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Shoe Dog is a memoir by Nike co-founder Phil Knight, which chronicles the history of Nike from its founding to its evolution into one of the world’s most recognized and profitable companies. It was ghostwritten by J. R. Moehringer and was published in April 2016, reaching fifth on The New York Times Best Seller List for business books in July 2018. Bill Gates named it one of his five favorite books of 2016 and Warren Buffett wrote that it was the best book he read last year. Phil Knight is the founder of Nike, a global sports equipment and apparel giant with an estimated net worth of $47.7 billion.
He is also the owner of Laika, a stop motion film production company. Shoe Dog is his autobiography, which follows him from starting Nike to the 2010s. It has a four-part structure with subheadings titled by the year of the story.
The author’s best teacher spoke of the importance of our birthright, our character, our fate, and our DNA. When the author saw his Crazy Idea shining up ahead, he realized it was not an idea, but a place, a person, or a life force that existed long before him. He told himself to keep going and don’t stop. The narrator had spent weeks and weeks on a paper and gave a formal presentation to their classmates. They wanted to experience the greater voyage of humankind and explore the grandest temples, churches, shrines, rivers, and mountaintops.
They read that front runners always work the hardest and risk the most. The narrator had read that the geese in the rear of the formation only have to work 80 percent as hard as the leaders.
Zen teaches that reality is nonlinear, and that the self is a mirage and a lie we tell ourselves daily. To study the self, Dogen advises to forget the self and focus on the inner voice and outer voices. Negotiations in Japan tend to be soft and sinewy, and even when Hirohito surrendered, he told his people what he had told them. Japan is a culture of indirection, where no one ever turns you down flat. They speak in circles, sentences with no clear subject or object, and expect nothing, seek nothing, grasp nothing.
The first shoe factory the narrator saw was interesting and musical, and the executives seemed to enjoy it. If the narrator muffed this, they would be doomed to spend the rest of their days selling junk they didn’t care about.
The narrator experienced two voices in their head: “Don’t go home” and “Don’t stop.” They heard the Bible, Zen, and desert tell them to keep going and not stop. They also heard the play “Knights” and the play “Nice race” by Bowerman. The narrator realized that selling shoes was different from selling encyclopedias and mutual funds, because they believed in running and believed that if people ran, the world would be a better place. Bowerman’s book Jogging preached the gospel of physical exercise to a nation that had never heard it before. It sold a million copies, sparked a movement, and changed the meaning of running. Bowerman’s wife did a superb job, and when sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete, creating oneness.
Nike was a multimillion dollar company that sold athletic shoes. The founders of the company were paralyzed, two morbidly obese, and a chain-smoking guy. Johnson was the one with the most in common, and he was worth $178 million. After forty years, Johnson stepped down as CEO, leaving the company in good hands and in good shape. Sales last year were $16 billion, and Nike has five thousand stores worldwide and 10,000 employees.
China is now the largest producer of shoes. Matthew dropped out of college, experimented, rebelled, and ran away. On one of his visits, he decided to go scuba diving, taking a risk that even his risk-addicted father would never take. At 150 feet, he lost consciousness.
Phil’s ‘Crazy Idea’ was a school project that inspired him to create Nike, the most valuable sportswear brand in the world. After graduating in 1962, Phil traveled the world and set up a business meeting with Onitsuka, a shoe company that made shoes he liked under the brand Tiger. In the meeting, Phil repeats the same facts and lines he said during his school presentation, but is actually faking it. He remembers the blue ribbons hanging in his room back and decides to name his company Blue Ribbon Sports. In 1964, twelve sample pairs of shoes arrived from Japan and Phil and Bill Bowerman agreed to be co-founders of the new company.
The narrator is proud to call Oregon their home and proud to call Portland their place of birth. However, they feel regret that they have had to blaze an old trail to get there. The narrator’s best teacher spoke of the trail often, believing that it was their job as Oregonians to keep the rare strain of pioneer spirit alive. The narrator is grateful for the teacher’s words, but regrets walking away. The narrator had recently returned home after seven years away, but still felt like a kid.
They had graduated from college, earned a master’s from Stanford, and survived a yearlong hitch in the U.S. Army. However, they hadn’t experienced any of life’s temptations and excitements, and were the only person in America who hadn’t yet rebelled. They were the only person in America who hadn’t yet been with a girl.
The narrator was taught to aspire to goals such as a wife, kids, and house, but deep down they were searching for something more. They wanted their life to be meaningful, purposeful, creative, and important, and they wanted to leave a mark on the world. When they saw the secret of happiness in the pulsing half second before winning and losing are decided, they were resigned to the fact that fate had made them good, not great. The narrator is running a six-minute mile when they are asked if there is a way to feel like an athlete without being an athlete. The narrator thinks that life is a game and that if they refuse to play, they will be left on the sidelines. The narrator finds their Crazy Idea shining up ahead and realizes that it is not an idea, but a place, a person, or a life force waiting for them.
Running is hard, painful, and risky, but the rewards are few and far from guaranteed. The act itself becomes the destination, and it is up to the runner to define the finish line. Half a century later, this is the best advice any of us should ever give.
Shoe Dog is a memoir about Phil Knight’s journey to build Nike into one of the world’s most recognised brands. It tells the story of Knight’s trip around the world with his school friend Carter, his background in accounting, and how he met his wife while teaching at Portland State. Johnson, Nike’s first salesman, showed perseverance and proposed the name Nike after the Greek winged goddess of Victory in a dream. It is a stunning exploration of the power of persistence, hard work, dreams and opportunity. The author’s favourite quote from the book is that sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories and defeats.
Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, tells his story in Shoe Dog, a memoir that is candid, humble, gutsy, and wry. He recounts the many risks and setbacks that stood between him and his dream, as well as his formative relationships with his first partners and employees. The book layout is chronological, with each chapter highlighting the most important aspects of the construction of Nike. The most important details in this text are the struggles that Nike faced in the legal world and in the growth of the company itself. These struggles included trips to Japan to obtain the proper partnerships, the numerous legal battles, and the company being out of money for years. The author also used golf as an analogy to illustrate the difficulty of building a business. Hitting a golf ball is one of the hardest things to do, never-mind hitting it straight. The author of Shoe Dog explains how difficult it is to build a business, especially a company the size of Nike. Phil Knight had no prior business experience before starting Nike, but he went with the flow and figured out what to expect. The author recommends this book to anyone interested in business/entrepreneurship, as it gives them the roadmap to do it themselves.
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