ICON Health & Fitness CEO Scott Watterson Teaches Students About Critical Optimism

Scott Watterson, co-founder and CEO of ICON Health & Fitness Inc., taught Southern Virginia University students, faculty and staff about critical optimism in forum on March 1.

While an undergraduate at Utah State University, Watterson began ICON with his friend Gary E. Stevenson. He later served as a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan and also as a young single adult stake president.

Pictured left to right: Michele Watterson, Scott Watterson

Watterson’s wife, Michele, spoke first and encouraged students to develop their talents and enjoy their time at college, despite stress and difficulties.

“The students here are phenomenal; you have a great light about you,” she said. “Learn to share the light that you have and enjoy every minute that you have as a student here at Southern Virginia.”

In his address, Watterson said that as a successful businessman and in many leadership roles for young single adults in the Church, he found a vital common thread between building a successful company and building a strong testimony: optimism.

Furthermore, according to Watterson, the best way to be optimistic is to be critically optimistic.

“[Critical optimism] is not blind, it is not fake, it is not ignoring the facts,” he said. “It is informed, calculating, accurate, faith. It’s recognizing your situation, admitting it, accepting it, and then not accepting it and figuring out a way to navigate through it.”

Watterson said critical optimism was key to his success in building ICON because he continued to get up and try again after every failure. Similarly, he noted that critically-optimistic young adults with gospel-related questions find success when they choose to hope in Jesus Christ instead of choosing to become victims of discouragement.

“What is optimism?” he asked. “It is hope. What is something that you can you hope in that is absolutely, undeniably a perfect hope? It is only hope in Christ.”

He taught students that relying on Christ is the way to achieve a “perfect brightness of hope,” as taught in The Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 31:20) and promised that those who practice optimism and “hope unto faith unto action,” will be able to have happiness and overcome adversity.

Watterson gave students five invitations to help develop optimism:

  1. Be grateful
  2. Create a mental highlight reel of your accomplishments
  3. Surround yourself with optimistic people
  4. Practice
  5. Develop a personal relationship with the Savior

Under Watterson’s leadership, ICON partnered with Southern Virginia in 2017 to establish an on-campus call center providing a flexible, well-paying employment opportunity for students. Additionally, ICON donated fitness equipment to the University for its athletic training center and student fitness center.

View the full forum on YouTube.