- Personal Development
- Ashto =
- Jonesy =
What You Will Learn from Shoe Dog
Join Ashto and Jonesy in this week’s episode as they delve into the fascinating world of Nike and its founder Phil Knight. In his candid and captivating memoir Shoe Dog, Knight reveals the inside story of Nike’s early days as a daring start-up and its evolution into one of the most iconic and profitable brands in the world.
Fresh out of business school in 1962, Knight borrowed $50 from his dad to import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. With a lime green Plymouth Valiant as his makeshift store, he grossed $8,000 in his first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion, making it an exceptionally influential global company.
But Knight’s story is not just about business success; it’s also about taking the unconventional path and chasing your dreams. In Shoe Dog, he recounts the many risks and setbacks he faced in building the Nike brand, and the formative relationships with his first partners and employees.
Knight acknowledges the role of luck in his success, and encourages us to have faith in ourselves and in faith itself (however we define it). Through hard work and belief in our mission, we too can achieve our dreams and reach our fullest potential. Shoe Dog illustrates the power of grit, determination, and a shared vision in creating a brand that changed everything.
The Origin Story
Even before Nike, Phil Knight’s achievements were impressive. He was a graduate of the University of Oregon and had a Master’s degree from Stanford. He even survived a year in the army, gaining skills as a learned and accomplished soldier. Yet, despite all this, Knight still felt like a kid. He realised he had missed out on the many temptations and excitements of life. He had never smoked a cigarette, tried a drug, or broken a rule, let alone a law. It was the 1960s, the age of rebellion, and Phil was the only person in America who hadn’t rebelled.
He knew he wanted to be successful, like his friends, but he wasn’t sure what that meant to him. Was it money, a wife, kids, or a house? These were the goals society had taught him to aspire to; but deep down, he was searching for something more meaningful, purposeful, and creative.
So one morning in 1962, Knight told himself: “Let everyone else call your idea crazy. Just keep going.” That’s the precocious prescient urgent advice he managed to give himself out of the blue. And somehow managed to take. Half a century later, Its the best advice, maybe the only advice, any of us should ever give
Phil has recently stepped down as Nike CEO after 40 years, leaving the company in good hands and in good shape. The company made 16 billion dollars in sales in 2006, with competitor Adidas trailing behind at 10 billion. And today, Nike’s shoes and clothes can be found in five thousand stores worldwide and the company employs ten thousand people.
How Phil Knight’s Inspiring Leadership and Gratitude Impacts Those Around Him
Knight particularly finds a line from the movie The Bucket List resonating: “You measure yourself by the people who measure themselves by you.”
Reflecting on his time at Nike, Phil notes that the younger employees seem to have a sense of gratitude. They have formed an informal discussion group called “The Spirit of 1972”, a nod to Nike’s founding year. But it’s not just the younger generation who honours Nike’s history. Phil remembers a moment with Le Bron James, who asked for a private moment to express his gratitude. “When I signed with you first, I didn’t know all that much about the history of Nike. So I’ve been studying up. Nike was born in 1972, right? I’ve found a Rolex for you from 1972, and engraved it says, ‘Thanks for taking a chance on me.”
Phil recalls some of the many memorable moments he’s shared with athletes, like when Pete Sampras tossed his racket to him after winning at Wimbledon, or when Andre Agassi shouted, “We did it, Phil!” after winning the US Open. He remembers hugging Tiger Woods after he drained the final putt at Augusta. He also thinks of the private moments he’s shared with Michael Jordan, including attending his father’s funeral and discovering a seat reserved for him in the front row.
Conclusion of Shoe Dog
Knight believes that the world has untapped resources – both natural and human – that can help solve many crises. He emphasises that the key to success is hard work and continuous learning. Despite the amount of money that came with Nike’s success, Phil notes that nobody at Nike was driven by money. He warns that money has a way of trying to define our lives, and as humans, we must not let it. Phil also cautions the iconoclasts, innovators, and rebels that they will always have a target on their backs. As they achieve greater success, the size of the target grows bigger, which is a law of nature and not just one person’s opinion.