"Be a sponge. Curiosity is life. Assumption is death. Look around." - Mark Parker
As the world regales with tales of Usain Bolt (and rightly so), my thoughts are on meeting this man. As the CEO of Nike, Inc., Mark Parker has mythic status as one of the most innovative business minds in the world. Widely known as a gracious leader, that’s not what impresses me the most.
He gets us - the street athletes, the runners, the grimy, sweaty lot who relish the chance to go harder and proudly enter the mania that is “sport.” A former marathoner (he ran Western States!) and bonafide sneaker head, he started at Nike as a shoe designer over 20 years ago. Endearingly, Parker quietly pointed out some of his designs found at the Nike space, 1948, that are still strongholds decades later. Followed by kind words about Mo Farah, who trains near the Nike corporate campus in Oregon, Parker excitedly mentioned some forthcoming innovations with shoes and color ways for the Flyknit and Frees while sharply noting those parts of our conversation were “off the record.”
We chatted about my recent departure from law and the pursuit of passion. ”I considered going to law school,” Parker remarked, “but then I took a job at Nike designing shoes and here we are.” Clad in all black Nike Frees, Parker exudes a tangible passion for the brand - a brand that effectively encapsulates energy in motion and propels the world’s most elite athletes.
An effective listener, Parker is an obviously visual person as he compliments the American Flag scarf wrapped around my head and my Air Jordan 1 Jacket, a vintage find from around the time Parker started at Nike. ”You should start a fashion blog,” he says. The details from here are a bit fuzzy because I couldn’t actually believe I’d just received the greatest compliment of my LIFE.
He won’t ever know it, but our 10-minute interaction some how legitimized the free fall that is this new, scary career change to freelance journalism. Standing before greatness, handing Parker my business card with butterflies in my stomach, we parted with a handshake and a nod. Who knows if I will ever get the chance to thank him for the inspiration, but the stars aligned at the right moment to remind me that with big risk there’s big reward.
Stay curious. Stay hungry. How will you #findyourgreatness?