Rob Weidner

Optimist & Storyteller

Rob Weidner is a gimbal/Movi Pro camera operator based in Cape Town, South Africa who enjoys empowering others with his creativity and optimism. Aside from that, he can also make a mean pizza and is ready to travel the world with his kit.

Check out my Now page to see some of my recent projects :)

Shoe Dog - Phil Knight

Phil Knight, Nike's founder and board chairman, comes to "Good Morning America" to share insights from his new book.

With the way that the world is getting smaller and smaller via the accessibility of the internet and readily available information, international business has become drastically easier than what it was like when Phil Knight started down the path that would eventually lead to the creation and success of Nike.  With running a business that deals internationally on a day-to-day basis, Film Gear South Africa is constantly having to deal with similar issues that Knight had to encounter with supply chain, cash flow, and employee management.

At the same time, his passion for wanting to win at any cost is extremely inspiring and his willingness to go above and beyond, [even to the point of jumping on the next flight to Japan], is eye-opening.  The way that he was able to gamify his business clearly shows how his mind works and taking the harsh reality that he was not going to be a successful professional athlete, but still stay within the sports industry clearly aligns his two passions perfectly.  

I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars simply because it was a bit longer than I think it needed to be, but regardless when listening at 1.5x speed on Audible, no book is too large to handle :)


My Notes

  • Wanted to leave a mark on the world
  • Didn't want to lose
  • Wanted life to be: play
  • Ran track at Oregon but quit after at 24
  • What if there was a way to feel what an athlete feels all the time, without being an athlete?
  • Life is a game. 
  • The world is run on crazy ideas
  • We run because stopping scares the hell out of us. 

Part 1

  • 1962 approach dad with the idea
  • Research paper about shoes at Stanford Biz school
  • Wanting to pitch a company in Japan 
  • Walk the track before a big race, so a trip around the world might do the trick
  • Need fathers approval and cash to make that trip to Japan to launch a company
  • Father was publisher of Oregon journal
    • Just paid for U of Oregon and Stanford
    • Liked being admired by others
    • Fear of inner chaos
  • 26 of 27 companies fail
  • Father called him Little Buck
  • A trip around the world would be the trick to not becoming his father 
  • Grandma didn't approve of the trip
  • Front runners always work the hardest
  • Companion on the trip to Japan would be friend Carter
  • September 7, 1962, departure date drive to San Francisco 
  • Went to a liquor store to buy $80 ticket to Hawaii
  • Hawaii
    • Selling encyclopedias door to door to make ends meet
      • Couldn't sell encyclopedias because so shy
    • Didn't make the high school baseball team taught a lesson. Grieved for two weeks but then mom suggested running track. Realized he could run fast. 
    • Selling security systems for Cornfeld in Hawaii instead
    • Wasn't a good talker, but could speak the truth and work the numbers
    • Carter met a girl and wanted to stay in Hawaii
  • Japan
    • Father knew some people in Japan and met up with them when the hostel didn't work out
    • Zen declares that self is a mirage. A bold face lie. To study the self is to forget the self. 
    • Victory is when we forget the self and the opponent and become two halves of one whole
    • Visited Tokyo stock exchange
    • Went to the Importer magazine which was run by two GIs in Japan. They loved Japan. Ran for 17 years. 
    • Told them they liked the Tiger shoe. 
    • Key to doing business with the Japanese 
      • Don't be rude or the typical American
      • They don't react well to the hard sell. Soft negotiations work better. 
    • Showed up at the wrong place for the Tiger meeting
    • The entire shoe factory was extremely efficient
    • Leaving the past in the past. The Japanese had just recently tried to kill his uncles, and now he was doing business with them
    • Scared to answer what company he represents, he remembered his safe place, his home back in Oregon where he had blue ribbons hung on the wall. That was the inspiration for Blue Ribbon Sports
    • Undercut Adidas in the USA
    • $50 money order for samples of the Libero shoe
  • China
    • Mass poverty in the streets
    • The man who moves a mountain is the one who begins to move small stones
    • You are remembered for the rules you break. McCarthur 
  • Africa
    • Baboons would raid the tour buses
  • Europe
    • Without victory, there is no survival
    • In Greece studied gods. 
    • Nike is the god of victory
  • Back home in Oregon 
    • still no shoes 
    • Mother thought Phil was more "worldly."
    • Still needing money, worked for an accounting firm
    • Told to get your CPA and MBA to keep a certain salary level no matter what job you get
  • Track Coach Bowerman 
    • Always customized Knight's shoes and believed in him
    • Oregon's athletic facilities weren't amazing
    • Coach was god/general
    • He rigged his mailbox with explosives so the truck driver would hit it
    • Asked to be 50/50 partner in shoe company
    • First college coach to emphasize rest
    • Coached more sub 4-minute mile runners than anyone else
      • Steady pace for first two laps, fastest pace for lap 3, and triple that pace for the last lap
  • Parents
    • Asked father again for money and this time said no
    • Family first. 
    • Made him repel from his bed thru the window to get ready for a fire
    • Mother was a track while 
    • Bought the first pair from Phil when he needed the money
    • The 300 pairs of shoes came quickly this time
  • Quit accounting job and sold shoes to various runners, coaches, etc
  • Surprised at selling success. 
  • Mail order success
  • People would come to the house to get fitted
  • Happiness can be dangerous. It dulls the senses. 
  • Met up with a friend he used to run with who happened to be selling Adidas shoes and asked him to be a sales person for him and rejected. 
  • Got ordered to stop selling the shoes by guys claiming to be the exclusive North American distributor of Tiger shoes
  • Flew back to Japan to talk to about the C&D letter
  • "Just be yourself."
  • The art of competing is forgetting
  • Met with a new salesperson as the existing one does work at Onitsuka
  • Got invited to come to meet head of Onitsuka, Morimoto
  • Got his area back for one year
  • Went climbing Mount Fuji and met a woman Sarah

Back home back in Portland

  • Sarah showed up at his house
  • She impressed the whole family 
  • Sister became the first part-time employee of Blue Ribbon Shoes
  • Re offered Jeff Johnson the sales job, and he accepted
    • Johnson was extremely persistent about writing to Phil
    • He ended up quitting his day job as a social worker 
    • 1965 Johnson became a first full-time employee of Blue Ribbon 

Bank

  • Getting difficulties with bank and too much growth
  • Didn't have enough equity for the growth
  • The bank account was always close to zero. He would get a loan, make purchase, pay back loan, double order, do it all over again
  • At that time, the only real way to get money was going to bank

CPA

  • Started working for PWC
  • Learned how companies tick and fail. 
  • Lack of equity is key to failure
  • Worked with accountant named Hayes who turned numbers into an art
    • Overweight and unhealthy
    • one night a week

Bowerman

  • Bowerman goes to Japan and becomes good friends with Onitsuka people
  • Used his runners as tests
  • Got experimental prototypes for his team
  • Tried to make secret drinks -> Gatorade
  • Tried to make rubbery running surface -> polyurethane 
  • Wanted to write a book about running
  • "Business is a war without bullets."
  • Johnson created a custom insole for a runner to do the Boston marathon, and it is now standard on all track shoes
  • Business and personal Moved out of the house 
  • Johnson got in a bad car accident on his way to a track meet and got a divorce. Needed to know what the long-term plan was for blue ribbon
  • Fail fast!
  • Told Johnson to open the retail shop, and to get an accountant but he didn't need to because he wasn't making huge gross profit
  • Opened the first store in Santa Monica
  • Created beautiful space for runners to hang out
  • Shop = "Sanctuary for runners"
  • Johnson convinced Knight to visit the shop
  • Marlboro man was back on shoe game
  • Needed a sense of community, even if it was a community of 2

Japan

  • Went to Japan again and there was a new export manager, Kitami
  • New and improved Onitsuka office
  • Kitami didn't have much "equity" in the shoes, so Knight was sitting well
  • Got exclusive three-year agreement for all of the USA

Opening of east coast store

  • Johnson Went to Boston to open shop
  • Johnson delivered an ultimatum for a partnership with the company -> fuck him!
  • Went to meet with Johnson and his father and told them partnership wasn't possible. 
  • Knight didn't have anything to give, so offered a $50 raise
  • Johnson didn't want to quit, so he agreed to new terms 

PwC 1967

  • Wanted to quit, but couldn't justify paying himself a salary from Blue Ribbon
  • Quit, and Started teaching accounting 
  • Penelope Parks was a beautiful student in his class. Shy but smart. 
  • "Assets = liabilities + equity" must always be in Balance
  • Offered Penelope a job because of her hand writing and whits
    • She quickly did everything she was asked to do
    • Wanted to be a part of it
    • She never cashed a paycheck, And neither did well 
    • Went to visit her parents
    • Went on many dates 
    • 2x shy ppl worked well with each other
    • Came home to Portland 
    • Struggled to get along with her family
    • They agreed to get married after another trip to Japan 
    • He had a life partner now And didn't like saying goodbye to her
  • He was in harmony when he was balancing teamwork and alone time
  • Had teams in Japan and USA
  • Met up with a salesman who had just lost his house to a tsunami and wanted a new bicycle. Knight sent $50 to Onitsuka for a salesman, and it was returned but stated if he sent to house he could keep the money and knight did. The new partnership was born. 

1969 <$300,000 in sales

  • Rising sales led to new sales people
  • Before 31st birthday, he was able to pay himself a salary. Quit teaching. 
  • Advertising was the future
  • Offered a student a graphic design job

Olympics

  •  No one was competing in Tiger shoes
  • They didn't have any money to pay athletes to wear their shoes

Spy at Onitsuka

  • He told his employees that he had a spy in the export department 
  • Very common Japanese business practice to have spy in other companies
  • After Olympics, they came up to visit the HQ

Difficulties at home/Penny

  • Penny was learning that Phil was helpless around the house because he was spoiled rotten at home
  • Knight didn't like to loose because of his engrained upbringing
  • Penny managed to do well one a shoe string budget
  • Spring 1969 Penny is pregnant
  • Life is growth. You grow, or you die. 
  • Found a house to purchase For $34,000 and got a loan for the house and put the company as down payment. 
  • Every sale counted!
  • Found pleasure in small tasks

Office hunting

  • Their success was so dependent upon the spirit and working next to an insurance company wouldn't help that. 
  • Corporate vibe could help with the bank and appear more professional
  • Waddell was to become head of operations 

Chapter 10 fulfilment issues

  • Onitsuka was fulfilling all local orders first and then the exports. 
  • As a result, shipments were late, incorrect, and ultimately embarrassing 

Chapter 14 The Lawsuit

  • Blue Ribbon wins lawsuit
  • $400,000 loss granted. 
  • Attorney Strausser became first in-house consul for blue ribbon
  • Yen became unstable
  • Considered taking production elsewhere
  • Company was actually in dire financial state
  • Jimmy conners tennis player. Sponsored athlete
    • Win Wimbledon and us open
    • Agent refused deal

1975 pay Nisho first. Financial issues

  • Growing faster than typical growth company
  • Grow or die
  • Always pushing bankers to the brink
  • Ran up $1mil in debt with Nisho
    • Have to clean out all other accounts to pay
    • Need payments from large retailers
    • Just need to get through this payment, then cash flow would be fine
  • You are remembered for the rules you break
  • Pay checks had bounced to employees
  • Approached suppliers for loans because without blue ribbon other companies would go out of business
  • Bank froze their accounts
  • Companies and banks live on float
  • Tried to convince Nisho that to pay them their $1mil they needed to pay their creditors and borrow and additional $1mil to pay them their $1 mil
  • FBI got involved with the bankruptcy and potential fraud charges
    • They couldn't take the house, but everything else
    • Always had answers to things, but not this time
  • As a result of the cash flow problems, creditors seeking their money turned into creditors seeking out the people that owed blue ribbon
    • Some of those companies paid out, and some were also in financial problems
  • Nisho wasn't that worried about the money. Sumaraki hid invoices because he liked Nike
  • Nisho offered to pay off all debts to creditors/banks

Part 2 1975

  • Still no banks
    • Got a bank in Minnesota to give $1mil in credit
  • Campbell. President of the bank of California. Called and told that Preet athlete was dead via car accident
  • Sony was the role model company
  • Didn't want ever to go public but needed more money
  • Bowerman wanted out
  • Started making the waffle trainer in blue and it was a huge success
  • Changed the name to Nike 
  • Had to turn to Tawain to increase production
  • The best way to reinforce your knowledge of a subject is to share it
  • Korea and Taiwan are best shoe manufacturers
  • Going public was the best way to sustain growth
  • Trusting employees worked two ways by empowering them and liked the culture. Two-way loyalty. 
  • Management style wouldn't have worked for people who wanted to be constantly guided. 
  • Let employees make their own mistakes which is how Phil liked things
  • "Buttface" turned into nickname for all the extremely loyal employees
  • Matthew (son) never understood and was resented to Phil

1977 Frank Rudy

  • Figured out a way to inject air into running shoe
  • Shoe technology and design hadn't changed much since they were invented, so introducing air shoes seemed ridiculous
  • Strausser was originally hired for his legal mind, but soon did he realize his true talent was negotiating
    • Honest tactic
    • Sign college basketball coaches
    • Got a ton of coaches on board
    • Did the same with football coaches
    • Press release Iona was misprinted as Iowa
  • Got Nikes into Hollywood films and TVs
  • "Imitation is flattery but knock off is theft. "
    • Threatened the knock off factories with lawsuits, unless they wanted to help with producing more Nikes
  • A product speaks for itself, or it doesn't. Marketing doesn't mean a thing. 
  • Must go public to solve the cash flow problem
  • Bill for $25mill for customs duties owed
  • American selling price law. If there are competitions that sell locally, 20% duties applicable for importing
  • Fortune favours the brave. Bought new house. 
  • Sons didn't want anything to do with Nike
  • 1978 Strausser's battle
  • The tailwind Don't try and put too many inventions into one shoe

1980 meeting with Chang to do Chinese production

  • Became An embassy to china 
  • Tried to turn American selling price on their side to use as the new import standard
  • Filed anti-trust against competitors
  • Didn't want to settle at all
  • Issue two classes of stock
    • Way to keep control by selling single voting shares in one class, and board member shares to others
  • Settled on $9mil to customs
  • Chinese strip down on the train to stay cool
  • China gov negotiated all sponsorship deals
  • Chinese Olympic team wore American shoes
  • First American shoemaker in 25 years to do biz in china 
  • Biz = helping others better their lives
  • Public offerings don't always succeed
  • Create a prospectus
  • Phil Knight personally own 46% of shares to ensure there was one person in charge
  • The cowards never started, and the weak died along the way. 
  • Hayes sometimes drank too much
  • Wanted $22/share and so was Apple at the time
  • Offered $21.50 and insisted on $22/share

2007 Nike today

  • No longer CEO, but chairman
  • HQ is situated on a college campus
  • All phone numbers end in 6453 around the world, which spells Nike
  • Taking a chance on people, that's what it's all about
  • Athletes all love Phil
  • Matthew, the son, dropped out of college and started working with a charity in El Salvador. Went deep diving at 150ft and passed away 
  • You measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you
  • Bowerman went to work for Adidas 
  • Nike is the world standard for factories
  • The Girl Effect organization 
  • Tried to raise wages but national governments didn't agree
  • International trade always benefits both countries 
  • Business is war without business 
  • Although students are smarter these days, they tend to be more pessimistic 
  • Give away $100mil each year
  • Building new Bball stadium at Oregon
  • "Mothers are our first coaches."
  • What's on your bucket list?
  • Regret not spending time with sons
  • Seek a calling, not a job or career
  • The bigger you get, the bigger the bullseye on your back
  • Knowing when to give up is genius
  • Giving up isn't the same thing as stopping 
  • The power of luck
  • The harder you work, the better your luck