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Lessons that come in Nike CEO John Donahoe studies at summer jobs

The world's biggest sneakers maker shook things up, when Nike announced on Tuesday that CEO Mark Parker was stepping down in a few months. And while Parker's successor has a lot of experience as CEO, he learned his first leadership lesson as a teenager in a "7 o'clock beer" summer job.

John Donahoe – board member of Nike who is a former CEO of eBay and current chief executive at the company's software company ServiceNow – will take over for Parker as CEO of the $ 145 billion company, effective in early January 2020, Nike said at a press conference.

The 59-year-old Donahoe had a successful career, but Donahoe said he learned his first "two great leadership lessons" when he was a teenager who worked summer for a beer distribution center company.

After graduating from high school on the outskirts of Chicago in 1978, Donahoe got a summer job from a friend's father who said he could "make money" as an assistant at the beer distribution center for the now-defunct beer brand, Schlitz.

Donahoe wrote in the 2013 LinkedIn essay that his job description for the summer show "will include & # 39; joining team members, driving a truck badly, and drinking beer at 7 o'clock in the morning."

In fact, Donahoe wrote that he had to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to secure work in the Chicago warehouse, where he arrived at 6:30 am to help the beer delivery truck driver with the task of lowering and sending beer cases to distributors throughout the city.

"This is an all-cash route and some stops are unsafe," wrote Donahoe, who noted that a driver "carried a gun in his socks and would leave me locked in a truck" because his regular assistant was in the hospital because someone "hit his head with beer stolen. "

"So the work has potential risks, but also has definite benefits," according to Donahoe. When a driver notices that the future CEO feels uncomfortable on one shipping trip, he opens a few beers for them to share to break the tension. "I was 18 years old, it was seven o'clock in the morning and I thought, 'This is the biggest job ever.' (18 was the legal drinking age at the time)," Donahoe wrote.

"Come to think of it, the summer beer taught me two great leadership lessons," Donahoe wrote on LinkedIn. "First, I have to get along with many different types of people. And rather than hoping they are like me, I learn from their diversity, their approach to their work and the various ways they interact with me."

In other words, that experience taught Donahoe to never erase someone just because they might look different from him. Donahoe may be on his way to study economics at Dartmouth and get an MBA at Stanford Business School, but he still has much to learn from fellow warehouse workers, whose guidance and patience he relies on to survive his summer work.

"Today, when I meet people, I routinely ask: 'What [are] This person's good character and what can I learn? "Donahoe wrote." This is one of the most powerful tools I have for me as a leader. People intuitively know when you look for the best in it – and that is very important in creating followers. "

The second leadership lesson Donahoe learned was that summer came after a dangerous incident in which a driver let Donahoe drive a delivery truck to the warehouse. The teenager made a bad turn and crashed into the door, causing "thousands of dollars in damage." However, the driver looked for Donahoe and smoothed it out with the warehouse chief, who told him not to worry about it.

The lesson he learned was trust, said Donahoe. The driver in question "showed me something extraordinary when he defended me. He communicated his beliefs to me. He was responsible. I spent the rest of the summer very motivated to do the best possible job," Donahoe wrote.

In 2013, Donahoe wrote that the second lesson still inspired him to use the principle of leadership which he called "The Trust of the Presume."

"People think you have to get trust, but that mindset reduces the effectiveness of the team," Donahoe wrote on LinkedIn. "Instead, why not assume trust until someone does something unbelievable? By doing that, you approach coworkers with the understanding that we are all on the same team. Assumptions of trust communicate support, motivate everyone and ultimately make everyone more success."

After graduating, Donahoe began working as a partner consultant for the consulting firm Bain & Company, and he later became the company's CEO in 1999. He used the "Presume Trust" theory at Bain, and then on eBay, where he was CEO from 2005 to 2015.

Now, Donahoe is preparing to take over as CEO of Nike (where he has served on the company's board of directors since 2014). Parker has played that role since 2006 and received more than $ 13.9 million in compensation in fiscal 2019. In documents filed with the SEC on Tuesday, Nike said Donahoe would receive a signing bonus of $ 45 million in shares and cash. by 2020, and he can get $ 18.5 million every year in basic salary and performance-based bonuses.

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