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A Missing Piece to Success

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 Nygard’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.

A Missing Piece to Success

By P.J. Malone

Ever wonder why the prescribed formula for success doesn’t work the same for everyone?

If you talk to the experts, they will give you a formula for how to achieve business success. What’s usually missing though are the intangible aspects that are essential for success.

Fashion mogul Peter Nygard possesses several intangibles that have allowed for his phenomenal growth and astounding success over fifty years.

He describes one of those intangibles: “The most important asset I have is enormous energy and staying power, and my training from past history from my parents who gave me the strength for never quitting—we call that in Finland ‘SISI’, staying with it right to the end.”

Sisu is a powerful Finnish ethos—a way of being that permeates its culture and encapsulates the drive of its people. It is born out in a history of grit and determination to fight against all odds in the face of a country trying to repel the attempts of subjugation of its people.

It was 1939, before Peter Nygard was even born, in the depths of an especially cold winter. World War II had just begun and presented the ideal pretext for Russia. Forever covetous of Finland’s land, Russia seized the opportunity to possess it. With one million soldiers and thousands of aircrafts and tanks, the Russians launched its attack against Finland, according to the history books.

Finland had no tanks and only 200,000 soldiers. However, the Finnish soldiers used bold tactics, skis and the terrain to their advantage demolishing Russian soldiers. Two hundred thousand Russian soldiers were killed overall.

There were several battles during that entire war of aggression by the Russians, but at the end of the day, Finland’s ability to keep Russia at bay allowed them to remain free from Russian domination.

Though Finland didn’t win the war, their decisive victories during various battles are what is remembered most. Despite the fact that the Russians had far superior forces in terms of the number of soldiers and equipment, the Finnish ability to repel them has come to represent the Finnish people’s resolve and determination.

That ability to withstand far superior forces, a great disadvantage, and yet overcome through sheer determination is Sisu! It is described as representing the Finns national character. Sisu spurs a Finn on to be brave, resolute and determined to fight against all odds.

It is what spurred Peter’s father, Eeli, to run behind a bakery truck everyday until the day he made it to the bakery so he could find a job using his expertise as a baker to support his family.

Sisu is what gave Peter’s grandfather the will to climb stairs, drive a buggy and do farm work with the loss of both legs and one arm, which he lost to gangrene.

Peter Nygard has a reputation in his business for always defying the odds. In fact, one executive once shared that if you tell Peter Nygard something is impossible, he makes it a point to do it. He finds a way to get it done.

So if a business man believes that nothing is impossible, then he is determined to persevere, to never give up until he reaches his goal no matter the odds, that individual brings an incredible intangible factor to his business that is not contained in any formula of business success.

That intangible factor of perseverance against all odds is Peter Nygard embodying that Finnish Sisu spirit allowing to achieve seemingly impossible goals.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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