The Power of Passion

Success Story:  Phillip H. Knight, Founder of Nike

The Power of Passion


Volumes have been written on the passion of Philip Knight, the founder of Nike, and his rule-breaking "continuous reinvention" of his entrepreneurially minded business. His unrelenting, focused energy built Nike into the most recognized brand in the world.

The Power of Passion

Knight came to University of Oregon to run for one of the most prestigious track programs in the country and to be coached by the legendary Bill Bowerman.

By the time he graduated in 1959 with a degree in business administration, Knight understood the importance of innovation, not just in product design but also in marketing.1

Innovation Is Love

He was well aware of Bowerman's attempts to create a better running shoe, and Knight possessed the drive and enthusiasm to bring those concepts to reality. After obtaining his M.B.A. from Stanford University in 1962, Knight returned to Eugene to found Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc. with Bowerman. Knight soon began selling shoes at track meets out of the back of his Plymouth Valiant station wagon, eventually making enough money to quit his job as an accountant.

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By 1972, Blue Ribbon Sports was renamed Nike, Inc., after the Greek goddess of victory. Under Knight's leadership, Nike quickly became the world's largest sports and fitness company thanks to a constant pursuit of innovation and ingenious marketing and advertising.

Having retired from the CEO position at Nike in 2004, Knight continued to serve as the company's chairman. But he has always been much more than a corporate executive. Knight is the father of sports marketing, an industry he almost single-handedly created. He is a visionary and a leader. And he embodies everything that is Nike excellence, integrity, and passion.

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