Shoe Dog: A Mem­oir by the Cre­ator of Nike

Canadian Running - - REVIEWS - Phil Knight Scrib­ner

Shoe Dog is a story of how Phil Knight turned a Stan­ford mba class project into one of the most iconic brands in the world to­day, Nike. The Shoe Dog story is or­ga­nized by year and mostly fo­cuses on the first 10 years of Knight’s proto-com­pany, Blue Rib­bon Sports (a dis­trib­u­tor for Tiger/Asics shoes in the U.S.). In­ter­est­ingly, the word “Nike” is not men­tioned by Knight un­til around 200 pages in. The Nike story be­gins with a young Knight trav­el­ling the globe af­ter school try­ing to fig­ure out what to do with his life. Dur­ing his wan­der­ing he ended up in Ja­pan, where he stopped in at the Onit­suka Com­pany (now Asics). Knight con­vinced them to give the U.S. dis­tri­bu­tion rights to Blue Rib­bon Sports, a com­pany that he hadn’t tech­ni­cally started yet. Shoe Dog then takes you along on a jour­ney of en­trepreneur­ship, as Knight and his rag tag group of em­ploy­ees keep the com­pany af loat as banks pull loans, be­ing sued mul­ti­ple times and the bad press that comes with that. And fi­nally, af­ter Nike be­gan to take off, outf lank­ing the fierce tac­tics em­ployed by their com­peti­tors. One charm­ing and il­lus­tra­tive anec­dote de­scribes how Nike stum­bled upon the de­sign for their Air mid­sole. The stand­off be­tween Blue Rib­bon Sports/Nike and an Onit­suka ex­ec­u­tive named Ki­tami would be wor­thy of its own book. Most im­pres­sively, Shoe Dog re­veals the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of one of the big­gest com­pa­nies in the world, and al­lows the reader to un­der­stand just how close Nike came to fail­ure, time and time again. Knight’s mem­oir is a great read for any­one who wants to know Nike be­yond the ve­neer of suc­cess that the Swoosh has had. And while read­ers al­ready know the out­come, the book’s strong, for­ward pro­pel­ling plot and clear prose make Shoe Dog a grip­ping and at times tense read. This is be­cause Knight’s story is driven by its char­ac­ters and dra­mas be­tween com­peti­tors and the re­lent­less de­mand that is the bot­tom line. Shoe Dog reads as a fas­ci­nat­ing au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, the most con­tent rich of busi­ness text books, and a mind-blow­ing eco­nomics es­say – but a ver­sion of each kind that you can’t bring your­self to put down.— Joel Vos­burg

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