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Book Review #51 – Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog is an autobiography by Phil Knight, the man behind one of the most popular shoes, Nike. For decades we have seen Nike conquering the world of athletic gear but surprisingly, no one had heard much about Phil Knight. So, finally, when he decided to share his life journey, we should not miss the opportunity to devour it.

Shoe Dog is not just the story of a man’s life and journey towards success. It is a reaffirmation of the power of ambition and the courage to go after a ‘crazy idea.’ Starting as a small but smart business plan in 1964, this crazy idea made Phil the 17th richest man in the world with a net worth of $24.4 billion.

The book can be divided into three parts:

  • The Beginning – Crazy Idea
  • The Journey – Blue Ribbon
  • The Goal – Nike

The Beginning – Crazy Idea

The first part of the book comprises of Phil’s life as a Stanford graduate. He was inspired by his running coach Bowerman and was a fan of running himself. However, this was a time when running shoes weren’t easily available like today. The market was dominated by German brands like Adidas and Puma.

At a time when the U.S. had very fragile relationships with Japan, Phil came up with the brilliant idea to import shoes from Japan.

Would you believe that Phil started his business by borrowing $1000 from his father?

The Journey – Blue Ribbon

This is of course what you can guess, Phil started a business venture and lead it to success. But that’s not it. What every businessman, every entrepreneur and every ambitious young person needs to know is the reason that was behind his success.

From Phil’s foresightedness to the strength of his belief, there are so many things to learn from the book.

“People sensing my belief, wanted some of that belief for themselves. Belief, I decided. Belief is irresistible.”

The company made its way through tough situations and was doing much well when the inevitable happened. Their Japanese exporters wanted to buy the company. This could be a big setback but not for Phil and his team of shoe dogs.

The Goal – Nike

This is when Nike came in, a secret line that they had all been working on.

Did you know Nike is the name of the Winged Goddess of Victory?

Have you heard how swoosh became the logo of Nike?

Phil shares the journey of Nike and all the troubles they had in the early years. This included an FBI trial. But, Phil and his team continued.

As Nike gained popularity, Phil took the business across the borders. As easy as it may sound now, it wasn’t at the time.

But Phil did it. And I don’t need to share the results with you, do I?

In the book, Phil says:

“I wanted to leave a mark on the world. I wanted to win.”

What better mark to leave than the billions of dollars worth of ‘swoosh?’

My Thoughts

“Shoe Dog” is a book that every student, every aspiring, struggling and succeeding man and woman should read. You will find it very easy to relate with Phil ‘Buck’ Knight. You will also relate with his journey and his struggles.

In the book, you will find everything about how a successful plan can strike you and how you can stick to the plan and make it your life’s mission to succeed.

If there is one lesson to take home from the many lessons of the book, I will choose the ‘power of belief’ and the belief in the ‘power of luck’ and ‘hard work.’

Well, I realize that’s not just one lesson.

But that’s the thing about “Shoe Dog”, you cannot just take one lesson from it. It will leave an impression on your mind, inspire you and push you to make your own journey.

Reviewed by;

Tonny Rutakirwa,


Tonniez Group Holdings,

Serving since 28th December 2008.


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