In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

What is your brand?  

What do you want to be known for?

If you don’t have a solid handle on the answers to these questions, you’ll have a hard time communicating with others what you bring to the table. In today’s episode, our guest Greg Hoffman, former Nike Chief Marketing Officer, teaches us how to apply principles of branding and design from top companies to our own personal brand. Specifically, he speaks on:

  • 3 things you must consider when creating your personal brand
  • Identifying the essential traits and characteristics you want to be known for
  • Why writing is one of the most powerful skills you can build & how to do it
  • The essential role of both art & data in decision making 

 Greg is a global brand leader.  For over 27 years, Greg held marketing, design, and innovation leadership roles at Nike, including time as the brand’s CMO.  In his most recent role as Nike’s Vice President of Global Brand Innovation, he led teams tasked with envisioning the future of storytelling and consumer experiences for the brand. He’s also the founder and principal of the brand advisory group Modern Arena, and author of the new book Emotion by Design: Creative Leadership Lessons From a Life at Nike.

Connect with Greg:

Even further, if building your brand is something you feel that you struggle with, and you’re looking for help, check out our upcoming Brand Builder event.  We would love to equip you with the skills and tools to build the exact “brand of YOU” that you envision! 

Also, don’t forget that Art of Coaching is kicking off the month of July with an ALL COURSE SALE!  Throughout the entire month of July, Bought In, ValuED, and Blindspot are all on sale!  Just use the code GROW30 to get 30% off! 

As always, a big thank you shout out to our sponsors, who make it possible for us to provide free resources like this! Dynamic Fitness & Strength is our go-to equipment partner. Fully customizable and manufactured in the heartland of America- whether you’re looking to outfit your home gym or entire weight room, visit to get started. Tell them Brett and the Art of Coaching Team sent you!


Brett Bartholomew  0:02  

Hey everyone, Brett here, huge update some really exciting things going on. First off, we are doing a 30% off sale for all of our online courses through July only. Now, if you’ve listened to the previous episodes, you know that a portion of proceeds is going to the Alzheimer’s Association Leukemia Lymphoma foundation, this goes for my book as well. But if you are somebody that loves learning, loves growing loves being challenged, but you don’t want to have to worry about travel, you are constantly busy. So you want to do things on your own schedule. You want to do things self paced, these courses are for you. Now I made these courses because collectively they have information that I wish I would have had around a variety of subjects in my career. First off is the course Bought In. If you’re somebody that enjoys learning more about buy in leading staff, coaching people more effectively understanding psychological principles that really underpin human behavior, learning how to be more effective as a leader and communicator. And ultimately knowing how to navigate different personalities and archetypes, this is for you.


 On the other hand, if you’re somebody that needs a little bit of help navigating your career, maybe you’ve dealt with burnout a few times, and you’re just like, hey, I know that there’s different aspects of my career, new levels, new devils. And I could use some help here because I just feel stuck Valued is the best course for you. This is going to help you become more respected and really valued in your current position gives you the competence you need for career transitions and negotiations and ultimately help you provide a safety net for yourself. Now, don’t worry, I’m gonna give you the website for all of this and the code in a moment. 


Finally, if you’re somebody that is wanting to build something of your own, it doesn’t matter if it’s a book or a podcast, your own business or maybe if you just want to step out into the spotlight a little bit and put your work out there and grow your network and ultimately overcome self limiting behaviors Blindspot is for you. Collectively, all of these are inclusive curriculums. It is masterclass style videos, it is downloadable notes, printable slides, we try to make this visual for you, we try to give you all the audio downloads that you can do, I know that it is a pain in the butt. Whenever you pay for something that just seems dry, we have poured a ton of resources. Collectively, these have costs us more than $100,000 to produce. So I promise you, we have spared no expense. But if you go to right now, again, that’s You can choose any of these or all of them and get 30% off just by using the code grow30 That’s G R O W 30 30%. Off, grow 30. And also, if you’re a strengthing conditioning coach, guess what you get 1.8 CEUs for completing bought in. 


second bit of good news, you guys are the first to hear it. I have recently signed a book deal with Penguin Random House, their business arm in specific portfolio. That’s right, a second book is officially underway. If you want to stay up to date, and my first book was something that you enjoyed, go to Again, that’s to get on our mailing list to stay on top of book updates, current trends, tactics, anything like that that’s the best place for you to stay up to date. Really excited to bring these opportunities to you. And thank you guys so much for your support. We’ve been working really hard behind the scenes, and we want to find a way to give back as much as we can. So go to art of or right now.


 A huge thank you to today’s Keystone sponsor and a partner of ours dynamic fitness and strength. Dynamic if you haven’t heard of them offers the highest quality strength and conditioning equipment that is designed just for you, your space and your budget. So whether you’re like me, and you have a garage gym, and that’s like your safe haven your place to go to when you’re stressed out. If you have a larger commercial space, if you’re in charge of a university or professional sport related weight room, or you’re looking something for corporate wellness, if you’re an exec in that space, they have something for you. They have earned their place in the homes and hearts of sports teams, colleges, high schools, military installations, and in modern workplaces all around the world. It is time your equipment match your drive your passion and your commitment to longevity. Listen, I’ve moved more than 15 times and one of the biggest veins of my existence when I move is breaking down this stuff and taking it with me on the road. There was so much stuff we bought in the past that just didn’t last. With dynamic you don’t have to worry about it. This is an investment you make once and it is absolutely with you for the long haul. Make sure you go to again Check out what they have better yet just reach out to them. Nothing replaces getting folks on the phone. Just tell them who you are at the art of coaching sense you give them an idea of your budget and they will work with you. They are a concierge, customer service based organization that will help you in any way possible. Tell them art of coaching sent you.


Welcome to the Art of coaching Podcast. I’m Brett Bartholomew, and at a young age poor communication nearly cost me my life. Now, I help others navigate the gray area of social interaction, power dynamics and communication so they can become more adaptable leaders, regardless of their profession, age or situation. This podcast is for everybody who is fascinated with solving people problems. So if you’re in the no nonsense type who appreciates frank conversations, advice you can put to use immediately and learning how others navigate the messy realities of leadership. You’re in the right place. I’m glad that you’re joining us. Let’s dive in. 


It is not every day you get to connect with somebody like Greg Hoffman. Greg Hoffman is the former chief marketing officer at Nike, he spent 27 years there. Then he’s also the author of the book in motion by design, which is all about how to find emotional ways to tell business stories and connect your ideas through creative storytelling, and also leading teams. This isn’t about brand building. This is about leading individuals. This is about sparking and igniting desire and creating a common purpose. Now, we talked about a lot of different things here. Specifically, what makes Nike successful? How do you create a winning work culture, and we’re not talking culture in terms of the buzzword culture. We’re talking about navigating the messy realities of leadership. How do you incentivize risk? How do you create emotional connections, when you have to find ways to lead others that really want to even push back on you sometimes? And even how do you frame up your story, your branding, your message and your mission, so you attract the right people, and you can make the impact that you’ve always intended to? Guys, I don’t know what to tell you. We try to bring people on here that give you real world instead of rah rah type stories, dive in. This is a member of senior member of leadership at Nike for nearly three decades, there’s not much more you can ask for. I hope you enjoy this, make sure you hit us back with your feedback, and support Greg Hoffman. And here we go.


Welcome back to another episode of The Art of coaching Podcast. I’m here with Greg Hoffman. Greg, thanks for sitting down with me today.


Greg Hoffman  7:40  

Right? It’s great to be here. And it’s a pleasure. And I look forward to the conversation.


Brett Bartholomew  7:45  

I’ve been listening to you a lot, obviously have been engulfed by your book, emotion by design. But I just want to start off with something a little bit more basic at first i You’re on a full blown media tour right now for this thing, given that the book just came out, how are you managing that I know it. So I feel like every week you’re on a new podcast, and there’s something else, you know, you have a busy life, you have a lot of initiatives. Talk to me a little bit about what that’s like, just for our audience who hasn’t had a glimpse behind the curtain of something like that.


Greg Hoffman  8:13  

Sure, yeah. Well, this is I guess, I do talk a lot about the art and science of creativity, but I’m having to use that same philosophy just to manage my own life right now. And so just, you know, each night really writing that to do list and what is to come the following day is kind of the best approach to date, because so much of what I’m doing is Yeah, I mean, it’s either getting in front of the camera or on the mic to talk about what I’m passionate about. So this is by no means sometimes it doesn’t even feel like work. But at the end of the day, because of some of the timezone changes, and obviously talking with folks in Europe quite a bit. Yeah, I need to be on it from a calendar perspective. So I’ve just kind of embraced making sure I’m crystal clear on what I need to deliver. From day to day on that.


Brett Bartholomew  9:15  

Well, and this is something I’ve never asked another guest this and we’re well beyond 220 episodes. But I have to imagine, and I’ve been on the other end, but I’m interested in your perspective, you’re such an excellent conversationalist. And that is not easy. I mean, you would think that some of you know anybody that has a podcast or anybody that has you on that they’d kind of you know, hey, we understand to be interesting, be interested and listen, but, you know, inevitably you’re going to navigate some conversations that are a little bit tough, a little bit dry. Where did you learn to be such an excellent conversationalist and really be able to take the perspective of other people?


Greg Hoffman  9:52  

Yeah, great question, and I think something that we all aim to do is being Be more human, in, in our conversations, especially when they’re, you know, for the public domain, right. And I’m always striving to figure out, like how I can be reveal more of my soul, if you will, and what I believe and what I’m passionate about. And I think that’s part of it right is if your audience can feel your curiosity and passion for the subject matter, then at the end of the day, it is going to, I think, come across in a more natural way. I will tell you this, you know, the first piece of media I did on the book, my wife was in the other room, she could hear me. And she did say, Greg, you sounded a little sound bitey  and she said, I felt that the interviewer wanted to have a conversation. And I said, Well, okay, well, you know, and you have to be willing to take constructive criticism, right? 


Brett Bartholomew  10:55  

No question. 


Greg Hoffman  10:56  

So I’m certainly not above that. On that, but at the end of the day, too, I do try to distill, because I do think words matter. And I do try to distill things down to certain mantras that I think are helpful, in some way to the broadest spectrum of people. 


Brett Bartholomew  11:19  

Yeah, well, I think that’s, and that’s like something you say on page 144 of your book, you have a subtitle called, dare to be remembered. And you said, what are we as brand storytellers really trying to do with our work? are we hoping to create only for the environment? Are we trying to just sell our products or services, and you continue on about that, but I mean, there is a point and there is a time to be a little bit sound bitey. Because you need people to remember core constructs and mental models, there needs to be things that, you know, this is an hour long conversation, some pieces really need to resonate with them. And that lends itself to really, I think, my first formal question for you, and there is many, there are some people and admittedly, this is a bit of a selfish question, Greg. But I feel like you’re the expert to ask about this, when I talk to a lot of former coaches in the performance space and otherwise, who want to put more of their work out there, but they’re very nervous. I don’t see myself as a brand, or I don’t want to share what I know, it might be self, you know, almost entitlement or arrogant? Or as if I’m bragging? Are people distinctly different from brands themselves? Or as a brand, really just part of our inherent reputation? How do you look at those things differently? And if that question is not clear, I’ll be happy to kind of consolidate it.


Greg Hoffman  12:31  

Oh, it’s absolutely clear. And I see complete parallels between a brand, a company that is a brand and a human being as a brand, the brand of you, if you will. And quite frankly, I take my students, I teach on the branding instructor at the U of University of Oregon’s Graduate School of Business. And I take the students through an exercise where, because we spend so much time articulating the values in the traits of the brands we serve, right? So why don’t we spend the same amount of time doing that exercise for the brand of us. And so I literally take people through the exercise of identifying the traits and characteristics that you want to be known for, so that when you’re not in the room, and your name goes up on the board, those are the associations that lie in the minds of those around you. So I think that’s really important. And I don’t, at the end of the day, if your pursuit is ultimately to make people better than they were, the day before then I don’t think it’s self serving, to put your philosophy and your methodology out there. And in fact, I would hope that more can do so. But at the end of the day, I think it’s gotta be in service of something bigger than yourself. That would be the biggest key.


Brett Bartholomew  13:58  

Yeah, I think that’s a critical point. And I remember in your book, you said a lot of the inspiration from the book, and I’ll let you fill in the context. And I want to rob it from you came from your work with Colin Kaepernick during a turning point in his career as well and your own background. Now, I worked with Colin for about three years. And I remember, you know, when I had worked with him, and he had just got done shooting a commercial, this one wasn’t with you guys. And I said, Oh, Mr. Hollywood, what’s that, like, when you do that? And he goes, Man, I try. I don’t really like that stuff. You know, that’s not really me. And, it’s funny that we you hear people say that a lot. Oh, that’s not really me as if there’s some people that it is just for, you know, and but, you know, you’re I wonder whether it’s him or any other stories and your books replete with them. When you do work with an individual that maybe doesn’t see themselves as a brand, or maybe they doubt their message or the gravitas, the weight of their purpose and how it can really be inclusive to others. How do you tease that out of them, meaning how do you get them to understand hey, I understand this might be uncomfortable for you, but There is a message here, and it can impact people. And if it’s not a message, it’s a perspective. Come along with me. And let’s go through this journey together.


Greg Hoffman  15:09  

Great, question. You know, part of the role when you’re trying to achieve that level of storytelling or the type of work that resonates in a way that’s so deep that it causes people to act collectively, right? Is that in the beginning of that creative process, with those athletes working together, you have to find a deeper truth or insight beyond what we can all see on the surface, right? Because ultimately, if you’re just saying, like, in the case of athletics, Christianna Ronaldo is fast, and you’re expecting off of that simple, obvious insight to create some brand defining work, it’s not going to happen, right? You need to go deeper, right to reveal something that maybe people have thought about. But when you reveal it in a profound way, they say, Wow, now that you’ve said that, I want to come with you on that journey. And so you know, and that’s why I always use my favorite commercial of all time, you know, Michael Jordan’s failure commercial, the fact that people spent the time with Michael early on in the process to discover that he had missed 9000 shots in his career, and 26 times he had missed the game winning shot, but because of failing over and over again, that’s why he succeeds. And so when I talk about, back to the point of maybe some reluctance in the beginning, when you spend enough time with an athlete or your subject, whether it’s an individual, a community or a city, and you get to that point where you have something that’s so rich, and then you reveal it to the world, with all your creativity, that’s the kind of deep commitment to empathy, if you will, in the process to get under the skin, or the surface. And when you start to create work like that, then you develop the trust, and people open up a bit more, because they understand by giving more of themselves, it’s going to lead to, you know, more real and honest kind of representation of who they are.


Brett Bartholomew  17:26  

Yeah, no, I’m glad to use the term reluctance. I remember when I had written my first book, I was incredibly reluctant to talk about my hospitalization and the path that that put me on. And then I found out that was really a huge connecting point for others. And as you said, it gets you know, let’s get beyond surface level. But that leads me to have to ask you this, you know, you spent over 20 years at Nike, one of the most unique companies in the world, as you mentioned, you’re a branding instructor at the University of Oregon. I mean, your bio reads like the who’s who, and you’re probably going to have Denzel Washington or somebody else playing you someday. But I have to imagine you also have a pretty deep personal story about your background as well being adopted and some bullying that you face when you ,you know, when did you feel any reluctance to share these parts of yourself? Getting beyond the surface level when everybody’s Oh, my God, he spent all this time at Nike. And it’s like, Well, hey, there was struggle here to let me tell you about it. What? What gave you the power to say, Yeah, I need to mention this. And if you wouldn’t mind telling us a little bit about that background as much as you’re comfortable with?


Greg Hoffman  18:29  

Oh of course. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And, I knew early on that this, couldn’t just be a business guidebook, right? That it didn’t need to reveal these principles that I feel are applicable for people from all walks of life, I really had to express those through my own personal story, right. And I like to say, you know, I grew up a bit of an outsider. I’m, biracial, I’m half black, half white. I am adopted by my loving white parents and family. And I grew up in a white school system at a time when there wasn’t a lot of sensitivity when it came to race. Right. So I dealt with that. All through school, right? And I’m not talking about racial bias. I’m talking about direct racism. Now, here’s the thing. Obviously, I use that as motivation and fuel through my life. And at the same time, it’s what drove me to, in some ways, my escape was art and sport equally. Those were my two passions, because I felt those were the places that you know, I guess you could say I showed the most value and the playing field was the most level


Brett Bartholomew  20:03  

Hey, just another reminder kick in the pants some urgency here, our core sales do not last long. These are not things that we do often. So once again, if you are somebody committed to growth, you don’t want to have to worry about traveling, you want to do things on your own time your own schedule, when it works for you get to, right now, use the code grow30. These are lifetime access courses, you can print out the notes, even if you don’t have time to watch the videos, you can skim the notes. If you don’t want to skim the notes, you can watch the videos, it works on iPad, it works on your phone, it works on Samsung, it works everywhere. So regardless of the mobile device, regardless of the medium, these are things that we poured a lot of time into collectively, they’ve taken me more than six years to create this as information that cannot be replaced in any other platform, check them out Right now, this is only good through the month of July, the only good for the month of July 2022, grow30 reach out if you have questions, we’re happy to answer those for you just reach out at info at But you’re gonna have all the details about all the courses on the website that I gave you. So check it out in the show notes, or once again, I know you’re tired of hearing it. But I’m excited about these things, these are courses that I put out that I wish I would have had, I promise they’re going to help we are not perfect. All right, I’m not saying they’re going to cure every issue you have. But whether it’s leadership based, whether it’s burnout, or career management, or whether it’s entrepreneurial in nature, these will have nuggets for you, Grow30.


Greg Hoffman  21:44  

In some ways, my escape was art and sport equally, those were my two passions, because I felt those were the places that, you know, I guess you could say I showed the most value and the playing field was the most level. Right. And,  so the reason I share those early stories about some of the things maybe I had to overcome, during a time where quite frankly, you know, hey look, I mean, here you are, you’re this kid who uses a, you know, a comb pick to, you know, gets your nine inch Afro kind of right where it needs to be, but you’re the only kid walking through school in that way. And so obviously, in such you’re, you know, you’re jousting with a lot of folks in terms of protecting your pride and identity. And so where I want to get to is that, you know, Nike, when I when I became a teenager, here’s this brand that incredibly is showing a lot of people of color. No other brands were in their advertising and communication and their stories. So that was quite profound. And then the fact that they were, it was the art of storytelling, to bring sports to everyone that was so appealing as well. And so it was kind of unnatural when I found my way, as an intern to Nike, and then to just go full, full circle for a second, you know, a lot of those experiences is what ultimately, I guess, you know, pushed me to see other folks that, you know, had barriers didn’t have the invitation into the room. And, so when you talk about like the Colin kaepernick work and the equality work that we did, and some of the other things that, you know, oftentimes even when I was chief marketing officer, the eyes that I looked through the lens I saw through was from that kid from Minnesota, in the middle of America in the late 1970s. Right. And so, it wasn’t a debate in my head, when it came to fighting for a variety of different of causes and issues that I felt, you know, Nike could use its platform and position in sport to create serious change. 


Brett Bartholomew  24:24  

Yeah, no, I appreciate the in depth answer there. I have to ask. And if this is too personal, just tell me to pass during that time, outside of the inspiration you found in sport and art. Did you ever have a former or a formal mentor? And I asked this because you use the term outcast and I know myself and many of our listeners also identify for their own reasons as outcasts and underdogs, and I never had a formal mentor that kind of put, you know, you have situational mentors, everybody teaches you in life without question. But was there somebody that you could go to and say, hey, here I am. As you mentioned biracial I’m adopted. I feel like I don’t really fit in here. Was there there this Tuesdays with maurey like character that you could go talk to her? Did you have to just kind of lose yourself in your interests and your passions and let those kind of be the outlet?


Greg Hoffman  25:11  

Yeah, it was definitely the latter, I simply just didn’t have anybody that I could communicate and share what I was going through as a person of color. And oftentimes, just simply being the only person like myself in the room, right. And, so I leaned hard into those other pursuits, because it was within those arenas that I did have people that invested in me, but it took a long time, it really took until I got into college, and all of a sudden, it’s like, wow, they have black affinity groups, and, you know, all these different places where, you know, dialogue is happening in real time about people’s experiences, as minorities or, you know, any anything so I didn’t have that, and I can tell you this, that I am just simply thankful that my kids have grown up in a different environment, right. And that parents and teachers and mentors are much more tuned in to the experiences of those around them. And, you know, you’re taught I think, earlier on to speak up to be quite honest. My pride and who I was came from black athletes and sports. They just did. I mean, my love affair with the sport of boxing started as, really in grade school, right? Because that was, there was so much success by, you know, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tawny, 


Brett Bartholomew  26:55  

You’re talking my language now I competed amateur boxing college boxing. And it’s very rare today, you need somebody that, you know, with the emergence of MMA and everything else, we had Julianna Pena, the bantamweight champion in the world. But like, I miss just talking boxing. So I love these names that you’re bringing up and everybody you’re speaking to, yeah, that had to be a tremendous source of empowerment there.


Greg Hoffman  27:18  

I would, go to be with my mom, we’d go to the grocery store and, there was a magazine called K.O is a boxing magazine. Why do you want this? Greg? Well, just, you know, and so because she’s like, why would you want to watch people, you know, like that. But that’s, again, think of the pride you would feel when those competing or having that level of success, because you’re not seeing it anywhere else in your life. And obviously, so much of that came through my heroes in sports. So, and I think today, thankfully, you know, you’re getting points of inspiration from, you know, a variety of sources. Right, in the palm of your hand, if you will, right. So it’s, it’s a different story than it was back in the analog days of media.


Brett Bartholomew  28:08  

Sure one, and here’s something and then, you know, we’ll pivot back to the book. But here’s something that in trying to phrase this right, I can’t even imagine what you had to go through it because I remember from this perspective, and I had the opportunity to work with Roy Jones, and Winky Wright when I was a performance coach, but I remember, first time I went into any boxing gym, you know, whether that was in Florida, or even when I went to school at Kansas State, you know, in that case, many times and when I lived in Phoenix, for sure, I was the minority, but being the minority, and this isn’t, you know, this isn’t like a battle of the suffering and Olympics, right. But I just remember, if I feel like this, walking into this environment, I could only imagine what you felt like in the 70s at that time, just going into any environment, given the lack of dialogue around these things, given the lie. And I feel like that’s something that it makes it very hard for people to have empathy around. Because, you know, you have already such a unique story. But most people don’t know what it’s like to be the one in the room that feels like it doesn’t belong, and even if everybody is fo accepting of you, you just kind of feel the undertone of No, and then you know, what did you do with all of that emotion? I know you said you put it into sport and art but there has to be some anger, some resentment, some loneliness. How do you deal with especially with the bullying did you’re very cool and calm. You’re like, did that just brush off you? And did it ever get you


Greg Hoffman  29:27  

If anything, it took me a while to find my voice, right? Because, you know, at that age, you’re solving things. Physically, if you will, if you catch my drift. You know, and so and that’s why I say I’m proud that my my kids have grown up in an environment where they can you know, their problem solving ability through their words and  voice  is just so great to see because for me, it was a it was a different deal. And so yeah, I carried him Huge chips on my shoulder for a good number of years, right? On that journey, but I was never complacent, that’s the biggest thing I would say, right? I was hyper competitive, not only with others, but myself as well, right. And then in some of that comes from that kind of that artistic pursuit of never being satisfied with your current masterpiece, if you will, it’s like, there’s always something better, and you’re never satisfied with what you did yesterday. And so. So albeit experience in adversity. I also was just relentless in achieving, you know, by the time I was 15, I was working in the art department at a small publishing company. So imagine, as a teenager, you already know, you can make a living doing, wow, I’m drawing illustrations, and I’m putting together page layouts. And, and I did that for three years during high school. And so, by the time I got to college, I already knew that through this my imagination and my ability to apply it on paper, that I could make an a living there. So I guess it’s this interesting thing of you know, yes, you’re trying to find your way you have a lot of insecurity. But it’s, you also have this other aspect of your life where you’re achieving. And you have this incredible drive and competitive edge, and you’re not going to be defined by others solely based on, you know, what you look like, you know, and so that. And I’ll be honest, I had to, I just figured that out on my own. Meaning people gave me opportunities. But people weren’t like, Well, yeah, you just need to ignore that stuff. And just keep working on this. It’s like I came into my home. 


Brett Bartholomew  32:05  

And that always drives me nuts. When people you know, I feel like we’re in this world where there’s never been more situations where people have quote, unquote, pick the brain of experts, yet nobody’s out there experiencing things and figuring them out on their own. And sometimes you just have to get lost in that. I mean, I remember learning about when we were,  talking in our company about just story and elements of story. And we are coming across a story circle by Dan Harmon. And it just talks about, alright, people, there’s stability, there’s chaos. And that’s how a lot of three act structure and all these things unfold. But now it feels like people will do whatever they can to keep themselves out of the chaos and self doubt moments. And then it’s like, if you do that, how do you ever find your voice? You know, how do you ever find your voice? And, that’s why we have all these people. I feel like asking these questions now. Well, when do I know if it’s the right time to do this? And it’s like, well, timeout go down to your values, in your experience. I mean, do you agree, do you feel like it’s just, it seems like we’ve gotten very passive in the way that we learn and grow and express ourselves, we’re waiting for permission for somebody to tell us how to do it.


Greg Hoffman  33:07  

That’s, you’re waiting for permission common is perfect. And I just think, whether you’re an individual or a team, a culture of waiting is just it’s not a good path to success. Right. And I think part of what you’re saying is that maybe there’s, you know, this fear of failure, that often resides, you know, it’s kind of that self talk, that happens. And I was just so happy to to spend almost three decades , in a working culture, where failure is part of innovation. I mean, failure is what puts you on the path to success when you’re trying to achieve, like products and stories and services that you’re bringing into the world. Well, you know, on that path, there’s tons of failure, you know, and so, and I’ll be honest, I’d say this in the book, I was struck, I think sometimes too, when you know, you’re maybe a bit of an outsider, like, you are trying to be perfect. Don’t make waves. Make sure you’re showing up and so, you know, I talk about that first, that second internship at the Walker Art Center, which is a museum of modern art in Minneapolis. And, you know, just being on my computer, doing my design work, trying again, trying to be precise and perfect and my boss at that time, who was pretty intimidating, came over, she took my computer mouse and just dragged it across the screen. And I was horrified. But you know what? And she said, how do you expect to take your audience someplace new if you’re not willing to go there yourself? Yeah. And so and you know what, out of all the work I created over the eight months in that job, that is the best piece of work I did, because it just pushed me out of this place where I was being so careful and not putting myself out there and doing some things that maybe were a bit radical. So I think, you know, yeah, and you have to, hey, every employee has to ask the question like, are you? Are you in a working culture that allows for that? Right?  Or is it a situation where one wrong move? And like, that’s it? I don’t know, that’s, I find that the most innovative companies do have space and room to experiment and explore to fail a little bit. And to I mean, that’s how you end up defining what’s next. And what’s what’s possible,


Brett Bartholomew  35:48  

Yeah, you have to improvise a little bit, I think you have to remove that veil of the expert. And this is timely, because we’re currently onboarding a new staff member. And, you know, she has great questions. And when she came onto one of our staff meetings, I’m like, Hey, Becca, some things are gonna look a little bit messy. Remember, we’re now in a phase where we are scaling, we’re going to innovate, there’s gonna be 1.0 is before there’s 2.0’s. There are questions that are always welcome. Just understand that if you’re looking for a clean cut and dry process, and you thought you were coming into a company that had a certain amount of refined sophistication of how it does everything, well, yes, but there’s also elements of No, like, we’re gonna break some things, and we’re gonna figure them out along the way. And that always kind of takes people aback. And I had to ask you another selfish question. But we are going to come back to perfectionism because you have a great story about it in the book in the never play it safe play to win chapter, even with a company like Nike, supremely innovative, and it has the sheen around it. If people were to go in and sit in some of the staff meetings, your creative meetings, I think, and we got this from some of our audience, some of them said, I feel like if I ever went in that building, I would just they would have processes and processes, failsafe after failsafe, I feel like everything would have a purpose, nothing would be messy. Is that true? Or is there, Is it something where it’s like, Hey, guys, you’d be surprised, just like any company, you might look around and think, Oh, my God, like I could do this, you know, is it? Is it that is it this? 


Greg Hoffman  37:19  

Well, I can I think one out of every three ideas never sees the light of day, you know, and I talk a lot about that idea of the power of three. And I would always, you know, myself with my teams, with any concept we were seeking to create, we would do three different versions of that concept, knowing full well, that a lot of the work we have just spent, you know, a couple of weeks on would not see the light of day, and it’s just conditioning ourselves to be part of a culture where you know, only 25% of what you’re working on is ultimately going to make its way into the world. And that’s not for everybody, by the way, because so many folks just simply want to the, they only want to work on something, if  it has 100% certainty, to make its way in the world. And that’s just not how it works. And certainly the startup world, I mean, you know, talk about big swings, and big stakes, and it just doesn’t work that way. So the end of the process of innovation and creativity is a messy one. And I think I tried to illustrate multiple times within the book, that so many of some of the biggest concepts, you know, there was no brief or business strategy as a conversation between a couple people that asked a couple, you know, it’s, it’s back to that asking those questions, you know, what if and why not? And, and then just making sure you’re in a culture where there’s a little bit of space, protected space, to dream like that. And not only that, but maybe a forum where you can, share those, I made sure, no matter how senior I got, that I still made space to hear from individuals, on certain ideas that quite frankly, we’re not on your standard, you know, concept map or work plan on that. So I think, you know, again, so, there’s, you know, we all present a curated, you know, picture of success, right? But behind that, of course, you know,  there’s multiple things that all of us certainly me learned along the way, you know, of okay, I’m not going to do that again. On that because if you’re not in those situations you’re actually probably not swinging big enough.


Brett Bartholomew  40:04  

Yeah, no. And, and it is interesting how people you know, we project, our insecurities and our curiosities in so many ways in myriad ways, whether it’s our what we think the inside of this company’s like, or even how we dress. I mean, listen, people would be forgiven if they thought, Okay, this guy was at Nike everything had to be I mean, look at how you’re dressed, Greg right. You’re like you got this Steve Jobs. You’re, more buttoned up Steve Jobs, more stylish Steve Jobs, great backdrop, the Picasso black and white. And I think about it too, sometimes. I’m on the podcast of the Polo. Today, I have a hoodie, you think about how people perceive things. And that’s part of product and branding too 


Greg Hoffman  40:42  

It absolutely is 


Brett Bartholomew  40:44  

mentioning protected spaces and almost a social contract. I love this idea, too. Because people have to be willing or able to express themselves. And there is this Overton window, right, there’s these things that’s like, ah, let’s be open, let’s be edgy. But there’s a line where that line is, nobody knows for sure all the time. And then there’s playing it safe. There’s this robotic like way of performing. And you have a story, page 61. And I’m sorry if this wasn’t your darling in the book, but one of my favorite stories. You know, and it talks about just this idea of perfection and Nike. The ad, I think was called the last game. 


Greg Hoffman  41:25  

that’s the right


Brett Bartholomew  41:26  

 Yeah. Would you mind given a synopsis of it just a little bit for the for the listeners?


Greg Hoffman  41:32  

Yeah. And, you know, we were talking about, you know, taking risks. And we believe that it’s so much as a brand that our biggest campaign today at that moment was the risk everything campaign, we actually called the campaign risk everything. And so at the center of that campaign was a five minute commercial called the last game. So that’s risky. Five minutes, right. And not only that, but it was animated.


Brett Bartholomew  41:58  

And that was the longest commercial of its kind at that time right?


Greg Hoffman  42:01  

Yea, so a lot of firsts there. And it launched during the World Cup of football, right soccer in the States. And so basically, the, storyline is this, is that there is a mad scientist who wants to take all risk taking out of the game, right? There’s too much risk by these human players like Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan. And so he develops a team of clones based on the best players in the world who are perfect. And they literally defeat at first, the best players in the world. And, you know, and then, you know, the mad scientist starts to imagine how he could take that to basketball, right. And so at the end of the five minutes, there’s a big epic match. And I’m gonna let your viewers guess maybe who comes out on top on that, but it really did kind of, it’s a mirror, if you will, to kind of this conversation we’re having, which is that I do believe, because the book is a bit of a call to action that, you know, that I’m building brands, right is an art and a science. But I think some of the art has been squeezed out lately, because a lot of the relationship and the engagement between brands and people has become quite automated, right? Because we’re in this digital revolution. And so I’m just I strive for a great balance between all the rich data that we’re able to collect, you know, through analytics, all that machine learning can do for us, but at the same time, you need to create emotion and emotion comes from humans beings practicing in their disciplines to drive those types of stories and experiences. When you remove that, you know, it becomes really transactional. And like you and I are no longer having a conversation here. You might just be talking to an AI version or my digital twin. And I hope it wouldn’t be as interesting.


Brett Bartholomew  44:17  

Yeah, well, a lot of touch points on that. And to your point, when the humans come out, says what remember what makes you great, you know, you play like it’s a game, you’re not afraid to take risks. And that is true. And what you mentioned too, about this automation and what we’re learning about machine learning, I remember for a period of time, we’ve sent out a newsletter every month for a very long time. And I remember we had gotten pitched by a company that’s like, hey, we can make your copywriting a little bit easier. Well, I’m very much somebody that I like doing my own. You know, I have a very distinct voice people on my staff do I try to encourage that, but I’m also inquisitive. I’m like, Alright, let me see what this thing’s like. So it’s you know, gives you what do you want? This newsletter to be about, it  generates headlines for you and you’ll look at it and there’s some aha moments, but I’m like, it’s so devoid of anything that is just deeply personal. Now I tried it, you know, and I made some edits. And then I remember on the other, it did, okay, then I remember a few months later, we had a period in our business where I just felt like I was giving so much to our customer. But it was a slow period of business, I almost felt like are people not believing us, are people, what is going on, I just put some of what I thought was my best workout. And it was getting kind of a tepid response. So I just wrote kind of a Effat, email how I was feeling how silence can be deafening, and whatever, boom, hit like crazy. And it broke all the rules, it was too long, it didn’t have a catchy subject line. But what it had, I think, was something deeply human, I was pissed, I felt depleted, I tried giving my all and there’s no software that can replicate that. I mean, is that kind of along the lines of what you’re talking about here


Greg Hoffman  45:58  

100%, there is no algorithm for some of these, these human characteristics, there just isn’t. Computers don’t feel empathy. You know, they don’t have that type of curiosity. And they don’t hold your lived experience. And, I’m glad you brought this up in terms of the written voice, because oftentimes, I get asked, Hey, we don’t have those huge budgets that you’re talking about, for these epic films and all these things. But at the end of the day, for a small business, a start up and are an established brand, I believe the most powerful thing you have is your written voice. So make sure it does represent you at your core, right. And that is one thing, I think everyone can invest a bit more. And even if it’s your product, description, copy on a website, or it is the headlines in social media. It’s one that doesn’t require the type of budgets right and resources that a lot of the other kind of forms of marketing do. So really invest in, your brand voice. And over time, because I believe your audience will identify with it and appreciate it. 


Brett Bartholomew  47:17  

Yeah, that’s a really impactful tip. And it’s something that I think especially people forget about, because we live in this social media age where for a while, certain things felt accessible if you weren’t a full on creative, and especially if you weren’t skilled on the video side, you know, there was a time where you could still post on Instagram, just a picture and some deep captions and get engagement. And I know even for us, you know, now because we’re not doing reels, and we don’t spend hours and hours creating all these things, our engagement has fallen off there. But with the podcast and the newsletter, it continues to go up. And so telling people, Hey, you don’t know you don’t have to be some you don’t need to spend tons of time on iMovie. You don’t need to do this, you do need to find some avenue of expression, and then just go and be consistent on it. I mean, that sounds like what you’re saying,


Greg Hoffman  48:04  

Yeah, you don’t have to be someone you’re not at the same. This is where it gets tricky at the same time. And you do have to put yourself out there, right. I’m not a big self promoter. But you know, I do want to, like when I went on this journey of writing this book, you know, there’s a certain level of, I have to embrace a certain level of discomfort, if I want to get the word out and share this this guide to creativity, if you will, with with with as many people as possible. So I think we all find ourselves in those situations. And it’s just, it’s an ongoing game of trying to close the distance to ensure that how you’re showing up in the world is as close to who you are in the deepest way possible, you know, and you’re not always going to get it right,


Brett Bartholomew  48:58  

right. Yeah, well, and it’s the acceptance to that you’re just not going to be for everybody, you know, because to your point, self promotion absolutely is not how great work is made. But it is how great work is found out about if you don’t tell people about your book, if you don’t come on here and talk about your personal life, your professional life, they don’t know you. So that decreases the gravitas of your words, and then the resonance of it within that person’s life. And so it’s like, Hey, I remember telling another coach, you know, I think self promotion takes off from the purity is what he had said. And I said, So musicians should no longer promote albums. I go actors should not promote this. I mean, come on, you know, like, I think it is way more egotistical to think in a world of 8 billion people, Greg, that they’re just gonna find out about you through happenstance. You don’t need to go out there and promote, you know, they’re just gonna you know, it’s gonna be a tuning fork out to the universe. And people are just going to say, Oh, my God, Greg Hoffman. No, you got to do a little bit of it and you can’t be scared to be disliked and be judged a bit.


Greg Hoffman  50:00  

Yeah, at the end of the day, and I talked about this a bit in the book, you know, and it’s it gets back to Yes, at the end of the day, you know, and I’ll just go with with product for a second least like it has to perform, right, the most stylish product in the world, that doesn’t perform well, and function well, is just going to gather dust, right. But when you merge personality with high performance and style, wow, that’s when you start to resonate. And stand out at with distinction in a very crowded field. Right? There’s such a such a competition for attention right now. So you do have to figure out a way to not only have deep conviction that what you’re either saying or doing is right and right for people. But how you package it matter  it just does. And it’s not being disingenuous. It’s just building your brand identity and your brand image is, is is extremely important for the work you do for companies. But it’s important for you as an individual. Well, and so. Yeah, I mean,


Brett Bartholomew  51:20  

within. No, yeah, that was I think you say so many things that gets my mind racing. And if you allow me to, there’s a question, I want to ask you that it’s intentionally a bit vague, and I’m happy to guide it. But I think that you mentioned packaging, you mentioned quality. What do you, what advice you’d give to somebody who feels like, Well, my product, just not that sexy? And I guess to contextualize it, I remember when we first started art of coaching, we said, hey, what’s the essence of coaching and leadership? Well, it’s communication. But as you know, nobody wakes up and thinks my God, I want to be a better communicator today. People do, on the other hand, say I want less drama, I want better relationships. I want to get more work done. I want more connections. Right? So you’re selling what the thing represents not necessarily the thing itself. What, you know, how would you advise somebody that came to you to an idea and says, I have a concept, I have an idea. I want a brand. And I want to build this brand house? And by the way, I love how you described that in another podcast, but I just don’t feel like it’s sexy. Yeah, what where do you go with that?


Greg Hoffman  52:27  

Yeah, I first and foremost, I asked him, what’s the your service or product that you’re putting out in the world that maybe you don’t think? Has that level of dramatic, you know, flair, or whatever? Well, what is the invitation? Like, what is the product unlock, what’s the higher purpose? That’s exciting, that’s going to be amazing, you have to articulate what that is, so that you’re not just lost in the item, or the thing. It’s, what so that’s why I always talk about it’s like, when anything that we’re working on, or any new product we were launching, it’s like, the the product was an invitation to unlock, the better you as an athlete, you know, in these these types of way, and let’s paint the picture of that audacious vision, like, so I think you have to work both sides, right. Because if you get, if you’re just like, you have a new, you know, you own a hardware store, and you you know, or you’re creating a new line of beauty product, or whatever it is, I think, if you don’t figure out that you’re not just serving your customer for the moment, you want to be on this journey with them. And the the end in mind that you’re working towards has to be really exciting, that you’re going to be with them the whole way with your products, making them their lives better. And so, so it’s not just illustrating, like what the functional benefits of the product. It’s also delivering what the promise is of this, this better future. Like, that’s exciting to me. 


Brett Bartholomew  54:19  

Yeah, well it should be. 


Greg Hoffman  54:21  

Yeah. And so but I get it, it’s not like everything I’ve worked on over the years was super, you know, was going to be top of mind to your point when people wake up like I can’t wait to, to access that. But for me, if I just go through my daily ritual, and I kick off the day with a shot of not just Espresso. It’s Nespresso espresso. I bought in to that community. And that audacious dream of a great life through coffee. I’m just making it up. So they’ve, you know, worked on both my heart and my head, you know, they’ve served the rational and the emotional needs that I have through that. So that’s just, you know, it, I think that’s pretty important is to just always remember that you need to articulate, your sense of, you know, what you believe. And you know what your bigger purpose is


Brett Bartholomew  55:23  

Yeah. And I think it’s troubling. You know what one thing that I think always keeps people from bridging this gap is, it’s just not something a lot of people get training on. You know, they’ve heard about the elephant and the rider, the rational, the emotional system, one system to this and that, you know, in my book, I talked to it as like just talking in color. When I coached athletes, it wasn’t squats, it was injury reduction, it was increased speed and power, right? It wasn’t, hey, we’re doing this drill. It was what can this drill do for you? I mean, it’s not if I sell nails, you’re not selling nails, you’re selling the very foundations of what can build a home and the memories that that family will have, you know, you’re not buying fuel or whatever, you’re buying road trips, and all those kinds of things. And people intuitively understand it. I think the issue is, and I know from myself as well, we tend to undervalue our own thoughts, and ideas, and we never say, Okay, let me write the thing here. And the promise or the invitation it represents over here, let’s get tactical with it. Let’s get pen and paper. Which brings me to kind of my next question, the creative process, you mentioned, you know, you’ve had everything from sketchpads your computer to this. I mean, there’s people that express creativity in so many ways. Now, one place I think it can be daunting, is, you know, a lot of times when you hear subject matter experts talk about their process, it seems very routinized it seems like they have the perfect everything is laid out. Can you give me something despite all your years of experience that is still incredibly messy of yours, something that like, you know, you just feel like, Oh, my God, if anybody saw this, right, they would think I’m a madman. What is your creative process? Like in some respects like that?


Greg Hoffman  57:02  

Yeah. Well, when I started to manage larger teams in the early 2000s, you know, I honestly, I became known for sketching on small yellow stickies, because it was the fastest way I could get my idea across. And I would just leave, and it Yeah, so just be yellow stickies everywhere, right. And so my point is, part of why I was doing that is I want to demonstrate to my team, that it wasn’t about perfection, there was nothing about my sketches on those, you know, matchbook sized pieces of yellow paper, that was frameable, you know, museum worthy, it’s like, let’s be raw, let’s be fast about it, let’s ideate and let’s have a conversation through sketching. But let me lead the way in trying to develop a culture where we weren’t going to get wrapped up, at least initially, with glittering renderings and animations and different things like that. And so that’s just maybe one example of oftentimes that because I do believe, just, you know, to my favorite characteristics, in sports speed and agility, I think are enormously important. In the world of, you know, business organizations, right, we’re able to move and listen and respond and flex and be agile to the wants and needs of your audience. And at the same time, do it at warp speed. Yeah, like, no one’s waiting for us. the consumer speed is really fast right now. And you need to keep up or be in front of that. So I have deep sympathy and empathy for the teams, you know, really deep into the, you know, their digital offense that they run to drive that. But in any event, yeah, I mean, that’s, just one. One example. Maybe that is, quite frankly, something that anyone can do that. that yellow sticky example.


Brett Bartholomew  59:23  

That’s perfect. And I you know, talking to a coach, they had spent the majority of their life in team sport, and they are now moving in into an entrepreneurial role. And they just overthink so many of these things. I told them, Listen, your athletes, of course, they practice they do this, they drill, but you don’t tell them just to overthink everything. They got to go out in the game, they got to do it, you know, and that’s what he mentioned, speed and agility and from a communication standpoint, we always call it social agility. I’m like, but you’ve just got to continue to iterate these things. And it’s funny, I’ve always thought coaching and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. There’s the inherent management tropes. There’s the game planning aspect or in sports performance period is Asian and, and all these pieces. But it brought me to the next question getting out of creativity for a moment on page 127. And the subtitle is a new position, a new offense. And it talks about when you took the role of Vice President of Global Brand creative at Nike in 2010. Now, you don’t have to use this example. Greg, you can use any example a lateral example. I understand. We want to protect privacy and all this. But one question that we had gotten is somebody that just took a new role said, I came into a position very excited about it love the organization. However, as with any organizations, there are some individuals who and they phrase, it seemed to lack ambition, or a central purpose, and just I’m having a bit of trouble getting them to buy in and deliver the engagement, autonomy, and more importantly, accountability, I need them to, you can use any example you want. But can you share some experience from your life of what you did to kind of solve what might be an accountability or an ambition or a focus problem when managing a new team?


Greg Hoffman  1:01:00  

It’s a great question. And I’ll say this, even before that time, remember, I was a Nike design intern. And then seven years later, I was leading the very department that I was an intern for, right. And you can imagine, maybe the resentment, the you know, there’s a lot that went when I was dealing with, as I tried to motivate, find my own way of leading, but also motivate people to kind of redefine how we worked to deliver better works. And so that’s just one thing is I understand where the person is coming from, because I dealt with it over and over again, and some of it, you can coach and lead through. And some of the other stuff is just it, unfortunately, is a distraction for the team. But if I fast forward, yes, I inherited a variety of disciplines and functions that have worked, in some ways in isolation are in silos, you know, brand communication, and advertising, social media, and digital marketing, the brand design studio and all the events and retail all these different places, right. And my job was to somehow create continuity, and consistency with what we were creating. Because at the end of the day, more and more, the consumer was just demanding it, like the last thing your audience wants to deal with are excuses that you have issues internally, and therefore you can’t connect the dots for them. Like that’s, you know, so because at the end of the day, your audience decides they’re actually in charge. And your job is  to, you know, deliver so. So yes, I mean, you to me, here’s the thing, I preached a lot that from day one, anytime I assumed a new role. And I would sit down with with all the groups. And maybe there’s a lot of cynicism in the room, maybe not. But it’s like we need an equal balance of self confidence and self awareness. Right, If we have an imbalance there, there’s no way we’re going to be able to play together on a field. And you’ve you’ve heard this before. But you know, at least the mantra I use is, talent starts the game. But chemistry wins it. Just like some of the all star teams. You see. It’s not always fun to watch. The chemistry is it there. So you can have the greatest team in the world in the realm of business. But if you can’t create that chemistry, and that Abyan to selflessness, then it’s going to be really difficult. And that’s why I always use the, the FC Barcelona example, when they are at their peak, and they practice that playing style tiki taka, and they would pass the ball 40 50 60 times in a row, and the opponent wouldn’t touch it. And that’s at the highest level of football. Yeah. And so there’s only one way to achieve that, if that’s again, where everybody knows their role on the team. But also there’s a level of self awareness and selflessness that exists in in pursuit of the bigger goal. And so that’s why you I mean, it sounds a little, you know, but I do use this term. You know, shorten your passes, because if you’re doing these long handoffs and these long passes between departments, and between teammates, in the world of business, you’re just not going to generate that level of speed and continuity that I think you need today.


Brett Bartholomew  1:04:51  

Yeah, well, there’s a bit of just pragmatism and patience to it as well. I mean, this idea that these athletes on these teams, they don’t need to all have the same ideals and hobbies Outside of work, they don’t always need to like each other. But when you’re there, and you’re in a project, have an agreement, we’re getting it done. You know, we’re getting it done. What’s the larger goal here? You know, I think people have been sold this bag of goods, that everything has to be this utopian, harmonious thing where we all hold hands. And it’s like the best workplace ever. Sometimes it’s just messy. And it’s saying, Greg, are you looking at me and saying, Brett, we may have a disagreement here, we may have a difference here. But we need to move forward. How are we going to do that? And I feel like we’ve just lost that ability to just be frank about it. Because everybody’s been, I don’t maybe it’s too many pop psychology leadership books out there, which is why yours is refreshing. You give an element of pragmatism and you give juxtapositions here that aren’t selling people on, hey, here’s the world as we’d like it to be. It’s like, this is how it is. And these are some common themes. And, you know, take from it what you will, but I’m just going to be a reporter of some of this information here.


Greg Hoffman  1:05:51  

Yeah, no, it’s, it’s that’s a great point. And  you know, it’s funny, and I’m sure you’re this way, too. I’m unapologetic, about using metaphors and analogies from sport just because, well, one, I love it. But two, there’s there’s so many transferable lessons and learnings, whether it’s athletes, coaches, teams, games, you name it. And it’s an I think, oftentimes, I’ve always found it refreshing to go to sport to find answers for within the world of business, especially when it comes to how to play as a team. On that, so. Yeah, I think at the end of the day, you know, it does come down to being courageous in terms of that back to being able to Well, I’ll say this, you know, I think we’re in a tough moment time it used to be when I was coming up. And there was a great quote by the gentleman who created the show madmen, Matthew Weiner. Yeah, he said, we’re, run ragged, but we’re creatively satisfied by that. As they put that show together. And I think what you find today probably is that we’re creatively satisfied, but we want we, you know, there’s no reason that we necessarily have to be run ragged as we would. And I think that’s all of us as coaches, parents, and managers today have to find that ability to achieve high performance and excellence. But have a have a multiplying journey along the way, not a diminishing one. And so I think we were all on that journey, because a lot of us grew up in a different kind of culture, right? And so it’s not a it’s not a bad thing. It’s just gonna take some time where we figure out how can we be definitive and be directive as leaders, but at the same time, do it in a way where people feel seen and heard. And, we get those great results? And so it’s just, it’s just a matter of just finding the balance in that.


Brett Bartholomew  1:08:17  

Yep. Yeah. Not always easy to do. So, Greg, I want to be respectful of your time, but I want to check in with you. I do have three more questions. One from me, one from an audience member. And one final one about your book if I keep them punchy, we got time? 


Greg Hoffman  1:08:30  

Let’s do it.


Brett Bartholomew  1:08:31  

Okay, When we, this is a bit of a nerd question. So I mentioned before the show and a little bit during it. A lot of where I’m going with my doctorate is communication, and in its myriad forms, right understanding power dynamics, message salience, how do we how do we really master or become closer to mastery of communication? It’s the thing that makes us human, distinctly human. That said, there are a lot of people that think communication is just this soft skill that can’t be measured, Oh, it can’t be quantified. Now, a lot of the research out there in the marketing world would show otherwise, right? Companies don’t just spend hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns with no data on Hey, could this hit or anything like that? Now there is still an art and science and I get that? You know, in a basic sense, how did Nike quantify or use data to kind of guide message tailoring message targeting? Did this hit I don’t know the terms that you guys might have used, but what was the use of data or research in, okay, we believe this is the best way to go or we believe this ad might hit or even what deemed an ad as successful other than sales, right? Other than because sales can be deceiving, but does that question make sense?


Greg Hoffman  1:09:43  

Oh, of course. And I think certainly over the last four to five years you know, there’s there’s a process that utilizes signals from the market from the, you know, choices that your audience is making and what they have an affinity for, and what are the market trends and the cultural currents that exist in the world. But you know, a lot of the time I spent within the brand over because remember, while I entered the brand, you know, television, print and billboard were the dominant ways in mediums to present your message. And at that time, you were just broadcasting your point of view at people, right. So quite frankly, there wasn’t a lot of data mining and signals that you were putting into the work. So But then, of course, the mediums expanded and changed and flexed, and the rise of social media and all these other platforms. But but here’s the thing, and this is a little bit about maybe something about diversity, and all its forms, diverse perspectives, diverse life experiences, and diverse expertise. When you have some of the biggest campaigns we did, because we had teams that reflected a variety of different diverse paths, right? There were no focus groups, and there wasn’t analysis, right? Because you could get to an objective point of view about the work because you had enough different walks of life in the room. Yeah, the issue, the issue happens when you have a sea of sameness and you don’t, you’re not able to get that level of objectivity. Right, and you’re too close to the work. And, so when it shows up in the world, it’s not reflective, it’s not a mirror of what society needs at a given time. So now with this said, what I do want to say is, you know, what’s great about today’s is you can test things like, if I put a headline, especially through digital, if I put this headline in this typeface in this color, in this location, it resonates better, or that engagement is better than if I do it, you know, the other way. And so, again, but it’s got to be back to this balance of art and science. And my question always, is this. Does art have a seat at the table? Is there someone in the room that owns the story of the brand? Because if if not, and it’s all based on that data and analytics, then you’re not going to reach that emotional resonance that I talked about so much, right? So it’s, so that’s why I believe I do believe in this idea of, it’s okay to have opposing forces in the room, and contradictions. That’s the whole point. Right?


Brett Bartholomew  1:13:07  

One thing with that, and I love these, this is where you tell your wife, I love the soundbite sea of sameness, stealing that, phenomenal, and cultural current, you’re right, even if you use the data, right, and the most emergent objective data that can change in a moment, depending on what’s gone on in the culture. I mean, we see that in music and you get plenty of music examples. I love the one where KRS won and everybody’s coming out of the shoe box and the Nike Air Force One, but things change very quickly. And so it reminds me almost of that, although in a different context. Winston Churchill had a quote, before truth can get its pants on in the morning, a lie is made ts way around the world. We wait for the data. And it’s tricky. So you have to have an informed approach. But an adaptable one, this one, this question is much more straightforward. That doesn’t mean it’s easier. You know, I told people we are going to have you on and the you know, over 20 years, 27 years at Nike, correct?


Greg Hoffman  1:14:02  

Sorry, yes. You just froze there. But I think it’s on my end. 


Brett Bartholomew  1:14:06  

You’re fine. Now. Yeah, you’re fine now. So after 27 years in Nike, you decide to go out on your own. And their question was very basic. How do I know when it’s time for me to go out on my own? Now they’re not looking for you to personalize that advice to someone you don’t know. But it’s a genuine it’s a good question. Like how when somebody is considering like, alright, is it time for me to go out on my own? What were some things that you considered? Just big picture?


Greg Hoffman  1:14:31  

Yeah, big picture, you know, and it’s interesting, I read this book, the second mountain, right, great. Yeah. And it just talked about how maybe that first mountain is very much about success in terms  of, you know, your own pursuit of, you know, accolades or, or monetary or all these other things, and then you get to that point where there’s got to be something greater And it’s time then to climb the second mountain, it’s maybe it’s to share everything you know, you know, beyond the walls of the company that you work for. And I had just gotten to the point where it was time for me to climb a new mountain that maybe was was less about my personal goals of achieving, you know, professional success. It was more about how I can make a bigger impact in the world. And I just, I started to come to that decision. Right. And so, it for everybody, it’s a little bit different, but I just think you, you want to make sure you understand what that second mountain might look like. And that it’s not just a duplicate of the one you’re at, because if you’re already at a great brand, and you’re going to move to another brand, what is it that’s going to be significantly different? And that would compel you to to leave? Is there is there you know, and then how, at the end of the day, it’s like, I’m just big into, like, growth expansion, like how do I continue to, to grow and even being on this podcast and meeting you and getting your point of view on things? And actually, I Where were you and I was spending two and a half hours a day in the gym six days a week, just looking at a bench being a bench versus what it actually would lead to


Brett Bartholomew  1:16:30  

to, I can tell you this, Greg, I remember when I when I was in LA, and this is a job. This is me just a bum. And I remember, I had taught some of Nikes representatives and said, Ah, hey, you know, would you be interested in being a master trainer, blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, Well, I’m a strength coach, I’m not really in the fitness space, we do more performance or whatever. And they’re like, Well, you know what, let’s do this. We’ll send you some products. We’ll do this. We’ll try that. And then I remember about a month later, I went and met with somebody or somebody completely new. And they said, hey, you know, basically, I had gotten ousted at the time, because they were like, Oh, you don’t have enough followers on Instagram and this and that. I’m like, oh, that’s how Nikes making decisions. Now, I just remember. So where was I, I was getting rejected by Nike, Greg, I needed your help at the time. You know what I mean? I’m sitting there, . But No, I’m joking. I would have listened. And you taking you taking a chance and being able to have this conversation is tremendous. Which brings me to my final question. Since you’ve been a great sport. Where can everybody listening and get your book, I am holding it up for anybody watching on YouTube. And any of our other formats. It is emotion by design, the world’s biggest bookstore at Imagine Amazon, and where else can I support you?


Greg Hoffman  1:17:40  

Yeah, you can get it at a variety of digital retailers like Amazon, Target, Barnes and Noble. All the different direct to consumer, you know, digital bookstores, and then as well as a lot of bricks and mortar stores as well. And it’s in audio book format, as well as digital book Kindle format. And, yeah, so it’s just, it’s an again, you can hit it, you also go to And you’ll see different avenues that will send you to different retailers of your choice.


Brett Bartholomew  1:18:22  

And guys, like I said, Remember, our guests are gracious enough to give you so much of their time, years of experience. It takes so much of their soul to write these books, please support them as you guys usually do. For Brett Bartholomew, Greg Hoffman and the art of coaching podcast signing off


oh wait, you guys are still here. Awesome. I appreciate it. Hey, if you want more behind the scenes info, we’re going to be putting a whole lot of new things on our newsletter. So if you like behind the scenes kind of day in the life type stuff, you want raw thoughts, helpful tips, and you just are the type that likes to think more critically, go to We share stuff on our newsletter all the time that you’re never going to get on our Instagram. You’re not always going to get on the podcast. We’re really trying to create a helpful ecosystem of information here. So that’s Thanks again and be sure to tell a friend or two about the show.

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