Entrepreneurs

Nike co-founder shares 'the only advice any of us should ever give'

Phil Knight
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Phil Knight

In 1962, 24-year-old Phil Knight was on an early morning run in his hometown, Portland, Oregon.

Fresh out of business school, he found himself back living under his parents' roof. He also found himself committing to a less conventional career path: pursuing his "Crazy Idea," rather than finding work at a big corporation.

"As I began to clip off one brisk six-minute mile after another … maybe, I thought, just maybe, I need to take one more look at my Crazy Idea," he writes in his memoir, "Shoe Dog." "Maybe my Crazy Idea just might … work? Maybe. No, no, I thought, running faster, faster … It will work. By God I'll make it work. No maybes about it."

Knight's "Crazy Idea," which would evolve into Nike the world's No. 1 athletic-shoe company may have never materialized without one piece of advice.

He writes: "The world is made up of crazy ideas. History is one long processional of crazy ideas. … 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."

People did call his idea crazy. "I've had a lot of people tell me, 'We ... think he's not going to make it,'" Knight told Jim Cramer in a recent CNBC interview.

Regardless, the now self-made billionaire didn't let the naysayers deter him from launching his company. He refused to stop, and "that's the precocious, prescient, urgent advice I managed to give myself, out of the blue, and somehow managed to take," he writes.

"Half a century later, I believe it's the best advice — maybe the only advice — any of us should ever give."