Review: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Review: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Review: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s memoir details the highs and lows of his career. As one of the most highly regarded marketers in history, he helped Nike grow into a billion dollar brand. With an entertaining personal story as well as business insights from industry giants like Seth Godin, Shoe Dog offers hope for every entrepreneur looking to make it big.

The “shoe dog netflix” is a documentary about Nike founder, Phil Knight. The film chronicles his journey from being a struggling small business owner to the CEO of one of the most successful brands in the world. It also tells the story of how he built Nike into an iconic company and revolutionized sports marketing in America.

Phil Knight, who is he?

Blue Ribbon Sports was founded by Phil Knight. That was the name of the modest firm that grew to become the world’s biggest footwear and sports clothing provider. Nike, Inc. is probably the name you’re familiar with these days. Knight has permanently revolutionized the sports clothing industry as an author, philanthropist, and business leader. Shoe Dog demonstrates how one of the world’s most well-known brands came to be.

During his time as a track athlete at the University of Oregon in the 1960s, Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman formed a partnership and founded Nike. Their first goal was to design and develop an effective running shoe for athletes. Beginning in 1971, they wanted to diversify and increase their product line as the company progressed.

Phil’s path from Blue Ribbon Sports and his vehicle trunk to the enormous monster that is Nike Incorporated is chronicled in Shoe Dog. Knight’s narrative and journey as one of the most important and successful entrepreneurs of the previous century give vital lessons for those of us who desire to start a company.

Whether it was global partners, a shaky supply chain, or a volatile political atmosphere, Nike’s tale is one of triumph over adversity. Shoe Dog is a brilliant depiction of the professional and emotional barriers that Nike faced on its journey to success.

Phil Knight is a superb storyteller in addition to being a very successful and prominent corporate leader. Shoe Dog will not let you down. 


In Shoe Dog, what will you learn?

Entrepreneurship: Behind the Scenes

Most of us are aware that establishing a business is tough and that the chances of success are limited. What I don’t believe we hear enough about are the tales and instances of actual startup turmoil.

Knight pulls back the veil on success and demonstrates to the reader that it is not a straight line. Rather, like a roller coaster, it incorporates movement in all directions.

There are no explicit lists or bullet points with lessons in Shoe Dog. Instead, the reader is educated via Knight’s exceptional narrative skills and the events that inspired Nike’s success.

“Grow or perish, that’s what I thought, no matter what… I was always pushing my conservative bankers to the limit, causing them to play chicken with me. I’d order a number of shoes that sounded crazy to them, a number that we’d have to strain to pay for, and I’d always just barely pay for them in time, and then just barely pay our other monthly obligations at the last minute, always doing just enough, and no more, to keep the bankers from kicking us. Then, at the end of the month, I’d empty our accounts in order to pay Nissho and start again.”

pp. 257-258 in Knight

The Team

Without the team of individuals that surrounded Phil Knight, Blue Ribbon Sports, and now Nike, would not have survived. Each individual who contributed to Nike’s success is included in the Shoe Dog category. The reader learns about each individual who contributed to Knight’s current brand and goods.

Spoiler alert: Many individuals were engaged in Nike’s first success. Many of these people gave up a lot of their time and energy for what was ultimately a leap of faith and conviction in Nike’s mission. Throughout the book, their distinct tales and effect on the brand we know and love are evident.

“…each of us realized that completing this minor chore of locating a larger office indicated we had succeeded. We were trying to make a go of this thing called Blue Ribbon, which appealed to everyone of us’s profound drive to win. “At the very least, don’t lose.”

Page 147 of Knight’s book


One thing that stands out in the story of Nike is the unwavering belief that Knight and his team had in themselves, their product, and their vision. Knight ensures that the reader understands just how important this confidence was in their success. To foster such a level of commitment, Knight ensured that the mission & vision of the brand were at the forefront of decision-making processes. Additionally, he reinforced these principles through his own actions and the risks he took to ensure Nike’s progress.

For example, they were often cash-strapped and financially over-leveraged. They were able to make quick and good business judgments because of their trust in one another and their product at these times. While confidence might help you remain positive, a persistent sense of uncertainty is difficult to avoid for long.

“I pulled together $20,000 from our receivables, paid off the bank, and accepted delivery of the Onitsuka [tiger] order.” Another ray of hope. A constriction in the chest follows. What would I do if it happened again? “What’s next?”

Page 160 of Knight’s book

It’s Not Just a Job

The sacrifice and devotion necessary for a start-up to flourish (particularly in a competitive field) is a recurring topic in Shoe Dog. Many of us have heard tales of business owners sleeping at their offices or failing to take enough breaks. While not all entrepreneurs go through this, the most of the successful ones would definitely claim they would. 

While this is a generally unpleasant work environment, it succeeds because the emphasis is on the outcome rather than the energy and time spent getting there. They’ll be unstoppable if they can define a vision, prioritize getting there, and individually commit to succeeding in their various jobs. That’s because it won’t be a job anymore, but rather a calling.

“I would advise men and women in their mid-twenties to avoid settling for a job, a profession, or even a career. Look for a calling. Even if you have no idea what something means, look it up. The tiredness will be easier to take if you’re following your calling, the disappointments will be fuel, and the highs will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.”

pgs. 381-382 in Knight

Final Score: 9.2/10

After completing Shoe Dog, one of my first thoughts was how incredible it was that Blue Ribbon, and eventually Nike, Inc., had survived. Knight does an excellent job of capturing the emotions and roadblocks that might lead to a startup’s demise. 

It might be tough to get people to “buy-in” to your company’s goal and vision while it is still in its early stages. Knight’s ability to put together a team of individuals prepared to give up their time and energy for the sake of Nike’s success was astounding. Nike relied on a product line that moved across states and countries in an age before mobile phones and quick communication. Without Knight’s team’s help, this extraordinary achievement would not have been achieved.

In addition, I like Knight’s use of historical background in the novel. Knight doesn’t let the reader forget how tough it was in the 1960s and 1970s to start a firm and attract an effective/loyal crew.

Shoe Dog is more than a guide; it’s also the narrative of how one of the world’s most well-known brands came to be. Every budding entrepreneur should read this book because it displays the genuine power of faith and vision.

More information on Nike’s purpose and company may be found here. You’ll appreciate my other reviews if you liked this one!

“Shoe Dog” is the memoir of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. The book tells the story of how he started a shoe company and grew it into one of the most successful brands in sports. Reference: shoe dog amazon.

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