In an interview with GameDaily.biz, former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé has shed some more light on his legacy at Nintendo and his relationship with Satoru Iwata. In particular, he has shared a story about how during his initial recruitment process to become NOA’s President, he asked to speak with the worldwide boss – an interaction that wasn’t originally part of the process.
Discussing what he learned from Satoru Iwata – Nintendo worldwide President from 2002 until his untimely death in 2015 – Reggie spoke of how, as one of the candidates for the job, he asked for and was eventually granted some one-on-one time with Nintendo’s big boss back in Japan:
“When I was being recruited for the opportunity to join Nintendo, I asked as part of the process to speak with Mr. Iwata. It was not going to be part of the process and as I learned later, it actually was a bit of a disruption in the process. Imagine from Nintendo’s perspective, ‘Who’s this candidate thinking that he can spend time with our global president. This is not a role that is going to be based in Japan. Why does he want to talk with him?’ I mean, you can imagine the types of conversations that must have been happening. But in the end they agreed for me to speak with Mr. Iwata before I would decide whether to accept the role.
He goes on to describe how that initial conversation would form the foundation of their continuing relationship:
“It was set up to be a half-hour conversation and it ended up running much longer than that. And it really sets the stage for the type of business and personal relationship we would have. We would talk all the time. He was gracious in sharing his perspective. He was tremendously accommodating in hearing a unique point of view from me, a person who had no history in the video game business other than as a player. But [he valued] my perspective because I brought a consumer sensibility. I brought a Western business sensibility. And the relationship that he and I had for almost 11 years, it was truly special and just, his openness with me and the things that we were able to do truly together, were just magical.”
He also discusses how Iwata’s death led him to consider his own legacy ay Nintendo:
“It just reinforces how fleeting our existence is. It also reinforced for me the legacy that he had built, and he had created for the company. And that really drove me to be introspective around, ‘So what’s the legacy that I want to build, that I want to leave? So I would say that event certainly crystallized for me the importance and motivated me to be clear and intentional in what I wanted to do.”
He also talks about how he immersed himself in Japanese – and specifically Kyoto – culture when he first became NOA President in order to better understand Nintendo as a company, as well as how he learned to recognise the power of silence:
“I’ve [also] learned the value of silence and letting someone truly think and consider a point that I’ve made. Westerners love to fill in conversation. They often don’t let the other person think. I learned the power of silence and letting people think, versus just continuing to try and push a particular point of view.”
Elsewhere in the wide-ranging interview, Reggie acknowledges the outpouring of love from fans since his retirement and joining Twitter with his @Reggie handle, and how unexpected it has been:
“As I joke with friends, I tell them that I thought you had to be dead before you were recognized.”
He goes on to discuss the value of differences, leadership and courage, and that in retirement he’s turned down further big business positions in order to be in his current mentoring and advisory role. The entire interview is well worth a read in between hunting down those elusive Cyber Monday deals, so be sure to check it out.