We all know Nike as a giant and an innovative shoe company which churned out one after another path-breaking and unconventional shoes that were both stylish and comfortable, much to the delight of the wearer.
Troubled by Troubles
But this is just one side of the picture. The path to success was not butter smooth for Nike. In fact, it was dogpile with problems and it was a constant struggle for Phil Knight to keep Nike, then known as The Blue Ribbon, alive and afloat.
The existence of Nike was always threatened by bankruptcy, indifferent and difficult bankers, irregular supplies, threatening competitors,
backstabbing of the manufacturing company, lawsuit and what not. Once the situation became so bleak that he had to take the life savings of one of his employees Woodell in order to infuse life into the company for one more month.
What would really strike you hard was the blunt honesty with which the memoir was written. The journey of Nike was not glittered by the
instant success nor Phil Knight tried to show off himself as a dashing entrepreneur who did everything right.
He was humble someone who was comfortable with his shortcomings and weaknesses. He calls himself a man of few words, but he has opened his heart in the book the way no business tycoon can. In fact, he didn’t sound like a CEO of a booming company, but more like a passionate shoe dog and a runner.
Something About Phil Knight
Phil Knight considers himself a good runner if not great and was trained under Bill Bowerman, who was a reputed and successful track
and field coach in America. From him, Phil Knight got this idea of importing Japanese runner shoes for people in general. Many, including his father called it a “crazy idea”, but once Phil realized that this was his calling he decided to follow his heart.
Like me, you must have assumed Phil Knight to be an aggressive marketer and salesman with great oratory and exceptional managerial
skills. Actually the opposite was true. He was an introvert and at times insecure and diffident. Not everyone could adjust and flourish
under his passive managerial skill where he just tell people what to do and let them discover how to do it.
Shoe Dogs in the Company
He feels blessed that many shoes dogs joined Nike at various stage who were learners by nature and contributed immensely to the
unprecedented growth of the company. Shoe Dogs like Bowerman, who was the co-founder, Jeff Johnson, Woodell, Hayes, Stresses were the part of his team and Phil had a great tuning with all of them. They all get on like a house on fire.
Title of the Memoir
Shoe dog is such an apt title for the book. There couldn’t have been a better title than this. This book is indeed about all the shoe dogs
without whose dedication and sacrifices, Nike would have been a long lost company.
The book is not laden with high voltage inspiring speeches or management and leadership lessons. You can say typical Knight style. He told you the story now it is up to you to draw messages and lessons out of it.
As a matter of fact, it reads more like a suspense thriller novel where the company was plagued with problems and it was always
interesting to read how Phil Knight would deal with them.
For me it was an enlightening read. He writes, “Let everyone else call your idea crazy just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about
stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”
After concluding Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, I can safely say that this is the best memoir I have read till date after My Autobiography by AB De Villiers. Anyone can enjoy reading it, be a reader or non-reader; fiction lover or non fiction lover. It is a must read.