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Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

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In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and CEO 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.

In 1962, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed $50 from his father and created a company with a simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his lime green Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed $8,000 his first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In an age of startups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all startups, and the swoosh has become a revolutionary, globe-spanning icon, one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable symbols in the world today.

But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, in a memoir that is candid, humble, gutsy, and wry, he tells his story, beginning with his crossroads moment. At 24, after backpacking around the world, he decided to take the unconventional path, to start his own business—a business that would be dynamic, different.

Knight details the many risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream—along with his early triumphs. Above all, he recalls the formative relationships with his first partners and employees, a ragtag group of misfits and seekers who became a tight-knit band of brothers. Together, harnessing the transcendent power of a shared mission, and a deep belief in the spirit of sport, they built a brand that changed everything.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published April 24, 2016

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About the author

Phil Knight

54 books773 followers
Philip Hampson Knight, whose nickname is "Buck", is an American businessman and philanthropist. He is the co-founder and current chairman emeritus of Nike, Inc., and previously served as chairman and CEO of the company.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 16,841 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy S..
70 reviews
February 10, 2017
This book made me cry. Twice! I did not know a book about what I had previously viewed as the definition of a big corporation could have that sort of power. I was wrong.

Phil Knight had been an unfamiliar name to me before I picked up this memoir. That, in itself, seems strange. I mean, I had no idea he's from Portland, Oregon, or that, by trade, he's an accountant, or that he identifies as an introvert. I didn't know he had met his wife while teaching at Portland State (after leaving PWC to buy himself more time to work on building his entrepreneurial endeavor). Or that Nike literally means the Greek Goddess of Victory.

Oh, and his logo? The famous swoosh? That had been designed for $35 by a previously unknown graphic design student he commissioned. Unlike Steve Jobs, Phil Knight did not really have too much faith in advertising. He felt a good product would sell itself.

I also did not know he had lost his oldest son.

I don't think any of that is really a spoiler because it can also be found by doing a simple google search. I just never did.

More importantly, I didn't realize this man had the courage, the drive & dare I say, the chutzpah, to do what so very few can -- offset his own imperfections with an obsessively driven, mostly loyal & phenomenally quirky team. And, objectively embrace, encourage & build upon their skill-sets while facing lawsuit after lawsuit on a shoestring budget with a wife, young children & a very real fear of both imprisonment & bankruptcy persistently looming overhead.

Who knows? Perhaps his 6 mile jogs helped him remain on-track while building what is now an empire & retaining at least somewhat of a soul.

The soul? Well, when I think of Nike, Michael Jordan immediately comes to mind. And maybe Tiger Woods a few years back. But definitely not Steve Prefontaine! In fact, I had never heard of the latter. What can I say? He died before I was born, I'm a very casual runner, and I guess my American Studies courses never really covered this particular icon. And now? Well, I'm embarrassed. And, more importantly, I simply can't get him or what he had meant to this country, to the world of running at-large & to Phil Knight both personally & professionally, out of my mind.

In closing, this book proves the American Dream is still alive. It's not nearly as straightforward or as black or white (or even as legal or illegal) as one may imagine, but the opportunity is here! (Minus the factories, of course -- those remain very much off-shore.). Also, and perhaps most importantly, if one or two or twelve of those dreams don't workout, it's ok (and possibly even admirable) to give them up, because "giving up doesn't mean stopping."
Profile Image for Brad Feld.
Author 42 books2,380 followers
July 7, 2016
I think Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is the best memoir I’ve ever read by a business person.
I consumed it in a day last week. It’s about the origin story of Nike, which started out as Blue Ribbon Sports.

Unlike so many memoirs, it’s not an equally balanced arc through Knight’s life. It’s not an ego gratifying display of his awesomeness, heavily weighted in the success of the company and all the amazing things that went on around that. Instead, it’s a deep focus on the beginning years of Nike especially around the first decade. It quickly gets to 1964 and the equal partnership between Bill Bowerman and Knight. But then it takes it’s time, year by year (each chapter is titled with the year number only) through the first decade of the company.

It’s an incredible story. I didn’t realize that for the first five years of the company, Knight had to work full-time – mostly at Price Waterhouse and then Coopers & Lybrand as an accountant – because the company didn’t have any resources to support him and his new family. He used nights, weekends, and in all the gaps in between to get Nike (the Blue Ribbon Sports) up and running. Year one revenue – in 1964 – was $8,000. Year two revenue – with one full time employee (not Knight) was $20,000. Year 41 revenue (2015) was $30.6 billion with a net income of $3.3 billion.

Knight covers all of it in detail. The ups and the downs. The many downs. The moments where he felt like he could lose it all, which seemed to happen at least once a year. His personal struggles as a leader and a manager. The people that drove him fucking crazy at the beginning, but were ultimately indispensable to the company. His momentary conflicts about whether or not the struggle was worth it. The breakthroughs – mostly understood in hindsight – when he realized they had gotten to another level.

The thread of financing the company, especially through the first decade, was just incredible. His only real source of financing was tradition banks (who sucked) and partners (playing the float). The company had literally no equity available to it, but was growing at a rate that would put most of today’s VC-backed startups to shame. He made it work and how he did it was awesome.
It’s incredible to get inside of a man now worth over $25 billion and the founder of one of the most iconic brands on the planet at the very beginning of his story. If you are a founder, this is a must read.
Profile Image for Brina.
933 reviews4 followers
July 17, 2017
Growing up in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s, as a collective society we were in awe of Michael Jordan. Not only did we imagine ourselves draining the decisive jump shot to seal the title, we also had to use every product that he endorsed; Gatorade, Wheaties, Coca-Cola, and, of course, Nike Air Jordan shoes. Nike most likely would not be where it is today without the sponsorship of Jordan and subsequent Jordan Brands, so when I found out that the company's founder Phil Knight had written a memoir, I had my curiosity whetted. In Shoe Dog, Knight takes his readers on a journey back to the birth of company that today is one of the world's most noticeable name brands. As a fan of Jordan and one who has used the term 'just do it' in reference to getting the job done, I knew that this was a memoir that I had to discover for myself.

In 1962, Phil Knight had what he calls a 'crazy idea'. He was about to finish his MBA at Stanford, and, as part of an entrepreneurial class, pitched the idea of marketing Japanese running shoes to American markets. All but one of Knight's classmates fell asleep on the spot, yet, Knight was onto something big. The Japanese had already flooded the American market with cameras and other products to follow as the yen recovered, so why not shoes. He pitched the idea to his father, and with a loan of $50, he set off on an around the world trip of self-discovery. After a stop on the pristine beaches of Hawaii, it was on to Japan, where then twenty four year old Knight discussed his idea with multiple companies. Only one, Onitsuka Corporation based out of Kobe, liked the idea, and made Knight into their sole western distributor of Tiger running shoes.

After completing his trips that included stops in Jordan and the Parthenon in Greece which paid homage to the goddess Nike Athena, Knight returned to his home outside of Portland, Oregon. Forming a partnership with legendary track coach Bill Bowerman, Knight was on his way to success. Forming an initial team of castoffs-- a paralyzed former track star and professionals who did not mesh with their chosen careers--, in 1964, Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc. was born. Despite Bowerman's expertise in designing shoes; however, Blue Ribbon, later to be reborn Nike, did not take off initially. The market for running shoes, especially for the casual weekend runner, was not as popular as it is now. Japanese importers presented many problems which later resulted in law suits. Yet, Knight and his team, which later included track star Steve Prefontaine and early endorsements from athletes like Ilia Nastase, trekked on, perfected their ideas, and eventually became the corporation that they are today. It was Prefontaine's endorsement that gave Nike credibility, and even after his tragic death, the majority of 1976 United States Olympic hopefuls competed in Nikes. The swoosh symbol was everywhere, the company had exposure to rival Adidas, and, after going public at the end of 1977, Nike was on its way up in the world.

Because I am not savvy in navigating the business world, I found the sections about Blue Ribbon's fight with Onitsuka shoes to distribute running shoes and later their entanglement with U.S. Customs Service to be fascinating. Today, people have heard one side of the story, that Nike has taken over decrepit factories in third world countries to produce athletic shoes that their employees can not afford. Yet, Knight has delivered his side of the story, from his early struggles against the Japanese, to his quest to modernizing factories to comply with current business practices. He details the company's precarious situation in the 1960s and 1970s, even after they had reached over $100 million annual in sales. Due to the constant business struggle with the Japanese and their American rivals, one ruling in the other direction could have meant the end of Nike. Yet, Knight's quality group had luck on their side, and won every law suit and threat thrown in their direction. With the business struggles behind them, the sky was the limit for the corporation that had once been a 'crazy idea'.

Today Nike is situated on a sprawling campus in Beaverton, Oregon. The company took off after employing shoe guru Sonny Vaccaro in the late 1970s and signing Jordan out of college in 1983-84. Looking back, Knight wishes he could do it all over again with one caveat, to be a better father to his children. I would have enjoyed reading more about Knight's relationship with Jordan, but the world knows the gist of that story. Learning about how Nike got its start and how each day could have been the company's last during the entire decade of the 1970s was a fascinating read. Knight has said that business is 'war without bullets' and channeled generals such as Patton and MacArthur during the company's rise to greatness. Today the Nike swoosh symbol is emblematic as sports itself. Seeing how it came to be was a fascinating, fun, and informative 4 star read and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,271 reviews2,439 followers
May 17, 2022

I am not a sneakerhead who is obsessed with videos by Complex and sneaker shopping from Stadium goods. I have a couple of friends who considers buying shoes as an investment and spends a lot of money to acquire a rare collection. It is them who recommended me to read this book. I was not much interested in reading it initially as I had no clue what this book was about. I still purchased it due to my friend's insistence. But it sat on my TBR list for a pretty long time.

At last, when I took this one up to read, I couldn't put it down. It was that good. It changed the way I look towards the world of footwear- those who make them, those who wear them, and those who collect them.

This enthralling and riveting book is the memoir of Phil Knight, who is the CEO and founder of Nike. It tells us his extraordinary story of building up a business empire from the $50 he borrowed from his father. The author describes the integral role the relationship between Nike and athletes has played in its success. Many of the top athletes and teams are sponsored by Nike. The signing of basketball legend Michael Jordan is considered one of the significant events in Nike's history.

What I learned from this book
1) Obstacles are opportunities in disguise
The author had to face an umpteen number of setbacks in this journey. He thought about dropping his business ambitions multiple times to opt for a normal life like others. But he didn't lose hope and persisted with his efforts, and the rest is history. He shows us why it is said that obstacles are actually opportunities in disguise.
"When you see only problems, you're not seeing clearly."

2) Which is the best way to decide your career?
Phil Knight tells all youngsters the method to choose their career when standing perplexed at the crossroads of their lives. He shows us the importance of following your heart. He tells us it is vital to follow your passion instead of compromising for practicality.
"I'd tell men and women in their mid-twenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don't know what that means, seek it. If you're following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you've ever felt."

3) The importance of reading and traveling in building up our character
It is said that travelling and reading are both the best ways to broaden our minds. Some say that reading is better than traveling while some others think vice versa. I love both reading and traveling, and I think both are equally important in building up our character.

I am glad to know that Phil Knight also has a similar opinion and gives equal importance to reading and traveling. He is mentioning about the important books that influenced him in multiple parts of this book. At the age of 24, the author decided to see the world by travling to many countries. We can see in multiple parts of this book the author referring to this travel and how it influenced him and helped him to face all the obstacles in his life
"How can I leave my mark on the world, I thought, unless I get out there first and see it?"

My favourite three lines from this book
“Beating the competition is relatively easy. Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment”

“I refused to even consider ordering less inventory. Grow or die, that’s what I believed, no matter the situation”

"Just keep going. Don't stop. Don't even think about stopping until you get there, and don't give much thought to where "there" is. Whatever comes, just don't stop."

What could have been better?
The main complaint against this book is that the author has written it in a misogynistic, self-absorbed manner and that he is trying to glorify exploitation by saying that it is indispensable for business success. I never felt that the author is misogynistic or self-absorbed while reading this book. Phil Knight paid only $35 to the graphic design student Carolyn Davidson for the swoosh logo of Nike. When we think about it in 2021, when Nike is a $35 billion business empire, we might feel it was a cheap gesture. But we should also consider that it was done in 1971 when Nike was nothing compared to what it is today. Still, there are some areas in this book where I felt that the author could have treated his workers better.

The relationship between Tiger Woods and Nike is a controversial and debatable topic. We can appreciate the loyalty shown by Nike towards Mr. Woods during difficult times. But looking back at the seriousness of the accusations against him during his marital infidelity scandal in 2009 from this #metoo era, it can be viewed from a different angle altogether. I expected a little more in-depth analysis of that situation from Phil Knight in this book.

This book was published in 2016. Many important events involving Nike happened after that, including the campaign for boycotting Nike on social media and controversy involving Nike using the image of rebellion to sell its gear. I expect an updated edition of this book discussing these crucial topics. I also hope to see the author's view on Nike's relation with Tiger Woods from the #metoo perspective.

5/5 Please don’t miss the opportunity to read this book if you are young person who aspires to become a great entrepreneur in the future.

“It’s never just business. It never will be. If it ever does become just business, that will mean that business is very bad.”
Profile Image for Ned Frederick.
679 reviews14 followers
May 12, 2016
Shoe Dog could have been titled, "Buck Naked", because of the way Phil "Buck" Knight bares his soul in this fine memoir. I'm grateful to Knight for putting it all down in black and white. My 12 years with Nike started toward the end of the timeframe of this memoir, and so a lot of what Knight chronicles in Shoe Dog was the core of the Nike creation myth, revealed piecemeal to most of us in the late 70's and early 80's... usually in the form of humorous anecdotes shared over a cocktail or three. It's just wonderful to read this very personal account and especially to have so many unexpected revelations about Knight's state of mind during those seminal moments in Nike's early history. During my tenure at Nike, Knight was a shy, almost bashful, and sometimes quixotic, character who came across as extremely bright, introspective, and prone to occasional, intractable reluctance. I get it now. Of the dozens of CEO's I've met over these 30+ years in the sneaker business he is the only one I could even begin to describe as a seeker... his deep introspection is a quality I've always admired. More so now that I have read about the depth and breadth of what I can only call, his quest. Frankly, I'm astonished. I could never imagine him publicly sharing so much of himself as he does in Shoe Dog. Something else I always admired was his gift for hiring talented, dedicated people and giving them plenty of rope. He was always tolerant of failure, but intolerant of stagnation. These qualities certainly come across in this fine book. Remarkable man. Remarkable history. Remarkable book.
Profile Image for Ivan K. Wu.
149 reviews23 followers
July 28, 2019
A marketing rag that rebrands exploitation as entrepreneurial virtue, with enough rave reviews by endorsed celebrities to make George Orwell proud. To summarize: Stanford MBA returns from trip around the world (funded by parents), secures a Japanese connection (through his father) and hires a rag tag team of misfits to work full time on his shoe empire while he had one foot out the door working as an accountant for PwC. His only real talent was in taking advantage of people: $50 raises for his founding employees, taking money from a disabled employee's family, and paying the woman who designed his logo $35. And despite loathing the word "equity," Knight manages to keep all of his.

But no, true American success story. *slow clap*
Profile Image for Chip Huyen.
Author 8 books3,240 followers
April 1, 2019
Great story. There is grit, passion, and drama. Phil Knight described in amazing details his journey from selling shoes out of his car to building a multi-billion dollar company. It'd have been a perfect zero-to-hero story if it wasn't for its elitism.

All important people in Phil Knight's life seem to be rich and powerful. Knight's parents paid for his college and his expensive MBA. Then the 24 year old Knight asked for even more money to travel the world, beach-bumming in Hawaii for a while. When he was in Japan, his dad's friends checked him into a nice hotel, took him to trade exchange, introduced him to importers. His dad then paid for his first order of shoes, paid for his second order of shoes, then wrote a guarantee so he could work with a respectable bank. The moral of the story is: Take as much risk as you could as long as you have your rich parents to catch you when you fall.
Profile Image for Liong.
147 reviews116 followers
July 24, 2023
I recommend you to read this book, especially for business people and entrepreneurs.

"Have faith in yourself, but also have faith in faith. Not faith as others define it. Faith as you define it. Faith as faith defines itself in your heart. "

I learned a lot of good lessons from this book about passion, failure, perseverance, business risks, instinct, relationship, and being humble.

Overall, this book is full of business lessons and guidance.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews27 followers
May 25, 2022
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, Phil Knight

Shoe Dog is a memoir by Nike co-founder Phil Knight. He 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 car in 1963, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year. 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 one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «سمفونی کفش‌ها: خاطرات بنیان‌گذار شرکت نایکی»؛ «کفش فروش پیر: شرح‌حالی از بنیانگذار نایکی»؛ «کفش باز خاطرات بنیا‌نگذار نایکی»؛ نویسنده: فلیپ اچ نایت؛ «خاطرات بنیان‌گذار شرکت نایک»؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و چهارم ماه می سال2019میلادی

عنوان: سمفونی کفش‌ها: خاطرات بنیان‌گذار شرکت نایکی؛ نویسنده: فلیپ اچ نایت؛ مترجمها: علیرضا پارسائیان؛ نیلوفر خوش زبان؛ تهران، نشر سده، سال1395؛ در485ص؛ شابک9786009717002؛ عنوان دیگر: خاطرات بنیان‌گذار شرکت نایک؛ چاپ دوم سال1399؛ موضوع سرگذشتنامه نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

عنوان: کفش فروش پیر: شرح‌حالی از بنیانگذار نایکی؛ نویسنده: فیل نایت؛ مترجم: حامد رحمانیان؛ ویراستار: رها خیرآبادی؛ تهران، نشر نوین توسعه، سال1396؛ در410ص؛ شابک9786008738114؛

عنوان: کفش باز خاطرات بنیا‌نگذار نایکی؛ نویسنده: فیل نایت؛ مترجم: شورش بشیری؛ تهران، نشر میلکان، سال1396؛ در328ص؛ شابک9786007845653؛ چاپهای چهل و هشتم و چهل و نهم سال1400؛

فراموشکار هستم و پیر اما این یکی یادم مانده است که در باره ی این کتاب نوشته بودم، کتابم را هم حذف کرده بودند، امروز روز سوم خردادماه سال1401خورشیدی دوباره کتاب را افزودم

نقل از متن پشت جلد: (فارغ از اینکه چه کسب‌ و کاری داشته باشید یا اینکه در چه رشته‌ای درس خوانده باشید، این کتاب داستان رسیدن به خواسته‌ها و آرزوهاست، راهنمای از هیچ به همه چیز رسیدن، راهنمای گوش‌دادن به صدای قلب و دویدن دنبال آرزوهاست، داستان شکست‌ خوردن و برگشتن از عمق تاریکی شکست است، داستان هدر ندادن استعداد است، این کتاب نه‌ تنها راهنمایی برای اهالی کسب‌ و کار و مدیریت است، بلکه برای هر خواننده‌ ای که به خود و آرزوهایش ایمان دارد خواندنی است؛ زندگی‌نامه‌ ای که جنگیدن و دست‌ نکشیدن را به ما می‌آموزد)؛ پایان

نقل از متن: (کناری نشستن و کاری‌نکردن و ترازنامه را بالابردن، برای من معنایی نداشت؛ بله، این کاری محتاطانه و سنجیده و عاقلانه بود؛ اما کنار جاده پر بود از کارآفرین‌های محتاط و عاقل و سنجیده که از بین رفته بودند؛ من می‌خواستم با تمام قدرت پایم را روی پدال گاز فشار بدهم)؛ پایان

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 03/03/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Austin Haukinz.
272 reviews10 followers
September 22, 2016
Overall: Meh. This book doesn't contain much. No real business or leadership insight. Not even an interesting story about the formation of Nike. Mostly the life of Phil Knight and Nike's early legal trouble. Truth be told, Phil Knight sounds to be an all around self-absorbed individual. Not someone I'd ever look up to. I'm still a fan of Nike products, just not this book.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
719 reviews886 followers
June 11, 2019
“Let everyone else call your idea crazy.. just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”

In other words, Just Do It!

Nike is the ultimate American dream. And it all started when a twenty-four-year-old Oregonian suddenly had this Crazy Idea of bringing Japanese running shoes, specifically the Onitsuka Tigers, into the country way back in 1962, just less than two decades after the United States of America bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

There had been some unauthorised biographies or stories about how Nike came to be, but this is the first time we have been graced with the words from the creator himself, Philip H. Knight. Shoe Dog is a well-written, captivating and candid account of how Knight’s Crazy Idea came into fruition and eventually metamorphosized into the most recognizable name in the athletic shoe and apparel industry.

While not a business book per se, there are a lot of insights herein about entrepreneurship and challenges of running a successful business. The journey undertaken by Blue Ribbon Sports, the name of the company with which Knight started his distribution of the Onitsuka Tigers, was monumentally challenging in spite of encouraging sales and demand. What with the difficulties of dealing with the Japanese halfway across the world in a snail-mail era coupled with problematic and delayed shipments time and time again, and lousy conservative bankers who preferred equity (i.e. cash) over reinvested growth, Knight and his team of partners were constantly fighting a relentless uphill battle to stay afloat. Even when Nike as a brand was created, the challenges were far from over as manufacturing capacity and capital availability struggled to keep pace with the phenomenal growth.

And what a team he was able to garner, the foremost of them all being arguably the most renowned American running coach ever, Bill Bowerman. The story of Nike has strong parables to sports as its massive success was built on strong and loyal teamwork. A lot of the ideas that brought Nike to bear were not solely Knight’s. It was also almost paradoxical to learn that Knight was not convinced on the powers of advertising, what with Nike being so revolutionary in its advertising campaigns and ideas. What he did bring to the table was his sheer passion and stubbornness (as stopping means losing) and a bunch of people who were willing to dedicate all their money and efforts into where their hearts lie. At its core, the firm was essentially founded and nurtured by running geeks who understood the spirit of the sport and embraced innovation.

Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats. When sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete, and in that convergence, in that transference, is the oneness that mystics talk about.

Another highly notable mention in this book is, of course, the legendary Steve Prefontaine, whose greatly inspiring yet tragic story still resonates within the hallowed grounds of Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon. Admiration bordering on worship for Pre, who was famously known for once saying “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it”, provided further fuel for the inner fire within Knight’s competitive psyche. It was also enlightening to learn about the origins of the Nike Cortezes and finally understand its cult status amongst shoe addicts.

Admittedly, I have always been more of an Adidas fan. However, this frank, emotional and in-depth look into the history of Nike and people behind its success has significantly boosted my appreciation of the brand. Taglines like “Just Do It” and “There Is No Finish Line” are not merely marketing propaganda but the embodiment of the spirit of the brand and its founding fathers.

Shoe Dog is a real-life story of passion, perseverance, belief, loyalty and teamwork with a lot of heart. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves biographies. More so for budding or even seasoned entrepreneurs, sneaker or athletic shoe fans, and especially for runners, athletes or just sports fans in general. And if you are a fan of Nike, what are you even waiting for?!

You can purchase the books from Amazon | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide)
Profile Image for Frank.
56 reviews9 followers
May 8, 2016
Picked this up hoping it would be a fascinating and inspirational book about leadership and passion. Well... it was an interesting book, at least. It follows Phil Knight's professional career starting from a small running shoe importer up until Nike becoming a publicly traded company. Other reviewers have said they were disappointed that it doesn't cover the birth of Air Jordan, and I would have to agree that it feels like part of the story is missing because of that. My biggest complaint, however, is that the book largely just revealed to me that I just don't like Phil Knight very much. He basically brags throughout the book that he never told his children or employees "I love you" or "I'm proud of you," even though one of his main partners ended each of his letters (of which there were thousands sent) with "Please send words of encouragement," in times of doubt and unsure footing. He speaks of his oldest son as if he's not much more than a nuisance, and as a result sounds completely insincere talking about how paralyzed he felt in response to his death. In fact, it seemed like he only wrote about it in his book so he could name drop all of the A-List athletes that shared condolences with him. Maybe other people won't interpret his stories the same way as I did, but I came away with a pretty poor impression of Phil Knight.
Profile Image for Jeff Stade.
249 reviews94 followers
July 23, 2017
I felt like I was in a country club, sitting at a round table, while an old white man blathered on about his past. Knight continually astounded me with his complete lack of self-awareness – of his white male privilege, of how he took advantage of his family and friends – and his obsession with trivial details from 40 years ago. Knight skips over so much of Nike's history that could be interesting, including everything post-IPO, and gave little insight into how grow and maintain an innovative and global business (besides "winning is everything"). Knight's greatest hardship, to this day, is getting cut from his high school baseball team – a memory that he harps on more than his now passed-away son. That says all you need to know about Knight's character.

It's frustrating reading a "business" memoir from a misogynistic and self-absorbed multi-billionaire, and it's equally frustrating seeing how much acclaim Knight's book has received.
Author 3 books909 followers
January 22, 2018
(نايك) مشهورة لكن فِل نايت (مؤسس نايك) شخصية مجهولة تمامًا بالنّسبة لي. بعد قراءة سيرته توصّلت إلى أهمّية نشرها، لأنّ الرجل كسر الصورة النمطية لرائد الأعمال العالمي الناجح.

فاجأتني صفاته التي في الغالب لا يربطها النّاس مع ريادة الأعمال والنّجاح. مثلاً: بدايته المهنية كانت المحاسبة، شخصيّتة انطوائية، كان سيّء جدًا في المفاوضات، كان لا يؤمن كثيرًا بالإعلانات (عكس ستيف جوبز)، علاقته بأسرته أكثر من رائعة (كان يتّصل بأبيه كلَّ مساء).

الدرس الأوّل

بدأ فِل كمورّد أحذية رياضية يابانية اسمها (Tiger). وخلال عمله كمورّد، نجح في تطوير العديد من الموديلات لتلبية احتياجات الرياضي الأمريكي؛ مما أعطاه مصداقية في السّوق.
الأمر الآخر الذي كان سببًا رئيسًا في نجاحه هو شراكته مع رجلين: (1) مدرّب منتخب أمريكا الأولومبي للركض و(2) شاب متحمّس جدًّا في مجال الركض، لدرجة أنّه كان يراسل كل زبون كتابيًا، ليسأله عن تجربته وتطلّعاته ، وتقديم استشارات. هذا أيضـًا رفع من مصداقيّته.
في ذلك الوقت (بداية الستينيات)، كان محبّي الركض أقلية ولا يوجد مكان يجمعهم. قام شريك فلِ نايت (المتحمّس) بتحويل متاجرهم إلى أماكن تجمّع لمحبّي الركض مما رفع مصداقيّته أيضًا.
بعد سنوات انقطعت العلاقة مع شركة (Tiger) واضطر أن يصنع أحذية من نفسه وأسماها نايك. سجل فِل نايت في أهم معرض للملابس الرياضية، ووصلت الأحذية من المصنع قبل المعرض بيوم. واكتشف أنّها كانت سيّئة للغاية ومليئة بالأخطاء. لكن ما فاجأ الجميع أنه تحصّل على طلبات تفوق كل توقّعاته، وذلك لأنّه عُرِف بمصداقيّته في السّوق. وهذا بالنّسبة لي درس مهم: المصداقية قد تأخذ وقت للبناء وقد يكون طريقها طويل، لكنّها أهم عامل للنجاح.

الدرس الثاني

لم يتردد فِل في إضافة أعضاء لفريق عمله إن كانت لهم 3 صفات (متحمّس للمجال + متعدّد المهارات + يتقبّل إنّه يضحك على أخطاءه). وهذه الوصفة السرية لازم نتبنّاها في المؤسسات المتوسطة والصغيرة. فالمتحمّس ما يحتاج تخشى برود منّه أو إنه ما يعطي 100% للعمل. ومتعدد المهارات يقدر يساعد في نمو الشركة اللي بتتطلّب إنّك تدخل في مجالات مختلفة. ويضحك على أخطاءه لأنه بيمر في ضغط شديد كما هي الشركات النامية. والضحك هنا المقصود فيه إنّه ما ينهار من الخطأ ويتعلّم منه (مو إنّه غير مبالي).

الدرس الثالث

توفّى ابن فِل نايت وهو في شبابه، كما توفّى العديد من شركائه. يختم فِل نايت الكتاب بذكّر أهمّية وجود غاية تعمل نحوها. غاية معنويّة. لأنّ حقيقة الحياة: أنّها قصيرة. قصيرة جدًّا. وكل المكاسب المادية لا قيمة لها إن لم تكن هناك غاية تعمل تجاهها.
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,080 reviews619 followers
July 6, 2022
I’m not sure when I became aware of Nike – maybe sometime around the millennium? Certainly not before that. I was therefore astounded to learn that the company had been founded in the early 1970’s, with the aim of producing and selling sports shoes. In fact, the co-founder (and major driving force), Phil Knight, was a runner in college and his driving goal was to produce top class running shoes. We first catch up with Phil, a native of Oregon, in the late 60’s when he’d already secured an MBA at Stanford and had decided to travel the world. Off he went on his voyage of discovery – and what a journey it was. In listening to an audio version of this book I was pretty much captivated from the very start. This wasn’t at all the book I’d anticipated it to be - it was much more literary than the account I’d expected. The descriptions of time and place and people and events transported me directly there. I was stood beside him, drinking it all in.

When visiting Japan Phil came across the Tiger brand of running shoes and he decided to set up a business importing the shoes and selling them in America. His his old college running coach, Bill Bowerman, became a trusted adviser and then a partner. Along side this, Knight also took up a job in an accounting firm, eventually gaining a full accounting accreditation. In fact, these early days were a real struggle for his infant business, there were many challenges to overcome and it often seemed inevitable that the enterprise would fail. The author comes across as a bit of a romantic – he really wanted to produce the perfect shoe and worked tirelessly with Bowerman and his Japanese supplier to evolve their offering – but also as a workaholic, super-ambitious businessman not prepared to let any challenge stop him.

Eventually, however, the challenges of working with his supplier did wear him down and as it became inevitable that he’d lose the ability to import their shoes he decided to start producing his own. So was the company that became Nike born. The details of his struggles are compelling as are his descriptions of the people he met along the way. At one point he describes a tough looking businessman he’s just met thus: light seemed to bounce off him differently. No, rather light didn’t bounce off him - he absorbed it like a black hole.

Nike started to grow steadily, but Phil was in the habit of spending every last cent the company could raise on producing more stock. He knew this was a dangerous strategy but he was convinced it was the only way to ensure growth. He operated very close to the edge – in fact sometimes way over the edge - but still he continued to do things his way. It brought him perilously close to ruin, but (as we know) the business survived and went on to become the leviathan it is today. If it was fiction it’d be a great story, but as non-fiction it comprises a tale of almost unbelievable tenacity in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.

The account of his business adventures is wound up at the point the company is floated (at the same time as Apple) in 1980, by which point Nike had attained a 50% market share in the American athletic shoe market. The final section of the book comprises Knight’s reflections on his life and updates on the key figures featured in the book.

What I like most about this book is the way the story is told. The author gives much credit for his successes to others – people he worked with through the years – and he explains not just what he did but also his motivations for taking the actions he did. Sometimes these seemed counterintuitive, and he acknowledges this, but he took them all the same. He is humble and self-deprecating in his portrayal of himself throughout. I grew to like him a lot. I can’t recall when I’ve enjoyed a memoir as much – maybe I never have. It was a joy and an inspiration to spend time with Phil Knight and to learn his story.

NB: I was running in the early 70's when the leading brand of shoe in the UK seemed to be New Balance (the shoes I wore). I then played many other sports (soccer, tennis, badminton) again never wearing Nike but trying out Puma and Addidas amongst others. Later I ran again, this time buying Asics, Mizuno, Brooks and Hoka. Just as as was despairing of the fact that I'd never bought a pair of Nike shoes I spotted my current golf shoes in the garage - yes, you've guessed.
Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,430 reviews693 followers
August 24, 2017
‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتاب، خاطراتِ <فیل نایت> مالکِ شرکت بزرگِ "نایکی" میباشد و به بهترین شکلِ ممکن نشان داده است که چگونه از کجا به کجا رسیده است و همچون دونده ای تیزپا از منطقهٔ پورتلند، این مسیرِ پیشرفت را طی کرده است... نمیتوان کتاب را چکیده کرد، امّا به انتخاب بخشی از نوشته هایِ کتاب را در زیر برایتان مینویسم که مربوط میشود به دورانی که او در دانشگاه درس میخوانده است و خاطراتش از شخصی به نامِ <بیل بُوِرمن> که تأثیر بسیار زیادی در پیشرفتِ او داشته است و از مربی تبدیل به شریکِ کاری برایِ او میشود و شرکتِ "روبانِ آبی" را تأسیس میکنند و نزدیک به هفت سال بعد تبدیل به شرکتِ "نایکی" میشود
‎سالِ دومِ دانشگاه بودم و برنامه هایم کاملاً مرا از پا انداخته بود. صبح ها کلاسهایِ دانشگاه و عصرها تمرین و ورزش و تمامِ شب تکالیفم را انجام میدادم... یکروز که از این میترسیدم که نکند دچارِ سرماخوردگی شوم، جلویِ دربِ اتاقِ کارِ <بُورمن> ایستادم تا به او بگویم که بعد از ظهرِ آن روز را نمیتوانم تمرین کنم.. بُورمن گفت: آهااا.. که اینطور... مربیِ این تیم کیه!؟ ... گفتم: شما هستی... بُورمن گفت: پس به عنوانِ مربی بهت میگم که امروز باید سرِ تمرین حاضر باشی... ضمناً امروز رکوردگیری داریم
‎نزدیک بود اشک از چشمانم جاری شود، امّا جلویِ خودم را گرفتم.. تمامِ احساساتم را خرجِ دویدن کردم و یکی از بهترین رکوردهایِ سال را ثبت کردم
‎وقتی از زمین بیرون می آمدم، با اخم نگاهی به بُورمن انداختم و در دلم به او گفتم: حالا راضی شدی حرامزاده؟!؟... نگاهی به من انداخت و کرنومترش را چک کرد و باز نگاهی به من کرد و سرش را به نشانهٔ تأیید تکان داد
‎او مرا آزمایش کرده بود.. مرا درهم شکسته بود و دوباره مرا سرهم کرده بود، دقیقاً کاری که با کفش ها میکرد... من از پسِ آن کار برآمده بودم.. از آن روز به بعد من واقعاً یکی از "مردانِ اورگن" او بودم (منظور انتخاب شدن در ایالت اورگن یا همان اورگون بوده است) ... از آن روز به بعد من یک ببر بودم
‎بلافاصله از بُورمن در موردِ مسابقه جواب گرفتم.. نوشته بود که هفتهٔ آینده برای برگزاری مسابقاتِ داخل سالنِ اورگون، به پورتلند می آید و مرا برای صرفِ ناهار به هتلی که محلِ جایگیریِ اعضایِ تیم بود، دعوت کرده بود
‎بیست و پنجم ژانویهٔ سال 1964... هنگامی که پیشخدمتِ هتل، ما را به سمتِ میزِ ناهار راهنمایی میکرد، استرس بسیار زیادی داشتم.. به یاد دارم که بُورمن همبرگر سفارش داد و من با صدایی که از تهِ چاه در می آمد (تته پته کنان)، گفتم: دوتاش کنید
‎چند دقیقه ای حال و احوال کردیم و برای بُورمن از جاهایی که از دور دنیا سفر کرده بودم، تعریف کردم و او نسبت به آن زمان که در ایتالیا بودم، علاقهٔ ویژه ای نشان داد.. با آنکه در زمان جنگ جهانی، ممکن بود در ایتالیا کشته شود، بازهم از آن دوره به نیکی یاد میکرد
‎بالاخره رفت سرِ اصلِ مطلب و گفت: آن کفش هایِ ژاپنی خیلی خوب هستش. چطوره من هم وارد اون معامله بشم؟
‎نگاهی بهش کردم و گفتم: معامله؟؟ مدتی زمان برد تا آنچه بُورمن گفته بود را هضم کنم و بفهمم.. اون نمیخواست فقط ده الی دوازده تا کفش برایِ اعضایِ تیمش خریداری کنه! بلکه قصد شراکت با من را داشت!؟ اگر خدا هم از درونِ گردبادی به من پیشنهادِ شراکت میداد، به همان اندازه تعجب میکردم
‎تته پته کنان، در حالی که زبانم بند آمده بود، به او گفتم: بله
‎امیدوارم از خواندنِ این کتاب لذت ببرید
‎<پیروز باشید و ایرانی>
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,403 followers
June 25, 2023
"Let everyone else call your idea crazy . . . just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop."

Motivation on spot. Enjoyed it. Once you start reading this one, pray you could stop in between. It was a real struggle for me. I just couldn't stop reading it.

I feel like I should have read this book years ago. But I still feel great reading it now because I still have the desire to make some huge changes in my life. And no matter how hard people try to convince me anything different but I would always say it's books that actually make things work. And this book is actually one of them.

This guy is someone I could totally relate with. At least he's had some people in his family and friend circle who supported him both financially and emotionally from the very beginning. But the real lesson lies in the fact that we see our dreams first and the first step starting with us.

Now I believe traveling and experiencing new places do impact our minds and how we evolve too. Otherwise nothing much will change living the same life everyday until we die.

I enjoyed meeting Bowerman through this book. An interesting personality I would say.

And Johnson. This personality is something I would want to avoid but yes, something I want to keep a track on.

The best part about the book is that it's hard to stop reading in between. Yes, that's right. For a non-fiction autobiography, it's awesome to read something that's been written this well which felt like I was reading a fast-paced novel worried about our clueless main character.

No, he isn't exactly clueless but his life during the 1960s sounds clueless with the extreme personalities he had to deal with. It's business that was booming and crashing. It's now or never it seems. It's do or die it tells.

The whole book got me anxious the entire time worried about the anxiety he and his partners had to deal with. But also, it gave me time to consider things that are inevitable to build a business. And not just business, but some things we need to reconsider when it comes to our lives and for people who want to change their lives.

The business with the Japanese read like I was reading about some suspense much like the dilemma of the author.

The risks are high yet what matters is we do not stop trying. And here, not just trying but learning things and going for the same goal using different plans that's might most possibly work out the best.

It's about the connection, the right people we can trust, the investments we can do, consistently learning from our mistakes and knowing the people we are involved with and for those who we are giving the services for.

Each person or character mentioned has something to tell the reader. I love their enthusiasm and positive vibes. I liked the parts where Woodell had things to say.

Kitami surprised me. But then again, let's me know the idea of "keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer".

There's this part of terrorist attack in which athletes were kidnapped. Told you, this book is just too interesting to put down once you start reading it.

I loved how one setback after another setback for almost a decade to deal with how he kept telling himself to "keep going" and not to stop. I could see how persuasive and determined he was. Competition is cut throat. It's exciting to read about it.

This book will let you see what goes in the making of a world conquering brand. All the hard work, the determination, the conflicts, the laws and rules, the difficulties and the oppositions, the connections and the teamwork. I mean it's not all the details and everything but you will get to see a good view of what made Nike as it is today.

When you are good (believing in what you do no matter what!), never give up on making it better and take indefinite number of chances to make it big and there's nothing to stop you. Instead everyone would want to find you, know you through what you do.

And yes, it tells us not to think too much about the jalebis. No, the jealous baes, I mean. Be focused. Be with those who would help you and you know would give you constructive criticism.
Profile Image for Brandice.
911 reviews
September 28, 2018
As a long-time lover of Nike, it was only matter of time until I read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, Nike’s founder. I was pretty sure I’d enjoy this one and I was right, I really liked it!

The story, told in first person by Phil himself, begins by focusing on his early life, most notably his post-college adulthood in the early 1960s. Phil was unsure of what exactly he wanted to do and had a strong desire to travel the world first. This is nothing new, in my opinion, if anything, this desire has only become more common with young adults. I enjoyed the whole book but began to get impatient with this part - Only because I felt this young adult desire to travel the world wasn’t too unique, and I was eager to get started on the Nike story. Of course, we never know which life experiences will shape us and how they will leave lasting impacts, and this did tie back into the ultimate story of Nike.

”Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.”

I liked learning about the origins of a company I’ve loved and supported for most of my life, and seeing how certain products came to be. I would’ve enjoyed a little more on the endorsements and relationships with athletes in the 90s and 2000s, like Jordan, Tiger, Lebron, etc. but the majority of the book is set well before this timeframe. Before Nike became what it is today, it was Blue Ribbon Sports, being run out of Phil’s parents’ home in Oregon. Like most successful companies, there were many challenges and growing pains. I admire people who continually have the strength to overcome such obstacles and keep pursuing the vision they believe in. It’s daunting and much easier said than done! It was interesting to read about the other key players who helped craft Nike’s culture and footprint too.

”I’d never witnessed anything quite like that race. And yet I didn’t just witness it. I took part in it. Days later I felt sore in my hams and quads. This, I decided, this is what sports are, what they can do. Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats. When sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete, and in that convergence, in they transference, is the oneness that the mystics talk about.”

I especially enjoyed the last chapter of the book, which jumps forward to 2007, where Phil reflects on how far the founding group has come, where they all are at that point, and where Nike now stood, several years later. It also sheds more of a light on Phil’s personal life, which was nice to read about.

Shoe Dog is a great story; one that shares the origins of an iconic global brand, and provides many lessons for both the aspiring entrepreneur and the ultimate sports fan.
Profile Image for BookCrazyBaldy Ammit P  Chawda.
72 reviews17 followers
November 24, 2021
4.50 ⭐


For the first time in my life I decided to read a book of a entrepreneur and boy o boy never at any moment during the course of reading this book was I left disappointed.

The author Phil Knight is a great story teller for sure and this has been my first such read which not only kept me intrigued, glued and interested but also made me feel that this book never ended so good was story telling.
A must read for those who love Biographies.
Key take aways are the Story telling ability, Leadership skills of Phil Knight and its all about innovation 💡

This is the 14th book I choose to read over all and completed this book in July 2021.

Thank you 😊
Profile Image for Kobe.
12 reviews24.1k followers
March 7, 2019
Ive learned so much from Phil over the course of my career, but never understood the full story of how he started Nike. This book taught me about the tenacity and focus on quality that goes into building a company.
Profile Image for Aakanshaa.
Author 6 books680 followers
July 18, 2020
Wow! What a delightful read it was. Shoe Dog was in my reading list for a quite long time, but I never managed time to read it. But now I am gladsome that I read this stunning memoir. We all heard about brand NIKE, a shoe company. But we don't know about the journey of NIKE's founders Philip Knight and Bowerman. We definitely Google some facts, but Google will not connect us to their story emotionally.

In his autobiography, Phil talks about his personal and professional life in a very subtle manner. If you think about shoes all the time even at the time of your children's birth too that will be made you Shoe Dog. The title goes perfectly with the storyline. The cover page is artless and precise with a monogram of NIKE.

Phil Knight dedicates this book to his grandchildren so they will know about him and his company. He born in Oregon; earned a master's degree from Stanford University. In his college time, he made a paper regarding shoes that stuck with him for a long time. Phil travels the whole world at the age of 24. After coming home, he started his own company named Blue Ribbon which sale Japanese shoes in the USA.

Read the full review here - https://www.bookscharming.com/2018/12...
Author 5 books548 followers
March 20, 2018
Loved this book. It was very inspiring to read Phil Knight's story of how he built one of the world's most successful companies. It also inspired me to finish writing Underdog!
Profile Image for Masoud Irannejad.
171 reviews113 followers
September 18, 2017
تبدیل شد به بهترین کتابی که تا حالا خوندم

فیل نایت با نوشتن این کتاب مارو دعوت میکنه تا به مدت 19 سال از زندگیش رو همراهش باشیم
قدم به قدم همراهش به جلو میریم، از روزی که ایده ی واردات کفش از ژاپن به ذهنش رسید تا روزی که سهام شرکتش رو عرضه عمومی میکنه
تو این نوزده سال پر از سختی ، همراه فیل به مسافرت دور دنیا میریم عشق زندگیش رو ملاقات میکنیم و تلاش های بی وقفه و تحسین برانگیزش رو برای سرپا نگهداشتن شرکتش میبینیم
تلاش هایی خستگی ناپذیری که کاملا ارزشش رو داشت
شرکت فیل نایت که سال اول تنها یک کارمند داشت (که اون هم خواهرش بود) الان تعداد کامندانش از 70000نفرهم فراتر رفته
و فروش سالیانه محصولات شرکت از 8000دلار سال اول به بیش از 32 میلیارد دلار رسیده(تقریبا دو برابر شرکت آدیداس)
Profile Image for Nina (ninjasbooks).
953 reviews374 followers
February 8, 2023
Most of the book had really good parts, and it was for sure interesting to follow the authors adventure. For people interested in building a company the book must be invaluable, but for me the long passages describing all the problems the author encountered on his way, felt unnecessary. I also got a bit stressed by everything that went wrong. It is impressive that the author soldiered on and never gave up, which is a lesson we all can learn something from. But for me the book could have been much shorter, and I would have liked it more.
Profile Image for Tanu.
355 reviews422 followers
August 24, 2023
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

Nike is one of the most well-known brands in the world. Some think its outsourcing business strategy is brilliant, while others think it's contentious. Nike is a brand that everyone knows, or at least we think they do.

Phil Knight, the author and founder of the company, tells an unexpectedly gripping story. The book's chapters are divided by year, and it spends a lot of time on the company's first ten years. Knight is able to depict the terror and frustration that comes with living on the edge year after year, even as his firm grows.

The book is unexpectedly enjoyable to read - well written and intriguing - and is not your standard entrepreneurship story, aimed primarily at young individuals seeking inspiration or others of a similar nature. It focuses primarily on the early days of Blue Ribbon / Nike (the early 70s).

Grab your copy here or here.
116 reviews39 followers
July 28, 2019
Easily one of my all-time favorite business books, out there with Liar’s Poker and The Snowball. From cover to cover it exuded positive vibes; a nice kick-start for my 2018 reading year.
The key messages conveyed by this memoir were not unlike those in biographies authored by founders of other successful businesses: marry career with passion, place subordinates according to their talents etc. etc.
And yet Phil Knight expertly presented the mortal side of a legendary CEO; he forsook platitudes and business jargons, instead opted for relatable anecdotes that he could trade with general reading public over cocktail.
In the bulk of the book Knight told his stories with resounding humor and self-deprecation. Himself, his co-founder and first employees were all more or less misfits, with, at times, uncompromising temperament; it was the love for running and the devotion to the company that bound them firmly enough to endure otherwise unsurmountable challenges.
in the last chapter he shifted his tone, and delivered heart-felt reflection and reminiscence of the last 40 years. If until then I saw Knight as a bohemian, who employed a playboy attitude toward barriers and setbacks, in this chapter I could clearly felt his heaving emotions, from grief to joy, from proud to anger…
The book covered the founding of Nike, first formed as Blue ribbon Sports, through its 1980 public offering. We witnessed how a group of early-1960s entrepreneurs turned a novel business idea of selling imported Japanese running shoes (as a business school assignment) into an iconic sports brand worth hundreds of millions of dollars at its IPO. That was before the existence of venture capital fueling today’s startups like Facebook and Uber. Back then they were under the mercy of commercial banks, who were extremely risk-averse, and would trade growth for balance sheet cash/equity in a heartbeat. Not surprisingly the most suspenseful parts were when Blue Ribbon/Nike several times narrowly escaped bankruptcy.
Several times Knight rejected the idea of IPO for fear of losing control. Ironically his original idea “futures”, then designed to preserve liquidity, later became a key gage for Nike’s financial health, or a catalyst for Nike stock.
Like that Bill Gates was late to recognize the potential of internet browser, Knight was not totally sold on either the Nike company name or the swoosh logo at first. For some reason I found it comforting that these business magnates are humans; they don’t possess God’s perfect vision.
Knight was honest, if not humble, to publicly acknowledge the power of luck. One does not have to read Outlier by Malcolm Gladwell to echo this view. Yet Knight’s humbleness was also reflected throughout the book by how much he attributed each breakthrough to his teammates and luck.
Blue Ribbon’s first employee Jeff Johnson was my favorite character. He was handsome, creative, loyal and oh so addicted to books. I felt somewhat unjust, and thought he was not sufficiently compensated despite being instrumental to Nike’s success.
I only wish the memoir had included post-IPO period of Nike, at least until Knight retired from his CEO role in 2006.
Profile Image for Jerecho.
390 reviews46 followers
September 22, 2020
Never read something like this. The story of adventure, failure, friendship, love, triumph, highs and lows, banks and money, business, happiness and a journey to life. Try this one... Its recommendable 👍👍👍😍❤️
Profile Image for Michael Payne.
63 reviews72 followers
May 8, 2016
JUST DO IT. Those words are the life story of Phil Knight. To every athlete, entrepreneur, mother, father, and dreamer his greatest legacy will be a life well played. More valuable than his pledge of giving back to society $100,000,000 a year, Phil 'Found His Greatness' in life by inspiring us all to play harder, dig deeper and never quit. Thank you, Phil.

This book is well worth every hard-won word, shared and earned over 50+ years of grueling competition. More than once the story looked like impending failure. Most would have given up. Perhaps Phil's greatest advice, and example, are the words he shared on his book tour in Portland where he told us all, "The only time you must not fail is the last time you try."

Pick your heroes with the greatest of care. Phil Knight, your name shall stand beyond your lifetime in our generation's Pantheon of Heroes for never failing to try.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,535 reviews216 followers
October 9, 2020
Well it was interesting in parts but not really the book for me.

I thought the last chapter that touched on how he handled the sweatshop accusations was the most interesting.

It was just a blow by blow account of how a man aggressively created a very successful business. It didn't have heart and it wasn't inspirational.
Profile Image for Maciej Nowicki.
74 reviews54 followers
April 13, 2019

I am so glad I bumped into this book. Explaining what Nike is would be just beating a dead horse. Nevertheless, my knowledge concerning Nike shoes was rather limited even though I had a few pairs when I was a teenager.

The book tells a brilliant, absolutely amazing, story of the Nike company (Blue Ribbon Sports), its founder – Phil Knight, and its Execom members who were also called butt-faces.

Anyway, the book describes Phil’s struggles and how he started out the company. It is a great recap of the early days showing the ceaseless fight with a shortage of money as well as with unfair competition at relatively early stages. You can see both sides of the personal and professional story while also learn about one of the most iconic brands in the world. This is an interesting story just because it gives you a better perspective on a lot of setbacks, a lot of problems and issues he had to challenge with. The book also gives a touch on the manufacturing process of shoes in Asia as well as talks about forming the partnership with Michael Jordan and other sport titans like Tiger Woods.

Worth to say that Phil Knight is an excellent writer and a storyteller. He did a great job as the book is absolutely astonishing not only by the inspiring story it tells but also by its abundance of useful information for experienced an inexperienced entrepreneurs. I really enjoyed reading about real financial struggle (cash flow in particular) as so few popular books underline that. He reveals many behind the scenes looks at... (if you like to read my full review please visit my blog: http://leadersarereaders.blog/shoe-do...)
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