Welcome to episode 101. Next week we will return to NLP with more advanced discussions on the subject. But today I want to talk about a recent discovery.
Today we talk about Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I just finished reading this and I highly recommend it. This book will not tell you how Knight run a shoe factory or give you a blueprint for building a multi-billion dollar sporting goods enterprise. However it will give you some insights on how Knight grew his business from just a dream to what it is today. It is an entertaining story, a biography of sorts. Right after graduating college Phil Knight wanted to travel around the world before settling down into a day job. But he also had a dream about selling the Japanese athletic shoes made by Tiger, in the USA. He went to their corporate office during his worldly traveling and got a meeting with their corporate officials. He struck a deal on the spot to sell shoes. He had to make up a name for his company, that didn’t even exist at the time: Blue Ribbon. He also got his former track coach, Bill Bowerman, to go in with him on his initial venture.
Here are some key takeaways from the book:
Nike spent 2 decades struggling financially in order to grow at the fastest rate possible.
Innovation and quality were the most important goals.
Many people worked hard and sacrificed. Phil had much help.
Phil and his core people were shoe dogs, dedicated to their craft. They were driven.
Knight was very competitive (especially with Adidas).
They often made it by the skin of their teeth, and almost failed a few times.
An honest version of how an entrepreneur grew a business from zero to a multi-billion dollar operation.
Ingredients to success: Hard work, time, smarts, wins and losses, luck, timing, help.
Phil paid an art student $35 for the swoosh logo. He struggled to pick Nike for a name.
Nike wasn’t even the original name of his company, it was Blue Ribbon, made up on the spot.
The book lends itself very well to audio since it reads like a story, similar to Malcolm Gladwell books.
This podcast isn’t just about the book Shoe Dogs. I saw a message in the book that I need to elaborate upon.
I saw how Phil Knight and his small band of shoe dogs were passionate about the shoe business. It wasn’t about money in the beginning because they were barely able to stay afloat for the initial years.
Think about what motivates an employee vs. an entrepreneur vs. a hobbyist/amateur. Let us start with the employee. Employee is someone who works for a paycheck. They may or may not pursue their dreams. Actually most of the time they do not. In many studies it seems that the typical employee is not engaged fully in their work.
There was a Gallup poll of employee engagement that stated only 2 out of 10 employees were fully engaged in the workplace.
Definition: Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.
Entrepreneurs and hobbyists are fully engaged most of the time in their endeavors. If a hobbyist did not find their activity engaging, they would stop doing it or find something else to do. The Entrepreneur is required to be fully engaged to be successful. In the book Shoe Dog, Phil Knight gives countless examples of how he was fully engaged in the work it took Nike to become successful.
There will be times when an entrepreneur needs to perform activities they don’t find pleasurable, some times it can be completely insufferable. However they push through those times and get to the more fulfilling stuff. There was an example in another book, I believe it was Andres Ericsson’s book Peak. He talked about how a world class swimmer mentioned that he hated getting up at 4am to swim for 3 hours a day, staring at the pool floor and pushing himself until his muscles burned and his chest was about to explode. The swimmer pushed through the hard parts because he has drive and passion for swimming.
It can be hard for an employee to be so fully emotionally committed to helping someone else realize their dreams or get rich. Can you blame them?
So what fueled Phil Knight? Or his initial employees? Why were they so emotionally committed to the cause of making shoes? This was their WHY. As Simon Sinek made famous, knowing your why is vital to success.
Simon Sinek, know your why.
The Wright brothers were driven by a belief they could fly.
Steve Jobs was driven by a belief he could build a better computer.
MLK Jr. was driven by a belief that he had a dream.
Phil Knight was driven by a belief he could make a better athletic shoe.
You must attract those who believe what you believe in.
The Wright brothers, Steve Jobs, and Phil Knight were driven by their WHY.
Ashrita Fuman pushes himself to break records to seek enlightenment and happiness.
Ashrita knows his why.
only 2 out of 10 get to experience optimized work.
As you get older, you become more of who you are now. People rarely change.
Strengths aren’t what you’re good at. Strengths are what excite you.
After hours of doing your strength, time flies. You are jazzed, not drained.
A weakness leaves you weaker after you’ve done it. A strength leaves you feeling stronger.
Don’t focus on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths.