Shoe Dog — A review

This book first caught my fancy when I was scrolling through a product hunt collection which talked about books suggested by Bill Gates.

From there, through a few clicks I landed on gatesnotes.com, which in its is a phenomenal website. The world’s richest man talks about the world around us with his perspective thrown in for a good measure. In his list of must-read books for 2016 is where I found, Shoe Dog, A memoir by the founder of Nike.

I have been fascinated by Nike ever since I was a child. I couldn’t have any products from them because they were way too expensive. Dad couldn’t afford them. And I didn’t have the heart to ask also. However, the name had always been synonymous with quality and ambition (mostly personal) for me. Shoe Dog just reinforced the feelings I held about the brand deeply.

The book is a coming of age tale of a young man who decides to take on the world. Throughout the book, Phil Knight continues to inspire, wow and mesmerize the readers with his simple and plain prose and incredible honesty.


I took a lot of things away from the book.

  • Nike is built on values. Values that aim at providing the most inspiring and innovative solutions for every athlete.
  • Phil takes a world tour starting with Japan in the cold war era. It told me to take hard decisions even though they are a bit out of your comfort zone
  • Nike was cash-flow negative, they were always cut to cut with their budgets. Keep building the right product and focus on your customer, money will follow.
  • Take risks. Sometimes, you don’t know what you are capable of. Yes, build a factory to manufacture shoes when your main supplier decides he won’t give you any more.
  • Be like Jeff-Johnson. Jeff perseveres, Jeff is passionate, Jeff wins, Jeff doesn’t take no for an answer, Jeff gets things done.
  • “Don’t tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with the results”. Stop micromanaging. Motivate and stand behind.
  • Talk to your dad more often. He is the only other person more invested in your success.
  • Be humble. Phil Knight’s core team was called the Buttfaces.
  • Make friends and stay loyal to them. They will be the only ones who will stay with you
  • I cried twice. By Knight’s description Pre was the best athlete in the world. When he died, it wrenched my heart. No father should ever see his son die. Matt died while diving.
  • Admit your mistakes and learn from them. When you are at your lowest point, there is only up hill from there…