The Entrepreneur & the Athlete


Though Dan Wieden’s “Just Do It” slogan defines Nike to the millions of fans and consumers around the world, it’s Bill Bowerman’s quote that truly defines the company.

“If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

The difference between a body and an athlete’s body has everything to do with the heart and mind that inhabit it. Though everyone is capable of being athletic, it takes conscious choice and enduring determination to turn yourself into an athlete.

If you have an idea, you are an entrepreneur.

The same heart and mind make all the difference with an idea and an entrepreneur’s idea. Without that passion and illogical force of will, a crazy thought had in a basement, a garage, or a crowded bar can never become a company that will change the world.

“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

The other part of Bowerman’s famous statement adds an ethos that the company can not only unify behind, but can drive every action towards.

In one of my creative Bibles, the Heath brothers’ Made to Stick, this concept is refered to as “The Commander’s Intent.” Inspired by a US military practice, the Heath brothers urge leaders to empower their team by unifying them under a larger purpose.

If a company clearly defines its Commander’s Intent, then no matter what happens, what problems arise, every single employee has a shared and constant goal to strive towards.

There’s a reason why athletes have mantras they recite, superstitions they repeat before every game. In a world of uncertainties, failures, and defeat, these constants act as anchors to help weather the storm.

Don’t be Evil.Google

Focus and simplicity. Steve Jobs

To refresh the world. Coca-Cola

It behooves every founder to articulating these two elements as soon as possible. Every conversation they have will center around them.

What is the company’s core Idea? What are you doing?

What is the Commander’s Intent? How will you do it?

Once you know it, paint it on the wall! Embedd it in the minds of every employee. Give them a common goal and the autonomy to actually achieve it.


Beyond Nike,what lessons can founders take from the well-practiced techniques of an athlete training for his/her sport? What stories can help us learn and grow, without having to suffer through the same mistakes?

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”
Phil Collins

Over the next few months I’ll be training for my first full marathon while building a company. Writing these lessons as I learn them, my hope for the Entrepreneur and the Athlete is to inspire others as much as myself. And to avoid becoming a hot mess.

So if you have some stories to share, ideas to add, or just want to chat about the series…come at me >> @thejulielogan.

We can grab a coffee or go on a run sometime.

Written by

is a writer, photographer, and adventurer. Founder of Nutmeg. Drinker of Coffee. She can be found running around San Francisco any given day.

 

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