Shoe Dog is the autobiography of Nike founder Phil Knight. In it, he chronicles the early days of the company, from its humble beginnings as a startup to its evolution into a global powerhouse. He also sheds light on his own journey as an entrepreneur, from his early days as a young man with a dream to his later years as a seasoned business leader. The book is an inspiring read for any entrepreneur and provides valuable insights into the mind of one of the most successful businessmen of our time.
You only get a few chances to start something crazy, so go for broke when you’re young.
Phil Knight has always loved sports. He loved following them and he loved doing sports. As a kid, he once had a summer job tabulating the day’s sports scores for a newspaper during the night shift, which would then be published in the next day’s paper. Every morning after work, he ran home – seven miles.
After later graduating college, Phil entered Stanford Graduate School of Business. One of his professors described the character of an entrepreneur, and Phil instantly recognized himself. As the class required writing a business plan to pass, Phil wrote a paper called “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?”
As the class required the creation of a business plan to pass, Philip wrote a paper called “Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?” Even though nobody was particularly impressed with the paper, Philip became obsessed with the idea. He wanted to sell Japanese, high-end, low-cost running shoes in the US. On his post-graduation trip around the world, he made a stop in Japan. There, in Kobe, he discovered the Tiger brand, made by Onitsuka.
Based on his research of Onitsuka Tiger shoes, the young man took a risk by cold-calling the CEO and asking for a meeting. This act of bravery succeeded beyond his expectations when Mr. Onitsuka agreed to not only meet with him but also give him the distribution rights for the western United States. Phil was so startled by his own success that he impulsively told Onitsuka the name of his company would be Blue Ribbon. This story reminds us that taking risks can sometimes result in great rewards.
Get a good mentor
After sealing the initial deal, it took over a year to get the first samples. Phil worked as an accountant during this time. When he finally got the shoes, he mailed two pairs to Bill Bowerman, his former running coach at the University of Oregon. Phil hoped to get a sale and a powerful testimonial.
To Phil’s surprise, Bill didn’t stop at that. He offered to become his partner and take care of product design. Having his mentor now as a partner and seeing that he too believed in Phil’s idea was one of the things that gave Phil the confidence to create the company exactly as he saw fit – and that’s what made it the brand we all know today