Book Review-Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

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I love Bill Gates’ review of Shoe Dog.

A refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale.”—Bill Gates, one of his favorite books of 2016

Knight is a great writer and his stories about the development of Nike kept me engaged through the whole book. It’s an authentic story about the struggles of building a business. And Nike did struggle. It was surprising (I don’t know why) to read how precarious his financial position often was. I guess when someone is a billionaire, 40 years after they build a business, it’s easy to think there was always money available to run the company.

Some of my take aways: 

When talking about his return home after his backpacking adventures…

“And yet I wasn’t [back]. There was something about me that would never return. My mother noticed it before anyone else. ‘You seem more...worldly.’ Worldly, I thought. Gosh.”

Travel is something my husband and I have tagged as a high priority for our children because we believe travel changes you, opens up your world, and we want that benefit for our children.

“One lesson I took from all my homeschooling [his self-study on various subjects] about heroes was that they didn’t say much. None was a blabbermouth. None micromanaged.

Ohhh boy! I do both those things. I would do well to learn from this.

There’s one point where he compares sports to books, which as a reader (and football fanatic), I loved.

“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.”

I imagine that is what writers hope their readers experience when we read their books. I know when I read a well-written story, I’m pulled into that world and the idea of the reader and the author coming together in a narrative that the author created, that’s pretty cool. 

“If Blue Ribbon [the original name for the foot ware company] went bust, I’d have no money…But I’d also have some valuable wisdom, which I could apply to the next business. Wisdom seems an intangible asset but an asset all the same, one that justified the risk.”

We need to keep this in mind when we face the fear of failure. Yes, we might fail, but we can take what we’ve learned and turn that information into an asset.

I'd like to see Phil Knight write additional books. 

Order your copy of Shoe Dog here.