[2022/09/20] meeting Brian O’Connor and skating

Do you know that Nike VP,  Global Brand Jordan Marketing Director Brian O’Connor is a Villanova alumnus? He just retired and he came back to Villanova today to share with us some lessons that he had learned in life and his journey with Nike.

First lesson – you should be a brand, because otherwise, you are just a commodity. That means you will be transacted and are only valuable for your low price. Being a brand is all about creating an emotional connection with the consumers (note the difference between the terms customer and consumer). For example, the logo jumping man was inspired by Jordan’s energy and spirit when he play. The whole legacy of the brand existed because of how fashionable Jordan is. It brings the consumer a sense of hard work, achievement, and success, just like Jordan, no matter if he is playing on the field or not.

Second lesson – know the difference between mission, vision, and position. Mission is why you show up at work every single day; vision is what you see in the next five years; and position is the filter you use to show and communicate the product. For Nike, their mission is to “set the higher standard of greatness today”; whereas their mission is “pioneer the future of flight” and their position is “always fly.” Therefore, Brian told us that the word “fly” is deeply embedded in every single product and every brief must have that overarching idea.

Third lesson – when the conversation gets subjective, always go back to the original goal. Brian found that tactic extremely effective in his working years because it keep him and his team grounded and focused. I believe that too, I think the most basic thing is fundamental and it has the power of reminding us why and how we got started in the first place.

Towards the end, he shared with us a few hashtags and the stories behind them. My three personal favorites beside #LifeIsAMarathonNotASpin were #RecognizeTheFearButDoItAnyway, #YouAreNotBacon, and #LifeIsAContactSport. #YouAreNotBacon is a saying from Linda, a Taiwanese designer; she wanted to spread the message that not everyone will love you but just be fine with that because as a leader sometimes you will have to make hard decisions that divert you away from some people. #LifeIsAContactSport is extremely relevant because it reminds him to stay in contact with people around him. Brian told us that 4 years of college goes by fast, but the people are not because they can be your friends for life.

I almost forget to mention skating, but today KF came to Villanova and taught me how to skate. He showed me some short and long runs aside from getting on and off the board, which intrigued me to learn more and be better at skating.

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