Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

For entrepreneurs trying to build their own businesses, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight should be on the top of their reading list. The co-founder of Nike Inc., Knight gives the reader an in-depth look at the grit and determination it took to launch the company back in its early years. He also details the trials and tribulations of keeping the company afloat before ultimately going public in the early 1980s. Knight is a fantastic storyteller who helps convey the many risks entrepreneurs face when building a business, describing how many times the company was on the brink of collapse early in its existence. While ultimately a success story, the book is more than just a victory lap for Knight. He explains the very risky nature of Nike’s business strategy, emphasizing how financial leverage, as well as luck, played an integral role in the company’s success asserting that, “hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome.”

While the overarching theme of the book is that hard work and determination were instrumental in the success of Nike Inc., Knight doesn’t shy away from the sacrifices that came along with building a successful company. He explains how his time spent with his family was often sacrificed for business pursuits, drastically skewing his work/life balance. Though the book encapsulates only one person’s success story, it offers an interesting perspective for those building their own businesses while also raising a family. The only shortcoming of the book was that it didn’t delve into the topic of sacrifice in greater detail, but other than that, Shoe Dog was a captivating read about the origin story of Nike Inc. and what it took to build the iconic sports brand.