Learn life and entrepreneurship lessons with “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight

“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight is an honest account of the ups and downs of following your dreams.

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“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight is, by far, my favourite book this year.

It is a captivating story that tells the tale of the juggernaut company Nike. Knight goes through the entire beginnings of the company, not leaving out any details that would make him look bad.

The story starts off with Knight having a “crazy idea” of wanting to start a sneaker company and going to a foreign land with the sole purpose of making this idea come to fruition. After finding a company that allowed him to distribute their shoes, Knight’s optimism rose. But after returning to America and not hearing back from Onitsuka (the distributor), and not receiving his order of sneakers, Knight began to doubt himself and his ability to start a business –a feeling I’m sure many of you entrepreneurs have felt some time during your journey.
He was about to give up on his dream (he went out and looked for an office job), but luck would have it that the following year, his orders came and this put hope back into his life.

His business continued to grow, year after year. But as his business grew, problems and conflicts surrounding him and his business grew as well. However, he was able to overcome them all.

Even though much of the story is Knight consistently defeating his battles, when things were bad, it was bad. He almost lost his company multiple times. There were unexpected deaths to his friends and colleagues. He got sued. He got played by people he trusted. The government was on his ass. He owed a lot of people a lot of money. He lost close relationships.

At the time of all these events, it seemed that it was going to be the end of him and that he had no chance of winning.

Why You Should Read It:

But even with all of these battles, he was able to persevere. And that’s the most important lesson from this story –being able to climb out of the darkness when you fall into a cave and studying your mistakes so that you don’t fall back into the cave.

“Shoe Dog” also does a great job of teaching us to take more risks and jumping on opportunities when they are presented. If Knight hadn’t taken the risk to do some of the things that he did, Nike, the giant sports apparel and sneaker company, may not exist today.

And that would be tragic because Nike products are awesome!

In addition to taking more risks, this story is also a reminder that luck does play a proponent in your success. Had Frank Rudy not mention that Adidas passed on the “air” technology during his meeting with Knight, Knight wouldn’t have agreed to test out the cushion. And if that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t have Air Maxs or shoes with air capsule cushions (and that would also be a tragedy!).

So chance and luck are components of success, albeit small ones.

Look, I’m going to say it again: this book is my favourite book of this year (so far anyway). The story-telling is raw and passionate, and it is very honest. If you are an entrepreneur or someone who is still searching for their calling, you need to read “Shoe Dog.” Not only does it talk about the awesomeness of owning a business, but it also tells the dark and dirty side of business –the side that many new entrepreneurs and/or young person neglect to see.

Not only is this book entertaining, but it’s also very educational. In my opinion, all fans of Nike have to read it. So, go here and buy a copy from Amazon.

But before I let you go, here are some of my favourite quotes from “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight:
"We were trying to fight against conformity, against boringness, against drudgery. More than a product, we were trying to sell an idea -a spirit." 
“And those who urge entrepreneurs to give up? Charlatans. Sometimes you have to give up. Sometimes knowing when to give up, when to try something else, is genius. Giving up doesn’t mean stopping. Don’t ever give up.” 
“As I told Bowerman, we weren’t broke, we just had no money. Lots of assets, no cash.”
Have you read this book yet? If so, what are your thoughts on it? If you haven’t read it, is it something you would be interested in reading? Let me know in the comments.