After stepping down from his position as Nintendo of America’s president and chief operating officer in April, Reggie Fils-Aimé is pursuing a number of opportunities that let him give back, including joining the New York Videogame Critics Circle’s board of directors. Fils-Aimé left Nintendo in mid-April, succeeded by the aptly-named Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s former head of sales and marketing.
Fils-Aimé’s laid out a bunch of plans to fill his days: He’s also the managing partner at Brentwood Growth Partners and the “leader-in-residence” at Cornell University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1983. In March, he’ll head to Austin to give a keynote address at SXSW 2020; there, he’ll talk about “convergence.” With Critics Circle, he’ll add mentoring students and using his business skills to the list of plans.
It’s a fully packed schedule that’d be hard to manage while running a company like Nintendo. “It’s just impossible,” he told Polygon in a phone interview this week. “Now I’ve got the benefit of time. I’ve got the benefit of investing myself in these types of activities.”
The New York Videogame Critics Circle is a non-profit organization of journalists, critics, and writers in New York City that started as an advocacy group for media. It’s since expanded with programs that support community members in the city — the Critics Circle works on the DreamYard Project at the Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School, puts on panels at the New York Public Library and American Museum of Natural History, mentors at the Older Adult Technology Services in Manhattan, and holds the New York Game Awards each year. In his new position on the Critics Circle board of directors, Fils-Aimé will assist the organization in furthering these initiatives, using his business experience to continue generating grant money and mentoring kids in the city.
Fils-Aimé himself grew up in the Bronx, just miles from the DreamYard Prep high school, he told Polygon. He first visited the school in 2018 while he was still working at Nintendo; he gave a presentation to students for around 20 minutes he said, which led into a Q&A session.
“What was really meaningful for me is that the school is within about three miles from where I grew up in the Bronx,” Fils-Aimé said. “To go to school and spend time with students and to share with them some of my life story, with the hope of inspiring them to push and to challenge and to reach to do as much as they can as they continue to grow and learn, it really was a tremendously meaningful opportunity for me.”
Fils-Aimé said he wants to inspire the next generation of diverse leaders — and not just business leaders. Fils-Aimé said he’s looking at leadership “more broadly,” looking to encourage “leaders across a range of as many different disciplines as possible.” This mission is extending into his new role at Cornell University, where he’ll mentor students at the college level.
“Everyone has the capacity to be a leader,” Fils-Aimé said. “It takes practice. It takes skill development. But everyone has that opportunity. It’s all to really try and inspire this next generation of leaders to accomplish what they can.”
Fils-Aimé’s first lecture is scheduled for Oct. 21, called “Reggie’s Principles for Next-Generation Leaders.” He told Polygon he’ll make trips like this to the Cornell campus in Ithaca, New York over the upcoming academic year. He’ll do the larger lectures, but also meet with students one on one and in small group sessions.
“What’s going to be the most meaningful is those small group sessions, and helping to understand what their challenges are, helping to provide some perspective, and just doing my part to help grow the next generation of leaders,” Fils-Aimé added.
Fils-Aimé told Polygon that the specifics of his mentorship with the Critics Circle isn’t set just yet, as the “programs for this semester are just being finalized as we speak” as new grant money files in. When he’s not mentoring, Fils-Aimé said a key part of his position at the Critics Circle is helping the organization grow, so it can continue to do work that makes a difference in the communities it serves.