Lessons From a Shoe Dog

Posted: November 7, 2019

Pile of books including Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

My co-founder and I started Blueprint Investment Partners years ago, propelled both by a renegade streak and the desire to help improve people’s lives. We wanted to create a business of our own and something better than was available in the marketplace. If successful, we also believed it would afford us the ability to have families and provide for them. Perhaps it’s something that only the founder of a business will truly understand.

Excitement, fear, joy, anxiety, and back again, all before your morning coffee.

I unexpectedly found myself drawing back to our early days at Blueprint Investment Partners while reading “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. There was a passage at the end that particularly resonated with me, in which Mr. Knight discusses his disdain for the concept of being a businessman:

“When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers making them happier, or healthier, or safer, or better, and when you do it crisply and efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but so seldom is — you’re participating more fully in the whole grand human drama. More than simply alive, you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, alright, call me a businessman.”

I reread this passage a number of times because the idea of being a businessman was never that compelling to me. Entrepreneur? Sure. Businessman? That always felt too corporate. No, thanks.

But there’s obviously much more to this passage: the idea of helping others live more fully. This idea is often conspicuously absent from The Wall Street Journal or Barron’s, yet it’s the thing I hear over and over from the financial advisors we work with. They want to help people. They took a huge risk by starting their practice because they believed they could make something, improve something, deliver something.

Perhaps my biggest joy of being the co-founder of Blueprint Investment Partners is that we sit in this place in the world where we, as a firm, have the desire to help people and our clients, namely financial advisors, who in turn are all seeking to do the same thing for their clients.

This represents both a tremendous responsibility and opportunity. By building emotionally intelligent systematic investing strategies and partnering with advisors to seamlessly implement them into their practices, we help simplify their businesses, freeing them up to focus on the full financial wellness of their clients. Collectively, I like to think that we are teaming up with advisors to help thousands of people “live more fully.”

There is magic that happens in a business when you begin to see your dream realized. Today we are on a trajectory that is allowing us to double our business every 14 months or so, and through the relationships we have established, we are positively affecting many lives and seeing the benefits of the success in our own. (Brandon Langley and I now have amazing wives and five children between us!)

As Phil Knight implies, the magic of improving, building, delivering happiness, and serving others are the fruits of our labor.

I guess if that is business, then alright, call me a businessman as well.

Let's Talk

If you’d like to learn more about how Blueprint Investment Partners can help you live more fully