I am coming up on the last few hours of my book of the week. I am actually reading two or three books and I have finished multiple books since I last wrote a review, but this is the book I wanted to write on because the message was so powerful. Since we last did a book review I have read School of Greatness, Zero to One, and Wheelbarrow Profits. All were great books. But the one with the strongest message to me was Shoe Dog.
Shoe Dog stood out to me because it gives you an inside look into an iconic brand. One of my favorite past times is to study successful people to see how they got where they are so that I can follow in their steps. Shoe Dog granted me insight into certain things that most people don’t know about Nike or its founder Phil Knight. For starters, Phil was born into a fairly well to do family. His father was a newspaper publisher, they had a good life. Therefore, he had somewhat of a leg up. This is not a bad thing it is just a thing. If you have advantages, lean on them. If you dont, find a way to capitalize on whatever circumstances you have.
What also stands out to me most is that Phil was a CPA, Certified Public Accountant. I have an accounting background and I have a mother who is a CPA so I know that most accountants are exposed to high level business practices from the inside. They see the books, records and tax returns of super successful people. Since success leaves clues, looking at these items helps you figure out a way to accomplish the same for yourself. Accountants tend to do well in business because they understand numbers and how businesses function. One of the points Phil made was that through his line of work he was able to see how other companies were successfully run and what separated them from the failed companies.
Another thing that stood out was the fact that Phil was a Stanford MBA. Most people just assume that you can start a company and win but Phil had the qualifications not just the ideas. There are a ton of college drop out billionaires but I would argue that there are more wealthy college grad CEOs than there are non college grad CEOs. So Phil had it all going for himself. He had no reason to not succeed. Another good thing is that Phil was able to pull in other talented people from his pool of Stanford MBA, Oregon athletes and CPA ranks.
As I was driving to the office I had a thought. When Phil Knight was in his MBA program he created the idea of Blue Ribbon Shoes which morphed into Nike at a later time. Basically his idea was not to create a brand per se, but to capitalize on the low cost of labor in china and produce shoes at a low cost that he could sell in America for full price, thus creating huge margin. When he pitched this idea to people they turned him down and laughed at it because they had never seen it done. Phil was highly qualified and knowledgeable, he analyzed the information, did the research and then pitched it to someone who spent thirty seconds thinking about if it was possible. The problem is that they didn’t do the research or the analysis. Thus I think they could only compare his idea to either what they have already seen done or what they thought that THEY could do. Never let someone who spent 30 seconds on your idea talk you out of something you spent 4 years creating. They are operating with limited thinking.
On the road to success there will be a ton of people who will doubt what you want to do because they haven’t spent the time figuring out HOW to do it. They will spend 30 seconds on your idea because they are focused on their own problems. Don’t let people count you out or tell you what isn’t possible. Making Nike happen was no cake walk but because it was backed by someone who considered it his life’s work and an extension of him, Nike changed the world. I want to encourage you to seek validation from yourself, not your peers, not your family and not anyone other than you. If you have a dream or a goal just execute on it and make it come to life. All things are possible.