Present negatives not a true future yardstick

NIKE is now one of the world’s most popular and biggest brand. It is now worth billions of dollars. Almost every sportsperson wants to be associated with it.

Motivation: STEVE NYAMBE

When NIKE started, no one thought they would grow to such an inspiring magnitude. That’s how life often is. Sometimes, present negative results are not a true yardstick for your future. Thus, you should just know that the future is always brighter than today. Great things are waiting for you.

The journey

In just over 50 years, they already had blossomed to dizzy heights worth well over $100 billion.

Let’s move back to the earliest days of this great project. It started in 1962 after Phil Night had graduated from Stanford University. It was really a difficult game for him. Fresh from college, with no business experience, he had to build an empire based on his talent. Remember, he was a long distance runner.

Once in his business class, he had written this: “Can Japanese sports shoes do to German sports shoes what Japanese cameras did to German cameras?”

Here was an inquisitive young man; born to challenge circumstances, someone who knew that it was possible for one to create a way where there seemed to be none.

Phil had said that statement because he had seen how Japanese cameras had replaced German cameras in the American market. So, he was wondering whether the Japanese shoes could do the same.

“Where there is a will there, is a way”, goes the old adage. So, Phil became highly obsessed about bringing the Japanese shoes into the United States market.

Nothing can stop an idea that would have come through because of determination and self- belief. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can block its way.

Never forget that a man that is ready to move forward will always find gates opened. Many things appear difficult before one actually begins. So go on.

Opportunities on golden pavements

Seeing an opportunity, he started negotiating a deal to be a sole distributor of a certain shoe company. With no experience, but anchored in zeal, it still worked to his advantage.

Sometimes you don’t need a lot of experience to get started. All you need is the experience you already have.

You learn to swim once you are in the pool, even if you start by “drowning”. Drowning on its own will be a good learning curve for you. The learning will be quick and inspiring if done in such a way. So, don’t lose heart.

He got started. His first consignment had just 12 pairs of shoes and he sold them from the boot of his car.

This strategy did not yield much in terms of sales, so he thought of doing it differently. He had to consult one of the coaches who had also been his coach at the University of Oregon, Bill Bowerman.

Bill was a famous coach in America during that time. He had trained several Olympic athletes. In January 1964, good things started rolling for Bill and Phil. They incorporated Blue-Ribbon Sport by pulling together $500 each.

They spent all that money on their first order. This enabled them to buy 300 pairs of shoes. In their first year, the pair sold $8 000 worth of shoes.

From that point, they started hiring sales people so that they could hit the ground running. In 1965, the revenue had increased to $20 000.

Then they opened their first stores in Santa Monica. During that time, Phil was in charge of business operations, while all the innovation was coming from Bill.

He was also the one who brought Jogging into America.

He went on to write a book about jogging that sold over a million copies. In 1968, they were Olympic games in Mexico, That’s where great things happened in sales. From there, demand shot up faster than supply so something had to be done.

The two realised that for them to succeed, they had to go beyond being mere distributors.

That’s when they thought of NIKE. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Nothing is impossible. It can be done. Be blessed.

Steve Nyambe is a motivational speaker and leadership coach. Email:

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  1. Very true one has to start from obscurity until it becomes reality.

  2. Please desist from putting a positive spin on business ventures – statistics the world over show that 20-30% of businesses fail in the 1st year, 50% by the 5th year and 66% by the 10th year. Stop trying to make people believe the lie business is easy and the future is “bright” – it might turn out very differently for some.
    People need to know the truth – you are likely to fail, success is an exception and cumulative success is a myth. Business has cycles of both failure and success. I would rather face the cruel truth than fake optimism. Its a cut-throat world out there and it is also a criminal world! Expect the best but prepare for the worst and stand on solid ground and base your dreams on reality – try climbing a tree to fly like a bird – literally…you’ll fall with a splat!
    Reasons for failure abound – lack of capital, poor management, leadership failure, ignoring customer needs, lack of planning & no product differentiation etc are real threats to success but these should NOT stop one from trying.

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