Tag Archive: Uncle Phil


I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull’s-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull’s-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s a law of nature.” – Nike founder Phil Knight

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena …” – President Teddy Roosevelt

There are no statues devoted to critics.

Our increasingly complex data-driven society is overloaded with analysts, reviewers, chroniclers, interpreters – creating nothing of meaningful value – but they are always quick to cast stones at those who try to make the world a better place.

As Phil Knight said in his New York Times best seller Shoe Dog, “Entrepreneurs have always been outgunned, outnumbered.”

A perfect example – not the first one and certainly not the last – is the use of a series of infographics to depict an engineering/entrepreneur who tried and tried and succeeded brilliantly, but is portrayed by his failures.

A May 26 MarketWatch piece by Sally French includes a five-part infographic, which catalogs a litany of failures by Tesla co-founder, SpaceX founder, SolarCity co-founder and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.

When asked to describe himself by Steve Croft of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Musk responded that he regarded himself simply as an engineer. Almost DailyBrett has worked with engineers for years, attempting to transform their anal exactitude, never-ending acronyms and nomenclature into plain English.

What characterizes engineers is their willingness, their compulsion to throw ideas at the wall. Some will stick, and others … oh well.

Elon Musk is not afraid to fail. He is more scared by the prospect of not even trying.

Alas, Musk is human. Five of his SpaceX rockets blew up. He was ousted from PayPal on his honeymoon. He made $180 million from his stake in PayPal. He invested this money and presumably much more in SpaceX and Tesla, both were hemorrhaging cash. He was not only broke, but in way-over-his-head debt in 2008.

Today, Musk is Forbes’ #80 wealthiest individual on the planet with an estimated worth of $13.9 billion. His Tesla is the pure-play leader in energy-efficient electric cars, ion-Lithium batteries and solar. Is Tesla an electric car company that helps combat climate change? An energy company that shuns fossil fuels? Or is it, Elon Musk’s company?

How about all of the above? To most investors, the answer would be third … Tesla is Elon Musk’s company … and there may lie the reason for the MarketWatch infographics, illustrating Musk’s failures. Schadenfreude has never felt so good or gut.

A similar set of questions can be asked about Musk’s SpaceX, which is transporting materials to the International Space Station and may someday put humans on Mars. Think of it this way, four entities have successfully fired rockets into space: The United States of America, Russia, China and Elon Musk’s privately held, SpaceX.

The Importance of Failure

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse.” — Walt Disney

Would you rather be Steve Jobs, who was terminated by the company he created, Apple?

Or would you rather be John Sculley, who will go down in history as the man who fired Steve Jobs?

 

 

Sculley recently tried to blame the termination of Jobs on the Apple Board of Directors at the time, but the die has already been cast. Sculley will follow Jobs to the grave as the man who sent packing the modern-day equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci.

Nike founder Phil Knight recounted in his memoir how he started his company with a $50 loan from his dad. Today, Nike is the planet’s No. 1 athletic apparel and shoe provider with $33.92 billion in revenues, $86.8 billion in market capitalization and 70,000 employees.

Uncle Phil is the 28th wealthiest homo sapien in the world at $26.2 billion. Keep in mind, this company was literally days, if not hours, away from bankruptcy too many times to count between 1962 and going public in 1980.

For Musk, his tale is a South Africa-to-America story. Today, Tesla is a $8.55 billion company, employing 17,782 with investors pouring $53.4 billion into its market cap.

Almost DailyBrett has been consistent in hailing the risk takers, the entrepreneurs, those who stare failure right in the face and sneer. The results are great companies that employ 10s of thousands and produce the products we want and need.

There will always be those who rage at the “billionaire class” to score political points.

And some with too-much-time-on-their-hands develop infographics to illustrate how the great have fallen here and there.

Wonder if any of these critics, analysts, reviewers etc. would have fired Steve Jobs?

Almost DailyBrett radical transparency: Your author happily owns shares in both Nike (NYSE: NKE) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). The above epistle does not constitute investment advice for either company other than to generically say, Buy Low, Sell High.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-many-failures-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2017-05-24

http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-fascinating-life-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2016-04-13

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bojY5N2Ns3k

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/a-man-in-the-arena/

https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/#version:static

https://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2013/09/09/john-sculley-just-gave-his-most-detailed-account-ever-of-how-steve-jobs-got-fired-from-apple/#38def8d4c655

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Invested in Oregon football season tickets 27 years ago, and also seats for the Oregon Symphony Orchestra.

Whatever happened to those yawn-a-minute classical music tickets?

Reflecting on the purchase of Oregon season seats and directly related contributions to the Duck Athletic Fund, the author of Almost DailyBrett can categorically state: My life has been totally transformed partly as a result: super spouse, college professorship, advanced degree and even a little Valley Fever to build a little character.kevinatoregon

Never conceived even for a nanosecond or two that my two humble tickets in Section 33, Row 15, Seats 7-8 near the 30-yard line at Autzen Stadium could mean so much.

When I ordered the season tix, there were only 12,000 brave Oregon season ticket holders. There was an alumni tent in the gravel parking lot. The average crowd was about 25,000, and the mean, hateful, despicable Don James-era Washington Huskies ruled the Pacific Northwest, if not the Pac-10 Conference.

Today, there are more than 42,000 season ticket holders for the always packed friendly confines of Autzen Stadium, where it never rains. The Ducks have beaten the Huskies a series-record (and counting) 12 straight times.

Back in 1990 the Ducks were … the Ducks. They were always a tad above mediocre. Bill Musgrave was the quarterback, surrounded by decent talent. Oregon went 8-4, including a landmark upset of Ty Detmer’s No. 4 BYU Cougars, but lost in the frickin’ Freedom Bowl.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was determined back then, he did not want to go to the Pearly Gates without once watching the Ducks in the Rose Bowl. Oregon was predicted for 10th in the Pac-10 in 1994. And then there was the magical October 22 game against Washington in Autzen Stadium.wheaton

For a few seconds, it seemed that time stood still: “Kenny Wheaton is going to score. Kenny Wheaton is going to score …

The band was playing “Mighty Oregon” on the floor of the Rose Bowl on January 2, 1995. There was not a dry eye on the Oregon side of The Granddaddy of Them All. We lost that day, wearing Champion jerseys and pants in uniforms that would make the Green Bay Packers proud.

Uncle Phil was not on the sidelines. That would soon change.

Akili, Joey, Kellen and Dennis …

Some of the greatest to ever play quarterback for Oregon starred during the Mike Bellotti era (116-57) including Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Kellen Clemens and Dennis Dixon. They handed the ball off to Reuben Droughns, Maurice Morris and Jonathan Stewart. The likes of Haloti Ngata plugged up the middle on defense.

The big moment during the Bellotti tenure was blowing out Colorado 38-16 in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl (we should have been in the Rose Bowl) to finish No. 2 in the country at 11-1.joeyharrington

The author of Almost Daily Brett worked for LSI Logic and Edelman Public Relations during this era and would make frequent trips to Eugene and to road games (e.g., Michigan Big House in 2007) from Silicon Valley – all for the love of Oregon football.

Unfortunately, breathing in the Valley Fever fungus before Oregon’s tight win over Fresno State in Fresno almost led to curtains. Never thought that going to a Duck game could be so deadly to my health. Fought the little Valley Fever bugger to a standstill and dodged prostate cancer as well. The net result: The Chip Kelly era of Oregon football, matrimony, an advanced degree and a second career.

LaMichael, Kenyon, DeAnthony, Darron, Jeanne …

Headed up to Eugene during Chip Kelly’s first year for a game against Cal. Went to more than a football game that fall day in 2009. Stopped off at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Could I be a college teacher? Sure, take the GRE, apply for a fellowship, serve as a TA and devote 15 months of my life to earning a Master of Arts degree.

All the rest is history.

Oh BTW, Oregon went 46-7 in Chip’s four years including a trip to the “Natty,” a thrilling win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl with a high-speed, spread offense that revolutionized football.

Uncle Phil was stepping up big time with the Moshofsky Indoor Practice facility (no more alumni tent in the gravel parking lot), an academic support center for athletes and an incredible football complex.DSC01377

Landed an emergency adjunct instructor position at Oregon, which led to a July 4, 2012 Match.com date with a fantabulous Fraulein by the name of Jeanne. She is now Jeanne Brett.

Heisman Marcus; Rose Bowl Blowout

Nearing the end of my sixth decade on the planet, my UO advanced degree, teaching experience and my extensive background made me competitive for a tenure-track assistant professorship in public relations and advertising.marcusrosebowl

The drive from Ellensburg’s Central Washington University to Oregon’s Autzen Stadium is about six hours. It has been worth every minute as the Ducks continued to overachieve under Mark Helfrich (33-8). Marcus Mariota won the Heisman, and easily outdueled Jameis Winston in the Jan. 1, 2015 Rose Bowl, 59-20.

The Ducks have come a long way from the days when yours truly wondered if they would ever play in Pasadena on New Year’s Day, let alone twice competing for the national championship.

If you are scoring at home, Oregon is 226-100 ever since your author bought his season seats in 1990. The Ducks have won seven conference championships, went to two national championship games, played in four Rose Bowls, winning the last two, and two Fiesta Bowls, winning both. All-in-all, the Ducks have been to 23 bowls during this time.

More importantly, the tickets have been so much more than precious pieces of cardboard with bar codes. They have represented new love (e.g., Jeanne), a challenge (e.g., Valley Fever), an intellectual achievement (e.g. M.A. degree); valuable teaching experience (e.g., adjunct instructor): and a new career as a professor and mentor (e.g., assistant professor).

All-in-all, I am One Ducky Dude. Can hardly wait for fall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqlcRAZfRHc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYt2GDh9PgU

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/washington-cancels-oct-17-game-against-oregon/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/rooting-for-oregon-before-it-was-cool/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/the-world-through-corvallis-eyes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/the-right-woman/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/prostate-cancer-a-piece-of-cake-compared-to-valley-fever/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/from-press-secretary-to-professor/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/launching-a-second-career-2/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/give-some-credit-to-rich-brooks/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/ducks-vs-dawgs-to-end-the-season/

 

 

 

They don’t hate us. We hate them, even though our mumsies told us to never use that verb.

Eugene is only 47 miles down the road, guess that proves that familiarity does indeed breed contempt.bennybeaver

They actually root for us, except once a year in the Civil War. We detest, despise and loathe them and everything they represent. We will never, ever cheer for them.

They see themselves as The Jetsons. They compare us to the Flintstones.

They see themselves as ultra-cool, and so does ESPN. Guess that makes us, Brand X.

When they do deign to actually contemplate us, they regard us as “Little Brother,” and that “Cow College.” They make disparaging sheep jokes: “The greatest lie in Corvallis? ‘I was only trying to help that sheep over the fence.’”

That’s not funny, and it’s not true.

Seriously.

On Tuesday nights, they watch “Talkin’ Ducks” on Comcast SportsNet. On Wednesday, we are supposed to watch “Talkin Beavers,” even though the title sounds like the obscene chatter of adolescent boys.

We were just so close this past Friday, our rodents coming within three points twice in the fourth quarter until they took it away from us for their eighth consecutive win. The Civil War is now Oregon 63, Oregon State 46 and 10 ties … once again we were on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

Their biggest rival is the Washington Huskies, not us. They will not even acknowledge that we are their true rivals.

They are so smug in their ever-changeable Nike uniforms. We have to admit they have a better school, better stadium, better facilities, better team, better band, better songs, better mascot, better rally squad. Everything is just frickin’ better.shout

Okay, we are better at agronomy, but does that count?

Flat Tail Society

We supposedly market ourselves as Beaver Nation, but does anyone outside of Benton County really believe Mike Parker, The Voice of the Beavers?

They have “Uncle Phil,” and his Nike billions. He lavishly and charitably gives millions to both athletics and academics at his alma mater, and yet we still wear his swoosh uniforms. Doesn’t Adidas or Under Armour want to protect our house?

We played in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1965, losing by only 27 points to Michigan. They played in the Rose Bowl this past January 1, beating previously undefeated Florida State by 39 points … and the game wasn’t that close.

Twice we were within one game of the Rose Bowl in both 2008 and 2009. All we had to do was beat them … that’s all we had to do. Alas …

“Send me dead flowers by the mail

Send me dead flowers to my wedding

And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave” – Jagger, Richards, Dead Flowers

Coming Full Circle

We have a Heisman Trophy winner by the name of … ahh … what was his name again? Oh, Terry Baker in 1862. Sorry, made a mistake, it was 1962. Their Heisman Trophy winner is Marcus Mariota, just this past year. You can watch him play every Sunday for the Tennessee Titans.marcusheisman

We set an NCAA record for most consecutive losing seasons: 27 (1971-1998). We seemed to be turning the corner until we ran into an oncoming train. Our native-son coach, Mike Riley, packed his bags for bucolic Lincoln, Nebraska. We won two games this year. Oregon had a bad year (for them) too, winning only nine, six straight, and yet another win over us.

At least one commentator referred to our football program as a “road apple.” Hey, that’s not true. We almost won a conference game. And we are going to fix up the Valley Football Center in Corvallis.

Maybe we can adjust the rabbit ears at the Valley Football Center and watch the Ducks in their 12th straight bowl game … at least they are not playing for national championship this year.

We are optimistic about next year. Contrary to the persistent rumors, there will be ice on the sidelines at Reser Lunch Meats Stadium. The student with the recipe is staying for graduate school.

Even though we lost yet another Civil War last Friday, we are proud of Oregon State, our alma mater dear. Our diplomas are proudly hung on the wall, and most of us are gainfully employed.

And when customers arrive, we will cheerfully ask: “Would you like to supersize your meal?”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_War_(college_football_game)

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rollingstones/deadflowers.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_State_Beavers_football

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just going for a bag of groceries can be a lot of fun. The real trick to owning one  of these (Miata) is you always take the long way home,” – Comedian Jay Leno

Those who dismiss the Miata as a ‘chick car,’ have never driven one” – Tom Voelk, New York Times auto reviewer.

miataleno

Do I love my Miata (my little green chariot) more than I love my new bride?

That would be a big, “no,” and for good reason.

Having said that, can there be more than one love in a mature male’s life without him getting stuck in deep doo-doo? The answer is “yes.”

This coming June will be the 10th anniversary of my purchase of an emerald mica and tan (rag top and leather interior) Mazda Miata. After travelling more than 127,000 miles, I am asking myself: ‘Why not 10 more years with the same car?’

Midlife Crisis?

When I first acquired my Mazda Miata, I was the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic Corporation. Driving my new car into the employee parking lot, I raised a few eyebrows with my new ride, triggering predictable suggestions of a “mid-life crisis.”

“Why didn’t you get it in red?” I was repeatedly asked.

Have you ever seen an Oregon Duck football game? Even with the myriad of “Just-Do-It” uniform changes courtesy of Uncle Phil, there is not a smidgen of red to be found. Besides I am not a red guy, unless you want to count Oregon pinot noir or amber ale.

Overall my purchase drew thumbs up from my colleagues except for accurate criticisms that the Miata is a great car, “if you have another car.” And I did have another car, an all-wheel drive Subaru Legacy that served me with distinction for more than a decade.

Gangster Rapper? Me?

As I contemplated buying a new car way back in 2004, my daughter suggested that I purchase a white Cadillac Escalade. Her reasoning was simple: “All the gangster rappers drive Escalades.” Do I remind anyone even for a nanosecond of a gangster rapper? Besides they can afford the super fuel and upkeep for an Escalade, complete I assume with bullet-proof windows.

Seriously, I was thinking about a 3-series convertible von Deutschland, in particular von den Bayerische Motoren Werke (e.g., BMW). It didn’t take me long to figure out that I could acquire two Mazda Miatas for the price of one Beemer 3-Series convertible, excluding the major difference in upkeep…not in favor of the Beemer. Including obligatory California taxes and license, I was able to purchase the car for under $30,000 … that’s a deal.

_MG_1302 (3)

Some were curious about why I would buy a Mazda, thinking the brand was beneath me. And my reply was to ask: ‘Is a Corvette just a Chevy?’ A Miata (it will never be an MX-5 to me…sorry Mazda Marketing Department) is a special car, one that serves as a logical and workable continuation of the high-maintenance Lotus Elan, Triumph Spitfire, MG MGB, Fiat 124 Sport Spider and the Alfa Romeo Spider. The post-war Brit and Italian designers had the idea right – a fun two-seater sports convertible – they just failed on the execution.

What’s the old joke about needing to buy two Jaguars? You can drive one, while the other is in the shop.

Leave it to Japanese designers/engineers with their now legendary penchant for quality to get it right.

Rental Miata?

My romance with Miata began by mistake. My plane to San Francisco was late and the rental car agency had very few cars left. Instead of a sub-compact econo-box, they rented me a blue Miata. For the first time ever, I didn’t want to return a rental car. I never forgot that Miata.

As a smitten owner of a Miata, I have to report that the four-cylinder, back-wheel drive car has plenty of guts on the highway. Why? My second generation car only weighs 1,065 pounds. As a driver you are much closer to the road and you literally feel every bump and pot hole. Be careful with big rigs, and whatever you do, stay out of their blind spots.

The handling and turning radius is easily the best I have ever experienced in any vehicle. If you can’t parallel park a Miata, then you simply can’t parallel park any car. Going topless? Just flip two low-tech latches and you are in business. As a follicly challenged male, I always have to remember my sun glasses and ball cap. Soon I will be hugging the curves.

DSC00422

As the Miata celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, it has already set a Guinness World Record of 900,000 vehicles, easily the world’s best-selling two-seater sports car. Mazda is expected to reach the 1 million mark next year.

Is the Miata for everybody? Alas, it is not a family car. There are only two seats and an itsy-bitsy truck, about big enough for a picnic basket, some folding chairs and that aforementioned bottle of Oregon pinot noir.

And when does spring come? How about right now? Time to put the top down.

http://www.nytimes.com/video/automobiles/100000002825211/the-miata-turns-25.html?emc=edit_th_20140416&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=26450727

http://www.torquenews.com/1083/mazda-celebrates-mx-5-miata-turning-25-special-tribute

http://okcmiata.com/members/miata_colors.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Elan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumph_Spitfire

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MG_MGB

oregonfootballbuilding

“We are the University of Nike. We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits,” – Jeff Hawkins, University of Nike senior associate athletic director of Football Administration and Operations.

Mr. Hawkins also told “that” to the New York Times.

Apparently, he said it on the record.

By the way, he works for the University of Oregon, not the University of Nike.

The correct brand is the “O,” not the “Swoosh.”

It’s so easy these days to get them mixed up.

This is an Almost DailyBrett blog that I wish I did not feel compelled to write…but I must.

I received my master’s degree from the University of Oregon, served as graduate teaching fellow for the University of Oregon and have contributed at least $1,000 annually to the Duck Athletic Fund since 1990…That is the University of Oregon’s Duck Athletic Fund, not the Nike Athletic Fund. I will leave the latter to Uncle Phil.

Hawkins’ quote is part of a massive New York Times piece that catalogues the excesses of the at least $68 million Football Performance Center complete with rugs woven by hand in Nepal, couches made in Italy, weight room hard wood from Brazil and fine Corinthian leather throughout…okay, there is no fine Corinthian leather…at least that is not in the NYT story.

Did the Athletic Department feel the need to provide that level of detail?

What is the PR strategy behind this public orgy of nouveau riche?

Asked about the extravagant football building, UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens used a negative: “People will complain, but this is not excessive.” Not excessive? How about: “This is appropriate for our student athletes, who give so much to the University of Oregon”?

One must wonder about the reaction of President Michael R. Gottfredson to the notion of the University of Nike? Something tells me he is not comfortable with this descriptor.

How about the university’s easily excitable faculty, particularly those that are not enamored with athletic emphasis? Will the University of Nike be thrown back in the face of university bargainers in collective bargaining agreement negotiations? I will take the over.

How about the UO development folks, who are trying their best to convince donors that the university really needs financial assistance, both academically and athletically?

And what about the students, who are not athletes? Are they students or employees?

Is the University of Oregon the equivalent of a publicly traded, multi-national athletic apparel company?

Does the University of Oregon have its own ticker symbol: (NYSE: NKE)?

Can we tune into CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg etc. every trading day to see how the stock is performing?

For history buffs, the University of Oregon was founded in 1876. Since then the University of Oregon has served as the premier liberal arts oriented public research university flagship of the Oregon University System.

deady

Conversely, Nike came into being in its first iteration in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports and 14 years later as Nike.

Think of it another way, the University of Oregon existed for more than a century before Nike was officially born. The university’s football team with UOs on the helmets (and no Swoosh to be found on the uniforms) actually made it to the Rose Bowl in 1994 before Phil Knight dug into his legendary deep pocket.

Don’t get me wrong, we should all be grateful for the generosity of Phil and Penny Knight, but the brand is and will always be, the University of Oregon.

Former UCLA head coach (and former UO offensive coordinator) Bob Toledo once said that Oregon had the best “team owner” in the then Pac-10 conference.

As an alum and an über-successful businessman, Knight, has given and given to his two alma maters, the University of Oregon (undergraduate) and Stanford University (post-graduate).

I trust that no spokesperson, academic or athletic, would ever label Stanford, the University of Nike. Even though, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page both received graduate degrees from Stanford, there is no movement for the The Farm to be recast as the University of Google.

If University of Oregon football coaches want to celebrate the university’s connection to Nike in recruiting young studs with fast 40 times, Just Do It.

Telling the New York Times or any other media that UO is now the University of Nike is simply not smart.

If it was true, the band would be playing Mighty Nike as opposed to Mighty Oregon on game days.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/sports/ncaafootball/oregon-football-complex-is-glittering-monument-to-ducks-ambitions.html?_r=0

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike,_Inc.

http://www.uoregon.edu

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergey_Brin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Page

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-lowndes/fighting-for-public-educa_b_3924676.html

gottfredson

The University of Oregon dodged a bullet.

The NCAA fired a shot across the bow.

The NCAA slapped the Ducks on the wrist.

What other metaphors seem appropriate just days after the not-as-big-as-we-initially-thought judgment day?

Is the coast clear for the University of Oregon?

That one is easy, no.

Teaching upper-division public relations at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and preparing client presentations during my days with Edelman Public Relations and LSI Logic, I became intimate with SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

UO leaders, whether they are university types at Johnson Hall or jock types at the Casanova Center, all know the exhilaration of being shot at and missed (another metaphor). Is this a time to celebrate? Or as the Independence Day holidays near, should the academic and athletic types use this welcome respite to reflect and ponder?

The next time, the university may not be so lucky.

Some imply that Uncle Phil’s money solves all problems. When something sounds so simple and frankly too good to be true, you know that is exactly the case.

First and foremost, the university must provide access to all worthy students and it must offer a quality education to all who walk through its gates. There are nearly 25,000 students that need to be educated in the best way possible at the lowest possible cost. Pac-12 titles, BCS Bowl wins and Sweet 16s are nice and provide onus to Oregon’s brand of success, but that is not the university’s primary purpose.

Taking all of these factors into account, how can Oregon totally restore its image for integrity, overcome previous charges of “mediocrity,” and most of all build upon its reputation, enhance its brand and give more charge to its cachet? That’s a tall order and that’s where a SWOT comes into play.

Oregon Strengths

● When considering the strengths of the University of Oregon, some will automatically think of the “O,” and will immediately tie it to the Nike “Swoosh.” Yes, Phil Knight is easily Oregon’s most famous alum, but he is not the only former undergraduate student who matriculated in Eugene.

Here are some other strengths: the relatively new President Michael R. Gottfredson, a breath of fresh air after his combative predecessor. The university boasts strong professional schools, including Architecture and Allied Arts, Business, Education, Law and my favorite, Journalism and Communication, and is widely regarded as a center for research and innovation.allen1

The university and the Eugene community are universally seen as leaders in sustainable environmental management and a healthy place to live. Eugene is a quality-of-life play … people want to reside here regardless of the temperate and temperamental climate.

Oregon Weaknesses

● When it comes to weaknesses, the comments made by former (read: fired) President Richard Lariviere and amplified by a frustrated Phil Knight about Oregon pursuing a path to “mediocrity” still hurt.

Oregon is located in America’s cul-de-sac, out-of-sight, out-of-mind of those who reside particularly in God’s Time Zone (e.g., EDT, EST). Geography and a small population will always be a factor. The State of Oregon has dropped its annual support to the university to about 5 percent of the university’s total budget, receiving $44 million in university generated revenues, and simply giving about the same amount back to UO. As a consequence, tuition is going up again, this time 5.8 percent, and the faculty has unionized. They are demanding a first-ever Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) … lovely.

Oregon Opportunities

● Surveying UO’s opportunities there is the continual upgrading of Oregon’s academic reputation (frosh numbers and GPAs are increasing) and enhancing athletic excellence. The university is looking north about 60 miles to Salem to see if the legislators will pass SB 270 (Haas, D-Beaverton) that would give UO its own institutional governing board.

The trick here is to convince the capitol movers-and shakers of the obvious: The University of Oregon is the state’s flagship university without spooking Southern Oregon University, Eastern Oregon University and Oregon Tech. We love you too.

If Salem is providing less-and-less, then it stands to reason to allow Oregon to have more of a say about how it will fund itself and build upon its impressive physical plant to better serve and meet the needs of its students.

Oregon Threats

● And what are the threats that keep the folks in Johnson Hall and the Casanova Center respectively up at night? The NCAA was one of them, and that monster has not totally gone away…it is merely taking a cat nap.

knightlibrary

Assuming the completion of an initial CBA, who will be the winner and who will be the loser? If the CBA negotiations are handled correctly on both sides – the university and United Academics – will be able to each legitimately declare victory. The university’s finances will pencil out and the academics will do what they do best: research and teach (in that order).

This successful scenario will avoid a faculty “action” and hopefully will reduce the upward pressure on student tuition, easing the hit on family pocketbooks and escalating student loan amounts.

There is also the perception threat: Uncle Phil will always come to the rescue. He is 75 and needs to dispense with $14.4 billion. Why not more for UO?

One suspects there will be more from Phil Knight…both athletically and academically … and the university will be thankful and humble. That does not remove either the challenges or the issues and the threats that need to be met and addressed. There are also tremendous opportunities as well.

It’s time to damn the torpedoes (another metaphor).

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/06/ncaa_gives_oregon_a_chance_to.html

http://www.forbes.com/profile/phil-knight/

Is “clueless” male, redundant?

How about “disrespectful” man?

And to top it off, I have been labeled an “attention seeker.”

All of the above occurred in just one week as a result of a post that I wrote a little more than one year ago: The Trouble with Widowers.

These are just some of the joys of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Presumably, legions of women upset with widowers went to the web. They found my blog. They wrote to me. I wrote to them. The Internet bots recorded it all. My Trouble with Widowers blog is listed in the first and second positions on Google.

Can we do that again?

blog1

Life is so short.

And yet there is so much that one has to read for work, for school, for personal improvement.

And then there are the relatively few-in-comparison precious items that one actually wants to read.

A blogger needs to keep these essential truths in mind when composing a post. A blog is the most discretionary of all reads. No one makes you read her or his blog. If your blog is lame, no one will read it. If your blog is boring, the reader will simply stop reading after a few paragraphs. If your blog is predictable, then why keep on reading?

After posting 201 blogs…some obviously better than others…there are lessons that come from blogging, which allows me to offer my humble commentary to an imperfect world.

Many immediately start thinking about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and how to entice the “bots” to visit their pages…and one should contemplate these strategies. It is all so binary code or digital ones-and-zeroes.

Having said that, some of the lessons that emanate from blogging are actually analog in nature. Some of these do not originate in digital high-tech environments, but instead they are taught in conventional Journalism school. These include catchy headlines, inverted pyramids, the use of familiar (e.g., celebrity) names, breaking news stories, controversial debate points and even subjects that pertain to matters below the waist line…that would be sex for those of you living in Springtucky.

Headlines Matter: Just as in conventional magazine and newspaper journalism, a catchy headline will draw the eye and entice the reader to take a gander at the first few paragraphs. Besides The Trouble with Widowers, my other heavily read blog posts include: Competing Against the Dead, Men and Their Schlanges, Magnanimous in Victory; Gracious in Defeat, Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility; It’s Not You; It’s Me; Taxing the Fab Four; Exiling the Stones; and A Smile on the Lips Before a Tear in the Eyes.

Leads Matter: Not every blog has to start out with the classic inverted pyramid, outlining the what, when, where, who, why and how of the story in rapid order. After all a blog is not a hard-news story, more of a feature or “thumb sucker” for those in the profession. Having said that, the reader should not be left wondering for long what the subject is about. Get to the point.

My blog about Lindsay Lohan, Hugh Hefner and $1 million to pose au naturel (Lindsay, not Hugh) did not take long for the reader to comprehend: The Decision to Pose for Playboy. I am still amazed by how many are still searching for information about skating superstar Katarina Witt’s sold-out 1998 nude spread in Playboy.

Tags Matter: What do blog readers care about? How about Katarina Witt and the word, “nude?” So far, I have posted more than 1,750 different tags to entice eyeballs and search engines. An Oregon football fan cares about Uncle Phil, Phil Knight, Nike, Autzen Stadium, Chip Kelly, Rose Bowl etc. Write your blog with tags in mind and review it to make sure you are fully taking advantage of what tags can do for your personal brand, SEO, individual visits and page views.

Stakeholders Matter: The number of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, LinkedIn groups all equate to higher SEO. Every blog should be shared on these sites. Search engines are important, but they are far from the only way to drum up attention to your blog and better Google placement.

Credibility Matters: The lawyers call it “standing.” Do you have the bona-fides to write about a given subject? Why should anyone listen to you? I teach public relations at a Top 10 journalism school. I know a thing or two about communications, but virtually nothing about math and science. I write to my strengths and avoid my obvious weaknesses.

Respect Matters: One cannot be a successful blogger without being provocative. That is different from being notorious. As a former press secretary, I am not afraid of mixing it up. At the same time, I try to be respectful of others and want the same. I have thick skin to a point. Let’s dispense with name calling, slurs or foul language. The key is to be offensive without being offensive.

blog2

All of the above do not require an advanced geek degree in writing algorithms for Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google (all tags for this blog). The knowledge of effective journalistic writing and persuasive public relations all come in mighty handy in writing an effective blog.

Who said that analog skills are dead?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Descartes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_bots

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google

https://www.google.com/search?q=Search%20Engine%20Marketing&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&gs_rn=9&gs_ri=psy-ab&gs_mss=The%20Trouble%20with%20Wid&pq=search%20engine%20marketing&cp=25&gs_id=ma&xhr=t&q=The%20Trouble%20with%20Widowers&es_nrs=true&pf=p&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&sclient=psy-ab&oq=The+Trouble+with+Widowers&gs_l=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&bvm=bv.45512109,d.cGE&fp=b3ed9e4baad5b678&biw=1680&bih=946

Upon announcement of his induction into the University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday night, the sellout crowd at Autzen Stadium gave Nike founder and über-UO donor Phil Knight a standing ovation.

The 99 percent were cheering, rather than jeering, a member of the despised 1 percent.

Class warfare and jealously were shelved for at least for a nanosecond or two.

And what ever happened to “Occupy Eugene,” let alone “Occupy Wall Street?”

The reason for the outpouring of appreciation was obvious: Never in recorded history have so many UO students, athletes and alums owed so much to one solitary man. He has given more than $300 million (and counting) to the school’s Athletic Department, including $100 million to the UO Athletics Legacy Fund.

unclephil

Academically, he contributed the lion’s share to the $27 million renovation to the UO Knight Library. The name of his late father and 1932 UO Law grad, William W. Knight, adorns the 68,000-square foot University of Oregon law school.

Knight’s generosity is not limited to the University of Oregon as he gave $105 million to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received his MBA. He has also directed $100 million to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) for the Knight Cancer Institute, and most recently $125 million more to establish the OHSU Cardiovascular Institute.

In a society where we make so much of those who are “giving back,” why are we so insistent on “taxing the rich” (e.g., Phil Knight) to further grow the size, scope and gravitational pull of the federal government?

Is it fair to impose punitive taxation on successful entrepreneurs in which nothing is given, who have a great idea, and have the temerity to “Just Do It?” If one subscribes to the notion that the best anti-poverty program on the planet is a job, then $24 billion Nike is responsible for “stimulating” 44,000 direct jobs and oodles of indirect jobs. Investors have poured $43 billion into Nike’s market value, and the company has nearly $4 billion of cash on hand for future job-creating investments.

Back to our basic public policy question: Is it a swell idea to punitively raise the tax rate of successful entrepreneurs to make the government grander while retarding their investment and philanthropy endeavors? And will these additional revenues be used for deficit reduction or for more spending and borrowing (e.g. Solyndra II)?

If we agree to hike the highest federal income rate from 36 percent-to-39 percent, coupled with increasing the capital gains rate from 15 percent-to-30 percent, will these increases be sufficient to pacify the insatiable class warriors?

Consider that the top federal income tax rate was 70 percent under the “malaise” reign of James Earl Carter from 1977 to 1981. That rate sounds high and unreasonable (at least to some) until you consider the effective 98 percent rate under UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the 1970s. This level of confiscatory taxation even prompted the Beatles to write “Taxman,” and for the Rolling Stones to flee to France and record “Exile on Main Street.” See Almost DailyBrett https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

Some will scoff at 98 percent taxation, but it happened in the industrialized country that shares a special class-warfare kinship with the United States. What is mind-boggling is the notion of one can earn $1 million and then only taking home about $70,000? Think of it this way, one could toil from January 1 to December 15 to pay the government, before starting to work for herself or himself.

Call me silly or naïve, but I humbly contend that we should be incentivizing entrepreneurs, such as Uncle Phil, to invest and donate and along the way create jobs. The static-scoring Keynesiologists will want me to stuff my dynamic-scoring “Laffer Curve” cocktail napkin where the sun doesn’t shine. They will demand that I and other like-minded individuals to simply accept the “inevitability” of “community” tax increases that foster more “investing” (e.g., code for spending and borrowing).

Wonder how many of those who were standing and applauding “Uncle Phil” for his contributions to his favorite university are deep down inside hoping our government gives it to him, and gives it to him good? I’m afraid that more than half of the stadium supports this exact policy.

As they say, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

http://www.registerguard.com/web/sports/28782173-41/oregon-hall-knight-fame-american.html.csp

http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/ceos/phil-knight-net-worth/

http://www.forbes.com/profile/phil-knight/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Knight

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Library

http://www.kgw.com/news/Phil–Penny-Knight-donate-125M-to-OHSU-170087396.html

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/608673-nikes-big-gift-phil-knight-and-the-university-of-oregon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Laffer

oregon

“It (Football in the State of Oregon) can come back if the schools take the right step and improve the facilities,” – OSU Heisman Trophy Winner Terry Baker, Sporting News, 1986

“On average, the faculty likes it when the football team does better. And we understand that it takes some resources to attract the best people. But obviously we’re jealous when we see the difference between their facilities and the facilities we have for teaching,” UO economics professor Bill Harbaugh, Eugene Register-Guard, 2012

Is anyone nostalgic for the University of Oregon alumni tent set up in a gravel parking lot at Autzen Stadium?

How about wondering if the UO Athletic Department could scrap enough shekels together to pay the $125,000 guarantee to the visiting team?

Want to revisit those serious discussions about Oregon and Oregon State becoming members of the Big Sky Conference (i.e., visits to scenic Missoula, Bozeman and Pocatello)?

As a practicing Duckologist, I have steadfastly saved a well-worn copy of 1986 The Sporting News college football yearbook. Included in the issue is an article by former Oregonian sports columnist Nick Bertram describing the dreadful state of affairs for football in the State of Oregon.

Besides scrambling to pay the minimum to the visiting school, Oregon was averaging only 23,000 at Autzen Stadium. In fact, there was talk of putting a dome on Autzen. The Ducks were 23 years and counting since their last (Sun) bowl game, and 29 years since their last Rose Bowl. Next year, we will commemorate the 30th anniversary (“celebrate” is the wrong word) of the last scoreless game in NCAA football history, the 1983, 0-0 “Toilet Bowl” between Oregon and Oregon State.

The root of Oregon’s historic difficulties in recruiting, competing and winning, comes down to one word: Geography.

The nation’s 9th largest state in land mass is also one of the country’s least populated (3.4 million), isolated in America’s cul-de-sac and one of the rainiest. All of these factors worked against previous Oregon coaching regimes, including the one I served as a student manager in 1975 (e.g., Don Read et al.). USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Arizona State and Washington do not face these same geographic obstacles.

The answers to unfavorable and unchangeable geography included targeting donor dollars to build the 101,000-square foot Casanova Center in 1991 to house the Athletic Department. They also consisted of finding recruiting diamonds in the rough by former Head Coaches Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti; continuity of the coaching staff (five assistants with tenures exceeding two decades); and miraculously making the Rose Bowl in one special year in 1994. All of these accomplishments preceded the major involvement in the program by Uncle Phil.

If you do not know who is “Uncle Phil,” you should stop reading now.

Since that time, Oregon built the first indoor practice facility ($15 million) on the West Coast, directly addressing the rain issue, the 117,000 square-foot Moshofsky Center. Autzen was expanded to 54,000 and the stadium has been sold out for every game since 1999 with more than 60,000 being shoe-horned into the insane asylum by the Willamette. Back on campus, the university leased property at its main entrance to Phil Knight. In turn, he invested $41 million into an academic support center for student athletes and donated the John Jaqua Center back to the university.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This same out-of-the-box thinking: lease-build-donate plan is being used for the $68 million, 130,000-square foot football operations center, located adjacent to Autzen Stadium, the Moshofsky Center and the Casanova Center.

Oregon has come light years in the past 25 years, including winning the conference five more times since the 1994 Rose Bowl team. The Ducks are 34-6 in the last three years, including two visits to the Rose Bowl (winning this past January) and a trip to the BCS National Championship Game.

You would think everyone would be happy on campus by the success of the self-sufficient Athletic Department and “on average” that is the case, but jealousy still persists. Guess no good deed (or deeds) or achievement goes unpunished.

Some are now coming to the conclusion that college sports are big business. This point is evidenced by the debut this week of the Pac-12 network, which will provide $10 million in new revenue to each school’s athletic department. Some wonder if prime-time, college sports is inconsistent with the missions of great universities. They lament that an athletic arms race has ensued…and to some extent that is the case. It’s called competition.

There also has been an undeniable payoff that has benefitted academics as well. As a full-time instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, I marvel at the number of students who wear the school colors to class. Success on the field and the court contributes to greater morale on campus and in the classroom.

Obviously, I note the expenditures for athletics (e.g., the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena and PK Park for the Oregon baseball team), but I also walk by virtually every day the William W. Knight Law School and the Knight Library. Uncle Phil has not only benefitted students who happen to be athletes, but regular students who are not athletes.

Certainly, not every building on campus is state of the art, but nonetheless some are striking including the Lillis School of Business and soon the ($15 million for 15,000 new square feet of space) newly renovated Allen Hall for the School of Journalism and Communication. I am looking forward to teaching at the new Allen Hall starting in the winter term.

Is there a direct connection between the success and national stature of the Oregon Ducks and the dramatic increase in enrollment and donations to Oregon? Some may try to argue against this point, but I will go to the mat saying there has to be a correlation. Ten years ago, 19,000 attended Oregon. Today, there are 25,000 students. The average incoming freshman GPA was a record 3.59 last year. There are more students; they are smarter and their retention rate is higher. Something absolutely Ducky is happening.

Oregon is a state-assisted university with only single digit percent of its total costs being provided from Salem. The rest has to come from tuition, fees and donations. Winning builds pride and that in turns spurs check writing from alums and fans. With some governments around the nation coming to the realization that the spending orgy is over, more needs to come from those who can contribute to their favorite school.

I went to Oregon back in the 1970s, but earned my bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting Journalism from USC. This past March, I received my master’s degree in Communication and Society from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. And 23 years ago, I bought Oregon season seats at Autzen Stadium. I have been a witness to the Golden Age of Oregon football and an upgrade in academics as well. That’s what I call a job well done.

Yep, I was an Oregon fan before it was cool.

http://www2.registerguard.com/cms/index.php/duck-football/comments/lights-go-up-today-on-pac-12s-tv-network-era/

http://harbaugh.uoregon.edu/

http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/28375820-41/center-football-athletics-university-knight.html.csp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Baker

http://www.ehow.com/info_8144923_history-sports-scholarships.html

%d bloggers like this: