Life lessons from the shoe dog — success in small steps.

And what’s this. That’s a swoosh. What the hell’s a swoosh?

The exchange as a gaggle of sales people gathered around the company Blue Ribbon, before later it would become Nike Inc, could have easily been that’s the sound of air when a potential future $82 billion valuation of its founder Phil Knight disappears without trace.

The name dreamt up by runner Phil Knight’s employee number one Jeff Johnson, also a runner back in the 70s and that swoosh which was the sound of air going by, could all nearly not have made it.

Life’s story seem so neat and easily packaged on reflection. We find ways to piece together these hero journeys — how one man battled the odds to make it. That is Nike in some way, but the undulating rumble of his life and achievements makes this an exceptional read. We can’t unknow Nike, but we can think how there’s someone, if not many people out there now following equally brazing paths, yet to be discovered. There time will come.

If you’re in the mood for a ripping drama-filled read to sustain the Christmas cheer, faux pas in cases, then can I recommend Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. Breathlessly riveting, I’ve rarely picked up a book, and I do read quite a few, that I’ve has its accelerator flat. Getting through the book in almost one sitting of its 350 odd pages took between six and seven hours. I lost track of time.

I bought the book as a present for my nephew, a young entrepreneur, but in the process of wrapping it read the first page, and then the next, and by the time I’d realised I’d committed the gravest sin of Christmas and book wrapping. Shhhhhhh don’t tell my nephew, but at least I know enough about it to urge my nephew to give the book dog ears.

Nike could have been Dimension Six, its founder forced into making a decision in a split second, and we may have thought lesser of this gift for a brand. Knight could have lost a trade infringement and gone under from a multimillion tax invoice. The pretty woman he fell for at university as her lecturer, could almost not have happened, but she would become his rock. And then there’s heartfelts which will pull hard on your emotions. I’ve been vague somewhat in my description to allow you to enjoy the unfolding plot.

Reviewing the book, a familiar pattern emerges amongst entrepreneurs and creatives I’ve studied both as an academic as well as carrying an intense interest in what makes someone a success. I thought I shared those with you as we hurtle into a new year.

  1. Staying power. The ability to stay the course and be dogged when other voices say otherwise. Do something you know. This is also the PhD creed.
  2. Finding a support network — a group of strongly-minded friends and family you’ll need for the many bumps ahead.
  3. Knowing that you’ll encounter that big event which will be your Damascus moment. It’ll break or make you. If you emerge the other side, yes, you’ll be stronger for the experience. Challenges therefore are inevitable.
  4. Risk taking and the poker bluff. It’s remarkable how many times I’ve seen or read this in action , a sort of who dares wins, when people inflate what they can do as a risk and then set about doing it.
  5. Converting your star power into a brand investing in other things.

Today Nike is known for more than its running. It is a living zen thing — a brand employing thousands that exudes values many of us aspire for, winning and success. Blue Ribbon’s passion in taking something we all do, and turning that into a belief that can change our lives is Nike’s spirit self. We all do this thing — Run. We’re runners.

Happy Christmas.

Coming up soon Future of Story — it’s not what you might think @viewmagazine

Image for post
Image for post

Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store