In a world filled with uncertainty, there are those unique individuals that embrace it and set out to create, innovate and open up a world of new opportunities to that uncertain world. This is the story of Phil Knight – the founder of the one and only Nike.
His memoir, aptly titled “Shoe Dog,” explores the life of a creative, gifted and humble person that encounters all the types of ups and downs to be expected when attempting to create or make a significant change in the world. It showcases the trials and tribulations he encountered during his quest to make Nike into a worldwide conglomerate.
What was particularly striking was Knight’s humble persona throughout the book. There’s no doubt that much of Knight’s initial work was that of his own; however, at no point do you feel as though he did it all alone. Whether it was those friends or family he asked for support, or those that simply offered it on their own, the book perfectly captures the human spirit, with a particular focus on giving, teamwork, relationships and perseverance to succeed in spite of all the battles that were thrown at them along the way.
Having borrowed a really small sum of money, relatively speaking of course, from his father; Phil Knight launched a company focused on importing and developing high quality running shoes from Japan. It all started with that small investment, which led to Knight grossing around eight thousands dollars in their first year of business. What followed thereafter was simple awe-inspiring. Alongside his team of what some would call misfits, Phil, his wife and family focused on building a brand.
Believe it or not, the Nike logo came from a dream of his first ever employee. In a nutshell, it basically came out of the blue. Now, it is absolutely one of the most well known logos throughout the free world.
Phil Knight, Nike and Blue Ribbon (the original name of the brand) respectively encountered their fair share of setbacks. Lack of funds or investments; intense competition that seemingly would spring out of nowhere, employee attrition and anger, hostile banking partners, and conflicting relationships with their partners in Asia were some of the hardships riddled in Nike’s rise to dominance.
But… Nike persevered. They borrowed money. They fought over their competition. They managed their employee relations. They found other banking partners. They even found other Asian import/export partners. They did it all together, because they had a common goal in mind. The goal was to create a company that every employee would be proud to call their own. They negotiated, brought on brand ambassadors such as athletes, and even made incredible sacrifices such as leaving their comfortable lifestyles for an uncertain future in different states throughout the U.S.
They succeeded. They ended up signing the likes of Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan to contracts with Nike. Eventually, clothing lines followed, and the brand would grow into the behemoth that it is today. However, the foundation and values of Nike have always remained the same. Those values were instituted by Knight, and those that were inspirations to him, like his former track coach Bill Bowerman, someone that was absolutely crucial to the designs of the original Nikes and their predecessors.
Phil Knight was, is and always truly will be a Shoe Dog. His passion elevated his desires to bring something special to the world, and he managed to meet some incredible people along the way. What a journey it was. As Nike’s long time slogan states, “Just Do It.” That slogan was at the core of everything Phil Knight and his team believed every step of the way. If they just did it, than the rest would fall into place.
My Key Takeaways, Action Steps, & Resources
- Nike was able to build a universally known brand, because they had a vision and a focus. They were able to leverage each of their individual expertise,’ but more-so the expertise of them as a group. Together, they were a force to be reckoned with. They were a team.
- Start building or build upon relationships
- Connect with somebody you haven’t spoken with in a long time (LinkedIn is a great place to start) The power of connections is invaluable. Reach out and see if there’s something you can help with. That will go a long way in your own journey.
- Go out and meet new people. Meetup.com is a great resource for that. Join a Meetup group or host one yourself. The people you will meet can change your life, and undoubtedly you can change theirs.
- Phil Knight and Co. were able to build such an incredible company, because they had a purpose. They were motivated by their circumstances, by their families and by each other. “If you have a why, you can conquer any how.”
- Think about your purpose on this earth. What are you here to accomplish? Who are you here to help? Everyone is meant for something, and everything happens for a reason. Be that reason for someone else.
- Contribute or donate to an organization or cause you believe in. It doesn’t always need to be in the form of money. It can be moral support, volunteer work, technical advise and much more. Donate your time. Donate your expertise. Donate your blood. Make a change in the world today, for tomorrow will be better, because of it. Check out places like Kickstarter.com or GoFundMe.com to get some inspiration for causes to invest in. Seek help and seek to provide help.
- If it were not for perseverance, Nike may have not endured through all the battles they were forced to face. If you want to be like Nike, never give up and allow yourself to be inspired.
- Speak with people more experienced than you in any given topic. Learn what they know and practice it. Ask questions and maintain curiosity.
- Go on Youtube and watch inspirational videos of those enduring and overcoming different types of battles. Listen to motivation music as well. Practice meditation. Practice what you preach.
- Find inspiration from those that inspire you. If it’s somebody like Tony Robbins – then learn about what makes him tick. If it’s your doctor, be inquisitive towards them and offer to help. Reach out to your local politicians and see how you could make a difference. Get your name out there.
It’s time to make a difference in the world, and it’s time to make a difference in your world.