Review of Shoe Dog

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Rating

8 Overall

8 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style

Review

It’s almost surprising what a monster bestseller this autobiography by Nike founder and boss Phil Knight became. He offers no stories of glamorous superstar-athlete endorsements. In fact, his few stories of signing up athletes totally lack flash. He doesn’t provide details of backstage partying at Super Bowls or World Series games. He offers no insights into famous Nike endorsers like Michael Jordan. And he gives scant information about Nike’s rise to become the unprecedented superpower dominating the most wide-ranging consumer product in the world today: sports gear. Knight tells a much simpler, intensely personal story of his growing up, his world travels, his first interest in footwear, his time as a runner at the University of Oregon, his early ventures selling Onitsuka “Tiger” shoes and the slow gestation of the homemade retail company that – to everyone’s surprise, including Knight’s – became Nike. You see Nike grow in his recounting of episodes from its earliest struggles and triumphs. Knight provides memorable, vivid portraits of compelling, quixotic characters, such as legendary University of Oregon running coach and shoe-design pioneer Bill Bowerman and equally legendary, inspirational champion runner Steve Prefontaine. Knight’s continual jousting with his Japanese customers, partners and adversaries is also compelling. The stories of his adventures with the Japanese make this book an engaging read and a fount of worthy lessons for entrepreneurs. getAbstract recommends this unusual, insightful self-portrait to those trying to start companies, to fans of Nike and to anyone striving to make a business dream work.

About the Author

Phil Knight founded Nike Inc. and was CEO from 1964 to 2004, and board chairman until 2016.

 

The King and the Court

Builders of empires eventually come to regard themselves as emperors, and who’s going to tell them they shouldn’t? Looking back at his life, Knight often writes as if he were a king recalling moments that seemed insignificant at the time, but turned out to be character-building or lesson-providing or profoundly fateful. For example, Knight tells many stories of childhood or teenage buddies who loomed large for him, but who have scant impact on the practical outcomes of these stories. Keeping track of all the characters weaving in and out of the book requires flipping back and forth among pages to remember who matters and who does not.

Vivid Portraits

Some people instantly hold your attention as Knight crafts memorable, vivid portraits of compelling, quixotic characters, such as legendary University of Oregon running coach and shoe-design pioneer Bill Bowerman, and equally legendary and inspirational champion runner Steve Prefontaine. Knight’s continual jousting with his Japanese customers, partners and adversaries proves likewise compelling, even if he packs in too much minor detail. The stories of Knight’s Japanese adventures make his book an engaging read and a fount of worthy lessons for entrepreneurs. Though his detailed memories probably seem to constitute a direct, clear narrative to Knight, the book is quite episodic, with several chapters functioning as stand-alone lessons, illustrations or anecdotes. This means you could move right along to read – or reread – the chapters that intrigue you most.

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