Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

4.3 9
by Phil Knight

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In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty


In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it’s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.

But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that’s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life’s Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes. Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers.

Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Shoe Dog is a great American story about luck, grit, know-how, and the magic alchemy of a handful of eccentric characters who came together to build Nike. That it happened at all is a miracle, because as I learned from this book, though we are a nation that extols free enterprise, we also excel at thwarting it. This is Phil Knight, one on one, no holds barred. The lessons he imparts about entrepreneurship and the obstacles one faces in trying to create something, are priceless. The pages I folded down are too many to mention.”—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

"I’ve known Phil Knight since I was a kid, but I didn’t really know him until I opened this beautiful, startling, intimate book. And the same goes for Nike. I’ve worn the gear, with pride, but I didn’t realize the remarkable saga of innovation and survival and triumph that stood behind every swoosh. Candid, funny, suspenseful, literary—this is a memoir for people who love sport, but above all it’s a memoir for people who love memoirs."—Andre Agassi, New York Times bestselling author of Open

"Shoe Dog is an extraordinary hero's journey, an epic tale of faith, unparalleled determination, excellence, failure, triumph, hard-earned wisdom, and love. It's nothing short of a miracle that Nike exists. I finished the last sentence in complete awe, inspired and grateful for the experience."—Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Inside the O'Briens

"A touching, highly entertaining adventure odyssey, with much to teach about innovation and creativity. Phil Knight takes us back to the Big Bang of the swoosh, recalls how he first begged and borrowed from reluctant banks, how he assembled a crew of eccentric but brilliant misfits, how they all worked together to build something unique and paradigm-changing. An inspiration for everyone with an unconventional dream."—Michael Spence, Nobel-prize winning economist

"A fresh historical prospective on one of the most profiled companies in the world...[Shoe Dog] builds characters of the people behind the brand, many of whom we've never heard of."—

"Loaded with hard-earned wisdom...Want a simple recommendation? Go get a copy."—Portland Business Journal Review

"Shoe Dog is, at its heart, an origin story, of both a global brand and a footwear reads like pure adventure story, boys facing steeper and steeper challenges and finding ways through, often by the skin of their teeth. As Knight collects the misfits and oddballs who become the core of his growing company, Shoe Dog is more like The Lord of the Rings than a typical mogul memoir."—Complex

“A rare and revealing look at the notoriously media-shy man behind the swoosh.”—Booklist STARRED review

"The best memoir I recall ever reading. As a business biography, it ranks with such recent works as Neal Gabler’s Disney and Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs. But as a personal memoir Shoe Dog reaches a depth of emotional honesty that even the best biographies haven’t touched."—Rich Karlgaard, Forbes

“Ranks among the best business books and autobiographies I’ve ever read.”–-Jim Cramer, CNBC-TV

"A blueprint not just for success, but for motivation.Shoe Dog illustrates the unlimited amount of hurdles one might run into while trying to reach a major goal. It's Knight's account of seeing a vision through against all odds."—

Kirkus Reviews
Nike mogul Knight charts the rise of his business empire, a world leader in athletic wear.The title of the memoir is apt, for much of it is a rather dogged struggle through the minutiae of shoe distributorship and manufacture, with all the deals and lawsuits that entails. Knight began that journey more than half a century ago, when, as a young entrepreneur-in-training, it occurred to him that there might be room in the American marketplace for Japanese running shoes. He wrote a paper to that effect. "Being a business buff," he recounts, "I knew that Japanese cameras had made deep cuts into the camera market, which had once been dominated by Germans. Thus, I argued in my paper that Japanese running shoes might do the same thing." There was much hope in that thesis, for this was back in the day before Steve Prefontaine came along to help Knight press his case to runners everywhere. From that start, Knight built what has been reckoned to be a $30 billion-per-year business. He is proud to tell that story, as one might expect, but there's some score-settling to do: the bad guys include a Japanese shoe manufacturer who couldn't make a straight deal, a competitor called the Marlboro Man (who, admittedly, was "poaching our poaching"), tennis ace Jimmy Connors (whose agent, backing away from an endorsement agreement, insisted, "I don't remember any deal. We've already got a deal three times better than your deal, which I don't remember"), and a few other such impediments. The story, though with many merits, is rather listless. Unfortunately, much of the book conforms to the dry formulas of business writing, borrowing in turn from business speechifying: tell a joke, show a slide, read the text and expand on the bullet points, move to the next slide. By the numbers, to be sure, but students of business, for whom Nike is a well-established case study, may want to have this view straight from the source.

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6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

One of the world’s most influential business executives, Phil Knight is the founder of Nike, Inc. He served as CEO of the company from 1964 to 2004 and as board chairman through 2016. He lives in Oregon with his wife, Penny.

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Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Fantastic book. Very well written. Came from the heart, not just a business autobiography.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Insightful and entertaining at the same time!
Anonymous 7 months ago
Loved this book. Did not even know who Phil Knight was until his well written memoir hooked me with the sample. As a former jogger who began in 1978, I loved reading about his struggles with Nike's beginning, as well as the tidbits about elite runners of that time. Kept me enjoying every page.
Mbkass 15 days ago
Really fascinating book that is a combination of a biography about Phil Knight, a history of Nike's founding and growth into a global apparel powerhouse, and an entrepreneur's "how-to" guide for budding start-ups (though that how-to is dated to Nike's events and not necessarily reflective of today's business climate). It's a pretty inspirational story. Only ding is that it would have been nice if Phil had covered the 80s/90s more and gone into detail about relationships with key athletes and sponsorships.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I really enjoyed Knight's tale of his ups, downs, successes, and failures in the shoe trade. Great read.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I WAS LIED TO AND CHARGED FOR THE BUY OUT FEE! When it came time to return my rental book, I followed all instructions and I had it dropped off at the nearest UPS location a week prior to the deadline. I received an email a couple weeks later stating that i was charged for an extension fee of 15$. When I attempted to track the book all it said was that the label was made, it was never scanned anywhere by the UPS. I went back to the UPS location, they looked for the package and weren't able to find it. I called customer service explaining to them the situation that the book was lost in transit and the representative LIED TO ME! she reassured me that I was NOT going to get charged the buy out fee and that she was going to refer my case to the upper management to take care of it. She told me to expect a confirmation email within 48 hours. Of course, i never received an email and when i called back to confirm the current representative said that she does not see anything about my case being referred to upper management and she doesn't see anything about attempting to resolve the buy out situation. All she sees under my order number from the previous representative was that I called regarding the extension fee I was charged. I was charged with a buy out fee of 100$. I have done everything to try and find the book and overall I HATE barnes and noble with a passion, I HATE the customer service representatives EVEN MORE! THEY ARE LIARS AND HAVE NO CLUE WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT!
B-loNY 9 months ago
Well done. I once saw his yacht in the south of France
Anonymous 9 months ago
Readers will enjoy this book. Phil "Buck" Knight writes a sincere and honest autobiography on the trials and tribulations of forming and developing Nike. I always respected Knight but after reading this book, I like him as an individual as well. He is a good guy that worked very hard to build one of the most successful companies in history.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Great story, entertaining, and a lot of good lessons. Amazing to learn about the early years and the challenges of such an iconic company. Reads very well and Knight wraps up with some great observations and lessons learned for all entrepreneurs and people trying to do new things.