Introducing… Phil Knight!

Nike. A multi-billion dollar company, and one of the most well known brands across the world. Everyone knows Nike, but only some people know Phil Knight. I discovered Phil when I saw his autobiography in a bookstore. It looked interesting, so I decided to check it out. I found out how interesting Phil’s life was, and I learned how much Nike, this business that I had always thought of as an unshakable power, was once struggling to repay small loans to banks. I have always thought of myself as someone who has thought a little bit outside of the box, and now I had found someone who thought like me. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a little entrepreneurial spark inside me. I found a connection with Knight because that spark flared up when he created Nike. I see myself following a similar path in life, as I want to create something that will help move the world forward. I think that some of my other role models like Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, and my grandfather have formed this ambition because in them, I see that desire to improve the world and to innovate. One of the obstacles I see preventing me from eminence is expertise. I am not an expert in business or shoe design, whereas Phil was an accountant and had experimented with shoes since his time in university. Another obstacle I see for myself is motivation. It takes an extreme amount of motivation to start and grow a company from the ground up. I think that this study could help me overcome these obstacles by allowing me to learn about these areas and how to motivate myself to do something big. Although not many, there are a few barriers that prevent me from connecting with my eminent person. I will list the similarities and differences in a table below.

  Jackson Cyr Phil knight
Race and gender White male White male
Faith Atheist Atheist
Social/wealth class Middle class Middle class
Place of birth Coquitlam, BC, Canada Portland, Oregon, USA
disabilities none none
Family situation (divorced parents, single parent, etc.) Divorced parents Married parents


One of the only barriers I have from connecting with Phil Knight is the location where we grew up. Phil grew up in Portland while I grew up in Coquitlam. There is still not a major difference in our geography, as we still live in somewhat similar environments. Another difference between us is how our families were growing up. My parents divorced when I was four years old, whereas Knight’s parents remained married their whole lives. I will address these differences by looking to entrepreneurs like Knight who live in BC, and looking to someone like Knight who had divorced parents growing up. I intend to learn about Knight’s life, and what drove him to risk everything and become an entrepreneur. Through this study, I also intend to learn about what drives me, and how I could become eminent like Phil Knight. I can connect Phil with one of the goals on my IEP, which is to improve my time management. Phil, like myself, did not have good time management skills and there were times in his life where he suffered from this. Another goal I can connect from my IEP is improving attention to detail. When designing shoes, Knight sometimes thought faster than his brain could keep up with, so there were times where he would plan a shoe and it would look good at first glance, but there would be many details missing, upon a closer look, causing the shoe to fail. I hope to use this study to help reach my goals of improving time management and attention to detail. Overall, during this study, I plan to learn about the life of Phil Knight, what drove him to become eminent, and how I can apply what I learn to my life.

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