This month’s book review is Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike.
I can’t believe I haven’t written a review of this book before. I’ve recommended it many times so it certainly deserves a belated write-up.
I should say this is not a sports book, so if you are not into sport, don’t let this put you off. This is a book about the entrepreneurial journey and the many ups and downs of a business and it is all about the personal journey. It is not really a book that tries to specifically make suggestions or tell you how to set up or run a business, but you will learn many lessons just following the amazing story.
How To Say NIKE!
The first thing this book does is tell you how to properly pronounce the word ‘Nike’ – it should be prounced ‘nai-kee’ or you could say it rhymes with spiky! So no excuses for getting it wrong now!!
Not Just An Autobiography
This is an excellent book and should be a must read for every entrepreneur and budding entrepreneur. It is all about the path to business success through the many struggles and sacrifices along the way.
It tells the story of Phil Knight and how it all started when he used to run at the University of Oregon under a famous coach in the US, Bill Bowerman.
He later wrote a paper at Stanford about the market for importing Japanese trainers to the US, and thus his first business was formed. He borrowed $50 from his dad and set up his own shoe import business called Blue Ribbon.
The business always struggled for cash and finance and was close to financial ruin many times during the journey with banks unwilling to lend him money or then calling in their loans and even reporting him to the FBI. Even when the business was successful, his Japanese shoe supplier was playing games with him and then dropped him for a larger operator in the US.
At this point the ‘Nike’ business was born. It was not the name Knight wanted and indeed the famous ‘Nike swoosh’ was designed for $35 by a local art student. His words were ‘it will do!!’
Persistence Pays Dividends
I deliberately do not want to give away the stories in the book as I think it is better to read them fresh in order to gain the most out of them.
However, persistence is a core theme throughout the book and Knight and his team are relentless in their persistence and their pursuit of bringing the best sports footwear to the market, even when it appears all to be for nothing at times. Knight has a wonderful group of characters around him which adds great colour to the story.
Of course, everyone knows what happens in the end, although during parts of the book, you will probably still find yourself doubting that the Nike idea will ever work!!
A must read and thoroughly recommended.