Books·Canadian

No Bootstraps When You're Barefoot

No Bootstraps When You're Barefoot is a book by Wes Hall.

Wes Hall

A black boy in a blue collared-shirt, a black belt with a big circular buckle and blue and white plaid, flared pants looks down, eyes averted from the camera. On top of the photo, the text reads "Wes Hall, No Bootstraps When You're Barefoot, My rise from a Jamaican plantation shack to the boardrooms of Bay Street."

Wes 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. (From Random House Canada

Wes Hall is a Jamaican-Canadian business leader and business school instructor. His podcast, Between Us with Wes Hall, features conversations on systemic racism with leaders of colour. The founder of the anti-Black racism initiative, BlackNorth, he is also one of the investors on the hit TV series Dragon's Den.

Interviews with Wes Hall

Wes Hall compelled to speak about systematic racism after George Floyd’s death

2 years ago
Duration 2:32
Canadian businessman Wes Hall had never spoken up about the systemic racism he’d experienced until the death of George Floyd. Hall says he felt a duty to speak out and make things better for the next generation.

Meet Wes Hall, the newest Dragon to enter the Den

2 years ago
Duration 6:01
Newest Dragon, Wes Hall, will join the cast of 'Dragons' Den' for Season 16. From giant mergers and acquisitions at the top of corporate Canada, to boldly fighting systemic racism — Wes makes big things happen.

Toronto entrepreneur addresses systemic racism in the corporate sector

2 years ago
Duration 11:24
This Toronto entrepreneur is fighting racism in the corporate world. "I hate to be the 'first of' or the 'only,'" Wes J. Hall told CBC Toronto News at 6 host Dwight Drummond. "I want other people to be there with me." Here’s how Hall plans to make change.

Wes Hall: The Fixer

1 year ago
Duration 1:36
Wes Hall`s inspirational story: from his humble roots in Jamaica to the top of corporate Canada. Now, it`s time for him to take his seat in the Den.

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