Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKEby Phil Knight Published 26 Apr 2016
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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 simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his lime green Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed $8,000 his first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In an age of startups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all startups, and the swoosh has become a revolutionary, globe-spanning icon, one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable symbols in the world today.
But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, in a memoir that is candid, humble, gutsy, and wry, he tells his story, beginning with his crossroads moment. At 24, after backpacking around the world, he decided to take the unconventional path, to start his own business—a business that would be dynamic, different.
Knight details the many risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream—along with his early triumphs. Above all, he recalls the formative relationships with his first partners and employees, a ragtag group of misfits and seekers who became a tight-knit band of brothers. Together, harnessing the transcendent power of a shared mission, and a deep belief in the spirit of sport, they built a brand that changed everything.
"Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE" Reviews
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.
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.
دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتاب، خاطراتِ <فیل نایت> مالکِ شرکت بزرگِ "نایکی" میباشد و به بهترین شکلِ ممکن نشان داده است که چگونه از کجا به کجا رسیده است و همچون دونده ای تیزپا از منطقهٔ پورتلند، این مسیرِ پیشرفت را طی کرده است... نمیتوان کتاب را چکیده کرد، امّا به انتخاب بخشی از نوشته هایِ کتاب را در زیر برایتان مینویسم که مربوط میشود به دورانی که او در دانشگاه درس میخوانده است و خاطراتش از شخصی به نامِ <بیل بُوِرمن> که تأثیر بسیار زیادی در پیشرفتِ او داشته است و از مربی تبدیل به شریکِ کاری برایِ او میشود و شرکتِ "روبانِ آبی" را تأسیس میکنند و نزدیک به هفت سال بعد تبدیل به شرکتِ "نایکی" میشود
سالِ دومِ دانشگاه بودم و برنامه هایم کاملاً مرا از پا انداخته بود. صبح ها کلاسهایِ دانشگاه و عصرها تمرین و ورزش و تمامِ شب تکالیفم را انجام میدادم... یکروز که از این میترسیدم که نکند دچارِ سرماخوردگی شوم، جلویِ دربِ اتاقِ کارِ <بُورمن> ایستادم تا به او بگویم که بعد از ظهرِ آن روز را نمیتوانم تمرین کنم.. بُورمن گفت: آهااا.. که اینطور... مربیِ این تیم کیه!؟ ... گفتم: شما هستی... بُورمن گفت: پس به عنوانِ مربی بهت میگم که امروز باید سرِ تمرین حاضر باشی... ضمناً امروز رکوردگیری داریم
نزدیک بود اشک از چشمانم جاری شود، امّا جلویِ خودم را گرفتم.. تمامِ احساساتم را خرجِ دویدن کردم و یکی از بهترین رکوردهایِ سال را ثبت کردم
وقتی از زمین بیرون می آمدم، با اخم نگاهی به بُورمن انداختم و در دلم به او گفتم: حالا راضی شدی حرامزاده؟!؟... نگاهی به من انداخت و کرنومترش را چک کرد و باز نگاهی به من کرد و سرش را به نشانهٔ تأیید تکان داد
او مرا آزمایش کرده بود.. مرا درهم شکسته بود و دوباره مرا سرهم کرده بود، دقیقاً کاری که با کفش ها میکرد... من از پسِ آن کار برآمده بودم.. از آن روز به بعد من واقعاً یکی از "مردانِ اورگن" او بودم (منظور انتخاب شدن در ایالت اورگن یا همان اورگون بوده است) ... از آن روز به بعد من یک ببر بودم
بلافاصله از بُورمن در موردِ مسابقه جواب گرفتم.. نوشته بود که هفتهٔ آینده برای برگزاری مسابقاتِ داخل سالنِ اورگون، به پورتلند می آید و مرا برای صرفِ ناهار به هتلی که محلِ جایگیریِ اعضایِ تیم بود، دعوت کرده بود
بیست و پنجم ژانویهٔ سال 1964... هنگامی که پیشخدمتِ هتل، ما را به سمتِ میزِ ناهار راهنمایی میکرد، استرس بسیار زیادی داشتم.. به یاد دارم که بُورمن همبرگر سفارش داد و من با صدایی که از تهِ چاه در می آمد (تته پته کنان)، گفتم: دوتاش کنید
چند دقیقه ای حال و احوال کردیم و برای بُورمن از جاهایی که از دور دنیا سفر کرده بودم، تعریف کردم و او نسبت به آن زمان که در ایتالیا بودم، علاقهٔ ویژه ای نشان داد.. با آنکه در زمان جنگ جهانی، ممکن بود در ایتالیا کشته شود، بازهم از آن دوره به نیکی یاد میکرد
بالاخره رفت سرِ اصلِ مطلب و گفت: آن کفش هایِ ژاپنی خیلی خوب هستش. چطوره من هم وارد اون معامله بشم؟
نگاهی بهش کردم و گفتم: معامله؟؟ مدتی زمان برد تا آنچه بُورمن گفته بود را هضم کنم و بفهمم.. اون نمیخواست فقط ده الی دوازده تا کفش برایِ اعضایِ تیمش خریداری کنه! بلکه قصد شراکت با من را داشت!؟ اگر خدا هم از درونِ گردبادی به من پیشنهادِ شراکت میداد، به همان اندازه تعجب میکردم
تته پته کنان، در حالی که زبانم بند آمده بود، به او گفتم: بله
امیدوارم از خواندنِ این کتاب لذت ببرید
<پیروز باشید و ایرانی>
“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.”
In other words, Just Do It!
Nike is the ultimate American dream. And it all started when a twenty-four year old Oregonian suddenly had this Crazy Idea of bringing Japanese running shoes, specifically the Onitsuka Tigers, into the country way back in 1962, just less than two decades after the United States of America bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
There had been some unauthorised biographies or stories about how Nike came to be, but this is the first time we are graced with the words from the creator himself, Philip H. Knight. Shoe Dog is a well-written, captivating and candid account of how Knight’s Crazy Idea came into fruition and eventually metamorphosized into probably the most recognizable name in the athletic shoe and apparel industry.
While not a business book per se, there are a lot of insights herein about entrepreneurship and challenges of running a successful business. The journey undertaken by Blue Ribbon Sports, the name of the company with which Knight started his distribution of the Onitsuka Tigers, was monumentally challenging in spite of encouraging sales and demand. What with the difficulties of dealing with the Japanese halfway across the world in a snail-mail era coupled with problematic and delayed shipments time and time again, and lousy conservative bankers who preferred equity (i.e. cash) over reinvested growth, Knight and his team of partners were constantly fighting a relentless uphill battle to stay afloat. Even when Nike as a brand was created, the challenges were far from over as manufacturing capacity and capital availability struggled to keep pace with the phenomenal growth.
And what a team he was able to garner, the foremost of them all being arguably the most renowned American running coach ever, Bill Bowerman. The story of Nike has strong parables to sports as its massive success was built on strong and loyal team work. A lot of the ideas that brought Nike to bear were not solely Knight’s. It was also almost paradoxical to learn that Knight was not convinced on the powers of advertising, what with Nike being so revolutionary in its advertising campaigns and ideas. What he did bring to the table was his sheer passion and stubbornness (as stopping means losing) and a bunch of people who were willing to dedicate all their money and efforts into where their heart lies. At its core, the firm was essentially founded and nurtured by running geeks who understood the spirit of the sport and embraced innovation.
Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats. When sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete, and in that convergence, in that transference, is the oneness that mystics talk about.
Another highly notable mention in this book is, of course, the legendary Steve Prefontaine, whose greatly inspiring yet tragic story still resonates within the hallowed grounds of Hayward Field, Eugene, Oregon. Admiration bordering on worship for Pre, who was famously known for once saying “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it”, provided further fuel for the inner fire within Knight’s competitive psyche. It was also enlightening to learn about the origins of the Nike Cortezes and finally understand its cult status amongst shoe addicts.
Admittedly, I have always been more of an Adidas fan. However, this frank, emotional and in-depth look into the history of Nike and people behind its success has significantly boosted my appreciation of the brand. Taglines like “Just Do It” and “There Is No Finish Line” are not merely marketing propaganda but the embodiment of the spirit of the brand and its founding fathers.
This is a real life story of passion, perseverance, belief, loyalty and teamwork with a lot of heart. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves biographies. More so for budding or even seasoned entrepreneurs, sneaker or athletic shoe fans, and especially for runners, athletes or just sports fans in general. And if you are a fan of Nike, what are you even waiting for?!
This review can also be found at Booknest
"I’d tell men and women in their midtwenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt."
All I wanted to Hear !
Loved this book. It was very inspiring to read Phil Knight's story of how he built one of the world's most successful companies. It also inspired me to finish writing Underdog!