Success Lessons for Entrepreneurs from the Founder of Nike, Phil Knight.

Success Lessons for Entrepreneurs from the Founder of Nike, Phil Knight.

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At the moment the idea of following a traditional career path seems to be losing its appeal. Salaries haven’t grown beyond the rate of inflation, the demanded hours are increasing and business lunches are few and far between. The accelerated growth of companies like Uber, Bumble and AirBnB are turning the spotlight on a new career path: that of the entrepreneur. Whilst appealing in many ways, to be a successful entrepreneur requires greater dedication and personal risk than more traditional roles. If you want to be one of the exceptional ones it pays to really understand what success takes. One man who knows exactly what it takes is Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. In 2018 he was ranked at 29 on the Forbes Rich List with an estimated net worth of $29.6 Billion. In 2016, Phil Knight published his memoir, ‘Shoe Dog’.

The book was recommended publicly by Bill Gates and, while I will share some of the key take outs, I would highly recommend reading it as Knight’s writing style has such charm and character. The memoir incorporates his emotions and sources of inspiration throughout his journey, providing a charming insight into the inner workings of an ambitious mind. That mind of the ultimate entrepreneur to whom failure is fine but the option not to try, doesn’t exist.

On ambition:

“What if there were a way, without being an athlete, to feel what athlete’s feel? To play all the time, instead of working? Or else to enjoy work so much it becomes essentially the same thing?”

“A tiger hunts best when he’s hungry”

“I wanted what everyone wants. To be me, full-time.”

On blocking out the haters:

“I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy…just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is… just don’t stop…Half a century later, I believe it’s the best advice-maybe the only advice-any of us should ever give.”

On the downsides:

“Front runners always work the hardest, and risk the most”

On perception vs. reality:

“Industry watchers pointed to our new factories, and our sales, and said we were unstoppable. Few imagined we were broke. Or that our head of marketing was wallowing in a depression.”

On the advice he’d give to wannabe entrepreneurs:

“It would be nice to help them avoid the typical discouragements…I’d tell men and women in their mid-twenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even career. Seek a calling.

“Have faith in yourself, but also have faith in faith. Not faith as others define it. Faith as you define it. Faith as faith defines itself in your heart.”


Lexy is a writer, DJ and marketing professional living in London. She is a gemini and a feminist who loves coffee and leather trousers.

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