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Book Review - Shoe Dog: A Memoir

October 19, 2017


Shoe Dog by Phil Knight was riveting! In this memoir Phil Knight recounts his journey in creating the mega giant retailer Nike. And what a journey!


Phil was a runner and his dreams of being a professional athlete were now dead. He realized that "fate had made him good, not great" as a runner. His adult life was just beginning but he wanted whatever work he did to be like play - he wanted to love it like he loved running. And he had a crazy idea. The Japanese were building cameras "that were making deep cuts in the market, which had once been dominated by the Germans." He felt that Japanese running shoes may do the same and he knew a lot about running. 


Remember when you were young and you really wanted something but first had to get your parents permission and often money to do it? At 24 Phil had to convince his father that his, as he called it, 'Crazy Idea' had merit and that his trip around the world was worthwhile. On top of that his Dad would have to bankroll the venture. With the blessings of his father and the funds to go Phil headed off to see the world and stop in Japan to convince a company there to make running shoes for him. 


Phil's advice to himself early on was, "Let everyone else call your idea crazy...just keep going. Don't stop." And he didn't. 


Phil started off in his parent’s basement, with money from his parents, moved to a small apartment, and then to a draughty old building. He gathered around him slowly the people who would become the foundation of Nike. Together they worked tirelessly to build the company. In between he got married, had children, lost a child, made sales, lost sales, and had a myriad of other ups and downs. I'd get to the end of a chapter, breathless, wondering how on earth he was going to survive the current drama. 


And that's what I really liked about this book. It did not read like a how-to business book. I felt as though I was reading a suspense novel, only it was someone's real life, and I could hardly put the book down. Phil's voice through the book feels authentic and at points I wondered how he kept going. His life is not an ordinary one and certainly not the lifestyle for everyone. 


Whether you're an athlete, of any caliber, or not this is a fascinating story. Because Nike is such an integral part of our lives it was interesting to see how it all started and I highly recommend this book. Here's the link. 

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