My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humour/sarcasm. You've been warned. Please note the blog posts are time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dream Job by Richard Peddie – Book Review and Giveaway

Richard Peddie, the former president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (“MLSE”), recently released his memoirs in a book titled “Dream Job”. The book weaves together tales and lessons of business, leadership and sports – so if you are a sports fan and business enthusiast, you should thoroughly enjoy this book. I happen to have two autographed copies of the book that I’m prepared to giveaway to you, my readers. If you are interested in a copy, please email and I will draw two winners from a hat on November 18th.

Mea Culpa – Let’s Get this Over With

For Toronto Maple Leafs fans, Mr. Peddie has been a lightning rod for criticism because of the Maple Leafs lack of success and Stanley Cup drought. In addition, both the Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC soccer team were less than successful during Mr. Peddie’s reign.

To Richard’s credit, he does not hide from his teams records. He states that he may have stayed longer, “but I got tired of losing”. He has “regrets about some of the general managers I hired”, including (in reference to John Ferguson) “our big mistake, you don’t put a rookie GM in charge of the Maple Leafs” and “ in hindsight, what was I thinking hiring a reserved, taciturn coach [sic] for the Toronto market?”. He puts Rob Babcock, the former GM of the Raptors, “among the worst hires of my entire career” and in regard to the Raptors, he states “the record is disappointing, it’s unacceptable and it wore me down”.

Richard says that “as the CEO responsible for the performance of the Leafs between 1996 and 2011, I can assure you that losing caused me the most pain”. Throughout the book Mr. Peddie states that the most ridiculous notion held by fans was that MLSE only cared about money and not how well the team performed. He refutes that notion, saying he and MLSE cared deeply and that the insinuation makes no economic sense (more playoff games means MLSE makes more money).

With the sports teams’ records dealt with, let's look at some of the pearls of business wisdom and sports tidbits in the book.

Business Background and Philosophy

It is interesting to note that Richard loved basketball and always wanted to run a basketball team from the time he was 20. Hockey was not his first sports love.

In the book, Richard takes you through his varied careers with Colgate, Pillsbury, Labatt Communications, The SkyDome and MLSE, which is very interesting reading, if you are interested in the business of business.

Mr. Peddie states that the value of MLSE grew six-fold from a $300 million enterprise value to somewhere close to two-billion while he was CEO. While the reasons for the growth are multi-faceted, a significant reason was that instead of having the Leafs and Raptors at cross purposes, MLSE was able to eventually synergistically combine four teams.

If there is one business takeaway from the book, it is how important Richard feels vision and values are to any leader and their organization and how they must be adhered to and not just be statements on plaques in a company’s reception area.

There are very many insightful quotes; three I found very interesting were the following:

  • You earn “respect first, affection second”
  • "Management gets the workforce it deserves” – in reference to the Harold Ballard era and the sex scandal at Maple Leaf Gardens
  • "The ability of a CEO to remember employee’s names and circumstances matter a great deal”

The Dark Side of the Dream Job

While being the president and CEO of MLSE has significant perks, when the fans’ beloved Maple Leafs are not winning, the job can be outright scary. In chapter two, Mr. Peddie discusses death threats he received, fans wanting to fight him and how someone hired a plane with “Fire Peddie” to fly over the Air Canada Centre ("ACC") and how there were three websites devoted to firing him. 

Interesting tidbits

Although the book provides some very insightful business and leadership tips and food for thought, what I really enjoyed as a sports fan were some of the sports related tidbits. Here are some of the more interesting ones:

Vince Carter was a “mama’s boy” and even after he was traded, his mother assumed she could continue to enter the private lounges at the ACC.

When Ken Thompson, the richest man in Canada, was being shown potential new seats at the ACC (season ticket holders were given a chance to select new seats when the team moved from Maple Leaf Gardens), he selected two great Platinum seats. However, 48 hours later he called back and asked for first row gold seats. These seats were only one row higher and saved him a seat licence and club fee. Rich guys are no fools.

I always hated the popcorn at Maple Leaf Gardens – I now know why. Richard reveals that the popcorn at Maple Leaf Gardens was always stale because it was made weeks ahead as there were not enough machines to pop it freshly.

A very interesting tidbit that touched me personally is when Richard speaks about how he would often give his own personal lower bowl Maple Leaf and Raptor tickets away prior to a Leafs game. He would go up to the purple (highest) section and find a kid with a Leafs or Raptor shirt on and give them his seats. Sort of his own “Campbell’s Van Line move of the game”. Why I found this interesting is that about twelve years ago I was given purple tickets to a Leafs game and took my son, who of course had his Leafs shirt on. A guy in a suit who said he worked for MLSE asked us if we wanted his tickets to move to the lower bowl and gave us his tickets. I do not remember the MLSE executive saying his name, so it may not have been Richard, but we were given the tickets and appreciated the gesture. What is funny about this incident is that my son who was 9 or 10 at the time wanted to stay in the purples since he could see the whole ice and I had to drag him to the great seats in the lower bowl.

A non-sports related tidbit is that Richard notes in his book that he was not a great student until later in university and if it hadn’t been for a teacher increasing one of his marks, he may never have even gone to university. Why I find this interesting is that I have always felt marks (except for the truly brilliant) were overrated and the intangibles are often of much greater importance (remember that if I ever interview you). Here is a perfect example of a great CEO who very easily could have not even gone to university if not for some luck.

I will stop here so you have something left to read, but I highly suggest you give the Dream Job a read and if you would like the chance to win a free signed copy, send your information to Lynda.



  1. Looks like a nice read!

    1. Yes, especially if you like sports and business/leadership

  2. Mark, you try to be fair and provide the mea culpa and move on. However, Leaf fans do not give a crap if MLSE made money, we only care about the Leafs and winning, which they did not. Most owners buy a team as a toy and want to win and that is all they care about (they also don't want to lose money), a corporate owner is always an issue.

    1. Hey Blue and White:

      The Leafs record is their record. No debates; I would always take a Mark Cuban over a corporate owner

  3. Sounds like an interesting read, even if I have to read about the Leafs over and over and over :)

    Thanks for the giveaway, will email Lynda tonight.


    1. Yes, but you read about them losing, except against the Sens in the playoffs :)