Unlike other memoirs, Shoe Dog doesn't serve as a way to display the author's awesomeness. Phil Knight doesn't write about Nike's success and all the amazing events on the company's trajectory. Knight covers all of it in detail. The ups and the downs. The many downs. The moments where he felt like he could lose it all, which seemed to happen at least once a year. His personal struggles as a leader and a manager. His momentary conflicts about whether or not the struggle was worth it. It’s an incredible story.
Shoe Dog is a fantastic read that demonstrates how challenging it is to build a massive, global business. I lost count of how many times Nike was in a near-death situation during the book. How many times they were cash constrained due to working capital requirements. The global fights against factories, distributors, piracy, and even the US government. They are fighters.
Phil is honest with himself during the book. Mostly about the fact that he probably wasn't a heavenly father while building Nike. He talks about the difficulties of prematurely losing his son in a diving accident. I salute him for his openness on this complex topic. Sometimes these business memoirs expose little vulnerability, making them pasteurized tales of how one wins in life. Nobody needs lessons like that.
If you are a founder or investor, do yourself a favor and read this book. It will help you understand that when in doubt, you shall hustle more. It's all about "The Grit" and not running out of cash at the end of the day.
You can read more of my thoughts on the book here.
“The cowards never started and the weak died along the way. That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen. Us.”
“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”
“I’d tell men and women in their midtwenties 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.”