Phil Knight: The success story you need to know

Pic: The Source

The “Swoosh” symbol we all know. The brand we buy without checking by just looking at the right sign. That’s Nike and we owe the product and there are more chances of this that if we look around a teenager’s room right now, it may be full be the Swoosh symbol everywhere. It has got into trend but because of Whom this trended across the generations, it’s Phil Knight, the man responsible for founding what is arguably the world’s most famous sport brand, Nike is Phil Knight, America’s finest business magnate. He was also a former athlete and that explains all.

Here is the story of Phil Knight in a short summary.

Early life

Phil Knight worked as a sport correspondent for the Oregonian newspaper, where he would run seven miles to and from home. It was this initial experience that made him the star athlete in the state and he has won titles for his running performances.

The idea of company

Knight first came up with the blueprint for what would become the world’s No. 1 athletic-shoe company while working on his master’s degree at Stanford University. Assigned to write a term paper on starting a small business in an area he knew well, the former University of Oregon track star naturally chose running.


He outlined a plan for breaking the stranglehold Adidas had on the running-shoe market by using cheap Japanese labor to manufacture a cheaper, better-quality running shoe.

Visit to Japan

Shortly after graduating, Knight decided to put his plan into action. He flew to Japan to visit Onitsuka Tiger Co., manufacturer of an Adidas knockoff sold in Japan where he introduced himself as the head of Blue Ribbon Sports, a company which existed only in his mind.

Plan into action

Knight told Tiger executives that his firm was the ideal choice to import their shoes into the United States. He convinced Tiger to send him some samples, promising to place an order after his partners examined them.

The big break

Knight after purchasing the samples, sent few pairs to the Oregon coach and together they formed Blue Ribbon Sports under which they began selling. After the sales reached a certain point, Knight broke the association with Tiger and decided to start its own shoes.

Nike with the Swoosh symbol

Blue Ribbon launched its Nike line, named after the Greek goddess of victory. Emblazoned with a “swoosh” logo with unique waffle sole. Knight’s marketing strategy was simple. Rather than rely on advertising, he would get top athletes to endorse his shoes, and then let his sales force sell the product.

Phil Knight-an inspiration

Phil Knight is also a well-known entrepreneur and has contributed close to millions to the University of Oregon, where he is also a Hall of Fame member. Apart from this, he has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to other charitable organizations. An inspiration, Phil Knight has touched the lives of millions of athletes around the world with his company and efforts.

Bottom line

Phil Knight’s story is not an overnight success, but that of determination and grit. He was able to manage a business very passionately, due to which, his legacy will remain for years to come. His story isn’t one that is all smooth sailing though. He worked hard to achieve of what he has become today.


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.

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