Students Hear Life Advice from Motivational Speaker Simon Nynens
From left are Simon Nynens, his daughter Julia Nijnens ’21 and Welch College of Business Dean John Chalykoff.
A dash of life guidance. A sprinkle of inspiration. A dose of self-examination. Those were among the ingredients of “My Life Is A Fairy Tale…And So Is Yours,” a talk by motivational speaker Simon Nynens recently at Sacred Heart University’s Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center.
The Jack Welch College of Business (WCOB) presented Nynens’ talks as part of the Dean’s Leadership Series. Nynens, who was introduced by WCOB Dean John Chalykoff, is also the chairman and CEO of Wayside Technology Group and has a daughter at SHU.
Nynens aimed to help students determine their goal in life by talking about his own story and the guidelines he followed to achieve success. The 45-year-old executive’s tale began in the Netherlands, where he grew up in a poor mining town. “I knew one way out was to study. I became a CPA there, then came to America,” he said. However, he said, despite all a young person may study, that will only give a glimpse at life, and “the world is what it’s going to be.”
One guide to the right path for him has been, of all things, fairy tales. “They’re not stupid. Go back to them; they have good lessons,” Nynens said. “‘The Ugly Duckling’ shows you to be helpful, patient, righteous. ‘Hansel & Gretel’ equates the house of candy to bad temptation, things that can hurt you in life. The King and Queen are always Mom and Dad.” And modern tales, he added, just retell the same stories with common themes like good vs. evil, heroes defeating villains and the challenges of social outcasts.
On a more intimate level, Nynens advised students to “be real, tell your whole story and be really interested in each other. No matter what, there will be people who like what you do and others that don’t. Accept it.” He also suggested asking good, sincere questions, like, “What’s the best and worst thing that happened to you this year?” Essentially, he said, one should seek to create a safe cave wherein people can share real stories. It will be much more rewarding than superficial pleasantries, he asserted.
With regard to “fake news,” Nynens suggested, “Challenge everything you hear; do your own research. Seek knowledge, passion, truth. You have to work for it, dig down. And don’t get annoyed about a subject if you don’t know anything about it.” To that, he advised students to use their time wisely and productively, learning instead of pursuing fluff entertainment across some 900 channels, which often show success as money, image and status. “If you just choose this, you become spiritually bankrupt,” he said.
To illustrate his point about positive learning, he asked the audience if anyone knew the origin of the names for days of the week and, later, the meaning of the symbols and notations on our dollar bill. “There are more layers than you think,” he said.
This segued to his thought of adopting real heroes, among them Bill Gates, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. “They will point you in the right direction,” said Nynens.
Finally, Nynens advised students to be true to themselves, live their lives, don’t work so hard, let themselves be happy and, perhaps most importantly, know what harbor they are aiming for.