Lessons Learned From Phil Knight
Recently I just finished reading Shoe Dog: A Memoir by Phil Knight. This book is one of the best books I read so far. Shoe Dog gave a roller coaster of emotions, and it left me inspired to execute my great idea.
Phil Knight’s journey started in 1962 when he decided to talk to his father about his dream of traveling around the world and his Crazy Idea. He wanted to explore different kinds of culture, environment, taste other kinds of foods, climb the Himalayas and execute his Crazy Idea. He was an inquisitive individual.
Once he got his parents approval, he felt that this trip will change his life.
It was a make or break situation for Mr. Knight. Then, one day he finally got to Japan. Japan back in those days is very different compared to what it is now. It was just the end of World War 2, the Americans and Japanese aren’t in good terms during those times. After exploring a little bit of Japan, he phoned Onitsuka to make an appointment to pitch his Crazy Idea.
When he met with Onitsuka executives the next day, he was asked what company he represents. Mr. Knight back then didn’t have a store or even an office. So what did he answer to these officials? He said, “ Blue Ribbon Sports of Portland, Oregon.” The name Blue Ribbon came from the blue ribbons from track(Phil Knight was a runner when he was young) that he used to cover his walls. The Japanese thought that this company really exists.
After a successful meeting with Onitsuka, Knight continued his travel around the world. He traveled to Hong Kong, Philippines, Kenya, Istanbul, France, Bangkok, India, Vietnam, Jerusalem and London.
As his shoe business was expanding every year, he hired his coach Bowerman, his track friends, his student who became his Wife Penny, lawyers and some recommendation of his close friends. Those booming years of Blue Ribbon were difficult because he had to battle lawsuits with Onitsuka, difficulty getting bank loans, and tax issues with the US government. But with the help of his friends, encouragement from his wife and family, Phil Knight accomplishes his Great Idea.
You may not be familiar with Blue Ribbon Sports these days. It’s because they have a different name which is Nike.
The story of Phil Knight is a fantastic and honest reminder for all of us that the path to a successful business is a difficult path.
To achieve success, you must walk on that difficult path with persistence, purpose and passion. There will always be naysayers and tell you that your goal is too big and impossible to achieve. There will be times when reality will give you challenges and lessons in a way you don’t expect it to be. The trials will help you become a better person.
As you reach success, remind yourself and your group to keep your egos in check. Ego is a success killer.
Always push yourself to improve. Nike built a culture and evolved day in and day out. Phil Knight was never satisfied with his current success. He and his team was always looking for better ideas to improve his shoes.
If you have that crazy idea go ahead and execute it. You must alter your perspective. Look at it this way, Phil Knight accomplished his crazy idea without great technology back then. Fast forward to 2019, you have better accessibility and technology.
As you noticed, the story of Phil Knight in this blog post is short. I did it on purpose. I want you to read his book. I want you to be inspired and motivated after reading his story.
“Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever left.” - Phil Knight