The Shoe Dog: Learn From Buck Knight

I finished reading “Shoe Dog: a Memoir of Phil Knight” the creator of Nike or the Co-founder as he says.

First of all, I liked the book very much. It was intriguing, soulful and gave me the feeling I was reading a thriller. The parts were not given some intriguing names that some of the memoirs do (although I am not against it), but they were divided into years, from 1962 to 1979.

This made me feel like I was on a journey with him and saw his struggles year by year. Well, I am not going to talk about the book and give a detailed review as I am not a book critic. But what I am going to share is my learnings and what I felt.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is Knight’s reflections on the culture of Nike and the values that have guided the company’s growth. He writes about the importance of risk-taking, creativity, and a relentless focus on innovation and customer satisfaction. He also shares his thoughts on leadership, team building, and the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

One: You are Never Alone on a Journey

We always hear from success stories that some guy has made it big, it was his hard work, his struggles. But we often forget that that guy was never alone. A solo backpacking journey isn’t interesting because you travel solo. It is interesting because of the new people you meet.

Phil Knight had the idea, but what gave life to his idea was his mother and his father. Then he had some great friends that stood beside him through thick and thin. Even when he was not even answering the thousands of messages from Johnson.

In the book, Knight recounts the many challenges and setbacks he faced on his path to success. He describes the financial struggles, legal battles, and personal sacrifices that were necessary to keep Nike afloat in its early years. He also shares the stories of the many individuals who played a key role in the company’s success, including his co-founder, Bill Bowerman, and several key executives.

If Johnson had been disheartened and left him at the time, we may never have gotten Nike. But credit should be given to Phil for recognizing those people and trusting them. He trusted his gut.

Two: You Have to be Persistent and Crazy

Phil Knight was crazy. I am sure. And he was very persistent. Otherwise, who would’ve gambled with so much debt and challenged the bank and the Japanese so many times?

He was never disheartened. He stuck to his belief even when the US Government was not helping him. And even after betrayal by the first Japanese company, he went ahead and built his empire.

Three: You Will Need Luck

Yes, no matter how hard you work, and how carefully you lay out your plan, you will need the help of luck at every crucial time. There were so many times that Phil was in the brink of losing his business. But with the help of some luck, he managed to get out.

Yes, he managed everything through his hard work, but he needed that extra luck to see it through. And it is not me saying that. Phil himself declared that he needed some luck at the end.

Four: You Will Need Brothers not Friends

Ok we all have friends. But in order to get through those tough times, you need to have friends who are like brothers. Who will stay with you and support your crazy idea.

Phil had a wonderful bunch of friends (I am jealous of them). Woodell, Johnson, Hayes, Strasser, Even Cale. Also, when you have a mentor and coach like Bowermen, then you don’t need to worry.

Five: You Will Need a “Penny”

The last words that were written by Phil were, “Penny I couldn’t have done it without you”. Oh, how I wish I had a penny in my life.

She was not given so many paragraphs in the book, but I sensed her presence in every sentence. She was the silent partner, who took care of the family when they were low on budget, Phil was too busy, came home late, was drunk, and not giving enough attention to the family.

She could’ve easily left him. But instead, she decided to stick by his side and support him in any way she could.

That is how a partner should be.

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