Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Phil Knight

What success lessons can we learn from co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight? Despite the trials, tests, and tribulations that Phil Knight faced when starting, he still persevered through with his passion of footwear. On his way to creating Nike, a multi-billion dollar company, he faced numerous challenges and obstacles that had great potential to shut him down. Nike wouldn’t be what it is today had Phil Knight decided to just call it quits during those times of hardship. Fortune favors the bold. here are some points to the book:


1. Find your passion and follow it. I’ve heard and read countless times from other successful entrepreneurs about how they got to where they are: passion and perseverance. Every successful person has at one point in time during their journey to success faced numerous challenges that stopped them from getting to where they wanted to be. However, they all stuck with their passion, found a way to work around it and persevered. This is why we know the names of these successful people and who they are rather than some other Joe Schmuck. The last thing I wanted was to pack up and return to Oregon. But I couldn’t see traveling around the world alone, either. Go home, a faint inner voice told me. Get a normal job. Be a normal person. Then I heard another faint voice, equally empathetic. No, don’t got home. Keep going. Don’t stop.


2. Travel more to gain a new perspective on life, you never know how your travel experience will aid you in the future. Einstein has once stated, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.” As much as routine is good for you, sometimes you just need to step back and away from it to gain a better perspective. Had Phil Knight not travelled, he may not have heard of the word “Nike” and the shoe brand that we know today may not exist. Was it only my imagination? After all, I was standing at the birthplace of Western civilization. Maybe I merely wanted it to be familiar. But I didn’t think so. I had the clearest thought: I’ve been here before. Then, walking up those bleached steps, another thought: This is where it all begins. On my left was the Parthenon, which Plato had watched the teams of architects and workmen build. On my right was the Temple of Athena Nike. Twenty-five centuries ago, per my guidebook, it had a beautiful frieze of the goddess, Athena, thought to be the bringer of ‘nike,’ or victory. It was one of many blessings Athena bestowed. She also rewarded the dealmakers. In the Oresteia she says: ‘I admire…the eyes of persuasion.’ She was, in a sense, the patron saint of negotiators. I don’t know how long I stood there, absorbing the energy and power of that epochal place. An hour? Three? I don’t know how long after that day I discovered the Aristophanes play, set in the Temple of Nike, in which the warrior gives the king a gift- a pair of new shoes. I don’t know when I figured out that the play was called Knights. I do know that as I turned to leave I noticed the temple’s marble facade. Greek artisans had decorated it with several haunting carvings, including the most famous, in which the goddess inexplicably leans down…to adjust the strap of her shoe.


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3. No one starts out amazing; every master starts out a disaster. For those of you who are paralyzed at starting something because you feel like you don’t have the perfect product or service, no one’s perfect when they start. The more you work on it though, the better you’ll get. Johnson and Woodell loved the orange, and loved the lowercase ‘nike,’ lettered in white on the side of the box. But as they opened the boxes and examined the shoes themselves, both men were shaken up. These shoes, the first wave produced by Nippon Rubber, didn’t have the quality of Tigers, nor the samples we’d seen earlier. The leather was shiny, and not in a good way. The Wet-Flyte looked literally wet, as if covered with cheap paint or lacquer that hadn’t dried. The upper was coated with polyurethane, but apparently Nippon was no more proficient than Bowerman at working with that tricky, mercurial substance. The logo on the side, Carolyn’s wing-whoosh thingamajig, which we’d taken to calling a swoosh, was crooked.


4. All it takes is for just one big break to get you climbing up the success ladder. However for the big break to come, you need to have worked well before hand to be able to capitalize on the opportunity.  Working hard increases those odds of your big break coming your way. Somehow, our Hollywood liaison got a pair of Senorita Cortezes in the hands of Farrah Fawcett, who wore them in a 1977 episode of Charlie’s Angels. That was all it took. One quick shot of Farrah in Nikes and every store in the nation was sold out of Senorita Cortezes by noon the next day. Soon the cheerleaders at UCLA and USC were jumping and leaping in what was commonly called the Farrah Shoe.

By Ryan Lee


My rating:
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Check out the book here:
Amazon USA
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK


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