Shoe Dog

Phil Knight // Back

Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Finding the right people to work and grow with is an important aspect of creating a successful business. It's shown throughout the entire memoir with Phil bringing along many people on the journey.
  2. Open yourself to as many opportunities so that luck (which somewhat plays a role) can finally reach you. Phil networked with talented athletes and saw something in them where his return on investment when sponsoring them was significant.
  3. His passion for shoes was the biggest thing that allowed him to keep pushing. There were loads of dark times within the company and even impossible to recover from situations. But he just believed deeply and loved the stuff he was doing - creating innovative shoes.


Overall, an amazing story of the man that created the shoe company we all know called Nike. I found it interesting on how his 'crazy idea' led into this absolute giant of a shoe company. Adidas and Puma were already well established companies, but for someone as small as Phil to come in and disrupt the industry gave me an amazing sense of inspiration in terms anyone can achieve anything. Phil's leadership and passion for shoes was what drove this company that we all know and love today into success. I also loved Bill Bowerman (his former coach) and Jeff Johnson (employee #1), these guys were real necessities in the company. I stayed engaged for the entire Audiobook and also found some hints of comedy in it. Keep in mind Phil was not that good of a social person. He was an introvert and never really liked to put himself out there to people. On the other hand, he also disliked the idea of advertising as he believed that the product should speak for itself, not a commercial. Later on he realised the power of promoting your product to the public and how it made his company grow exponentially.

How I Discovered It

I had recently just finished Think and Grow Rich around November 2020. So I was looking at the business books since I was trying to get into a bit more reading and the only other "good" book I knew was Rich Dad Poor Dad. Anyways, I saw Shoe Dog on the shelf at Waterstones and didn't really pay much attention to it as I was blinded by all the "get rich" books. A month went by and while I just finished Getting Things Done for Teens, I got recommended Shoe Dog and thought why not use my precious free credit to purchase it on Audible. I made the mistake on using my other 2 credits on Audible during my 3 month trial (1 credit per month) on Rich Dad Poor Dad and 12 Week Year since I realised now that audiobooks are useless to retain information as I can't simply highlight anything. But this was different, the memoir was portrayed in a way where I felt like I was there and just standing behind him watching every move, it really allowed me to soak up all this info and write this book note.

Who Should Read It?

Anyone who is really trying to find some sort of meaning in their life or give value to the world should read it. On top of that, there's a lot of communicating examples shown throughout the memoir where Phil was just a shy introvert. So if you relate to Phil in lack of people skills, then this book will resonate with you and you might learn how to be better at networking. Overall, most people who are interested in business will for sure find this memoir a great read/listen (I would recommend listening to the audiobook version).

How It Impacted Me

  • I learned that having a passion for something in life is really important if you want to pursue it. When the days are dark, your passion for what you are doing must be present in order to continue. Otherwise you will quit at some point.
  • I found out that the first people you employ in your company and people you choose to be with for the lifespan of the business would be one of the most important decisions you make. Jeff, Bill, Penny (his wife) and many others were all important people who allowed him to stay running this company.
  • Made me want to improve upon negotiating and networking skills, most of the things and different tricks Phil did allowed the company to turn into this behemoth.
  • I started to watch more interviews that involve Phil himself, like this by Stanford (where he graduated from with a degree in Accounting) that explains his story as well.
  • Realised that sometimes it's healthy to give up, you shouldn't be too naive or ignorant about running your business when it's not succeeding. Similar to what Derek Sivers says in Anything You Want:

We all have lots of ideas, creations, and projects. When you present one to the world and it’s not a hit, don’t keep pushing it as is. Instead, get back to improving and inventing.

Some Quotes

And those who urge entrepreneurs to never give up? Charlatans. Sometimes you have to give up. Sometimes knowing when to give up, when to try something else, is genius. Giving up doesn’t mean stopping. Don’t ever stop. Luck plays a big role. Yes, I’d like to publicly acknowledge the power of luck. Athletes get lucky, poets get lucky, businesses get lucky. Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome.

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

When it came rolling in, the money affected us all. Not much, and not for long, because none of us was ever driven by money. But that’s the nature of money. Whether you have it or not, whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, it will try to define your days. Our task as human being is not to let it.

Shoe Dog