In this episode of the SLN Podcast, guest host Rob Langstaff speaks with his friend, former Nike executive, and sustainability expert Kirk Richardson.  You’d think a former President of adidas North America and a Bowerman Award winner (the Nike equivalent of an Oscar) might need a moderator to prevent Sneaker Wars II. Still, these guys respect one another and get along famously. They spoke about family, design, architecture, consumer insights, conservation, the outdoors, and much more.

Podcast Highlights

18:30 – Working with Tinker Hatfield: “I think he did have quite a bit of respect for what I was trying to say, because he realized I understood the philosophical foundation, cornerstones of great design.”

22:10 – Capturing insights to build better products: “Nike prides itself on this deep immersion into the lifestyle and the sports. You know, kind of requirements of their consumers and it goes from everything as simply as analyzing where both success and failure of the footwear is on literally the ground or the floor or the court, or pavilion in which the sport is conducted and see, seeing what’s working, what’s not.

29:20 – Growing the Family Footwear category: “I think initially when I was given the challenge, it didn’t seem that sexy or that it was going to be that much fun. And in fact it became a blast.”

39:30 – Giving back to the outdoors: “I got involved way back at Nike and it continued on for, you know, really to this day, for the past 25 years in being both a personal funder and then a corporate advocate for donating to the conservation Alliance, which is a group of outdoor brands who want to protect the public lands and preserve them.”

46:50 – The outdoors is therapy: “It’s like free therapy, you just drop off your shoulders and you relax and you come back with a smile on your face saying, boy, I want to do that again. You know, no matter what it is, hiking, camping, climbing, skiing, hang-gliding, whatever it is you like to do, it’s just so much better outdoors.”

50:00 – Do what you love: “If you love what you’re doing, you’re going to get phenomenal results. You’re going to take calculated risks that the world will appreciate. And I really think being passionate, being studious, being humble are all ingredients for a successful career. And don’t be ashamed or afraid to work hard.“

52:14 – Sharing with competitors: “I think sharing a meal, sharing a conversation regularly with your competitors and with people who you might day to day be in battled with for shelf space and market share, it is not an unethical thing to do so long as you’re talking about how you can both make the world a better place and safer for the next generation.”