Everyone has to start from somewhere, even a multibillion-dollar global company like Nike.
That was the lesson learned by a group of international business development analysts hosted by the World Affairs Council of Oregon. The group picked up tips and tricks during a recent workshop at Nike's Beaverton, Ore., headquarters. Amidst buildings named for Nike’s biggest sports legends, the analysts listened eagerly for tidbits that could help them improve business in their home countries, like Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, Bahrain, and Tunisia.
Know when to take a leap
Nike co-founder Phil Knight started his shoe career as a distributor for Onitsuka Tiger, a sneaker company based in Japan. Once he was successful in the industry, Knight decided to manufacture sports shoes, and launched his own company. “Nike” was the Greek goddess of victory.
Inspiration is everywhere
Bill Bowerman, the legendary track coach and co-founder of Nike, experimented with pouring plastic into a waffle iron to create a lightweight track shoe outsole with plenty of traction. With the signature outsole, Nike sprinted past competitors to become the athletic empire it is today.
Go against the rules
In 1985, Nike and Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordan created the black-and-red Air Jordan 1 basketball shoe. The design was controversial and the NBA outlawed the shoes because they were not the standard white. Jordan wore them anyway, and the shoes were a slam dunk.
Come up with a revolutionary campaign
In addition to the company’s iconic “swoosh” logo, Nike devised several slogans that are synonymous with its name.“There is no finish line” and “Just do it” are part of the American lexicon.
Don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to build
Reflecting fondly on his days at the University of Oregon, Knight modeled Nike headquarters after a college campus to evoke learning, innovation, community, and competition to produce cutting-edge gear for athletes at all levels.