Thursday, October 6, 2016

Phil Knight Sprints To The Fore With Nike

Phil Knight just does it.
He turns Nike into a champion.
He makes icons out of the Swoosh and the athletes who wear it, from track king Carl Lewis to tennis queen Serena Williams.
He has $24 billion, ranking 17th among America's wealthiest, reports Forbes.
As CEO for four decades and now chairman, he's overseen Nike stock sprints of 9,000% (1984-97) and 613% (2009-15).
He's out with a book, "Shoe Dog," a tale of his long slog in the footwear industry.
By next year, the Nike co-founder will wear a new title: former executive. He'll be leaving the world's No. 1 sports merchandising company, with 63,000 employees and $31 billion in annual sales.
"Pretty good when you consider that in 1964 we had $8,000 in sales and $234 in profit," said Knight, 78. "We had to run a tight ship."
And what waves he's created.
"He built an empire on a vision of shoes," said H.W. Brands, author of "Masters of Enterprise." "He made lots of money, employed lots of people and gave great satisfaction to his customers. He could have done a lot worse."
Knight also has made lots of impressions with Nike's advertising, especially with the "Just Do It" campaign.
"When the Bulls won their third straight National Basketball Association title in June 1993," Donald Katz wrote in his book, "Just Do It," on the Knight endeavor, "the most popular line imprinted on caps and sweatshirts was a play on Nike's famous call to arms of the reinvention years: 'Just Did It,' went the variant apothegm. 'Again And Again And Again.' "

Instant Replay

That repeat success has led to Swoosh equipment all over the field. They're all so colorful these days, with Olympic track shoes and college football helmets especially going Nike neon and glossy.
The college football uniforms "have all sorts of fingerprints," said Knight, lauding Todd Van Horn and Tinker Hatfield in the Nike design department.
As for what gets the chairman going, "I'm still a good shoe guy. New shoes light me up."
Which brings up the Olympicsrunning Aug. 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.
"I always get pumped up for the Olympics," said Knight. "I'm a running guy, and I like that this is really the chance for track and field to shine.
"We get to display our product. If this were a fashion show, that would be our runway.
"The Olympics always bring back memories, especially with Tiger shoes at our first Games, the 1968 Olympics."
By that two-week extravaganza in Mexico City, Knight's dream was still fresh. As he noted in "Shoe Dog," the sneaker idea germinated during a 1962 run in his native Portland, Ore., not long after graduating from the University of Oregon, Stanford's business school and the Army.
He thought of one of his teacher's points: "The cowards never started, and the weak died along the way -- that leaves us."
He also thought of what inspired him: "The secret of happiness ... lay somewhere in that moment when the ball is in midair, when both boxers sense the approach of the bell, when the runners near the finish line and the crowd rises as one. ... I wanted that, whatever that was, to be my life, my daily life. ... So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy ... just keep going. Don't stop."
He didn't. Soon he was off to Japan to land a deal selling sneakers in America. He went on to travel more of Asia and beyond, finally settling home in early 1963 and seeing that first box arrive: "12 pairs of shoes, creamy white, with blue stripes down the sides. God, they were beautiful. ... I'd seen nothing in Florence or Paris that surpassed them."
Knight was infatuated, something crucial in what drives him: "Your business has to be something you really love. Remember that there will be a lot of dark moments. You never make it overnight. You have to be prepared for the tough times. As my Stanford Small Business Management professor Frank Shallenberger liked to say, 'The only time you must not fail is the last time you try.' "
Knight simply kept trying. He asked for shoe input from his Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman, and over lunch in January 1964 he told him "about my trip around the world. Kobe, Jordan, the Temple of Nike."
Bowerman was hooked: "Those Japanese shoes. They're pretty good. How about letting me in on the deal?"
Knight: "When the waitress dropped off the check for the two hamburgers, we split that too. Fifty-fifty."

Just Do It Duo

The Knight-Bowerman team became Blue Ribbon Sports, distributing Japanese-made shoes in the American West.
"I quit my job at the accounting firm," wrote Knight, "and all that spring I did nothing but sell shoes out of the trunk of my Valiant."
By July, he had sold out his first shipment. He ordered 900 more and got a bank loan to back him. It was part of a hot 1964, with every Japanese runner at the Tokyo Olympics wearing the same Tigers that Knight was selling.
The next year, Knight made his first hire, Jeff Johnson, who would brainstorm the firm's new name: Nike, for the Greek goddess of victory.
Knight cheers such wisdom: "Underlining all the hurdles are people. We've hired a lot of creative people, whether they're the lawyers to think or the accountants to count. The people are the life and death of our company."
Then there was Carolyn Davidson. Knight met her in a college hallway and asked her to design print ads. She created the Swoosh that ran as hard as any company's logo, including the McDonald's arches.
Johnson put it this way: "It was a holy mission, you know, to Swoosh the world, to get Swooshes on everybody's feet. We were Knight's crusaders. We would have died on the cross."
Knight's company was alive and kicking in the late 1960s, doubling sales yearly to today's equivalent of $2 million. Still, he taught accounting at Portland State University for needed cash. And while there he met a student, Penelope Parks, who became his wife and mother of their two sons.
The next decade brought Knight his first big-name endorsement athlete, Romanian tennis star Ilie Nastase, and college basketball coach Dick Harter of Oregon. Such recognition helped Nike ignite sales from $8 million in 1974 (worth $38 million today) to $140 million in 1979 (or $457 million now).
The 1980s saw Nike factories humming in Taiwan, Korea, England and Ireland, and Knight's fortune multiplying to the $200 million range.
The CEO was sitting pretty at Nike's Beaverton, Ore., headquarters, which expanded to 200 acres with buildings named after endorsement stars: Joan Benoit, Ken Griffey Jr., Mia Hamm, Tiger Woods, Dan Fouts, Jerry Rice, Steve Prefontaine.

Nike Like Mike

The biggest Nike get was Michael Jordan, fresh out of college in 1984. Knight saw him as an NBA giant before many others did and signed him to beat sneaker rival Reebok.
"I just don't want to be like my competitors," noted Knight, who also says: "We take a lot of our culture off the athletic field. Just like with tackles and running backs, we have to have better people than the competition."
He recalled a remark by Bowerman, who died in 1999: "Play by the rules, but be ferocious."
As Jordan soared, so did the firm he sported. "Air Jordan proved to be a very good thing for Nike," wrote Brands. "The line sold more than $100 million in its first year, the largest figure for any endorsement in history until then."
From 1985 to 1993, wrote Katz, "Nike's ad budget swelled from under $20 million to well over $150 million -- new Nike commercials projected billions of Michael Jordan impressions with each new selling season."
Knight, the former middle-distance runner, was on another lap toward becoming "the most powerful man in sports," as the Sporting News dubbed him.
Now in his last leg as Nike's chairman, Knight spends half his time on projects at the Beaverton office a half-hour from his home, in what he calls a good relationship with CEO Mark Parker.
Knight doesn't run anymore, no thanks to his age. Instead, he walks for exercise and stays atop his old sport.
Watching a race once, he said: "There was much to be learned from such a display of passion, whether you were running a mile or a company."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Still Time For Conservatives To Choose Right: Trump

Here's wishing righty wakes up in time to win with Donald Trump.

Here's longing that anti-Trump conservatives:

1. Recognize their sabotage.

2. Go all in with Donald.

3. Cash in with victory on Nov. 8.

In my mystic musing, an October Surprise has:

Mitt Romney lauding Trump's tax cuts, with businesses' burden dropping to 15% from 35% so they won't leave heavy-handed America for open arms overseas.

Ted Cruz applauding Trump's gun grip, knowing full well the Second Amendment will stay loaded.

Ben Sasse cheering Trump's Supreme Court calls, seeing that top talents Diane Sykes and William Pryor are on the New Yorker's justice list.

Jeb Bush extolling Trump's terror battle, outlined by the 45th president: "My administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cut off their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting." 

Bill Kristol hailing Trump's Israel loyalty, a lock after the tycoon's recent ISIS speech: "We will work side by side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel."

Ben Shapiro commending Trump's balanced-budget contour.

Mark Levin glorifying Trump's Wall, which will halt the exorbitant flood from Mexico and stop crime in its tracks.

John McCain praising Trump's Muslim moat, especially after the GOP nominee underscored that we cannot "let the hateful ideology of radical Islam – its oppression of women, gays, children and nonbelievers – be allowed to reside or spread within" America.

Brent Bozell endorsing Trump's mission to erase ObamaCare in favor of a private plan with low-cost, interstate insurance.

Dana Loesch encouraging Trump's Law & Order toughness amid a country burning like it's 1968.

George Will complimenting Trump's attack on the crummy Veterans Affairs Department.

Thomas Sowell giving Trump an A for targeting Common Core in favor of local school sanity.

Jonah Goldberg exalting Trump's patriotism, spelled out by Donald's defense of America's A-bomb end to WWII: “Do you remember this thing called Pearl Harbor? It turned out we were stronger, meaner and smarter.”

Maybe this is all a pipe dream. Could be the anti-Trump crowd will cut off its nose to spite its smug face no matter how ugly a Hillary presidency looks. No matter how her high court picks and mass-Muslim migration will ruin America.

I hold out hope for an Autumn Awakening. Just as Ben Carson and Chris Christie – unlike Killjoy Kasich – shook off the primary bloodletting to rally around Trump.

In the 1957 flick "The Bridge on the River Kwai," Alec Guinness realizes his treachery in time to blow up the Japanese prize.

"What have I done?" he says before falling on the plunger.

There's time for Romney & Co. to do the same: Stand for what's right, derail Hillary and ride the Trump Train to triumph.

Bucky Fox is an author and editor in Southern California.

     

Friday, August 12, 2016

Ivanka Helps Trump Dig In His Heels

As Donald Trump tears toward the White House, he's wielding stilettos vs. the opposition.


They're worn by Ivanka, the dream daughter who's causing lefty nightmares.


There's her look, so stunning that only Melania trumps her.


There's her name, evoking rock solid and exotic.


There's her biz muscle, lifting tall buildings such as Trump International Hotel in D.C. in time for Donald to live on Pennsylvania Avenue no matter what happens Nov. 8.


There's her motherly acumen, on display at Trump's economic presentation this week in Detroit.


"She is, without question, one of her father's most trusted advisers," says Roger Stone, a Nixon hard charger who has Trump's ear.


Ivanka told Time magazine that her father "raised me to be opinionated. When he asks my opinion, I give it."


Ivanka is 34 and the mother of three. She's married to Jared Kushner, who like Trump turned his dad's real estate firm into a colossus. With Ivanka joining Jared's religion, the White House will finally star a Jewish family. Which makes libs' labeling of Trump a Nazi laughable.


Ivanka was already ahead of the game before her dad ran for president and even before she shone as a Trump Organization exec. Her fashion line clicked with masses of women.


So did her introduction of Trump at the GOP convention. That Cleveland coronation elevated the New York Princess to American Queen.


Regal and projecting, Ivanka hailed Donald for the titan he is: boffo builder, august altruist, phenomenal father.



But anyone plugged in knows that.



Here's where Ivanka hoisted the next president in a light that blinds liberals:



  • "My father values talent. He recognizes real knowledge and skill when he finds it. He is color blind and gender neutral. He hires the best person for the job. Period."
  • "Gender is no longer the factor creating the greatest wage discrepancy. Motherhood is."
  • "As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put in place during a time in which women were not a significant part of the workforce and will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all." 
  • "American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm. Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career. He will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him."



Ivanka delivered with such towering conviction and diction, my wife raved. And she's a Bubba-loving Democrat.




Christine Holly Ngo, like Ivanka dressed to win.

Then there's Christine Holly Ngo, a pal of mine whose glam rivals Ivanka's. Now Christine is hardly conservative. She's been on Hollywood red carpets, so you can imagine her true colors. Yet she posted on Facebook: "I'm not getting involved with politics, but I love Ivanka Trump. She is so classy and smart. Graduated from Wharton with honors and has so much drive and ambition. An entrepreneur with 3 kids!!! My new idol."



Meanwhile, cheers came from closer to the action.



California delegate Shawn Steel:  “He does the blue collar, she does the millennials. It’s a powerful combination. This woman, I’ve been saying for some time, is the greatest asset Donald Trump has.”



Breitbart's Julia Pollak: "For millennial women, who are the new generation of moms and workers, balancing everything is hard. And Ivanka spoke directly to me."



It took a month for Trump to again unsheathe his wonderful weapon. This time the venue was Fox, where Greta Van Susteren gave Ivanka a full hour.



The daughter darted through the show with sharp support.


  • Other candidates are "managed by a team of 50 people who are testing and polling every word." As for Trump, "that's not him. That's not the leader he wants to be."
  • The public sees that Trump gets the issues. "He's an unbelievable listener. If he has a question on something, he will pepper people who he believes are smart and informed. ... Ultimately he arrives at his own conclusion."



At the end of the Fox interview, Greta asked her about President Obama's Trump-is-unfit knife job. Ivanka wasn't about to be cut.



"I clearly disagree," she said. "I think he'd be an excellent president."



Such dexterity dressed in glamour that the Liz Warren Dem duds can't match will lead to this:



Donald Trump will be the 45th president.



Ivanka Trump will be a first daughter for the ages.




  • Bucky Fox is an author and editor in Southern California.

Ivanka Helps Trump Dig In His Heels

As Donald Trump tears toward the White House, he's wielding stilettos vs. the opposition.


They're worn by Ivanka, the dream daughter who's causing lefty nightmares.


There's her look, so stunning that only Melania trumps her.


There's her name, evoking rock solid and exotic.


There's her biz muscle, lifting tall buildings such as Trump International Hotel in D.C. in time for Donald to live on Pennsylvania Avenue no matter what happens Nov. 8.


There's her motherly acumen, on display at Trump's economic presentation this week in Detroit.


"She is, without question, one of her father's most trusted advisers," says Roger Stone, a Nixon hard charger who has Trump's ear.


Ivanka told Time magazine that her father "raised me to be opinionated. When he asks my opinion, I give it."


Ivanka is 34 and the mother of three. She's married to Jared Kushner, who like Trump turned his dad's real estate firm into a colossus. With Ivanka joining Jared's religion, the White House will finally star a Jewish family. Which makes libs' labeling of Trump a Nazi laughable.


Ivanka was already ahead of the game before her dad ran for president and even before she shone as a Trump Organization exec. Her fashion line clicked with masses of women.


So did her introduction of Trump at the GOP convention. That Cleveland coronation elevated the New York Princess to American Queen.


Regal and projecting, Ivanka hailed Donald for the titan he is: boffo builder, august altruist, phenomenal father.



But anyone plugged in knows that.



Here's where Ivanka hoisted the next president in a light that blinds liberals:



  • "My father values talent. He recognizes real knowledge and skill when he finds it. He is color blind and gender neutral. He hires the best person for the job. Period."
  • "Gender is no longer the factor creating the greatest wage discrepancy. Motherhood is."
  • "As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put in place during a time in which women were not a significant part of the workforce and will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all." 
  • "American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm. Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career. He will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him."



Ivanka delivered with such towering conviction and diction, my wife raved. And she's a Bubba-loving Democrat.




Christine Holly Ngo, like Ivanka dressed to win.

Then there's Christine Holly Ngo, a pal of mine whose glam rivals Ivanka's. Now Christine is hardly conservative. She's been on Hollywood red carpets, so you can imagine her true colors. Yet she posted on Facebook: "I'm not getting involved with politics, but I love Ivanka Trump. She is so classy and smart. Graduated from Wharton with honors and has so much drive and ambition. An entrepreneur with 3 kids!!! My new idol."



Meanwhile, cheers came from closer to the action.



California delegate Shawn Steel:  “He does the blue collar, she does the millennials. It’s a powerful combination. This woman, I’ve been saying for some time, is the greatest asset Donald Trump has.”



Breitbart's Julia Pollak: "For millennial women, who are the new generation of moms and workers, balancing everything is hard. And Ivanka spoke directly to me."



It took a month for Trump to again unsheathe his wonderful weapon. This time the venue was Fox, where Greta Van Susteren gave Ivanka a full hour.



The daughter darted through the show with sharp support.


  • Other candidates are "managed by a team of 50 people who are testing and polling every word." As for Trump, "that's not him. That's not the leader he wants to be."
  • The public sees that Trump gets the issues. "He's an unbelievable listener. If he has a question on something, he will pepper people who he believes are smart and informed. ... Ultimately he arrives at his own conclusion."



At the end of the Fox interview, Greta asked her about President Obama's Trump-is-unfit knife job. Ivanka wasn't about to be cut.



"I clearly disagree," she said. "I think he'd be an excellent president."



Such dexterity dressed in glamour that the Liz Warren Dem duds can't match will lead to this:



Donald Trump will be the 45th president.



Ivanka Trump will be a first daughter for the ages.




  • Bucky Fox is an author and editor in Southern California.