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Nygard’s Golden Jubilee Review

Nygard’s Golden Jubilee Review

It’s not an everyday occurrence to discover an individual who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps to achieve phenomenal success with a business that’s still breaking barriers, still achieving firsts, and still innovating fifty years later. What does it take? How did he achieve it all? And how can we achieve similar successes?

That’s what we’ll explore in this tri-weekly series. We’ll break down fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s achievements and look at how his accomplishments can serve as practical applications to others in business and life.

Following The Footsteps of Manitoba’s Favoured Son

What does it take to achieve the levels of success that fashion mogul Peter Nygard has experienced? Can just anyone do it? Achieving success is one thing, but being beloved by your town, your city, your country is something else entirely. Nygard managed to accomplish both.

In the city of Winnipeg, located in Canada’s Manitoba Province, Peter Nygard’s success is very well known and his presence is widely felt even by visitors. Every individual flying into Winnipeg is greeted with a sign of Peter Nygard welcoming them to Winnipeg.

Fifty years ago, this Finnish Canadian parlayed an eight-thousand-dollar investment in a struggling fashion business into a fashion empire reported to be yielding hundreds of millions today. 

In addition to his 50-year business contribution to the Canadian economy, Peter Nygard is beloved for his benevolence and unwavering commitment to cancer eradication. He has given tens of millions of dollars to this cause throughout Canada.

And, he has played a key role in the country’s overall development. Nygard’s fashion sensibilities garnered him international success and that success got the attention of the Canadian government. It led to Peter Nygard being one of the key drivers and participants in the original free trade agreement signed by the United States and Canada in the late 1980s and the later tri-level agreement to include Mexico.

This fashion mogul’s business career and life is littered with mammoth successes. Where did it all begin? How did he get there?

In order to understand an individual and their unique accomplishments, you have to look at their antecedents and the impact all of the various factors had on their life. Peter Nygard’s unique makeup and story has a lot to do with his successes.

Life began for him on July 24th of 1941 in the midst of World War II. In fact, upon leaving the hospital in Helsinki Finland, bomb sirens started going off, and Peter’s mom and dad, Hilkka and Eeli, had to rush him to a nearby bomb shelter.

The war raged on around him as he grew. When Peter was three, a bomb blast shook the family’s apartment, covering him and his father with shattered glass while they were trying to make their way out the door to the bomb shelter. Fearing for the life of Peter and his two-year old sister Liisa, their parents took them to live on the Nygard family farm in northern Finland where the kids stayed with their grandparents until after the war.

It was a gift of wonderful adventures on the farm for the pair frolicking about and spending time with their grandparents. However, this also provided the opportunity for little Peter to learn the biggest and most valuable lesson of his life.

The single most influential factor in Peter Nygård’s exponential business success is his belief that nothing is impossible. Of course nothing is impossible—he had watched his Grampa do the impossible every day.

Grampa Nygård was an amputee, who didn’t recognize that he was a courageous and inspiring man. When gangrene caused by diabetes had attacked his leg many years before, his legs had been amputated, one just above the knee and the other slightly higher. He had custom made leather covers that served as shoes for his stumps, and he shuffled about on these holding canes in each hand. 

When gangrene later attacked his fingers he was without medical help nearby; but knowing what had to be done to prevent the spread of the gangrene and save his life, he had performed his own amputation, cutting off his finger as deftly as any surgeon. Eventually most of one whole arm was affected and its final complete amputation, thankfully, was performed in a hospital. 

Grampa Nygård was amazing. Disabled? Not in his opinion. Complain? Not that anyone ever heard. With his one good arm and leather pads on the stumps of his legs, he walked, climbed stairs, drove horses and did his work. (The Child of Lamposaari: The Inspiring Story of Hilkka Nygård, 2015. Pages 82-83) 

This was the example Peter Nygard observed at the start of his life resulting in lessons that shaped everything he did going forward and led to where he is today. 

How can we benefit from this understanding of Nygard and his thinking? Stay tuned.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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