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Book Summary: Disrupting the Game – From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo

Disrupting the Game (2022) tells the inspiring story of Reggie Fils-Aimé’s unlikely rise to the top of the video game industry – charting his journey from growing up as a kid in the Bronx to becoming president and COO of Nintendo of America. Along the way, it shares the lessons he learned about leadership and charting a career path.

Book Summary: Disrupting the Game - From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo

Content Summary

Genres
Introduction: Learn leadership, career, and life lessons from Reggie Fils-Aimé’s unlikely rise to the top of Nintendo.
Recommendation
Take-Aways
Unlikely Beginnings.
Unexpected Opportunity.
Learning the Hard Way.
Reversing Course.
The Right Fit.
The Rise of the Regginator.
Summary
Final Summary
About the author
Video and Podcast

Genres

Management, Leadership, Biography, Memoir, Business, Money, Industries, Entertainment Industry, Business Professional’s Biographies, Motivation, Video Games, Gaming, Game Design, Autobiography, Sports and Games, Games

Introduction: Learn leadership, career, and life lessons from Reggie Fils-Aimé’s unlikely rise to the top of Nintendo.

What’s in it for me? Learn leadership, career, and life lessons from Reggie Fils-Aimé’s unlikely rise to the top of Nintendo.

If you don’t follow the video game industry, the name Reggie Fils-Aimé might be unfamiliar to you. But within the industry, he was a celebrity executive during his time at Nintendo – in the North American division of the iconic Japanese video game company.

As an executive at Nintendo, Reggie helped to turn around the company’s flagging fortunes and launch some of the most popular products in its history, like the Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii.

But it was a long road to success, with unlikely beginnings, twists and turns, and more than a few setbacks along the way. In this Blink, you’ll discover some of the main turning points in Reggie’s journey to the top of Nintendo. You’ll learn some of the lessons he took away from his experiences – lessons around leadership, career-building, and blazing your own path forward.

In this Blink, you’ll learn

  • how Reggie rose to success despite his early lack of opportunities;
  • how seizing an unexpected opportunity changed his career trajectory; and
  • how he had to hit a bunch of dead ends before he reached the top of his career.

Recommendation

In this insider’s take about the launch of the Wii gaming console, Reggie Fils-Aimé, the CEO of Nintendo in America, describes how he navigated both cultural issues and business challenges. Writing in a breezy style, Fils-Aimé takes readers inside his interactions with Nintendo’s Japanese executives. He distills a variety of pivotal experiences into simple rules of business and life. While he doesn’t dwell on soul-baring moments, Fils-Aimé does offer a detailed description of his relationship with his boss. Gamers will enjoy his recollections of the launch of the groundbreaking Wii, but Fils-Aimé keeps his business lessons general enough to apply to any industry.

Take-Aways

  • Sometimes you have to stand your ground – even when your boss disagrees.
  • Reggie Fils-Aimé agitates for difficult decisions.
  • Go into every decision-making process with a clear objective.
  • Diversity is about race and gender – and mind-set.
  • Long-term thinking is crucial, but difficult to embrace.
  • Sometimes the best career decisions involve taking a risk and bucking conventional wisdom.
  • When he joined Nintendo, Fils-Aimé worked hard on the people side of his job.
  • Turning around a struggling company requires finding new ways of doing business.

Unlikely Beginnings.

Some executives are born with silver spoons in their mouths. Reggie Fils-Aimé wasn’t one of them.

His parents were Haitian immigrants, and he spent the first eight years of his life in the early 1960s growing up in a rough neighborhood in the Bronx. His family lived in a one-bedroom, fifth-floor walk-up apartment in a roach-infested tenement building. It was the kind of building where, one time, a man was stabbed on the top of the roof and smeared a trail of blood down the stairs as he stumbled to the street. Another time, Reggie and his brother got robbed by some teenagers on their way to buy candy at a nearby bodega.

His family was eager to get out – so his father worked two jobs, six days a week. By the late 1960s, when Reggie was eight, the family had saved up enough money to move out of the Bronx into a small house in Brentwood – a much safer town on Long Island. For Reggie, it was an early lesson in working hard and making the most of available opportunities to get ahead in life.

Moving to Brentwood was a huge step up for the family, but they were still a lower-middle-class household. And now, they were also the only black family in the surrounding neighborhood. At the time, the town was mostly white. Some of his classmates picked on Reggie because of his race.

But Reggie was used to standing up for himself. Meanwhile, he applied himself to his studies and did well at school – well enough to eventually get accepted to Cornell University, an Ivy League institution in Ithaca, New York.

With a combination of hard work, academic merit, and taking advantage of the opportunities as they came up, Reggie was able to attend the university’s undergraduate business programs. He financed his education with academic scholarships, including an air force ROTC scholarship, student loans, and part-time jobs.

And, by the end of his studies, he discovered he enjoyed the analytical side of finance. This led him to pursue a career in the banking industry. He did an internship at a bank and had a whole plan worked out: graduate from Cornell, get a couple of years of work experience, earn an MBA, and then aim for the industry’s stratosphere.

But then something unexpected happened in his final year of university – something that would radically change Reggie’s career trajectory.

Unexpected Opportunity.

Back when Reggie was at Cornell, a lot of Fortune 500 company executives had one thing in common: they’d all spent time working as brand managers for the consumer goods company Proctor & Gamble, also known as P&G.

The company’s brand managing role functioned as a hands-on training program for future executives, granting them increasing levels of responsibility and teaching them how to handle every major aspect of running a successful company – from advertising to product development.

P&G did a lot of recruitment at Cornell, focusing mainly on the school’s MBA program. And it interviewed a few undergraduate students as well, but only if they got a personal recommendation from a professor. Reggie ended up being one of those students: the interview went well, and he got a job offer that would allow him to become a brand manager at 25 and an executive at 30.

It was an attractive offer – but Reggie was set on becoming a banker, so it would also be a major change in his career plan. However, the more he thought about it, the more he liked the possibilities it represented. He liked the idea of not having to spend time in an entry-level bank position, he liked the idea of not having to go back to school to get his MBA. The job with P&G would fast-track his career while providing a hands-on learning experience that would complement the education he’d received at Cornell.

Reggie decided to go for it – and it would prove to be one of the most pivotal decisions in his life. He was turning away from a clearly mapped-out route to a banking career and veering off down another path that would eventually lead him to his role at Nintendo.

In retrospect, the decision taught him a valuable lesson: plans are good to have – but don’t get too stuck on them. Stay open to other possibilities, and allow yourself to shift direction if a compelling opportunity comes along.

Learning the Hard Way.

Reggie ended up spending eight years at P&G. He managed multiple brands, including Crisco (a shortening product) and Sun Drop (a soft drink that competes with products like Mountain Dew).

Along the way, Reggie learned valuable lessons – from how to write an effective business memo to the importance of gaining support for your initiatives from key decision-makers. He also learned what kind of work he liked doing: driving high rates of growth in fast-paced sectors.

Unfortunately, some of these lessons he learned the hard way. With growth rates of over 15 percent, P&G’s soft drink brands matched the description of what Reggie was looking for, but many of P&G’s other brands, like Crisco, did not. For them, growth rates of only 3 to 4 percent were considered desirable. Reggie enjoyed his time working for the soft drink brands until P&G eventually sold to another company, and he was moved over to slow-growth Crisco.

But his desire to move quickly didn’t disappear. And so Reggie immediately got to work on developing an innovative advertising campaign for Crisco. It showed promising results during a trial run, and he was eager to push it forward as rapidly as possible. He felt certain it would generate a big sales boost.

There was just one snag: Crisco’s advertising budget was small. Reggie ended up spending more money than he was authorized to spend on it – essentially forward-spending the fourth-quarter budget on the third quarter. As a result, Crisco missed its third-quarter profit target.

The whole situation could have been avoided if he’d communicated with higher-level managers and convinced them to give Crisco a bigger advertising budget. He had a great idea for the advertising campaign, but he hadn’t invited other people into his thinking or gained enough support to execute it properly. And that, he learned, is what you need to do if you want to be an effective agent of change.

Reggie owned up to his mistake and vowed he’d never repeat it – but it ended up derailing his career at P&G. And feeling dead in the water, he decided to leave the company.

Reversing Course.

While he was working with P&G’s soft drink brands, Reggie often found himself in close competition with PepsiCo. And, as fate would have it, his next position was with one of PepsiCo’s restaurant brands: Pizza Hut.

Working as a divisional marketing director for the company, Reggie pushed for growth and innovation on several fronts – not just marketing, but also product development. Sometimes, that meant making risky decisions that proved to be mistakes – and one of those mistakes proved to be another learning experience for Reggie.

It happened while he was working for Pizza Hut in the early 1990s – a period when the company was losing customers to one of its competitors: Little Caesars. The pizza at Little Caesars was inferior in quality, but they had something that Pizza Hut didn’t have: a two-for-one deal that gave people a lot of food for little money. That made it a tempting bargain at a time when the US was going through a recession.

To help Pizza Hut even the playing field, Reggie decided to spearhead the launch of a product called Bigfoot Pizza – a huge, rectangular slab of pizza that sold for the same price as Little Caesars’ two-for-one deal. Many Pizza Hut franchise owners were reluctant to adopt the initiative, but Reggie pushed forward and won them over.

The product went on to win an innovation award and generate almost a billion dollars in revenue – but it was a slightly hollow victory. With the pizza’s lower price came lower quality. Because of the cheapness of the ingredients and the way it was produced, the pizza often came out burnt or soggy. Little Caesars’ product had similar problems, so that seemed okay since the point was just to compete with them on price.

But after doing some market research, Reggie realized that customers’ negative perception of Bigfoot Pizza was rubbing off on their overall perception of Pizza Hut, damaging the brand. So he decided to reverse course – suddenly going from being Big Foot Pizza’s biggest advocate to being its biggest critic. Eventually, Reggie spoke with Pizza Hut’s senior leadership and persuaded them to phase out the product altogether.

Reggie took away a couple of key lessons from this experience. First, always keep the long-term picture in mind. Sure, Big Foot Pizza was making money and helping it compete with Little Caesars, but it was also damaging the brand at a time when other competitors with higher-quality pizzas like Papa John’s were emerging on the horizon. Second, he learned to make the right decision for your brand, even if it means reversing course, even if it hurts. Big Foot Pizza had been Reggie’s baby, so it was hard to let go of, but it was the right thing to do for the company.

After working a few years for Pizza Hut, Reggie moved through a series of increasingly senior-level marketing roles at a variety of companies: two years at Panda Management Company, two years at Guinness Import Company, two years at Derby Cycle Corporation, and two years at MTV Network’s VH1 channel.

And, why was he hopping from one company to the next? Well, the short answer is that he was looking for the right fit – a company, a role, and a leadership team that would allow him to pursue bold ideas and drive innovation and growth at the fast pace he favored. But Reggie kept running up against walls.

Either the role was too constricted for him, or he got held back by owners, investors, or higher-level executives who had conservative business instincts or moderate growth goals. While he tried to push for change as hard as he could, he learned that at some point, if a role just isn’t a good fit, you’ve got to move forward and keep looking.

And so, in 2003, Reggie found himself looking for a new role yet again. While on the hunt, he received a call – a call that would lead to a decision that would change his life forever. It was from a recruiter calling on behalf of Nintendo. They were searching for a new executive vice president of sales and marketing.

This was an exciting prospect. The video game industry was exactly the sort of fast-paced sector Reggie enjoyed. Nintendo alone typically released over 50 new products per year. Reggie had also been a video game fan as a kid, and, as an adult, he owned multiple Nintendo systems with a large library of games.

But working for Nintendo was an intimidating prospect as well. The company was in trouble. Its current system, the GameCube, wasn’t selling that well, and it was losing market share to its competitors, Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox. Compared to other industries he’d worked in, it wasn’t that big of a market to begin with – and this was another reason not to take the job.

That being said, Reggie also sensed that there was huge potential for growth in the video game industry, he was convinced that Nintendo could turn its fortunes around. The company had a legacy of trailblazing innovation, and its global president, Satoru Iwata, seemed committed to carrying that legacy into the future.

And so finally, Reggie sensed he’d found the fit he was looking for. He accepted the job.

The Rise of the Regginator.

About a year later, Reggie was getting ready to make Nintendo’s main presentation at the 2004 E3 video game conference – the industry’s biggest event, closely followed by industry insiders, retailers, publications, and fans.

Since his hire, Reggie had been busily building relationships within Nintendo, but to the larger industry, he was still relatively unknown. This would be his introduction to the gaming world – and by the end of the evening, he’d be on his way to fame. As Reggie began his presentation, he introduced himself and his mission at Nintendo with a line that would become legendary: “My name is Reggie. I’m about kicking ass, I’m about taking names, and we’re about making games.” The presentation was a hit, Reggie’s aggressive messaging was so well-received, in fact, that fans gave him a new nickname: The Regginator.

During the presentation, Reggie introduced the world to Nintendo’s new portable video game system, the Nintendo DS. He also teased an upcoming home-based system: the Nintendo Wii. These two systems were linchpins of the company’s plan to turn its fortunes around. The DS had touchscreen capabilities, and the Wii had motion-based controls, both of which were industry firsts.

These innovations, in turn, would open up possibilities for new gaming experiences. People would be able to control them in intuitive ways, rather than having to remember a bunch of different buttons to press. And, this, in turn, would make games more accessible to the general public, which would allow Nintendo to massively expand its consumer base beyond traditional gamers.

But to be successful at implementing this strategy, Nintendo needed more than just the right tech. It also needed to find the right pricing for the systems, make sure it had the right lineup of games, and strike the right balance with its messaging. If the prices were too high, nongamers would be unlikely to buy the systems. If there weren’t enough exciting general audience-oriented games to play on them, they wouldn’t be interested in buying them in the first place. But, equally, if Nintendo put too much emphasis on these types of games, it would risk alienating its traditional fan base and the retailers who catered to them.

All three of these issues became points of contention for Reggie. He battled with other leaders at Nintendo to bring down the prices of the systems. He championed the release of general audience-oriented games for the Nintendo DS, like Nintendogs (a pet simulation) and Brain Age (a collection of brain-training puzzle games). Then at the 2006 E3 conference, Reggie pushed back when the company’s global president, Satoru Iwata, wanted to give the company’s spotlight mainly to Wii Sports, another general audience-oriented game. Reggie argued that the spotlight should also be shared by another game, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which was aimed at Nintendo’s traditional audience.

The two men couldn’t see eye to eye on the issue, but Reggie felt convinced he was right and he insisted on showcasing the new Zelda game, even though that meant disagreeing with his boss. That was a risky move for him – but the risk paid off for Nintendo; the game’s presentation at the conference generated a huge buzz and it was another learning for Reggie: listen to other perspectives, change your mind if you’re wrong – but be ready to stand your ground and take a risk if you’re sure you’re right.

Shortly after the conference, Iwata requested an unexpected meeting with Reggie. He was afraid he was about to get fired for going against his boss. He even prepared a presentation to defend his decision. But right before Reggie was about to give Iwata a copy of the presentation, Iwata handed Reggie a two-page document. Its subject line had one word: promotion.

Reggie was getting promoted to president and COO of Nintendo of America.

Summary

Sometimes you have to stand your ground – even when your boss disagrees.

Reggie Fils-Aimé was instrumental in Nintendo’s US launch of the Wii Remote. The product was noteworthy for its motion-sensing technology. Fils-Aimé worked with Leo Burnett, a New York ad agency, to design an advertising campaign that featured two Japanese businessmen touring the United States to show the new device to American consumers.

Fils-Aimé felt certain the ads would be a hit, but shortly before they began airing, his boss – Nintendo president Satoru Iwata – called from Japan at the last moment to say the ads had to be changed. In Japan, Iwata said, executives would never interact as casually with customers as the people depicted in the ad. Fils-Aimé pushed back, but his boss initially stood his ground. Fils-Aimé insisted that Westerners have a much different view of social interactions. His boss relented, and the ads and the product were a hit.

“There is a fine balance between staying true to your beliefs versus just being stubborn.”

As a leader who prided himself on disruption and innovation, Fils-Aimé repeatedly butted heads with his bosses and with entrenched ways of doing business. The Wii launch press conference was a success, and Iwata asked Fils-Aimé to deliver an identical presentation to retailers. Fils-Aimé didn’t think it was the right call. The launch press conference focused on the new Wii Sports offerings, but Fils-Aimé believed retailers wanted to know that Zelda, the successful game franchise, would be available for the new console.

Zelda would signal to retailers that they should take the Wii seriously, because it would generate profits. The highly choreographed presentation was ready, and Fils-Aimé feared last-minute changes might trigger a technical meltdown during a key presentation to crucial partners. He declined to back down, even though he sensed Iwata’s disappointment. Their disagreement was respectful and cordial, and Fils-Aimé stuck to what he believed was right.

Reggie Fils-Aimé agitates for difficult decisions.

When the Wii launched in the United States, Fils-Aimé pushed hard to have Wii Sports packaged as preloaded software on the gaming console. Nintendo’s Japanese brain trust opposed the proposal. Fils-Aimé argued that Japan’s gaming market differed from the American market. For example, the Wii didn’t face competition from the Xbox in Japan. He maintained that Wii Sports provided an excellent showcase for Wii’s innovative features, and he eventually got his way.

“Making significant changes to an integrated presentation a couple of hours before the scheduled start was a sure recipe for failure.”

These episodes underscore the importance of standing up for your beliefs, Fils-Aimé says, though he advises picking your battles carefully. In every decision, businesspeople must strip out their own emotions and examine their hidden motivations. Listen carefully to other views, and show you understand their perspectives. If you find yourself espousing a contrarian view, as Fils-Aimé did, make your argument persuasively, and back it with data and examples.

“You can’t be so enmeshed in your own ideas that you fail to incorporate the perspective of others.”

Even as you push your own point of view, respect the opinions of others. Don’t steamroll or belittle your rivals. Presenting your case in an empathetic, compelling manner will help those who disagree with you become willing to support your approach. Iwata warned Fils-Aimé about the dangers of always getting his way. This reminded Fils-Aimé that even the most insightful leaders must work with diplomacy and humility to build a consensus.

Go into every decision-making process with a clear objective.

When Fils-Aimé was in high school on Long Island, he realized he wanted to go to college. His parents had grown up in Haiti and knew nothing about higher education in the United States. The guidance counselors at his high school were too busy to give him advice. Fils-Aimé, a strong student, understood that he was also a good-enough athlete to get scholarship offers from Division IIIschools. He learned that a scholarship from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) – a US pre-military curriculum – would pay his tuition if he needed it. Fils-Aimé couldn’t afford to apply to many colleges, and so he limited his applications to Syracuse University, Cornell University and a small college that offered him an athletic scholarship. All three accepted him, and Fils-Aimé went to Cornell with ROTC financial support.

“Without a clear objective, it’s difficult to identify the best path to achieve it.”

Fils-Aimé later realized he had approached the college admissions process with the same system he uses to solve business problems. He started by identifying his goal, a habit he maintains today. He begins each meeting by identifying its overarching objective. If the discussion gets off-track, he steers it back to the central focus. Once the objective is clear, choosing the right path toward that goal becomes a straightforward matter of weighing different approaches by using a what-if analysis.

Diversity is about race and gender – and mind-set.

After graduating, Fils-Aimé took a job at Procter & Gamble. The business world considered the company a fast track to success, but Fils-Aimé was an unusual hire because he didn’t have an MBA. After several years at P&G, he gained promotion. For one of his first hires, he narrowed the field to three candidates. Two were men with MBAs from brand-name schools, and the third was a woman who had worked in executive recruiting and had little in her background that seemed to fit the P&G mold. But Fils-Aimé advocated hiring her because her combination of drive and bootstrapping reminded him of himself.

“Diverse perspectives, versus a homogeneous group, will bring forward a broader range of potential solutions and more ‘out of the box’ thinking.”

Fils-Aimé’s boss disagreed, arguing that a more traditional candidate posed less risk. Fils-Aimé insisted on hiring the female candidate, and his instincts proved right. She hustled as much as Fils-Aimé expected, and she went on to a successful 20-year career with P&G. Diversity wasn’t a corporate edict at the time, but Fils-Aimé intuited that her nontraditional life experiences would bring something new to a corporate team.

Long-term thinking is crucial, but difficult to embrace.

After leaving P&G, Fils-Aimé went to Pizza Hut, where he became responsible for increasing sales and competing with the Little Caesars pizza chain. The US economy was in recession in the early 1990s, and Little Caesars was thriving by selling pies with two-for-one pricing. Little Caesars pizzas were inferior, but it didn’t matter. A rival had a hit, and Fils-Aimé’s brand needed to respond.
Pizza Hut’s counterpunch was the Bigfoot Pizza, a massive two-foot-by-one-foot rectangle that sold for the same price as Little Caesars’ two-for-one deal. Its quality was also poor, but the goal was selling pizza cheaply.

“I had launched a product that generated almost a billion dollars of revenue, had won awards doing so and then had to shut down that same business.”

The Bigfoot Pizza boosted sales and improved profits. But of necessity to control costs, Pizza Hut made the Bigfoot Pizza with inferior ingredients, so stores often burned the crust and the cheese. At the same time, the higher-fat cheese made the pies mushy if stores didn’t cook them long enough. After about six months, it became clear the low-quality Bigfoot Pizza was hurting Pizza Hut’s brand. Fils-Aimé made a tough call, and recommended killing the product even though it was a big hit. He was thinking about the long term: A quick boost in revenue didn’t justify sacrificing Pizza Hut’s reputation.

Sometimes the best career decisions involve taking a risk and bucking conventional wisdom.

In the early 2000s, Fils-Aimé was weighing another career move. Both Pepsi and Nintendo wanted to hire him. As a Japan-based gaming company, Nintendo faced a number of headwinds. Its in-home consoles were an afterthought to the Sony PlayStation, and Microsoft’s Xbox had emerged as a competitor.

Nintendo dominated the handheld market with its GameBoy, but Sony was moving on that space, too. Fils-Aimé’s friends advised him against joining Nintendo. They argued that the gaming business was small, that the required move to Seattle would be difficult for a native New Yorker and that as an American, he would be out of place at a Japanese company.

“Tough career choices are coming at young professionals with greater speed and urgency than in the past.”

But Fils-Aimé was an avid gamer with a passion for the business. He and his children were longtime Nintendo fans. At Pepsi, he would be a cog in a large machine, where he would have to seek small improvements in revenue and profits. But he could play an important role in turning around the momentum at Nintendo. Fils-Aimé applied a combination of analytics and gut instinct to make his decision, which proved to be the right call.

When he joined Nintendo, Fils-Aimé worked hard on the people side of his job.

Once in Seattle, Fils-Aimé took pains to build rapport with his new co-workers. Mike Fukuda, a Japanese national who had spent years with Nintendo, was a pivotal executive. He had important information that Fils-Aimé needed as head of sales and marketing. But Fils-Aimé’s department had burned Fukuda in the past, under different leadership. So Fils-Aimé made a point of meeting regularly with Fukuda, even going to Fukuda’s office despite technically holding a higher rank within the company. This small concession was an important gesture that symbolized humility and teamwork. Breaking down communication barriers is one of his primary goals.

“To me, building personal relationships is an important foundation for having strong business relationships.”

During an important gaming conference in Los Angeles, Fils-Aimé was surprised to learn that in his position as director of sales and marketing, he got the grandest suite in the hotel, a room with a grand piano and sweeping views. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata stayed in a much smaller room. Fils-Aimé offered to switch, but Iwata declined to take the larger room. Fils-Aimé frequently invited his boss to the suite for breakfast, and arranged for a dinner there with his teammates. Fils-Aimé was disappointed to learn that formal relationship-building wasn’t part of Nintendo’s culture. He believed that knowing his colleagues’ motivations and perspectives would lead to better business outcomes.

Turning around a struggling company requires finding new ways of doing business.

Fils-Aimé knew that boosting Nintendo’s momentum required dramatic changes. When the Nintendo DS hit retail shelves, he introduced a program that rewarded merchants who aggressively marketed the new product by delivering more launch inventory to them. Nintendo’s previous approach was to allocate inventory according to market share. The new strategy gave retailers incentives to push Nintendo products.

“Confronting people who possess great technical skills but are alienating others is probably the hardest people-management challenge.”

After Fils-Aimé became president of Nintendo of America Inc., he changed the way the company handled problematic managers. He had to deal with a manager who was technically adept, but who was not good at leading people. Fils-Aimé had to tell the manager that if he didn’t improve and if he didn’t treat his 30-person team with respect, he’d have to find a different role.

Fils-Aimé delivered the news, then assigned a coach to the problem manager and regularly checked on his progress. The manager was unable to change, and decided to leave the company.

The episode showed the danger of allowing managers to behave badly over a period of years. It also illustrated that a more proactive culture would improve Nintendo’s business results. In another risk, Nintendo decided to allow the Wii to stream Netflix videos. At the time of the decision, Netflix was little-known in Japan, but the move meant the Wii could become a primary device in North American living rooms.

Final Summary

What are the main things we can take away from Reggie’s journey to the top of Nintendo? Well, the path that took him there was hardly a straight line. He changed directions right at the beginning – switching from a plan to pursue a career in banking to take a promising job as a brand manager at Proctor & Gamble. From there, he switched jobs, companies, and industries many times, searching for that role that would allow him to do what he really wanted. Along the way, he made some serious mistakes. But he learned from those mistakes, and he kept on moving forward, pushing for what he wanted, looking for new opportunities, and staying open to new possibilities – things that all of us can do in our own lives and careers.

About the author

Award-winning innovator Reggie Fils-Aimé served from 2006-2019 as president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America, the largest division of the Japanese entertainment company.

Reggie Fils- Aimé is an award-winning innovator and disrupter who has helped bring the Nintendo DS, the Wii, the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U and the Nintendo Switch to the global marketplace. He joined Nintendo of America Inc. in December 2003 as Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing. In May 2006, he was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer. He was inducted into the International Videogame Hall of Fame in October 2019 and received the annual Legend Award from the New York Video Game Critics Circle in January 2020.

Prior to joining Nintendo, Reggie was Senior Vice President of Marketing at VH1. During his tenure at VH1, he engineered the channel’s redirection to young viewers that resulted in an overall 30 percent rating growth, and he created and executed the marketing plans for The Concert for New York City, which raised more than $35 million for disaster relief in the wake of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.

Since retiring, he has focused his energy on developing the next generation of business leaders. In August 2019, he was named Cornell University’s Dyson Undergraduate Business School Leader in Residence. He also founded Brentwood Growth Partners to help emerging companies scale and enable leaders to create world-class cultures.

Reggie Fils-Aimé | Website
Reggie Fils-Aimé | Twitter @Reggie
Reggie Fils-Aimé | LinkedIn

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