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Ask yourself how you can help... I asked at at Age 16: Do you need shoes tested?

I love telling the story about how I first got connected to Nike that led to a 35+ relationship and career with a brand that I continue to love and be proud of.

I had been running for a few years as an age group runner starting to compete in Adidas Spikes and then with idolizing Steve Prefontaine as a youth runner.

I had heard that the company that created the Nike products had a small office in the Koll Creekside Business Park in Beaverton Oregon.

I did some research and found out that one of the operations was the product testing department located in this small business park in Beaverton.

I drove out to this location, knocked on the door and introduced myself to the people in the building.

I shared with them that I loved the Nike brand. I told them that I was a local high school runner and wanted to know if they needed any shoes to test......

The team that was in place, Brent James, Carolee Carlson and Howard Banich , Steve Bence looked at each other and said why not?


As it turned out they were in desperate need of runners to test some of their prototypes and innovative materials they were beginning to develop.

  • Their timelines were tight.

  • They did not have a database of product testers that to be effective needed to be local.

I was honestly looking to test the shoes for myself but I was not the right size.

The problem that I came across was that I was a size 7 and the product testing

sample size was size 9 for men and size 8 for women.

Strategic Response and Pivot

I mentioned that our track team had nearly 100 athletes on it at Jackson High School and that I could lead the testing effort with products and get feedback from Jackson High School's athletes based on their needs.

The simplicity of the approach to reach out to see if you can help resulted with the loading up my car with 3-4 cases of prototype training shoes. Imagine what my parents said when I went out to see if I could get a pair of shoes to test and came home with nearly 100 pairs of early prototype shoes from Nike. The story was almost unbelievable and my high school team and coaches loved that we had this opportunity to shine.

Nike Elites, LDV's, Mens and Women's Waffle Trainers, LD1000's  and eventually some early prototypes of the Tailwind. 

Carolee Carlson handed me a stack of wear test forms that I organized and placed in each box as I distributed the shoes to my teammates early that spring before the season started.

Our team not only had the coolest shoes in the city but I was able to follow up and produce wear test results for these shoes. This built trust and connectivity to the Nike footwear product testing team. We became one of Nike's early local testing pipelines throughout the rest of my high school running career. 

IncubatorU's foundation is grounded in #fearlessinnovationtogether and the #permissiontodream. I have lived and worked this way my entire life and now am intent on leveraging all of that to help both individuals and organizations leverage their resources to transform and maximize your potential.

My next post will share my story about how this weartesting opportunity led to a job with Blue Ribbon Sports and the Athletic Department.

Subscribe to my blog to and reach out to me to help you transform.

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