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“Shoe Dog” : A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE – Phil Knight

3.8 out of 4 stars.

I do not like sports and I felt a passion for rooting on Phil Knight in his memoir about the creation of Nike.

Can you imagine that a $50 dollar loan from your father could eventually lead to forming the most profitable brand that ever was? That is exactly what happened when Phil Knight graduated from business school and asked his dad for a few dollars to “partner” up with a japanese shoe company that he had been eyeing. He traveled overseas to strike up a deal and be the sales rep for the west coast division. Knight began by selling the sneakers out of his car at track meets and to all his athletic friends that would listen. If this wasn’t low budget enough the vehicle that he was displaying the shoes in was a lime green Plymouth Valiant. Not very convincing.

Knight wasn’t a natural born seller, in fact, he would much rather be behind the scenes than have an audience but he truly believed that the perfect shoe would improve any athlete’s performance and that prevailed while “selling”. In the first year alone Knight sold $8,000 sneakers. Don’t forget this was in the early 1960s so that is pretty darn good!

Up until Knight stepped on to the scene Adidas and Puma were the only brands out there and they were dominating the market. They could essentially sell plastic with laces and the athletes would have to buy it because there wasn’t any other options. Knight wanted to change that and instead of selling a product he wanted to sell a lifestyle. He believed he knew what the athletes needed and that this shoe offered a chance to win.

The years to success were not easy. This memoir discusses how Knight had to be savvy, hungry, and aggressive in order to head up to the top. He also is the first to admit that he would not be where he is today without the help of his band of brothers – his teammates.

Knight has a sense of humor, an honesty, and appreciation that makes you want to root for him. Although he is NOT an underdog anymore and is almost valued at a billion dollars, this book made me a fan of his and someone that I could see myself getting along with. I doubt many people of that success are relatable and Phil Knight seems to be one of them. This book is very multi tiered. I laughed a lot while reading, got angry when he fell down, and sad at some of his personal struggles. Overall, a very good memoir that had a lot of personality and advice of how to be a winner on and off the field.


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