Image: CNK/Chan-Lo

I love to read. Getting lost in books and a glass of wine is always a good time to me, but with life and building a business, I found myself making less and less time to finish the books I started. So, a few months ago I decided to make a concerted effort to feed my mind more. Instead of indulging in mindless TV I decided to pick up a book when I needed some me time. It has been amazingly refreshing so, I thought I'd share my current read - it's pretty applicable to what we do here. :)

Phil Knight, the pioneering business executive who recently stepped down as Nike chairman in June, said that after earning his Master’s degree from Stanford in his mid-twenties, he felt “like the same shy, pale, rail-thin kid I’d always been” and had never “done the unexpected." Knight, who published his memoir, Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, writes about his “crazy idea” to build a sneaker company and his drive to “just keep going." In the process, he's not only given us the blueprint for building an empire - he's given us hope and something to inspire to.

While his journey led him to build one of the world's largest and most profitable companies, it was the struggle, the fight, and the often uncertain future of his "Blue Ribbon" idea that made Nike what it is today.  

If you haven't read it, or even if you have, we've compiled five quotes that really hit home from the book. These are quotes that I've written down in my journal, pinned up on my vision board, and found comfort in as I too chase my dream. 

1. You've got to want to win.

But deep down I was searching for something else, something more. I had an aching sense that our time here is short, shorter than we ever know, short as a morning run, and I wanted mine to be meaningful. And purposeful. And creative. and important. Above all ... different. I wanted to leave a mark on the world. I wanted to win. No, that’s not right. I simply didn’t want to lose.

2. The most epic things sometimes come out of disappointment.

To name its first futuristic looking shoe, “Bowerman liked ‘Aztec,’ in homage to the 1968 Olympics, which were being held in Mexico City. I liked that, too. Fine, Onitsuka said. The Aztec was born. And then Adidas threated to sue. Adidas already had a new shoe named the ‘Azteca Gold.’” Knight continued: Bowerman “took off his ball cap, put it on again, rubbed his face. ‘Who was that guy who kicked the shit out of the Aztecs?’ he asked. ‘Cortez,’ I said. He grunted. ‘Okay. Let’s call it the Cortez.’

*Side note*: The Cortez has been my favorite Nike shoe.  I have multiple colors and I'll never give them up.  Seeing the story behind this sneaker made me giddy. Like, giggles and hand claps.

3. There is power and new life in giving up. There is nothing in stopping altogether.

And those who urge entrepreneurs to never give up? Charlatans. Sometimes you have to give up. Sometimes knowing when to give up, when to try something else, is genius. Giving up doesn’t mean stopping. Don’t ever stop.

4. Get used to the bullseye.

I would like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bulls-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bullseye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s the law of nature.

5. Find purpose in your failures - then do better.

Fear of failure, I thought, will never be our downfall as a company. Not that any of us thought we wouldn’t fail; in fact we had every expectation that we would. But when we did fail, we had faith that we’d do it fast, learn from it, and be better for it.

My main take away? If you want to know how successful people became successful, read their stories. There is usually no big science to it. Nor is there a strict formula that only a few know.  It's all in the DESIRE for more than what's expected, a YEARN for the freedom to do something that matters to you, and the GUTS to pursue your passion even in the face of loss, failure, and changes.  

Awesome read. SWOOSH.

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