Nike was created by a guy named Phil Knight. He’s the one who’s taken the sneakers and running shoes industry to a new level, in a time when nobody was really thinking about innovation or growth but rather about how to stay the same forever. He was a crazy guy who’s travelled the world to find himself, only to discover that his true self has always been within.
During this lockdown, I’m reading way more than ever before. My favourite books? Biographies. I love reading about how other people have dealt with their issues, and solved them. Because I enjoy seeing how people came up with ideas, most of them changing the world, and then put them into practice. Or how they’ve transformed their dreams of becoming the best of the best.
Phil Knight has an incredible story. I will not go into details about it, as doing so will spoil the book but if you want to read about how you can start from nothing, and become the creator of one of the most recognisable logos on the planet, you need to read “Shoe Dog”. Buy it now, and just enjoy this thrilling book about life, business, passion and turning the world upside down.
And since there’s no way for me to summarise the book in a few paragraphs without spoiling the action, I’ve noted some of the most awesome things that I’ve learned from Phil while reading his book. Quotes, or phrases, whatever you want to call them. These life lessons are coming from a guy whose products I use on a daily basis. His shoes are incredible and have changed my life.
1. How to overcome stress
“In periods of stress and grief, not only does your mind do funny things, you say things that surprise you.”
Stress is an everyday occurrence. It comes in different shapes and sizes. Mostly it is translated into either horrific things that we say, or do. The mind is the most affected as it plays tricks on us. Yet Phil says that the mind also has us say things that are surprising. To us and to those around us. It was under stress that he was able to make the decision that made Nike what it is.
2. How to get ahead
“I am a man who has always needed heroes.”
This man has built a brand who’s familiar to all of us. It is one of the most easily recognisable pieces of design on Earth. You’d think he’s a rock. A powerhouse. Yet throughout the book his main focus is to constantly remind readers about his heroes. His coach Bill Bowerman, his father, his wife and Japanese partners. Having heroes is a sign of maturity and growth.
3. How to move forward
“You’ve got to worry about what’s coming up to stay ahead of the curve.”
The only way to move forward in life is to worry about the next day. Not a crippling worry. Healthy worry. Because when you worry, you naturally look for ideas and solutions. When you worry about what’s next, you will be able to think forward and therefore stay above the danger line. This is how Phil Knight invested in the new company Nike, while selling Tiger shoes from Japan.
4. How to change the world
“The way to stay ahead was through product innovation. We happened to be great at it. While technology is still important, the consumer has to lead innovation.” – Phil Knight
The famous swoosh, the Nike logo, cost $35 at the time. A good amount of money but still, extremely cheap for what it became. One of the most recognisable logos on the planet. Nike shoes were innovative in their essence. New ways of making the soles, the actual shoe, the aired surfaces. And it all came from consumers and their needs. Find a need, sell the solution.
How to be successful
“You only have to succeed the last time.”
Before making his first millions with the Nike shoes, Phil Knight failed a lot. He failed in his personal, as well as his professional life. Yet he kept on pushing. Selling more shoes and buying inventory he had no money for. Loaning to banks he couldn’t afford. Being sued by huge corporations, barely making it out alive. He kept failing. Until the last time, when he succeeded.
6. How to climb Mount Fuji
“There were many ways down Mount Fuji, according to my guidebook, but only one way up. Life lesson in that. I told myself: Life is growth. You grow or you die.”
While in Japan, Phil learned a ton about Japanese culture and the way of business making in the country. He used to read a book over and over again about it while on the plane towards Tokyo. Like with Mount Fuji, there are many ways up in life. Business, family, career. But only one way down. Death. When you stop growing for even a tiny bit, you are dead.
7. How to educate people
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
Instructing people on what you want them to do for you is one thing. Giving them step-by-step instructions might be okay in a factory but when you’re dealing with innovation, with products and ideas, it’s destructive to do this. People can surprise you a lot if you give them the freedom for it. Let them know you need this done. No other instruction. And have them create!
8. How to get lucky
“Put it this way. The harder you work, the better your luck.”
Luck is a made-up thing. Just as a negative thought is. There is no such thing as negative or positive thoughts. They’re thoughts. If you think they’re this or that, if you make them like this or like that then yes, they’re negative or positive. So it is with luck. Hard work is the only source of luck. Creating your own luck through work is 100% working. Wishing for luck…
Good luck with that!
Hi! My name is Gabriel, nice to meet you.
I run Gabriel Iosa Writing Services, my online dream business that’s now 4 years in the making. I’ve also worked as a journalist for 9 years and counting. My job is to come up with the best content for you regardless if it’s for your blog, website, book, social media posts or anything else. I can also help you with organic or paid reach so that you can put your products or services right in front of your future clients.
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