A parent attending his daughter’s college graduation is not out of the ordinary, unless that parent happens to be the president of an internationally recognized company who not only attended the ceremony, but also took center stage to offer members of the graduating class some advice as they embark on their own careers.
You may not know the name Reggie Fils-Aimé, but you certainly recognize the word Nintendo, the company Fils-Aimé joined in 2003 as executive vice president of sales and marketing. By 2005, Fils-Aimé had been named president of the organization, where he spent 13 years at its helm before retiring in 2019. During his time there, Fils-Aimé developed a bit of a cult following as an extroverted, larger-than-life personality who enjoyed connecting with the gaming community, which helped extend Nintendo’s messaging to a large, enthusiastic audience.
After serious successes with the dual-screen handheld console Nintendo DS and the hugely acclaimed video game, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, both of which were developed and launched under Fils-Aimé’s tenure, gaming fans almost unanimously agreed: ‘The Reggielution’ was coming and they were all for it. His retirement video received millions of views and the Twitter account he activated on his last day in office quickly reached half a million followers.
Claire Fils-Aimé, a Ringling College Illustration major, donned her cap and gown in May 2019 for the College’s commencement ceremony. Whereas kids wave to their parents in the crowd, Claire had the opportunity to cheer her dad on from the student section as he made his way to the stage to offer guidance to the 2019 graduating class. His appearance on stage was met with booming applause from Ringling graduates. They listened raptly as a gaming icon offered relevant real-world advice to help them navigate the world that waits on the other side of their educational journeys.
Fils-Aimé focused on five key points, principles he used as guideposts along his own career path:
- What happens to you is up to you.
- Life is hard, so dig deep.
- Be open to alternatives.
- Embrace your fear.
- Live in the moment and have some fun along the way.
He went on to underscore the importance of the skills the graduates had learned through their Ringling College education. He offered a practical perspective on failures and successes, while his trademark joie de vivre resonated, earning him a standing ovation from the appreciative audience.
Fils-Aimé concluded his compelling talk with one final message. “You will make things that no technocrat, no Wall Street titan, no elected official, and no business executive ever will. You’ll make art that elicits an emotional reaction—a laugh, a smile, maybe even a tear. You are the creators.”
By Megan Greenberg