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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Moreno

The Unspoken Secret Of Nike’s Success

Hint: It Had Nothing To Do With The Shoe...


Here is a scenario for you.

It’s 1972 and the year before you posted over $2M in shoe sales.

You’re selling this Japanese running shoe called “The Tiger”


And you’re the first company to introduce this running shoe to America, which brought it much success.


Without you, The Tiger wouldn’t be on every almost runner's feet in America.

But one day you come to find out they pull the rug out from under you and decide to cancel their contract.


Meaning they stop sending you shoes to sell, and you lose your product that built your big customer base.


Sounds devastating right?


Well, this is what happened to Phil Knight, the founder of Nike.

This didn’t wreck him though. Instead, he hedged this loss by creating “Nike” and setting up a relationship with another Japanese manufacturer.


And just before this fateful day in 1972, he had validated the fact that Nike had some legs. Barely. But it was legs nonetheless.

At a trade show a flock of salesmen went up to his booth with his pyramid shaped stack of bright neon orange shoe boxes on presentation for the first time for the world to see.

“Hey. what IS this?” Said one of the salesmen as he grabbed the shoe.


Phil politely responded, “A Nike.”


“The hell’s a Nike?” murmured back the salesman.


“It’s the Greek goddess of victory,” said Phil.

“And what’s THIS?” A salesman says as he points to the famous Nike check.

Not really knowing what it was, Phil said, “A swoosh.”


With confused looks on their faces, “The hell’s a swoosh?”


Thinking quickly on his feet, Phil blurts out, “It’s the sound of someone running past you.”

And oh boy, did they like that.

Although the shoe was built cheaply, the logo was crooked and it was not good quality - the salesman said they’d happily go sell them.

Jeff Johnson, Nike’s first full-time employee was puzzled.

“We show up with this new Nike,” Johnson says, “And it’s totally untested, and frankly it’s not even all that good — and you guys are buying it. What gives?”


One of the sales guys laughed and said,

“We’ve been doing business with you guys for years, and we know that you guys tell the truth. Everyone else bullshit, you guys always shoot straight. So if you say this new shoe, this Nike, is worth a shot, we believe.”

And that right there is the secret to Nike’s success.


It’s not that they were the best running shoe when they hit the market.


They were crap. Look at this damn thing.


It was made with a damn waffle iron.


Nike's first shoe ever.


​​But after having spent 10 years selling Tigers, he was able to build up a reputation. One built on truth.

People respected Phil Knight and all of his employees because of how they did business. They were as real as they come.


They didn’t wow you with bullshit. They wowed you with a product that you needed.


And were honest in how they sold it.

This reputation is what gave a small rinky-dink start up a chance to become the Nike’s that I wore on my date yesterday.

It wasn’t the goddamn shoe itself.

So, I wrote this email for you to reflect.

Are you building the kind of reputation in your industry that makes people go to bat for you? No matter what you sell?


If not, then it’s time to start building one.


Because when you have that reputation and relationship with your audience and partners, you will always have business no matter what you do.

Simply because of who you ARE.


This is why I created the Power Pitch Program.


So that people can pave their own lane in the industry, build that reputation and attract a group of people who will go to bat for you.


No matter the offer.

If you want that, or are the slightest bit interested in becoming more KNOWN and RESPECTED in your industry…


-Adrian


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