Shoe Dog

I just finished reading Shoe Dog (Phil Knight, 2016, 386 pages). What an incredible story!

Phil Knight, founder of Nike, tells in a memoir style how the company came to be. A billionaire, creator of a brand that is iconic worldwide. One could expect him to write a book with a grander description of a flawless execution on a visionary project of world domination. But, no.

The story is a very honest, humble description of a project that started by creating a company to import shoes from Japan. A dream business idea for university time, which turned a man with great academic credentials into a shoe seller. But a rather anxious one, since his Japanese suppliers seemed eventually to not appreciate its reseller, despite amazing sales numbers.

Then, and just then, Phil turns into registering a new brand (called Nike on a very last-minute decision), and rolling out a plan to produce and sell its own shoes line.

What is not less amazing is the amount of times that the company almost went bankrupt, due to strenuous capital requirements. Since the project was financially bootstrapped. In a time where venture capital was in its infancy.

Another highlight is how Phil, seemingly by chance, ends up putting together a management team composed of misfits. Brilliant people. Outsiders. And they keep their identity and authenticity all the way. Actually, they manage to make that one of Nike’s strength.

As a memoir, the book is amazingly well-written and totally worth reading. Add the entrepreneurship aspect of it, and all the historical and geographical references, and it becomes irresistible.

I can just highly recommend anyone who considers giving this book a try.