Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
Author: Phil Knight
Bill Gates reads 52 books a year. Recently in an interview he cites Shoe Dog as one of the top 5 books he read all year. That endorsement motivated me to invest time and money to read it….and am I glad. Here are some nuggets I found.
Page 5: In the introduction Knight proclaims: “Whatever comes, just don’t quit.”
Note: In the fundraising world, resiliency is critical. The profession has an 18-month turnover rate. In this book, Knight shows many times he was confronted with challenges that could have caused him to quit. He never did.
Page 31: Knight quotes Confucius: “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
Note: Sometimes our goals, both personal and professional, seem too large to ever realize. It took Knight 12 years to realize his dream.
Page 35: Knight is enthralled with General Patton. His study of Patton influenced how he related to his talented executive team. Quoting Patton he writes: “Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
Note: Staff relations are a challenge for many development offices. To follow Patton’s “rule” requires an office with a great deal of individual wisdom.
Page 47: When Knight was a student at the University of Oregon he was on the track team. His coach was Bill Bowerman. Not only was Bowerman his coach but also became the co-founder of Nike. Knight writes this about his coach. “The most famous track coach in America, Bowerman never considered himself a track coach. He detested being call COACH. Given his background, his makeup, he naturally thought of track as a means to an end. He called himself a PROFESSOR OF COMPETITIVE RESPONSES, and his job, as he saw it, and often described it, was to get you ready for the struggles and competitions that lay ahead.”
Note: As the percentage shrinks of those in America that have wealth, every nonprofit institution competes against other nonprofit institutions for the attention of these potential donors. Most of these institutions have very good development knowledge. We believe that those who have development wisdom (competitive responses) will win the hearts and gifts of major donors.
Page 55: As a teenager and young adult, Knight repeatedly failed in selling. He even tried selling encyclopedias, and he despised it. He had a little more success, but not enough to survive, selling mutual funds, but he said he felt “dead inside.” Then he starting selling shoes. What made it different. Listen to his words, : “I realized, it wasn’t selling. I BELIEVED in running. I believed that if people got out a ran a few miles every day, the world would be a better place, and I believed these shoes were better to run in. People, sensing my belief, wanted some of the belief for themselves. BELIEF, I DECIDED. BELIEF IS IRRESISTIBLE!”
Note: As a firm we believe it is critical for a person to understand their unique purpose of “Why.” We also know that unless a person’s “Why” fits with their institutions “Why” then they just have a job. But if there is alignment, they will soar, because they BELIEVE they are fulfilling their life’s purpose. At Crouch & Associates we call it Presence with Purpose!
Page 281: Several times a year Knight would gather with his inner circle to discuss whether they were staying focused on their ultimate goal… their “Why.” He writes, “Money wasn’t our aim, we agreed. Money wasn’t our end game. But whatever our aim or end, money was the only means to get there.”
Note: Sometimes as development officers our end game is money...staying on top of our matrices… hitting our goals… celebrating our accomplishments. This is important because it takes money to impact lives with social services, medical research and education. But we should never forget that ultimately what we are about is making a difference!
Page 298: Knight says one of his greatest assets was his team. “Despite our hijinks, our eccentricities, despite our physical limitations, I concluded in 1976 that we were a formidable team.” A Harvard business professor studying NIKE came to the same conclusion and Knight quotes him, “Normally, if one manager at a company can think tactically (knowledge) and strategically (wisdom), that company has a strong future. But boy are you lucky: More than half the Buttfaces think that way!”
Note: We believe that the combination of knowledge and wisdom is what sets the stage for fundraising success. With our Development Star assessment tool, we can help current staff members be more self-aware and move toward a higher wisdom threshold.
Page 312: As Nike began to get traction, Knight hired a new advertising agency. They developed a new advertising campaign….It showed a single runner on a country road, surrounded by tall Douglas firs. Oregon, clearly. The copy read, “Beating the competition is relatively easy. Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.”
Note: Low self esteem? Negative voices talking in your head? Reacting to surroundings that give you negative vibes? Receiving goals that seem unrealistic? All of these become distractions that keep us from reaching our fullest potential and connecting with the power of our “Why.” Focusing on strengthening your vertical intelligence (self wisdom) is critical for a full life.
Page 355: It became exhausting dealing with Investment Bankers as he considered taking NIKE public. He knew he had to be tough, full of grit. He reminded himself, “The cowards never started and the weak died along the way.”
Note: Enough said…..grit, determination, persistence, resiliency….. these are always in the mix of top performers!
Page 377: Speaking about young entrepreneur students, he says, “it would be nice to help them avoid discouragements. I’d tell them to hit pause, think long and hard about how they want to spend their time, and with whom they want to spend it for the next forty years. I’ll tell men and women in their mid twenties not to settle for a job or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you ever felt!”
Note: The PAUSE is a key component of top performers. It takes discipline to step back occasionally and ask wisdom questions of oneself.
Page 370: Hear these words of Knight as he looks back on his journey, “I hear these words often. It is just business. It’s never just business. It never will be. If it ever does become just business, that will mean that business is very bad.” A paragraph later he writes, “You measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.”
Note: Enough said!