A Memoir By The Creator of Nike

Shoe Dog is an account of Phil Knight’s journey as a visionary and as an entrepreneur. Phil Knight essentially started the renowned brand Nike and as of June 2019, Nike was estimated to be worth 134.78 Billion US Dollars. That’s a lot of money! This memoir sheds a good light on how Nike became the big brand we know today.

Here are a few key points for everyone from the book, Shoe Dog

He had a passion for running:

According to this book,  outdoor running was not popular in the 50s and 60s. It was probably the stuff of weirdos but Phil liked running and believed that runners deserved better running shoes. So, he turned his passion into a business. And the key point here is to be yourself and develop your interests. Whatever is not mainstream is always considered weird and people like Phil are oftentimes regarded as the perpetrators of crazy until their plans materialize.

He Made A Detour

Phil left home for Asia with the hopes of learning more about shoe manufacturing but ended up on a beach (still in the US) selling encyclopedias for 2 years. But one day,  he decided it was time to continue with his original plan.  The lesson in this is that you can always go back to your plan no matter how off the track you have gone.

I like this quote by Caroline Myss: “you are never on the wrong path, wherever you are, that is where you are meant to be.”

He had the right people around him.

His family was very supportive. His father was not as enthusiastic at first but he eventually came around. In fact, he became very close to his dad and he would often call his father at night for some support.

Also, he had a mentor in the form of his university running coach, Bill Bowerman, who invested in his company and was responsible for a lot of the early Nike shoe designs and prototypes.

He hired people who were aligned with his vision for Nike.  He worked with a mix of people that had different personalities and lifestyles. One of the poignant parts of Shoe Dog was reading about Steve Prefontaine.  He was actually the first track athlete to endorse Nike and he was someone who Phil admired a lot. Steve, unfortunately, died in a car crash in 1975 at the age of 24.

He just never gave up!

Let me just say that for Phil and his team, the struggle was real. Shoe dog details how the company struggled to keep its finances balanced for decades. They were always in need of loans and the company almost went bankrupt a couple of times.

They also had major legal issues with their Japanese partner, Onitsuka

In all, they stayed on and managed their circumstances until they broke through.

The Struggle Is Real

In my opinion, the underlying theme for this book is “the struggle is real”. So if you are experiencing difficult times in your business, books like these help you realize that other people have had similar or worse experiences than you have, and have come out of them better people. However every business is unique, so if it is going very well for you, don’t lose sleep because you are expecting calamity to befall you.

I think I have said enough.  I urge you to go find Shoe Dog and read it.