Shoe Dog
Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog

What if there were a way, without being an athlete, to feel what athletes feel? To play all the time, instead of working? Or else to enjoy work so much that it becomes essentially the same thing. (Location 84)

Like it or not, life is a game. Whoever denies that truth, whoever simply refuses to play, gets left on the sidelines, (Location 88)

Tags: life principles

the world is made up of crazy ideas. History is one long processional of crazy ideas. The things I loved most—books, sports, democracy, free enterprise—started as crazy ideas. (Location 101)

Tags: crazy ideas

running. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s risky. The rewards are few and far from guaranteed. When you run around an oval track, or down an empty road, you have no real destination. At least, none that can fully justify the effort. The act itself becomes the destination. It’s not just that there’s no finish line; it’s that you define the finish line. Whatever pleasures or gains you derive from the act of running, you must find them within. It’s all in how you frame it, how you sell it to yourself. (Location 103)

Tags: framing, running

Before running a big race, you always want to walk the track. (Location 135)

Tags: running, preparation

Also, this was 1962. The earth was bigger then. Though humans were beginning to orbit the planet in capsules, 90 percent of Americans still had never been on an airplane. The average man or woman had never ventured farther than one hundred miles from his or her own front door, so the mere mention of global travel by airplane would unnerve any father, and especially mine, whose predecessor at the paper had died in an air crash. (Location 155)

wild geese as they flew overhead. Their tight V formations—I’d read somewhere that the geese in the rear of the formation, cruising in the backdraft, only have to work 80 percent as hard as the leaders. Every runner understands this. Front runners always work the hardest, and risk the most. (Location 205)

Tags: leadership, running

An old Japanese woman behind the front desk bowed to me. I realized she wasn’t bowing, she was bent by age, like a tree that’s weathered many storms. (Location 305)

Tags: metaphor

I was a linear thinker, and according to Zen linear thinking is nothing but a delusion, one of the many that keep us unhappy. Reality is nonlinear, Zen says. No future, no past. All is now. (Location 320)

Tags: zen

JAPAN WAS RENOWNED for its impeccable order and extreme cleanliness. Japanese literature, philosophy, clothing, domestic life, all were marvelously pure and spare. Minimalist. Expect nothing, seek nothing, grasp nothing— (Location 366)

Tags: minimalism, japan

Confucius—The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones— (Location 444)

Tags: quotes

The sun hammered down on my head, the same sun that hammered down on the thousands of men who built these pyramids, and the millions of visitors who came after. Not one of them was remembered, I thought. All is vanity, says the Bible. All is now, says Zen. All is dust, says the desert. (Location 476)

Tags: mortality, zen

Note: Life is short and every body is forgotten

(Romans in the age of the Caesars believed that putting on the right shoe before the left brought prosperity and good luck.) (Location 488)

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. (Location 508)

Tags: management, leadership

On my left was the Parthenon, which Plato had watched the teams of architects and workmen build. On my right was the Temple of Athena Nike. Twenty-five centuries ago, per my guidebook, it had housed a beautiful frieze of the goddess Athena, thought to be the bringer of “nike,” or victory. (Location 534)

Tags: history

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. You must forget that internal voice screaming, begging, “Not one more step!” And when it’s not possible to forget it, you must negotiate with it. (Location 866)

Tags: competition, push limits

Again and again I learned that lack of equity was a leading cause of failure. (Location 1144)

Tags: failure

Mr. Onitsuka also told Bowerman that the inspiration for the unique soles on Tigers had come to him while eating sushi. Looking down at his wooden platter, at the underside of an octopus’s leg, he thought a similar suction cup might work on the sole of a runner’s flat. Bowerman filed that away. Inspiration, he learned, can come from quotidian things. Things you might eat. Or find lying around the house. (Location 1212)

Tags: inspiration

business is war without bullets, (Location 1270)

Tags: quotes

One lesson I took from all my home-schooling about heroes was that they didn’t say much. None was a blabbermouth. None micromanaged. Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. (Location 1273)

Tags: heroes, management

“But it seems worth shooting for.” This last line was wholly truthful. It was worth shooting for. If Blue Ribbon went bust, I’d have no money, and I’d be crushed. But I’d also have some valuable wisdom, which I could apply to the next business. Wisdom seemed an intangible asset, but an asset all the same, one that justified the risk. Starting my own business was the only thing that made life’s other risks—marriage, Vegas, alligator wrestling—seem like sure things. But my hope was that when I failed, if I failed, I’d fail quickly, so I’d have enough time, enough years, to implement all the hard-won lessons. I wasn’t much for setting goals, but this goal kept flashing through my mind every day, until it became my internal chant: Fail fast. (Location 1322)

Tags: failure

I WAS DEVELOPING an unhealthy contempt for Adidas. Or maybe it was healthy. That one German company had dominated the shoe market for a couple of decades, and they possessed all the arrogance of unchallenged dominance. Of course it’s possible that they weren’t arrogant at all, that to motivate myself I needed to see them as a monster. In any event, I despised them. I was tired of looking up every day and seeing them far, far ahead. I couldn’t bear the thought that it was my fate to do so forever. (Location 1562)

Tags: competition

The single easiest way to find out how you feel about someone. Say goodbye. (Location 1836)

Tags: emotion

Leaning back in my recliner each night, staring at the ceiling, I tried to settle myself. I told myself: Life is growth. You grow or you die. (Location 2014)

Tags: life principles, growth

Each of us found pleasure, whenever possible, in focusing on one small task. One task, we often said, clears the mind. And each of us recognized that this small task of finding a bigger office meant we were succeeding. (Location 2048)

Tags: focus

Shoe dogs were people who devoted themselves wholly to the making, selling, buying, or designing of shoes. (Location 2594)

Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats. When sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete, and in that convergence, in that transference, is the oneness that the mystics talk about. (Location 2948)

Tags: sport

“Operation Dummy Reversal.” (Location 3111)

Tags: funny

Supply and demand is always the root problem in business. It’s been true since Phoenician traders raced to bring Rome the coveted purple dye that colored the clothing of royals and rich people; there was never enough purple to go around. It’s hard enough to invent and manufacture and market a product, but then the logistics, the mechanics, the hydraulics of getting it to the people who want it, when they want it—this is how companies die, how ulcers are born. (Location 3231)

Tags: business mechanics

Why not go to all of our biggest retailers and tell them that if they’d sign ironclad commitments, if they’d give us large and nonrefundable orders, six months in advance, we’d give them hefty discounts, up to 7 percent? This way we’d have longer lead times, and fewer shipments, and more certainty, and therefore a better chance of keeping cash balances in the bank. Also, we could use these long-term commitments from heavyweights like Nordstrom, Kinney, Athlete’s Foot, United Sporting Goods, and others, to squeeze more credit out of Nissho and the Bank of California. Especially Nissho. (Location 3250)

now the yen-to-dollar rate was like the weather. Every day different. Consequently, no one doing business in Japan could possibly plan for tomorrow. The head of Sony famously complained: “It’s like playing golf and your handicap changes on every hole.” (Location 3475)

Tags: metaphor

Pre was most famous for saying, “Somebody may beat me—but they’re going to have to bleed to do it.” (Location 3806)

Tags: competition

“Beating the competition is relatively easy. Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.” (Location 4285)

Tags: push limits, competition

The years of stress were taking their toll. When you see only problems, you’re not seeing clearly. At just the moment I needed to be my sharpest, I was approaching burnout. (Location 4465)

Tags: burnout

I also thought of all the games I’d seen through the years—football, basketball, baseball—when one team had a big lead in the final seconds, or innings, and relaxed. Or tightened. And therefore lost. I told myself to stop looking back, keep my gaze forward. (Location 4762)

Tags: focus

The cowards never started and the weak died along the way. That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen. Us. (Location 4854)

Tags: quotes

keep thinking of one line in The Bucket List. “You measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.” (Location 5054)

Tags: life principles

Another thing I often heard from those same professors was the old maxim: “When goods don’t pass international borders, soldiers will.” Though I’ve been known to call business war without bullets, it’s actually a wonderful bulwark against war. Trade is the path of coexistence, cooperation. Peace feeds on prosperity. That’s why, haunted as I was by the Vietnam War, I always vowed that someday Nike would have a factory in or near Saigon. (Location 5116)

Tags: war

Mr. Hayami nodded. “See those bamboo trees up there?” he asked. “Yes.” “Next year . . . when you come . . . they will be one foot higher.” I stared. I understood. When I returned to Oregon I tried hard to cultivate and grow the management team we had, slowly, with more patience, with an eye toward more training and more long-term planning. I took the wider, longer view. It worked. The next time I saw Hayami, I told him. He merely nodded, once, hai, and looked off. (Location 5147)

Tags: growth, management

I’d tell them to hit pause, think long and hard about how they want to spend their time, and with whom they want to spend it for the next forty years. I’d tell men and women in their midtwenties 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. (Location 5218)

Tags: seek a calling, time management

I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull’s-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull’s-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s a law of nature. (Location 5222)

Tags: competition