Dec 012016

Just finished NIKE founder Phil Knight’s book Shoe Dog. An absolute must read, not only for its content, but also for its humor! The true stories about real people are infinitely more fascinating than novels, you see the laughs and the tears in their experiences.

When I read books about Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk, I felt that these people are geniuses way beyond my league. They knew exactly where they want and are going from the start. But Phil Knight is more like us mortals, improvising as he went along, and just trying his best. His advice was quite intriguing: “Let everyone else call your idea crazy, just keep going. Don’t stop, don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought towards where there is.” Indeed, in work, I wish we plan strategically and do the right things towards the goals, but very often we end up in a different place from where we thought there is.

NIKE was able to keep most of its founding team for many years, especially those who love sports or running. It boosted my respect for runners who have that grit and optimism. I bought new NIKE free running shoes. Time to get back to regular exercise!

  2 Responses to “Shoe Dog”

  1. I ‘m impressed with your research about cancer. They are in deed very valuable. I search your name and read your blog because I heard that you would not write recommendaction letter for people who worked with you less than a year. I was not quite surprised after I learned your background. But it is not the true educator and dedicated scientist that I admire. If a student has been working with you for a year what would be the reason for them to leave your lab and need a recommendation from you? Imagine if you are the one who’s looking for support and encouragement to pursue your goal, what a disappointment would been turned down felt like? All my life I deeply appreciate my professor who helped me achieved my goal. I hope your followers and those who want to be the contributors in cancer research will appreciate your helping hand. I also hope more people read and respond to your blog.

    • Thanks for the comments. When I first started collaborating with Tongji University in China, many relatives and friends wanted me to write letters for their kids, whom I don’t even know. Also, many people have asked to work in my lab, but if I tell them before I accept them into my lab that, “I only write letters for people who have worked with us for more than a year”, many no long want to work with us. I have made exceptions and wrote excellent letters for people who have worked with us for shorter time but have done an outstanding job. My colleague John Storey once told me he never replies when people email him the first time expressing an interest to work with him. He said, “if they really want to work with me, they will email again or find other ways to approach me” or something like that. My letter rule has served me well over the years as a shield to opportunists, so has my “crazy” rule of using publication impact factor to qualify postdoc candidates.

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