Don’t go to sleep one night, wrote Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian poet. What you most want will come to you theb,
Warmed by a sun inside you’ll see the wonders.
Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.
One ounce sliced off a pair of shoes, he said, is equivalent to 55 pounds over one mil. He wasn’t kidding. His math was solid. You take an average man’s stride of six feet, spread it out over a mile (5,280 feet), you get 880 steps. Remove one ounce from each step—that’s 55 pounds on the button.
Lightness, Bowerman believed, directly translated to less burden, which meant more energy, which meant more speed. And speed equaled winning. Bowerman didn’t like to lose. (I got it from him.) This lightness was his constant goal.
My father, the son of a butcher, was always chasing respectability, whereas Bowerman, whose father had been governor of Oregon, didn’t give a darn for respectability.
He detested being called Coach. Given his background, his makeup, he naturally thought of track as a means to an end. He called himself a “Professor of Competitive Responses,” and his job, as he saw it, and often described it, was to get you ready for the struggles and competitions that lay ahead, far beyond Oregon.
Maybe it was growing up among the Candy Bar People, and all their mogul friends—she had the kind of self-confidence you run across once or twice in a lifetime.
“It’s like (Hermann) Hesse says, happiness is a how, not a _what_”
At the time I was reading everything I could get my hands on about generals, samurai, shoguns, along with biographies of my three main heroes—Churchill, Kennedy, and Tolstoy. I had no love of violence, but I was fascinated by leadership, or lack thereof under extreme conditions. War is the most extreme of conditions.
Throughout history men have looked to the warrior for a model of Hemingway’s cardinal virtue, pressurized grace.
…she didn’t know that the basic rule of negotiation is to know what you want, what you need to walk away with in order to be whole.
“The cowards never started and the weak died along the way—that leaves us.”
“No brilliant idea was every born in a conference room,” he assured the Dane. “But a lot of silly ideas have died there,” said Stahr.
— F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon
So Werschkul spent months writing a breakdown—and in the process suffered a breakdown. What was supposed to be a summary, a brief, had ballooned into an exhaustive history, The Decline and Fall of the Nike Empire, which ran to hundreds of pages. It was longer than Proust, longer than Tolstoy, and not a fraction as readable. It even had a title. Without a shred of irony Werschkul called it: Werschkul on American Selling Price, Volume 1.
When you thought about it, when you really thought about it, what really scared you was that Volume 1.
We were big, there was no denying it. To make sure we weren’t too big for our britches, as Mom Hatfield would have said, we moved the way we’d always moved. All three hundred employees came in on the weekend and packed up their belongings into their own cars. We provided pizza and beer, and some of the warehouse guys loaded the heavier stuff into vans, and then we all slowly caravanned down the road.
In our first meetings on the subject of China we’d always say: One billion people. Two. Billion. Feet.
“When goods don’t pass international borders, soldiers will.”
Though I’ve been known to call business war without bullets, it’s actually a wonderful bulwark against war. Trade is the path of coexistence, cooperation.
Johnson lives slap in the middle of a Robert Frost poem, somewhere in the wilderness of New Hampshire. He’s converted an old barn into a five-story mansion, which he calls his Fortress of Solitude. Twice divorced, he’s filled the place to rafters with dozens of reading chairs, and thousands and thousands of books, and he keeps track of them all with an extensive card catalog.
Scampering and prancing around Johnson’s spread are countless wild turkeys and chipmunks, most of whom he’s named. He knows them all so well, so intimately, he can tell you when one is late in hibernating. Beyond, in the distance, nestled in a field of tall grass and swaying maples, Johnson has built a second barn, which he’s painted and laquered and furnished and filled with overflow from his personal library, plus pallets of used books he buys at library sales. He calls this book utopia “Horders,” and he keeps it lighted, open, free, twenty-four hours a day, for any and all who need a place to read and think.
That’s Full-time Employee Number One.