Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog

A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Book - 2016
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In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.
Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.
But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life s Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes. Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers.
Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything."
Publisher: New York :, Scribner,, 2016, ©2016.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781501135910
Branch Call Number: 338. 768876092 KNI K
Characteristics: 386 pages ; 24 cm

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Inside story of Nike's early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world's most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.


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carolwu96
Sep 21, 2019

Hopes, dreams, betrayals; companionship, growths, deaths. This memoir spans decades of Knight’s life, from intimate personal details such as youthful heartbreaks to business milestones such as winning a lawsuit against a partner-turned-nemesis. But throughout the story, there are persistence, tenacity, and passion.

This is a great read and I cannot rave about it enough, but I also want to discuss 3 frequently overlooked (but important!) points.

Although Phil Knight did build his empire from ground up, he was privileged. At the beginning of his career, his father had lent him thousands of dollars — and that was in the 1960’s! His cousin was a lawyer, he attended Stanford, and learned from numerous CEO’s and industry leaders. That is not to undermine Knight’s efforts or intelligence, but to note that he was already starting from a higher position, which I wish he had reflected on at the end.

Phil Knight was also very lucky. His business could have fallen apart at so many points due to factors beyond his control, but it didn’t. This company, like many other successful ones, is almost a miracle, and those hoping to glimpse the “correct way” to create a startup should keep this in mind. Let’s not suffer from survivor bias.

However, one thing Knight did not underline but for which I think he deserves much credit is his ability with people. He was an introvert, but he could pinpoint his employees’ abilities and direct them to where they were needed most. This was probably one of his most valuable assets as a CEO at Nike.

Overall, a highly entertaining and inspiring read! .

For more book reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead ! :)

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goldenbeetle
Aug 14, 2019

Where do I even begin?

Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Do I begin with Phil Knight an Oregonian boy fresh out of Stanford? What about Bowerman? The Phil Knight whose coping skills is to hug himself while he fights the US government? Bill Knight? The Phil Knight who surf boards and downs mao tais (not mai tais) like no tomorrow? The Accountant? Father? Son?

Does this add in Blue Ribbon? Nike? Falcon or Dimension Six?

Does it continue in Oregon in the Knights' house? Japan or Boston?

Belief? Insanity? Some mania that propels all of us to great accomplishments and soul crushing defeat?

I thought about referencing Athena and any apparent wisdom that the book may shed on readers, or how the blazing embers of the public remind me of Spartacus' uprising as he gained momentum, or the first ignition.

How this was a spark of all sparks...

You think you know something until you don't. Until you've been given a different perspective on how the subject was originally taught to you.

From the eyes of a wandering passerby whose eyes always caught the spotlight on the swoosh of shoes in their mall windows to someone who knows a little bit more behind the company and all in all it feels like you don't know anything at all about...anything.

Phil Knight tries to be profound but his adventures in of themselves are already profound. There are no more needed words nearing the end of the novel to know the crushing loss of loyal friends--a friend beyond friend who had done everything they could in the spirit of the company. There's no words to describe the foundation on building insanity with constant loans from the bank, from friends and families, from oversea trading companies and still have it all work out...barely work out. What words are there to describe the relationships built, the betrayals that ran from one home to another, or the stress of balancing life and work or the okay-ness in its imbalance?

Is it a journey of the company?
Or is 'Shoe Dog' the journey of man? Or what seems like your average man (if not more "jackassing around" and "worldly"), Phil Knight.

F'ing brilliant.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
May 05, 2019

Shoe Dog is a memoir by the founder of Nike Phill Knight. This book documents the life of Phil Knight, and the rise of his shoe company Nike. Full of wisdom and knowledge, the book showcases the many successes and downfalls Knight faced. It shows the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and the difficulty of running a company. The book provides different morals and messages for everyone, regardless of your career or goals. This is a book I believe that everyone should read. I rate this book 5/5. - @CoolReadz of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

m
miketany
Jan 04, 2019

I think that this book really proves the universal "never give up" line. I was really impressed by how much stress he was put under and managed to pull through with his dreams. Despite being threatened by his own employees to leave unless he increased their pay and Onitsuka, his supplier seeming to want to change distributors in the US, he still managed to make a successful shoe distributer by selling off-brand shoes. I think that his personality is perfect for an entrepreneur, willing to take risks and put all his eggs in one basket. It was only when he quit his fallback job and devoted himself to his company, it really started to blow up. These kinds of things demand your 100% focus and cannot be ignored and succeed on its own.
I rated this book a 10/10 because of its vividness when describing his feelings during his troubles in his career path. Since this book really shows how well someone can do once they take risks that are seemingly insane, this book shows how people should live their lives, taking risks and doing something one has never done before. Besides, you only get one shot at life, and you should make it count.

g
gbohomegirl7
Nov 12, 2018

This is another remarkable story & well-written book with a northwest flavor. For me, it is on par with "The Boys in the Boat". An excellent read!

b
Bellinghamspence
Sep 04, 2018

A wonderful read. I remember back in the mid 70s running track in the white Tigers with red and blue stripes and later having an orange pair of Tigers. I never knew much about this story of Phil Knight. What a drive to succeed in business. The ending is so sad about his son, misty eyes.
Very nice to see how much he has given back to the community.

s
sprad2
Aug 18, 2018

Compelling read, I found the message about the American entrepreneurial spirit being stifled and attempted to be extinguished at every next demarcation of success to be refreshing. A real hero's tale of perseverance and competitive spirit.

w
wmtlady
Sep 13, 2017

I think this may be the most captivating, educational, and motivating memoir I have read to this point in my 6+ decades of life. I could easily justify buying my own copy for my personal library, but I'm trying to not add "things" to my life now. If you have never been attracted to biographical books before, this one is a good book to change that situation. I looked for a "ghost writer" since it is so well written but couldn't find any mention. I'm glad I took the chance on it. Get in line; it will be worth your wait.

m
MadelineB30
Jul 07, 2017

My favourite part of this book was to see how hard it was to run a business and how they came up with the name nike and why they had made the logo a swoosh. I liked learning about how many people they had to pay in order to keep working. I would not give any negative feedback about this book.

v
vullankib
May 31, 2017

Glad this is my first book for this year. Phil Knight let us be part of his journey right from the start through the struggles, the tides of ups and downs. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for answers of where to start and to understand how tough the journey would be in pursuit of ones dreams.

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