What NIKE Story Taught Me

I was forgetting Italian and wanted to read more in Italian.

The problem was that I was a lot into business literature and many of it would have sound weird written in a language that was supposedly made for opera singing.

The switch occurred on a book I will mention later on and it was so frustrating reading the English language through the translation. Don’t get me wrong: there was nothing bad with the translation itself, the point was that I had been reading in English language for more than one year.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by the formidable British classicist Mary Beard, lead me to a fantastic journey questioning my past, my culture and looking at history through modern eyes.

It made me remember of an anecdote once told by Marc Bloch on the Belgian historian  Henri Pirenne.

Visiting Stockholm he was asked which monument he would have liked to visit, and his answer was a curious one: he heard of the new town hall building and apparently wanted to start from there.

The reason? He was not an antiquarian, but a historian, this is why he loved life.

The experience was beautiful but I had to carefully check the next one, to find something slightly different (in topic) that could let me read in Italian without leading me out of my path.

The answer was Shoe Dog: a Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight AKA the Creator of NIKE.

Much to my dismay, the title is translated in the Italian version as literally “The Art of Victory”.

I threw the book in a mental bucket and decided to read something else.

Then I watched an Italian YouTuber talking about how he enjoyed the book and I decided to give it a try.

Never too banal is the saying: never judge a book by his cover.

Shoe dog is a business love story, where a young crazy guy pursues his dreams starting from a presentation he gave during a lesson in a Small Business class at Stanford University.

Far from being an useless motivational guide for success (as the Italian translated title suggested to me), Shoe Dog is about why business cannot just be about business.

I found particularly interesting the exact point where what is now Nike Inc. was born (at that point it was the Blue Ribbon Sports).

There is this young man from Portland (Oregon) basically holding his class presentation in front of a Japanese shoes company (Onitsuka) and talking about how Japanese sportswear could overcome the European industry the same way as it did with cameras.

Beware there is no company at all that day nor in the room and neither in Oregon.

But this is how the company literally came to life:
blue ribbon sports nike storyShoe dog (the story of how Nike was founded, until 1980) constantly presents moments in which its founder makes a leap forward just presenting invisible and unrealistic goals as already achieved. Move the finish line forward and there will be no finish line.

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