Leon Logothetis (left) and Ben Nemtin (right).
Monitor image: © bongkarn | Adobe Stock

By Brad Harbison

Editor’s note: Due to COVID-19, NPMA PestWorld was moved to a virtual format. PCT covered PestWorld 2020 with live web reports. Our annual Convention Extra issue was changed to a post-event print publication and can be downloaded here. In addition, what follows are recaps of this year’s general sessions and other coverage.

What started as Ben Nemtin’s idea to help him “get out of a funk” has turned into a career and — more importantly — a project that has helped change people’s lives. That project is “The Buried Life” — a chronicled journey of Nemtin and three hometown friends — that became an MTV series and philanthropic endeavor that has raised funds for charities and made dreams come true. Nemtin shared his story with PestWorld 2020 attendees in a general session sponsored by Syngenta.

After a successful high school career as a standout rugby player in Canada, Nemtin seemed to have it all figured out. But the pressures of being a student-athlete combined with his lifelong battle with depression took a toll on Nemtin, who ended up dropping out of college and leaving the Canada National Rugby Team.

Nemtin’s next move turned his life around. He contacted a neighborhood friend, Jonny, a self-taught amateur filmmaker. The pair added two more neighborhood pals and brainstormed film ideas. Finding inspiration from Matthew Arnold’s 1852 poem “The Buried Life,” the group decided to make a 100-item “bucket list” — 100 things to do before they died — and set out on an RV tour to film this undertaking.

What followed surprised and enlightened them. In soliciting others (via the media) for help in checking off “bucket list” items, the foursome uncovered incredible stories.

They decided to expand their focus from just clicking off items on a bucket list to making a difference in people’s lives and sharing these stories. For example, the group helped Torri, an Ohio teenager born without a hand, achieve her goal of obtaining a bionic hand, by using their influence to get one donated. They have kept in touch with Torri, who became a social worker, a profession she chose because she wanted to “pay forward” the goodness others showed her. Nemtin calls this “The Ripple Effect.” He said, “You don’t just help that one person, you help the people around them. You help their friends, you help their family and sometimes you help everyone around them.”

Nemtin said the ripple effect doesn’t have to occur as a result of big events. He encouraged PestWorld attendees to keep this in mind when interacting with others. “A smile creates a ripple. A compliment creates a ripple. A good deed creates a ripple. Helping out your colleague creates a ripple. Remember, every action creates a reaction and that can either be positive or negative.”

WHY KINDNESS MATTERS. In a world where people are constantly seeking to better themselves, Leon Logothetis, the Corteva-sponsored general session speaker, had a very simple suggestion for achieving self-fulfillment: be kind to others.

“If we live a life based on service, we are truly alive. If we live a life simply by how much money we make, we are not fully living,” said Logothetis, who has dedicated his life to teaching the lessons and benefits of kindness.

A successful London-based broker, Logothetis had accumulated wealth and material possessions but found himself “unhappy on the inside” and seeking another way to live. The first step he made in changing himself was “sharing his pain.” What he found was that others would respond with kindness and compassion.

Inspired by the movie “The Motorcycle Diaries,” which chronicles Che Guevara’s travels throughout South America that relied completely on the kindness of others, Logothetis set out to do the same in the U.S., and throughout the world. For more than a decade, he’s traveled the globe to more than 100 countries to highlight the good in humanity, which he has documented through his best-selling books and TV shows.

One example he provided was his stay in Pittsburgh. None of the strangers he approached about providing shelter for the evening were willing to help until he approached a homeless man named Tony, who supplied him with clothes, sheets and a pillow.

“He taught me that kindness is free and true wealth is not what’s in our wallets, but what’s in our hearts,” said Logothetis. As a side note, Logothetis has returned the favor to Tony by finding him housing and helping him turn his life around.

Inspired by Tony’s kindness and compassion, Logothetis challenged himself to act similarly with his difficult dog Winnie. For one week, Logothetis undertook what he called “The Winnie Challenge,” which focused less on yelling and instruction, and more on treating Winnie with love, kindness and patience. Logothetis encouraged PestWorld attendees to take “The Winnie Challenge” and by this “When you go out into the world for the next five days, pick one person and say I’m going to treat these people with so much respect, with so much kindness, with so much love. And I promise you that it is not just them who will feel your presence. It is you who will feel your own magnificence,” he said.

The author is senior digital editor and managing editor of PCT and can be contacted at bharbison@gie.net.