‘Seinfeld’ actor at VSB event

Michelle Farabaugh

John O’Hurley, best known for his role as J. Peterman on the hit television show “Seinfeld,” spoke at the inaugural event for the School of Business’s Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship Center on Monday.

Sponsored by the business school, the forum was held in the Villanova Room as the second event in the Joseph F. Azrack ’69 Distinguished Speaker Series.

The ICE Center is a “driver of scholastic, educational and professional development opportunities in the areas of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” according to the VSB Web site.

The center will act as a resource in support of program and curriculum development, faculty research and an interface between the business community and VSB.

As a television, film and stage actor, as well as an experienced businessman, O’Hurley presented his template for success in the form of “The Peterman Guide to an Extraordinary Life.”

“No one wakes up in the morning wanting to have an ordinary life,” he said.

In addition to his memorable television role, O’Hurley was also the winner of the first season of “Dancing with the Stars.” He hosts the National Dog Show presented by Purina, held each year on Thanksgiving, as well as the syndicated game show “Family Feud.”

He also acts as part owner of the J. Peterman Company after joining forces with the real J. Peterman, in addition to being a principal partner in two venture capital companies, according to his Web site.

O’Hurley outlined a three-step program that included the elements of achievement, balance and appreciation. According to his plan, imagination, daydreaming and following lifelong passions lead to achievement.

“Everything has to begin with a good idea,” he said. “What you imagine has value. I invite you to make a promise to yourself – that you will daydream more, that you will commit yourself to a plan, that you will complete what you imagine. If you leap, the net will appear, but you have to commit to the leap.”

O’Hurley delved into personal experience when he discussed the struggles he faced while pursuing his lifelong goal of becoming an actor. After receiving a degree in theater from Providence College, O’Hurley reached a stalemate.

“I was heading toward a career that was a result of an imagination, until the day after graduation,” he said. “I knew how to sing and how to act, but I had no idea how to make a living from it.”

The sudden death of a childhood friend in a car accident inspired him to renew following his passion, and he booked his first show within 48 hours of arriving in New York City.

“I knew where I was and where I wanted to be,” he said of setting a two-year plan for himself. “I just needed to know how to get there. It was the most focused I’ve ever been, because I was driven by a purpose and had nothing to lose.”

O’Hurley recommended finding a personal balance, saying that it encourages living in the moment and realizing the “richness of life.”

He also discussed the need to give back in order to appreciate and give meaning to life, offering examples ranging from Golfers Against Cancer, a charity organized by three of his friends to honor a deceased companion, to smiling at people on the subway in New York.

“It’s surprising how disarming that is to people, and how wonderfully freeing it is when they smile back,” he said.

O’Hurley’s multifaceted career made him the perfect candidate to celebrate VSB’s new center for ICE.

“Our guest speaker highlighted the multidisciplinary aspect of our center,” said Patrick Maggitti, director of the ICE Center.

Maggitti pointed out the increased competitive nature of today’s business world and the need for Villanova students to make themselves stand out in the marketplace, no matter what school they are in.

“The answer lies in the development of our right-brain abilities – the ability to think creatively and to recognize new opportunities,” he said.