Shoe Dog | Phil Knight

Summary of: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
By: Phil Knight


Embark on a journey with Phil Knight, the shy creator of Nike, who turned his vision of importing Japanese running shoes into a global empire. ‘Shoe Dog’ offers a captivating memoir packed with insights into Phil’s bold business decisions, inspiration from his worldwide travels, and the impactful lessons learned from his former running coach, Bill Bowerman. Get ready to dive into the dynamics of an unconventional yet brilliant team of misfits, whose united belief in Phil’s vision led Nike to success. Discover how Phil faced numerous obstacles and legal battles with tenacity and resilience, all while maintaining a sense of playfulness and fun within the workplace.

From a Terrible Salesman to Nike’s Founder

Phil Knight, a recent business school graduate, had a vision of importing Japanese running shoes to America and selling them under the brand ‘Blue Ribbon’. Despite facing discouragement from his professors, classmates, and father, he went ahead with his plan and convinced the Japanese company Onitsuka to send him 300 pairs of Tiger shoes. In the following months, he sold these shoes out of the trunk of his car, which initiated the establishment of the company that we know today as Nike. Phil’s travels around the world, particularly his visit to the Greek Acropolis where he stood before the Temple of Nike, influenced his life and brand. Today, Nike is a global leader in sports apparel and equipment and boasts a brand value of $32.4 billion. The story of Nike’s beginning is testimony to the fact that extraordinary success emerges from not giving up on one’s vision despite facing setbacks and obstacles.

Shoe Obsession

Phil Knight’s former running coach, Bill Bowerman, was a true “shoe dog.” Focused on making the lightest shoes possible, he experimented with different materials to help his athletes perform better. When Phil returned from Japan and asked Bill to partner with him at Blue Ribbon, the cooperation was fruitful. Bill’s reputation as a coach helped to give the brand exposure, and he also played a crucial role in creating the modified shoe prototype, the Cortez, which became Blue Ribbon’s first sales success. The unconventional yet brilliant employees of Blue Ribbon also contributed to its continued success.

“Building a Great Team: Lessons from Phil Knight”

Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, built a successful team of brilliant misfits who trusted him and each other. He believed in letting his team surprise him with their results and involved them in important company decisions. To maintain morale, he held team-building weekends and encouraged everyone to participate in company decisions. When the company stopped selling Onitsuka shoes and began making its own, Phil asked his employees to suggest a name. The name Nike came from Jeff Johnson’s dream, and Phil remembered the impression the Temple of Nike had made on him years ago. The success of Nike shows that building a great team begins with trust and open communication, and relies on individuals’ unique strengths and talents.

Overcoming Lawsuits: Phil Knight’s Story

Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, faced two significant lawsuits that threatened to cripple his company. The first was from Onitsuka, who sued Blue Ribbon, the company that distributed Tiger’s track-and-field line, for breach of contract and trademark infringement. Phil had an informant at Onitsuka who tipped him off and shifted his focus to building Nike. The lawsuit was eventually ruled in favor of Blue Ribbon, and Onitsuka was ordered to pay damages. The second lawsuit came when Nike’s competitors accused it of violating a customs law and owing the government $25 million. Phil settled the case for $9 million, wanting to maintain goodwill with the government. Phil’s belief in his company’s innocence and willingness to fight helped him overcome these challenges and build a successful brand.

Want to read the full book summary?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed