Phil Knight Book Review – Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight on Coffee Table

Book Review, Highlights and Quotes from Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of NIKE by Phil Knight

Another great book!

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is a memoir, but written in a first-person storytelling manner, so much so, that you became so immersed in Phil’s story and nearly forget that this is a true story.

There is simply so much about Phil’s personal story to soak up. The book covers a span from his early adulthood (pre-NIKE) in 1962 through NIKE’s IPO in 1980.

But Shoe Dog is much more than Phil’s personal story, it is an epic entrepreneurial and philosophical journey. You ride on the success and failures of Blue Ribbon Sports (yes, I got that right) – From the epic drama with Phil’s Japanese business partners, the gut wrenchingness of his employee’s bounced paychecks, and a several year legal battle with the United States government.

I thought my startup journey was intense. Phil’s journey was 1000x more intense, especially when considering that he started NIKE before there was such thing as the internet, let alone Angel investing, Venture Capital or Private Equity.

Eventually you do find out the origin story of the name and now iconic brand NIKE. Oh and the fact, that it was almost NOT called that…plus the behind the scene story of how the logo was created for a mere $35. Your mind … blown.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book! From the unreal history of NIKE to Phil’s take on business, entrepreneurship, philosophy, and life. It’s all a great ride.

AR’s Book Score: 8 out of 10

Key book highlights from Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Even though this is a memoir, Shoe Dog, reads more like a novel.

From the moment you open the book, you are now immersed in the world of Phil Knight. Phil’s storytelling is phenomenal – you can almost smell the old growth forests as he takes his nightly runs.

The memoir starts off when Phil, a collegiate runner, who recently graduated from the University of Oregon, has an innate desire to see the world.

Deep down I was searching for something else, something more. I had an aching sense that our time is short, shorter than we ever know, short as a morning run, and I wanted mine to be meaningful. And purposeful. And creative. And important. Above all…different

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

He begs his father to let him travel, and with enough money for a trip around the world, he recruits a friend and does just that.

During his world tour, Phil starts Blue Ribbon Sports, a shoe distribution/sales company with the goal of bringing quality Japanese running shoes to the United States.

Phil continues to travel the world, only to come back and lead the charge of a whirlwind journey of entrepreneurship. Partnering with his Oregon track coach (Coach Bill Bowerman), Phil leads a band of ragtag Buttfaces, Jeff Johnson, Bob Woodell, Del Hayes, and Rob Strasser for the next 18 years.

Shoe Dog covers the ups and downs of the creation, and eventual success of NIKE.

Best quotes from Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

There’s a kind of exuberant clarity in the pulsing half second before winning and losing are decided. I wanted that, whatever that was, to be my life, my daily life.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

History is one long processional of crazy ideas. The things that I loved most – books, sports, democracy, free entreprise – started as crazy ideas.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

When you run around on an oval track, or down an empty road, you have no real destination. At least, none that can fully justify the effort. The act itself becomes the destination.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

Every runner knows this. You run and run, mile after mile, and you never quite know why. You tell yourself that you’re running toward some goal, chasing some rush, but really you run because the alternative, stopping, scares you to death.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

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.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

There were many ways down Mount Fuji, according to my guidebook, but only one way up. Life lesson in that, I thought.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

Life is growth. You grow or you die.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

Somebody may beat me, I told myself, some banker or creditor or competitor may stop me, but by God they’re going to have to bleed to do it.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

My management style wouldn’t have worked for people who wanted to be guided, every step, but this group found it liberating, empowering. I let them be, let them do, let them make their own mistakes, because that’s how I’d always liked people to treat me.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

I thought of that phrase, “It’s just business.” It’s never just business. It never will be. If it ever does become just business, that will mean that business is very bad.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

To study the self is to forget the self. Mi casa, su casa.
Oneness – in some way, shape, or form it’s what every person I’ve ever met has been seeking.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull’s-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull’s-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s a law of nature.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

Entrepreneurs have always been outgunned, outnumbered. They’ve always fought uphill, and the hill has never been steeper.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

Athletes get lucky, poets get lucky, businesses get lucky. Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

The harder you work, the better your Tao. […] 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.

– Phil Knight, Shoe Dog

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