Teacher Profile – Mr. Wan


Brennan Cowden, Student Journalist

Mr. Nicholas Wan, a summa cum laude graduate of Binghamton University, former Merrill Lynch financial advisor, personal success methods author, previous congressional candidate, and Chief Investment Officer for Stonehill Capital now has also taken it upon himself to teach at Seton Catholic Central, widely expanding upon the business curriculum like never before. Mr. Wan has inspired many students with his own success and his teaching in his short time at Seton and transformed the business courses in the school into something beyond a regular classroom experience. From his students starting their own small businesses to going on-site to see how connections and products are made, Mr. Wan’s classes, such as Marketing and Intro to Business provide any student with incredibly valuable experiences.

Mr. Wan never originally planned to be a financial advisor. In fact, he was aiming to become a lawyer before being recruited to finance. “My first job out of college was at Merrill Lynch, they hired me when I was a senior in college. Even when I worked at Merrill Lynch, I thought I was just gonna move on and go to law school.” Mr. Wan says that eventually, they convinced him that it was a silly idea and that he should stay in finance and make more money. However, Mr. Wan considers this bad advice for anyone in a similar situation. “I do think it’s good just to go with your gut. It’s good to listen to other people’s opinions, but at the end of the day, you’re accountable to yourself and you should go with what you think is the best decision.” Building onto this, Mr. Wan shared that now that he’s on this career path, he often struggles with keeping motivated. “It’s not so much to make money…there’s not a whole lot of meaning to that. You still gotta find ways to make your life feel meaningful. That’s one of the biggest reasons I teach.” Mr. Wan goes on to say that his favorite aspect of teaching is his students. They make him smile, help the atmosphere feel more alive, and so he can help them be successful in life too. Mr. Wan, in line with his own articles and teachings outside of schools, tells that anyone struggling with motivation needs to define a worthy, lofty goal for themselves, that stands as a cool, social proof to peers of your accomplishment. By this method, Mr. Wan was able to teach himself to play piano just by earshot.

Mr. Wan sold over $100,000 worth of educational instruction products in China without knowing the language. When asked how the Chinese market compared to our domestic markets, he told that Chinese consumers value different things than Americans. “Chinese consumers are more influenced and impressed by impressive marketing. There’s a term in Chinese called guanxi, and it basically means special connections or networks. I learned from there in business that it doesn’t matter how good your ideas or how good your branding is, you need those things plus it needs to have the right audience.” You need to be politically connected to succeed in Chinese markets. When Mr. Wan returned to the States, he says that he realized then that business in America is governed by that principle too, but he hadn’t realized it until he came back from China.

Finally, Mr. Wan talked about his thoughts on Seton itself. “Seton does a pretty good job of instilling a culture of expectations with the students. It’s good to have expectations of young people because it helps them rise to the occasion.” However, Mr. Wan believes that Seton struggles in marketing what makes us unique. He says that he believes that there’s more of a place in America for faith-based environments, and thinks that Seton should advertise that aspect more. This would include having mass more frequently and live-streaming it, and featuring each teacher’s unique classroom aspects. Mr. Wan goes on to say that if he could change one thing about the school, it would be the name, specifically to Seton Catholic Academy. “It doesn’t say anything explicit about our identity. If you changed the name to something more like Seton Catholic Academy, it would imply much different branding and marketing messages, one that would command a higher price.” Mr. Wan affirmed his affinity for the school’s values and students and does his best to make his classes and the school a successful, faith-based environment with hands-on learning, easily making him a rising figure among the faculty.