Shoe Dog,” tells the story of Nike.

Phil Knight, the co-founder of the world-famous brand, is the author. 

It’s a compelling read.

Anybody who has started a business or is running one (pardon the pun) will find much they can relate to in the struggles and upheavals described. 

In the early days of Nike, everyone with a key role in the business was a runner. 

They were advocates filled with missionary zeal.

They needed their unshakeable belief, given the opposition the new business faced. 

In the early 1960s, when Nike, originally called Blue Ribbon, came into being, sports shoes were dominated by two firms, Adidas and Puma. 

Interestingly, the owners of each of those rivals were two German brothers who hated each other.

The brothers had the sports footwear market pretty much sewn up and, due to the absence of brotherly love, always sought to destroy the other sibling. 

Phil Knight’s interest in running and sports footwear sprang from the fact that he was a talented runner. He was always interested in shoes and the part they could play in improving performance. 

His early employees shared the same interest. 

Interest is too weak a word. Passion would be a more accurate description. 

It’s why they worked all hours, drove to running meets all over the US and provided Phil Knight with myriad ideas even though in the early days he didn’t want or appreciate them. 

Nike’s first employee was Jeff Johnson. 

His ideas to quote Knight “came tumbling through the mail slot like a waterfall.”

Knight being an introvert by nature, didn’t welcome Johnson’s enthusiasm and didn’t reply to most of his correspondence. 

Well, not to begin with anyway. Later, Johnson became one of Knight’s most trusted partners in the business. 

Those early co-workers helped Knight do what seemed impossible. 

They helped topple the domination of Adidas and Puma, but they also transformed the sports and leisure footwear and clothing markets. 

As we know, trainers and sneakers are now fashion as well as sports equipment. Some are  collector’s items and can fetch many times their original retail price. 

It’s a long way from those early days of standing trackside advertising; 

“Best news in flats! Japan challenges European track domination!”

The role of people, both good and bad, is one of Shoe Dog’s most vital elements. 

This team achieved incredible things and overcame massive obstacles. 

Do you ever wonder how your team could be more productive and more cohesive? 

If so, you might be interested to know that this is the subject covered in depth in the current issue of the Quietly Good Newsletter.

It’s titled “The Team Management Issue”, and it provides a blueprint for building a motivated and productive team. 

To see what’s covered, visit this page on our website. 

Very best,

David O’Beirne 

Published On: June 14th, 2021 / Categories: Performance Improvement, Team Building, The Quietly Good Newsletter /

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