This memoir was very powerful to me because I could draw many similarities of where Phil Knight was (as the Founder of Nike) in the infancy of growing his business, which is now worth over $30 Billion. The struggles of growing a “crazy idea” and having it flourish is not only extremely rare, but loaded with non-stop challenges along the way. Phil confirms that Nike (or Blue Ribbon as it was initially called) spent over 2 decades on the verge of bankruptcy. This is very hard to believe because people only see the destination, not the journey, however this book explores that journey from start to present day.
So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy . . . just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.
Quality and innovation were always the goal and focus. Co-Founder Bill Bowerman really brought some revolutionary ideas to the tables as he was constantly making custom adjustments to his athletes shoes for track competitions. I can’t imagine modifying any of the athletic shoes that I wore during my careers, but the weight and comfort were big issues back them for all athletic brands.
A few surprising points from the book:
- Phil Knight wanted to call the company/brand “Dimension 6” instead of “Nike”
- Carolyn Davidson, a Portland State University student, designed the Swoosh for $35
- Knight wasn’t a fan of advertising and constantly didn’t want to spend money on it
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in business growth as it’s comforting to hear other people’s struggles and how they overcome the odds and feelings of throwing in the towel when things are most challenging. One of the things I enjoyed hearing about was how he balanced his love and passion as a “Shoe Dog” with his family life. There seemed to be a lot of pain in Phil’s words about his relationship with his children, specifically his son Matthew who passed away in 2004. No matter what the business, family always comes first.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on Nike?