Phil Knight

Phil Knight: The Man Behind the Success of Nike

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Quick Facts

Name: Рhіlір Наmрѕоn Рhіl Кnіght

Аgе: 83 уеаrѕ оld

Віrth Dаtе: Fеbruаrу 24, 1938

Віrth Рlасе: Роrtlаnd, Оrеgоn, Unіtеd Ѕtаtеѕ

Nаtіоnаlіtу: Аmеrісаn


Fаthеr: Wіllіаm W. Кnіght

Моthеr: Lоtа Наtfіеld Кnіght

Сhіldrеn: Маtthеw Кnіght, Тrаvіѕ Кnіght, аnd Сhrіѕtіnа Кnіght


Net Worth (estimated): $62.4B in 2021

Famous Quotes by Phil Knight.

“When you really understand who you are, it enables you to fight and believe.”

“I didn’t say I’m walking away. I said I was stepping down as chairman. I won’t walk away. I’ll be carried away.”

Phil Knight Early Life.

  • Phil Hampson Knight was born on the 24th of February 1938, in Portland, Oregon. Knight is the son of lawyer turned newspaper publisher Bill Knight and his wife, Lota Knight. 
  • Phil Knight went to Cleveland High School and found Portland for Phil knight education. He loved running from the early days, although he was not an athlete, he was a vital part of the track staff.
  • Phil Knight went to the University of Oregon (U.O.), where he continued running. There he met the renowned track coach Bill Bowerman beneath whom he taught as a middle-distance runner. He graduated from the University having a journalism degree in 1959.
  • He published a newspaper titled  ‘Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?’ and recognized that his life goal was creating an online business offering shoes. He graduated and completed his MBA in 1962.
  • Knight was in doubt even after he graduated and was uncertain about his career. Finally, in 1964 Knight got selected in the Army, where he served one year on active duty and seven years in the Army Reserve.

Phil Knight’s Career.

  • Phil Knight visited Japan in November 1962. He found the running shoe brand ‘Onitsuka Tiger.’ Phil Knight was highly impressed by the boots’ excellent quality and minimal price and rapidly secured a division contract with the business.
  • On return from Japan, he took up a job in a Portland-based accounting firm while focusing on his company plan. He collaborated with his former mentor Bowerman (track coach) to develop a partnership to supply the shoes within America. Hence, the organization Blue Ribbon Sports (now known as Nike) was created in 1964.
  • The duo then decided and started working hard to make the company grow. Over the next couple of years, they opened retail merchants in California, and Santa Monica, Oregon. Again, the business performed outstanding and also from the late 1960s was generating exceptional earnings, and the duo made massive profits.
  • Bowerman and Knight experienced several disputes and disagreements about the agreement with Onitsuka (a Japanese shoe brand) in 1971. Finally, Jeff Johnson, a friend of Knight and a worker of Blue Ribbon Sports, recommended naming the brand new business “Nike,” which means following the Greek winged goddess of Victory.
  • Knight liked the idea, and he wished to develop the shoes that the world’s top athletes would want to wear. He generated acquaintances with Olympic monitor athletes, like the long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine, hoping to influence others to try his products. Nike’s type of footwear, the Cortez, debuted with the 1972 Olympic trials and proved to become tremendously lucrative.

Major Works.

Phil Knight co-founded Nike, Inc., a shoe company, in 1971. Today Nike is a multi-billionaire company with a presence in every part of the world. It is also the world’s biggest supplier of snowshoes and apparel. In addition, it is one one the best and most trusted brands in sports companies globally.

Post-Nike CEO Role.

In June 2015, Knight and Nike announced that he would officially step down as the company’s chairman, with the president and CEO Mark Parker to succeed him. Currently, John Donahoe (January 2020-) is the CEO of Nike. Knight’s retirement from the Nike board took effect at the end of June 2016. However, in September 2017, Knight decided to come out of retirement to put black back in the UNC jerseys for the Phil Knight Classic in Portland, Oregon.

Personal Life.

Knight met his wife, Penelope “Penny” Parks, while working at Portland State University, and the couple got married on September 13, 1968. They own a grand home in La Quinta, California.

Achievements and Awards.

  • In 2000, Knight was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for his Special Contribution to Sports within Oregon.
  • In 2012, he was inducted straight into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; he is a contributor for becoming the generating pressure powering Nike’s great monetary assistance of U.S. basketball and its players.

Philanthropic Works.

  • Knight donated the U.S $105M to the Stanford GSB throughout 2006, which had been at that time probably the largest ever private donation to an American internet business school.
  •  In 2008, he donated $100 million to advance cancer research, known as the ‘Knight Cancer Institute.’
  • In 2012, he donated $125 million to establish the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute.

Entrepreneur Lessons to Learn from Phil Knight.

Let’s have at some of the leadership lessons every entrepreneur can learn:

  1. Advertising Do Not Have To Come Before Selling.

As we saw in the introduction, Nike is considered one of the greatest brands of all time. Yet founder Phil Knight is not branding and an advertising man. Moreover, do you know, he was an accountant for most of the early years of Nike? That is right; he did Nike as a side job before going into mainstream business.

  1. Don’t Just Believe in Everything You Read In Conventional Management Books.

Another area where Knight sheds modern best practices is in management. Knight always believed managers should be available when needed. They should be there to help their employees. They should also praise people often and so on.

  1. Inspiration Equals to Leadership.

Leadership is always about inspiring others. Without inspiration, there are no followers. Without followers, there is no leader. But great leaders go beyond that and encourage others to become leaders themselves.

Phil Knight’s Net Worth.

As per the latest data shared by Forbes, the total Net Worth of Phil Knight is approximately $62.4B (June 2021).

About Nike.

Phil Knight

NIKE, Inc. designs, develops, markets, and sells high-quality footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories, and services. Its athletic footwear products range is specifically designed for athletic use, although most products are worn for casual or leisure purposes. It focuses on NIKE Brand and Brand Jordan’s product offerings in seven key categories: running, football, basketball, men’s training, women’s training, NIKE sportswear, and action sports. It also markets products designed for kids and other athletic and recreational uses such as baseball, cricket, golf, outdoor activities, football, tennis, volleyball, walking, and wrestling. The company’s wholly-owned subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets, and distributes casual footwear, apparel, and accessories. Hurley International LLC designs, markets, and distributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear and accessories. 


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