I just finished Phil Knight’s (founder of Nike) excellent memoir called “Shoe Dog” and I highly recommend it as it is fun, interesting, and educational.
Knight started in 1963, selling shoes from his car-trunk. He ended up revolutionizing the shoe industry by turning running shoes into a fashion statement and taking athlete endorsements to an entirely new level – think Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. He now has a net worth of $25 billion.
Here are few interesting takeaways from “Shoe Dog” (This is Part I, Part II to follow):
1. Not Too Proud. Knight had an MBA from Stanford but ended up selling encyclopedias door to door, stocks in a boiler room, and shoes from his car. He did what he had to do despite his excellent pedigree.
2. Hated Selling. Knight hated selling until he found something he was passionate about (shoes). At that point, selling was no longer selling; it was just information sharing.
3. Kept Day Job. Knight didn’t just plunge into the shoe business. He went back to school and got his CPA (after his MBA) and worked at Price Waterhouse and as a Professor for years until he could afford to quit.
4. Didn’t Overreact. Knight endured horrible back-stabbings and undercutting from suppliers, employees, gov’t, and competitors. He got very depressed, but he never overreacted. Instead, he evaluated his options and fought on when almost anyone else would have given up. THIS is probably the best lesson of all from the book.
5. Nobody Took Themselves Too Seriously. Knight and his all senior managers referred to themselves and their meetings as “butt-faces.” We probably won’t be doing that at JVM. :)
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