Phil Knight – Shoe Dog (Book Review)


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Today, we recognize Nike as one of the most successful companies to ever exist. They are the cream of the crop. World-class athletes such as LeBron James, Roger Federer, and Cristiano Ronaldo have signed multi-million dollar endorsement deals with Nike. But just like any other company, Nike started from humble beginnings.

This is the story of how Phil Knight took a $50 loan from this father and turned it into in the greatest shoe empire to ever exist.

Synopsis (No Spoilers)

Just like you and I, Phil was an ordinary person. His interests were in running and accounting and he pursued both in his early days. At the University of Oregon, Phil ran track and studied accounting.

The turning point in Knight’s life came from his first trip to Kobe, Japan. Knight viewed this journey as the one that fundamentally changed the direction of his life. While he was there, he met with Onitsuka, a Tiger-brand running shoe company. Phil Knight was fascinated by the high-quality and low-cost of the shoes and soon earned the rights to sell the shoes in America.

After years of being the middleman for Onitsuka, Phil Knight decided to venture on his own and launch a new shoe brand. Nike was born. This transition didn’t come to easy to him as the responsibilities double became much more. Instead of simply distributing a well-known brand’s product, Phil had to start from the ground up. This meant finding a manufacturer, creating brand awareness, securing distribution outlets. It was a logistical nightmare, but he got through.

What was his magical formula that brought him the level of success Nike has today? He focussed on one goal at a time.

The Good

This incredible story will teach you how to build a business from the ground up. It will show you that you don’t need to be some kind of special individual achieve greatness. All you need is a plan to get to the next step.

Here are 10 lessons from this book:

1. Find someone who can fulfill your weaknesses

2. There will never be anybody closer to you than your family

3. Travelling will open and expand your mind to new possibilities that you never thought of

4. When everything is crumbling down around you, go for a jog

5. If you believe in what you’re doing, then taking a loan out isn’t a bad idea

6. Maximize every resource that you have within arm’s reach

7. You have time but it’s not unlimited

8. Respect everyone, you never know whose help you are going to need down the road

9. Take the opportunity even if you’re not ready for it

10. Winners win


The Bad

The only regret for this book is that it finished too early. Following Phil’s journey to greatness didn’t feel complete enough as it ended in the late 1990’s. It felt as though, we missed the final explosion of Nike. Nevertheless, following the journey from day 1 was worth it.

If you are thinking about grabbing a copy of Phil Knight’s book, the answer is yes. This is a world class biography that has lessons that will live on for generations.


Influence Digest Rating: 9/10


Length – 9/10                                           Story – 10/10

Engagement – 9/10                                 Style – 8/10

Readability – 10/10                                 Thought Provoking – 9/10



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