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Was It Luck for Peter Nygard?

The Clifton Review

The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings. 

The 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story and incredible business success over these past fifty years. The Clifton Review will take an inside look at how he did it.

Was It Luck for Peter Nygard?

By P.J. Malone

We often look at the lives of successful people and are tempted to think that their success is due to luck. We sometimes hear people say, “I wish I was that lucky.” But is it really luck?

If you look back over the lives of successful people, you will likely see a particular attitude and approach towards life as well as a series of important decisions that they made. These are the factors that can determine our success or the lack there of in our lives.

Fashion mogul Peter Nygard went from a poor boy to a multi-millionaire and you can see how his series of decisions determined his outcomes.

One of his decisions as a teenager was to attend university. But, it wasn’t just about that decision. While in university, he decided to give up his love of sports and not play. Remember, he exceled in six different sporting activities in high school and was named Male Athlete of the Year when he graduated.

He also didn’t join any social fraternities. Instead, Peter Nygard decided to focus all of his attention on his studies and joined the business fraternity at the University.

In 1964, Peter became the president of Delta Sigma Pi. Competing against 56 other National Chapters, he led his chapter to win the Efficiency Contest with the highest distinction honors in the country.  Peter Nygard graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1964 from the University of North Dakota.

After he graduated from university, Peter went to a psychological testing consulting firm where they conducted hours of aptitude tests on him to establish suitability for certain kinds of jobs, and to look at the potential for various jobs.

He got a call two weeks later. The gentleman said, “Congratulations Peter, you are the next president of Eaton’s.” Eaton’s at the time was one of Canada’s premier department stores. It was quite large with locations all over Canada and was a coveted place to work.

The consulting firm had been conducting the same tests on more than 200 of Eaton’s executives and staff. The Eaton candidates were assigned numbers so that the results would be genderless, ageless, and job-title-less.

Somehow Peter’s scores had gotten mixed in with the Eaton results. In looking for who was president material, the company’s criteria showed it was Peter Nygård. His scores reflected that he was best qualified and best suited above all of the other participants to be the next president of Eaton’s.

Naturally, Peter was hired by the top executive of Eaton’s as a protégé as a result of his testing. However, he wasn’t crazy about being placed in charge of discount grocery items. He once explained that he wore a smock as his attire and mopped the floors in the basement while “those other guys” (the other managers) were wearing bowties.

As usual, Peter wanted to be the best. He wanted to be a better manager than those managers wearing suits and bowties on the floors above him at Eaton’s. Even though he was placed in the basement to work with smelly fertilizers, he strategized to increase sales in his department. His success landed him a promotion to another department.

Every department he was placed in charge of, he improved their effectiveness and results until he was eventually given an entire region of heavy goods stores to run.

You may call his results getting mixed in with Eaton’s staff luck. Others may call it ‘Divine Intervention’ and being prepared when opportunity knocks.

In Peter Nygard’s case, ‘opportunity met preparation’, which is the definition of ‘luck’ as described by a Roman philosopher.

Whatever it was, it continued to reveal his ability to perform and be successful at whatever Peter Nygard chose to do.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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