Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

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 simp...

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Title:Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE
Author:Phil Knight
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Edition Language:English

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE Reviews

  • Wendy S.

    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

    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."

  • Ned Frederick

    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.

    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.

  • Brad Feld

    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 especiall

    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.

  • Brina

    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 memoi

    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.

  • مشاري الإبراهيم

    (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).

    بدأ فِل كمورّد أحذية رياضية يابانية اسمها (Tiger). وخلال

    (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).

    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.

    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).

    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.

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