Chris Crawford, Nike, and Being Better.
Recently, the world lost one of its best. Chris Crawford passed away too soon- after a long, determined fight. His memorial service is tomorrow.
So why am I posting this on LinkedIn? Because the intersection of work and life is a tight one. The best of us should be celebrated. His goodness should be cherished.
But also, Craw personified the BEST of Nike. The Best of Phil Knights’s Nike. I hope everyone walking that campus in the coming weeks uses his passing as reason to celebrate both him, and what he represented. And promises to remember it.
It’s not about the shoes.
Passion. Charisma. Authenticity. Kindness. Fun.
When I was making my way on Nike’s campus early in my career- Chris was who I wanted to be when I grew up. I guess I still do.
We were both left-handed quarterbacks, similar humor, we loved Nike, and working with athletes. And we believed in Better. Make it Better. Do Better. Be Better. Shoes were just a way of expressing that belief. His goodness was always something to strive for. I know I have not always lived up to his example, but I try. I will keep trying.
About a year ago, we made the time to catch up. It feels like yesterday. We met for lunch. A lunch that took 3 hours. We talked about his health, his children, and of course our mutual love for the Nike Cleated team (“The House of Spikes and Studs”). But in true "Crawdaddy" form, he wanted to talk about me. That’s him. My friend. But his gift was making everyone feel that way. Our mutual friend Izaak Smith said it best last week, “Craw always made me feel like he really liked me.”
How awesome is that?
So my LinkedIn friends: What if we always treated people that way? Even those we have differences with. What if, like Chris, we always left others feeling better than before we interacted? He was the ultimate “Bucket Filler”.
Most of all, I’m glad he and I took that time to meet, because it’s so often that we don’t. So do it. Call an old friend. Especially someone you USED to work with. Just because we leave a company, or move away, should not be a reason to disconnect. Those connections are what is all about.
When we met that day, I gave Chris a copy of “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. I don’t know why exactly. But he was so appreciative. Again, his gratitude was so real it surprised me. I wrote this quote from the book in the inside cover:
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
That is Chris Crawford and his legacy in a nutshell.
I don’t know if he ever read the book. But I know we left that day with him knowing he was loved, appreciated, and I was grateful for him in my life. And we hugged.
Rest in Peace, Craw.