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Phil Knight Quotes

in Mindset

Philip Hampson Knight

Phil Knight quotes: The Name behind Nike talks about shoes, running, competition, branding, marketing, money, and more.

“The cowards never started and the weak died along the way.  That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen.  Us.”

“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.”

“Dream audaciously.  Have the courage to fail forward.  Act with urgency.”

“When you really understand who you are, it enables you to fight and believe.”

“Dare to take chances, lest you leave your talent buried in the ground.”

“Play by the rules, but be ferocious.”

“The trouble in America is not that we are making too many mistakes, but that we are making too few.”

“Make history or be a part of it.”

“There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos.  Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced.  How you go about that is the key to success.”

“You only have to succeed the last time.”

“I’d tell men and women in their mid-20s not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career.  Seek a calling.  Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it.  If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.”

“A brand is something that has a clear-cut identity among consumers, which a company creates by sending out a clear, consistent message over a period of years until it achieves a critical mass of marketing.”

“Life is growth.  You grow or you die.”

“There comes a time in every life when the past recedes and the future opens.  It’s that moment when you turn to face the unknown.  Some will turn back to what they already know.  Some will walk straight ahead into uncertainty.  I can’t tell you which one is right.  But I can tell you which one is more fun.”

“Like it or not, life is a game.  Whoever denies that truth, whoever simply refuses to play, gets left on the sidelines, and I didn’t want that.  More than anything, that was what I did not want.  Which led me, as always, to my crazy idea.  Maybe, I thought, just maybe, I need to take one more look at my crazy idea.  Maybe my crazy idea just might… work?”

“When you see only problems, you’re not seeing clearly.”

“Beating the competition is relatively easy.  Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.”

“If you want to spend time saying, ‘This is cool,’ you’re going to get your ass kicked.”

“You’ve got to worry about what’s coming up to stay ahead of the curve.”

“Any entrepreneur has to prepare for a lot of dark days, and they’ve got to really like what they are doing, and they have to have a reason for it to succeed.”

“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.  Luck plays a big role.  Yes, I’d like to publicly acknowledge the power of luck.  Athletes get lucky, poets get lucky, businesses get lucky.  Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome.  Some people might not call it luck.  They might call it Tao, or Logos, or Jñāna, or Dharma.  Or Spirit.  Or God.”

“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.”

“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

“We wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company.  Once you say that, you have a focus.  You don’t end up making wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.”

“We understand the most important thing we do is market the product.”

“We want the brand to stand for the same thing all over the world.”

“You can’t explain much in 60 seconds, but when you show Michael Jordan, you don’t have to.  It’s that simple.”

“How can I leave my mark on the world, I thought, unless I get out there first and see it?”

“I wanted to build something that was my own, something I could point to and say: ‘I made that.’  It was the only way I saw to make life meaningful.”

“So that morning in 1962 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.  Whatever comes, just don’t stop.'”

“Driving back to Portland I’d puzzle over my sudden success at selling.  I’d been unable to sell encyclopedias, and I’d despised it to boot.  I’d been slightly better at selling mutual funds, but I’d felt dead inside.  So why was selling shoes so different?  Because, I realized, it wasn’t selling.  I believed in running.  I believed that if people got out and ran a few miles every day, the world would be a better place, and I believed these shoes were better to run in.  People, sensing my belief, wanted some of that belief for themselves.  Belief, I decided – belief is irresistible.”

“Up until the time I was 14 years old, I was sure that I was going to be a big-league baseball player.  But that dream came to a rude awakening when I got cut from my high school baseball team.”

“I thought back on my running career at Oregon.  I’d competed with, and against, men far better, faster, more physically gifted.  Many were future Olympians.  And yet I’d trained myself to forget this unhappy fact.  People reflexively assume that competition is always a good thing, that it always brings out the best in people, but that’s only true of people who can forget the competition.  The art of competing, I’d learned from track, was the art of forgetting, and I now reminded myself of that fact.  You must forget your limits.  You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past.”

“I was a linear thinker and according to Zen, linear thinking is nothing but a delusion, one of the many that keeps us unhappy.  Reality is nonlinear, Zen says.  No future, no past.  All is now.”

“I do not follow conventional wisdom.”

“While technology is still important, the consumer has to lead innovation.”

Marketing knits the whole organization together.”

“It doesn’t matter how many people you offend, as long as you’re getting your message to your consumers.  I say to those people who do not want to offend anybody: ‘You are going to have a very, very difficult time having meaningful advertising.'”

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

“Like it or not, life is a game.”

“But that’s the nature of money.  Whether you have it or not, whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, it will try to define your days.  Our task as human beings is not to let it.”

“It’s not enough to do good things.  You have to let people know what you’re doing.”

“Everybody was writing about computers and electronics, but all I really knew about was running.  It’s what I’ve chosen to do with my life.”

“A shoe dog is somebody that really loves shoes, and that was me.  I was a runner… that became important to me, and it’s been with me ever since.”

“More than simply alive, you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, call me a businessman.”

“I’ve been fortunate to be around good people.”

“If there was no Bill Bowerman, there would have been no me.  He had about as much of an impact on my life as any one person could have.  He taught me about competition and ingrained it in me.  He taught me not to praise ordinary performances.”

“I didn’t say I’m walking away.  I said I was stepping down as chairman.  I won’t walk away.  I’ll be carried away.”

“Running is a basic ingredient for your health, just as much as eating and sleeping, but going out for a run by yourself and taking a moment to think also creates a certain peace.”

“Just keep going.  Don’t stop.”

Want more millionaire quotes like these?  See Tiger Woods’ too.

About the author: Cory Johnson likes hip-hop, comedy, cold beer, curvy women, and writing. His net worth is $11 million dollars.