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Shoe Dog

Cover of Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog

A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
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In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company's early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world's most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.
Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike's annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight's Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it's one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.

But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that's surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life's Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes. Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers.

Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.
In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company's early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world's most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.
Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike's annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight's Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it's one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.

But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that's surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life's Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes. Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers.

Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.
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About the Author-
  • One of the world's most influential business executives, Phil Knight is the founder of Nike, Inc. He served as CEO of the company from 1964 to 2004, as board chairman through 2016, and he is currently Chairman Emertius. He lives in Oregon with his wife, Penny.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    Nike mogul Knight charts the rise of his business empire, a world leader in athletic wear.The title of the memoir is apt, for much of it is a rather dogged struggle through the minutiae of shoe distributorship and manufacture, with all the deals and lawsuits that entails. Knight began that journey more than half a century ago, when, as a young entrepreneur-in-training, it occurred to him that there might be room in the American marketplace for Japanese running shoes. He wrote a paper to that effect. "Being a business buff," he recounts, "I knew that Japanese cameras had made deep cuts into the camera market, which had once been dominated by Germans. Thus, I argued in my paper that Japanese running shoes might do the same thing." There was much hope in that thesis, for this was back in the day before Steve Prefontaine came along to help Knight press his case to runners everywhere. From that start, Knight built what has been reckoned to be a $30 billion-per-year business. He is proud to tell that story, as one might expect, but there's some score-settling to do: the bad guys include a Japanese shoe manufacturer who couldn't make a straight deal, a competitor called the Marlboro Man (who, admittedly, was "poaching our poaching"), tennis ace Jimmy Connors (whose agent, backing away from an endorsement agreement, insisted, "I don't remember any deal. We've already got a deal three times better than your deal, which I don't remember"), and a few other such impediments. The story, though with many merits, is rather listless. Unfortunately, much of the book conforms to the dry formulas of business writing, borrowing in turn from business speechifying: tell a joke, show a slide, read the text and expand on the bullet points, move to the next slide. By the numbers, to be sure, but students of business, for whom Nike is a well-established case study, may want to have this view straight from the source. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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