Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE


Jason Morrison

Shoe Dog: This book is used in college business courses. Phil Knight has inspired many entrepreneurs to pursue their dream.

It is good practice for people who are interested in business to keep their eyes open for opportunity. An opportunity to learn something new can turn into a great idea for a business.
If you have not read Phil Knight’s book “Shoe Dog: A memoir by the Creator of Nike,” you should. You will learn what it takes to start a business, keep it going and turn it into a positive force for your life and for others.
I am glad that Knight wrote his own story instead of a different author. It would be impossible for someone else to provide such thoughtfulness and detail. I was able to feel his emotions as he told amazing stories about his life and revealed the secrets to success in business. There are 386 pages of what I consider a guide to business for everyone thinking of opening their own and for current owners.
The very first sentence, “I was up before the others, before the birds, before the sun,” is the perfect and powerful summary of the book and Knight’s entire life. He does not think like everyone else. He was surrounded by people who spoke with words of fear and negativity. It is easy to get influenced by what everyone around you thinks and says. Knight spoke what he believed and did not become like the masses.
Knight spoke what he believed to anyone who would listen. He learned that from his father early in life. His father was in the habit of saying that Phil was strong, and that it was in their blood. Those words were something Knight took hold of and carried in his heart. What is in your heart is what will be in your mouth.
While reading the first 20 pages of this book, I took 16 pages of notes. It was not hard to read. The writing is easy to understand. Readers can learn about the ups and downs of Nike and how Knight became one of the most influential, and wealthiest entrepreneurs of all time.
Knight had put himself in other people’s shoes when he visualized being in different careers. He thought about being an athlete. He decided to chase that idea with an athlete’s single-minded dedication and purpose. He called life a game and knew it was either play it or get left on the sideline. His view of the world was that it had been built by crazy ideas. He decided that his crazy idea would work.
“By God, I will make it work, and with no maybes,” said Knight.
His idea came from a paper he wrote at Stanford. The paper showed how the market for cameras had been controlled by the Germans and how the Japanese took the lead. He decided the same thing could happen with sneakers. He saw a great need for quality shoes in sports. Being a runner himself, he recognized the necessity for specialized sneakers for athletes. What drove him was a genuine care for the customers. Focusing on how a product can benefit people is one ingredient of a good business idea.
Knight decided that his company’s territory would be the entire globe, not just a local area. Even before he started the company, his vision was to serve all the people of the earth. The first thing he did was to begin international travel and make his way to Japan to make his crazy idea happen. In his mind, it was already a reality. His plan was to stop in more than twenty major cities so that he could get to know his customers. He had worked hard to save the money, and his father contributed a portion to make the trip. During the journey, Knight worked to fund further travel.
The book is full of life lessons that a person can take and run with. Knight decided that he would keep going and never stop. There would be no end, no stopping point. When you define an end or stopping point, you define a limit. Not everyone’s dream is to have a business the size of Nike, but if you want to explore beyond what you have been, you could read this book and get inspired.
Edited by Abbie Barth, Joelle Conway