By Medha Setia | Opening Doorz Editorial | June 20, 2022
Book Review: Shoe Dog
Author: Phil Knight
The Essence: Sample this extract: “I’d tell men and women in their mid-twenties 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.” What are you waiting for? Just Read It!
Shoe Dog Book Review
The athletic wear mogul, Phil Knight, the man behind the swoosh tells us a riveting tale of the rise of his empire. Shoe Dog is a memoir (autobiography) about the strife and struggle of Phil Knight, who shook the kingpins of the sportswear world. It is a fast-paced and enthralling tale that breathes life into the brand we all love—Nike. It takes us through the journey of a small company and how it left a mark in this dog-eat-dog world.
The only thing that seems inevitable as the story progresses is that the company that he created will end up as a dismal failure. However, failure is the last associated word with Nike.
Knight began his journey more than half a century ago when he chanced upon the ‘Crazy Idea’ as a young entrepreneur. It occurred to him that there might be some room in the American market for Japanese-style running shoes. “I knew that Japanese cameras had made deep cuts into the camera market, which had once been dominated by the Germans. Thus, I argued in my paper that Japanese running shoes might do the same thing,” he writes.
Knight and his interest in shows
Knight gained interest in shoes when he was at the University of Oregon, where he trained as an athlete under the guidance of legendary running coach Bill Bowerman. He later went to Sandford to complete his MBA, where the “Crazy Idea” of Japanese shoes struck him. This inspired him to write a paper about the potential market for imported Japanese shoes and how they could turn the athletic world upside down.
Till now, it is the story line that feels sort of familiar; a young entrepreneur with a world-changing idea who is headed towards the path of success. However, the rest of the journey rips apart the preformed image. It shows the precarious nature of Knight’s finances in the shoe import business he starts known as the ‘Blue Ribbon Sports’.
He lives many years of his life in debt. Year after year, he goes on his knees to beg the banks for more credit to import more shoes from Japan. Even when the sales skyrocketed, they are still living on the edge waiting to be tipped over. He seldom has any savings in his bank as he would put all the profit back into the business to order more shoes from Japan. They would have a daily pair count to determine the fate of ‘Blue Ribbon Sports’: if they didn’t sell through and quickly convert the product into cash, the company would sink.
Accidental success of Nike
Meanwhile, the rocky relationship with Japanese shoe suppliers, who kept eyeing potential US suppliers forced Knight to break away and start the $30 billion–per–year business, NIKE. Phil is honest about the accidental success of this company and the famous swoosh logo it is known for. Phil had paid an art student $35 for creating a logo for the newly formed company and he had no idea about how special the logo would become. Moreover, the decision to call the company Nike was not his; he wanted to name it Dimension Six. But his colleagues pushed him to choose Nike as they believed that it was the pick in the litter. Nike comes from the Greek winged goddess of victory, and truly we can say that NIKE has been able to stand up to its name.
He picked up an odd mix of employees to help him start the company. A former track star paralyzed after a boating accident, an unathletic accountant, and a salesman who was obsessed with writing letters to Knight. They all were problem-solvers with a variety of skill sets and shared a common passion to make the company a success.
Phil was his own Knight
Phil did not invent anything new—sneakers were there before him, but what he did was change them into a business that has become a global brand. Through this book, he accomplishes the task of telling people the amazing tale of how he built a brand that changed everything. It doesn’t matter whether you like NIKE or not. If you are into reading, then Shoe Dog is a must-read.
Sample this extract: “I’d tell men and women in their mid-twenties 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.”
What are you waiting for? Just Read It!
Also Read: Clap When You Land Book Review