So how did David Braley turn the B.C. Lions around, and can he do the same for the Toronto Argonauts?
What Braley really gave the Lions was breathing room, assurance that the bills would be paid while he searched for the right manager. That turned out to be the late Bobby Ackles, who hired Wally Buono on the football side as the team returned to respectability both on and off the field.
Braley continued to live in Burlington, Ont., and play the role of a sounding board for his management team in B.C., just as he is now doing in Toronto.
"I run nothing on a day-to-day basis," said Braley, a fact backed up by virtue of him not owning a cellphone and having no e-mail or Internet access at his office. "Everything is delegated to managers, whether it's football, or any of my companies. All the businesses run themselves, but I always make sure I have time to talk to my managers. I take great pride in having people who are better than me at the job they are going to do."
It wasn't always that way. Braley concedes he learned the hard way during the early days of Orlick that a hands-on approach to business has limitations. Several times, he pushed the company's growth toward 20 employees, only to let it slip backward.
"After failing two or three times, I learned that I had to delegate," he said. "In '70, '71 and '72, I kept failing and failing and failing, but eventually we got up from 12 to 16 and 20, right up to 40 employees, and I never made that mistake again. I learned to delegate, to hire someone to look after that portion of the company."