Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE Hardcover – 26 Apr 2016
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‘A refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice… In the pages of Shoe Dog, however, Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. He’s incredibly tough on himself and his failings... Knight is amazingly honest about the accidental nature of his company’s success… It’s an amazing tale. It’s real.’ (Bill Gates)
'I've known Phil Knight since I was a kid, but I didn't really know him until I opened this beautiful, startling, intimate book. And the same goes for Nike. I've worn the gear, with pride, but I didn't realize the remarkable saga of innovation and survival and triumph that stood behind every swoosh. Candid, funny, suspenseful, literary this is a memoir for people who love sport, but above all it's a memoir for people who love memoirs.' (Andre Agassi)
'A touching, highly entertaining adventure odyssey, with much to teach about innovation and creativity. Phil Knight takes us back to the Big Bang of the swoosh, recalls how he first begged and borrowed from reluctant banks, how he assembled a crew of eccentric but brilliant misfits, how they all worked together to build something unique and paradigm-changing. An inspiration for everyone with an unconventional dream.' (Michael Spence, Nobel Prize-winning economist)
'Shoe Dog is a great American story about luck, grit, know-how and the magic alchemy of a handful of eccentric characters who came together to build Nike. That it happened at all is a miracle, because as I learned from this book, though we are a nation that extols free enterprise, we also excel at thwarting it. This is Phil Knight, one on one, no holds barred. The lessons he imparts about entrepreneurship and the obstacles one faces in trying to create something, are priceless. The pages I folded down are too many to mention.' (Abraham Verghese, author of 'Cutting for Stone')
'The best book I read last year was Shoe Dog, by Nike's Phil Knight. Phil is a very wise, intelligent and competitive fellow who is also a gifted storyteller' (Warren Buffett)
'Nike founder Phil Knight’s book, Shoe Dog, is the ultimate story of entrepreneurship - and the grit, passion and perseverance required to succeed.' (Ivanka Trump)
'This memoir by the founder of Nike is a must-read for everyone on your list. Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as a start-up and how it evolved into one of the world’s most iconic brands.' (Sports Illustrated)
About the Author
One of the world’s most influential business executives, Phil Knight is the founder of Nike, Inc. He served as CEO of the company from 1964 to 2004, as board chairman through 2016, and he is currently Chairman Emeritus. He lives in Oregon with his wife, Penny.
From the Publisher
A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
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 recognised in every corner of the world.
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.
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As somebody who has recently started his business, finishing listening to this book left me quite inspired and there are many parts I would want to re-read to re-listen. That last final chapters I couldn't put it down.
For many years I had mixed feeling about the brand itself. I always thought was too expensive and too much overhyped with advertisement until a few years ago I bought their more minimalistic Nike flex and since then it has been my favourite shoe of all time. Phil knight himself is quite fascinating character and at times feel such an ordinary shy guy! that gives me some comfort, tying to make it in business as an introvert!
Shoe Dog is a person whose life is about shoes. Only one question bothers them all the time: How to make better shoes?
After reading this book, the next day when I went to my gym, I noticed that majority were wearing a Nike. But, I didn’t just see the shoes; I could see the sweat and blood that its founders had put into making Nike a universal brand. Obstacles at every turn, but an attitude to win, combined with camaraderie of the founders kept them going.
The main characters in this book (including the author) are shown not as superhuman beings with exceptional qualities who saw it all, but average people with an exceptional ability to preserver in the face of insurmountable obstacles. Therefore it’s a story you and I can identify with, and withdraw some courage from it when going gets tough. It will inspire you.
Phil drew inspiration from powerful quotes, and he has included a few of them in the book such as:
Consider the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin
Don’t go to sleep one night, what you most want will come to you then
You are remembered for the rules you break
And many more gems like these.
The chapters are based on every year from when the company was founded in 1962 to when it became an established company in 1980. I carried my book to bed in the night, and in train on my way to office. It’s so good; you would not want to stop before knowing how the story ends. In between you will laugh (mostly at the audacity of the team Nike) and there are places where you will be saddened. It engulfs you emotionally.
It’s one of the best biographies I have read, the others being Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, and Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. And that says something.
His tenacity shines through on every page and I also developed a greater appreciation of Nike and their ethos as a business. After the Sweatshop scandal in the 90's I was a little hesitant about buying their products, but he touches upon this aspect of the business and the subsequent deeper understanding of what drives this company has made me see them in a new light.
The writing is clear and engaging and he manages to tell a story in such a way that makes you want to keep turning the pages until the end and entertains whilst also imparting some business knowledge at the same time.
This is invaluable for those starting a business and a damn good read for those of us who just enjoy a good memoir/autobiography.
I couldn't make up my mind if I should accept the job because of some doubts I have working in such a small environment. I can honestly say this book helped me to make the decision.
A worldwide company now known by everyone in the world started in one room - like many others. Very interesting to read about the beginnings, the journey how they got where they are today and what difficulties they faced even when one would think they were succeeding.
I found the writing style very engaging and often funny.
I definitely recommend this book.
Keep in mind it’s a memoir and not a biography so it can be long winded at times, could easily be 50 or so pages shorter and it’d be a more pacy, interesting read.
Also there are no pictures which would’ve brightened up the book. Overall a very interesting read.