Niel S. Henning

Niel S. Henning

I have been affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network® since 2002 but I started in the financial services industry over 35 years ago. I have gained much experience over the years and I carry some important life lessons with me daily.

I grew up as the oldest of three children. My mom immigrated from Scotland when she was 16 by herself, and my dad’s mom was an immigrant from Norway. Life Lesson One: Don’t be afraid of change.

I grew up in Piscataway, New Jersey, which at the time was mostly farmland. I learned to play the accordion because my parents belonged to a Scandinavian Club and the accordion was a popular instrument at the club festivities. In high school, I played the saxophone in the marching band and the Jazz Rock ensemble. Life Lesson Two: In order to excel at something, you need to practice daily. 

At college, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, I joined the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, where I made some lifelong friendships. In 1987, I married my wife, Robyn Cooper Henning. She works at Ferris High School in Jersey City as a crisis counselor and supervises their drama club. Together, we raised three wonderful girls. Samantha, our oldest, who graduated from DePaul University in Chicago, is an aspiring actor in Los Angeles. Our daughter Kirsten is a graduate of North Carolina State and is a director of e-commerce for Southtree. Our youngest, Pamela, is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and is now pursuing her master's degree in counseling at Hunter College in Manhattan. Life Lesson Three: Time flies so don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, but plan for the future.

 

Besides raising kids, my wife and I foster dogs, placing over a dozen dogs with new owners including Charlie, who we adopted. I feel it is important to give back to the community, so I joined the Nutley Freemasons and am the Past Master of that lodge. The Freemasons pride themselves on making good men better and helping them to become leaders in the community. 

In my town, I was the past president of Nutley Family Service Bureau, an organization that was founded in 1913 and has gone through many changes over the years. This unique organization provides family mental health counseling and runs a food pantry in town.  Life Lesson Four: Live life with purpose and always strive to improve yourself.  

For pleasure, my wife and I enjoy traveling to different countries, enjoying the food, drink, and people of the world. Besides the many locales in the United States, we have been fortunate to be able to take one trip a year to another country. So far we have visited Norway, Scotland, England, Portugal, Netherlands, Morocco, South Africa, Mexico, Bermuda, Aruba, St. John, Puerto Rico, Barbados, and Spain. Traveling has been such an education for us as we are exposed to different customs, food, languages, products, and history. It also, at times, brings us out of our comfort zone, which makes us a little stronger.

The very best thing about our travels is the people we converse with, hearing their stories and what they like and dislike about their own countries. That being said, it also makes us appreciate what we have in the United States of America even more. Life Lesson Five: There is always someone who is smarter than you, more successful than you, and more fortunate than you; however, there is also someone who would jump at the chance to change places with you. Be grateful for what you have.

I have a few hobbies as well. I am the president of the Jersey Association of Gamers, a group of about 50 people who meet twice a month to play all different kinds of heavy board games. To date, I have played around 400 different and unique board games. These games can take anywhere from a half-hour to 12 hours to play. Learning the rules and strategies keeps me mentally sharp, and, at the same time, I have fun. I also get together once or twice a month with a group to work and operate on different prototypical HO model train layouts. But, my passion for cooking is probably what those around me enjoy the most. I love to experiment with all types of cuisines that my family and friends are happy to indulge in. Let me know if you’d like to have one of my recipes! Life Lesson Six: Try to have balance in your life. Business, family, community, fun