of what kind it is, be sure you’re ‘okay’ with the positive and negative characteristics and habits of your potential partner.

Michael Zipursky is co-founder at, a jobsite specializing in marketing, communications, and creative jobs in Canada. He’s also the author of 5 books on Consulting and Customer Loyalty. His work has been featured in FOX Business, the Financial Times, Maclean’s, HR Executive and other media.

Sukhdip Basra
Raised in Surrey and armed with a business degree from Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, Sukh is an aspiring entrepreneur. With a particular interest in technology startups, he connects our local businesses with the community.