Phil Knight’s memoir - one of the simplest, straightforward yet enjoyable books

Read an interesting book last week. Wasn’t a profile of an athlete nor a sporting event. It was Phil Knight’s memoir (Shoe Dog), one of the cofounders of Nike. Fascinating read. Part business. Part relationships. Part history. Part sports. Here’s the Coles Notes version. (Not sure if Coles Notes is still around but they sure saved my butt during university.)

It’s 1964. Young man, recent college graduate who also ran track in college, backpacks around the world. Along the way, stops in Japan to try and get territorial rights to sell their running shoes in America. Borrows $50 dollars from his dad while in Japan to buy the sample shoes.

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Returns home to Oregon. Gets the rights from Japanese factory to sell in the western U.S. Sells their Tiger-brand running shoes out of the trunk of his car. Stores the inventory of running shoes in his parent’s basement. Keeps selling out his orders. Outgrows basement. Rents small warehouse next to a bar. Then a bigger warehouse. More warehouses. Pours all his earnings back into the business.

Bank problems. Cash problems. Distribution problems. And Japanese supplier hires another American distributor and stops sending shoes to Knight.

No problem.

Knight’s team designs their own running shoe. Finds other factories to make his shoes. Expands into apparel. Surrounds himself with dedicated people. Has many success. Has many failures.

Bingo-bango -bongo, it’s 2019 and this shy kid from Oregon has built a company that is now valued at $32 billion US dollars.

What threads throughout the book are two things: the importance of relationships and pursuing something you love.

Perseverance. Trust. Passion. Luck. You can add all these motivational words to what made Knight and any person in any endeavour, successful.

I’m writing about this book because if you’re reading this column, you probably like sports. And this book takes your love of sports and adds a business dimension to the mix. One of the simplest, straightforward yet enjoyable books I’ve read in some time.

Great insight into one of the most iconic brands out there.

If you’re interested in receiving a copy of Shoe Dog, send me an email at, subject line: Nike. We’ll draw a winner and you can pick up the book at our office. 

© Melita New Era