Seven Lessons that Landscape Leaders Can Learn from Nike and Phil Knight, its founder.

Jul 30, 2019 | Growth Tips

I read many books with my peer group members; lately we have been reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.

The book is superb. The challenge is to translate these good stories into tangible lessons and actions.

So I have done that work for you.

Here are 7 tangible lessons that you will learn from reading this book. (Don’t worry, there are no spoiler alerts here.)

1. Your employees need a BIG IDEA to follow. Great founders like Phil give their employees a larger purpose to latch onto. Growth for growth’s sake doesn’t count. Nike’s was two fold, Beat Adidas, and Change the world by making sneakers accessible as every day wear. Most companies don’t take the time to figure out their big idea. When you do, that gives you an advantage.

What’s your big idea?

2. Cohesion comes from a band of brothers and sisters. Building a strong culture and a cohesive team requires identifying the special type of employee you are looking for. For Nike it was very unique: competitive runners. People who liked to go running every night to let off steam, who ran together, who liked to compete against their own times and also beat their competitors.

Have you boiled down the key characteristics you are looking for in your team members?

3. It not about the money. The driving force for Phil Knight and his cohorts was never money. They were driven week-to-week to achieve their dream. Phil never made money the main thing. What dream is your team chasing?

Are you keeping your dream front and center every week?

4. The big innovations didn’t come from the founder. Phil Knight was the leader of the pack, but the innovations and even the cool branding was developed by his band of cohorts. It’s an excellent measure of his leadership (cultivating those ideas) and a measure of the quality of his team (to produce those idea).

Where do the innovative ideas come from in your organization?

5. Take your team with you on the journey. Phil took his team away annually for strategic planning. And sent them on trips to set up the company across the country. You can do the same: take them away for strategic retreats, take them to events to learn what you learn.

(Many of my clients do the same, brining them to my retreat center down in New Orleans). It’s a team journey.

Are you bringing enough of your team on your journey?

6. Make Big Bets. Phil Knight did this from the beginning. Making transatlantic flights to meet key people. He bet on himself and his big idea. He then made bets on new technology (waffles, Air Jordans) He then made big bets by sponsoring big stars.

Are you making enough big bets?

7. Get clarity upfront in a new relationship. Phil did this with his foreign partners. Are you doing this with key hires? new vendors? Honesty up front allows for a resilient relationship.

You can’t win the race worrying if your sneaker laces are tied.

BONUS #8. Take advantage of serendipity, Phil did this by not getting lost in the day to day weeds. And by seizing the day when the opportunity came around. Phil had good counsel so he never shot from the hip, but he also didn’t allow the ideas to pass him by.

Do you have good counsel, so you can take advantage as big opportunities arise?

Your Challenge. Add this book to your summer reading list. You will love it!.