Shoe Dogs are people “who devote themselves wholly to the making, selling, buying or designing of shoes,”. I got this definition from the book. I am definitely not a shoe dog as I couldn’t care less the kind of shoe I am wearing. Comfort above all also for me.
I had never heard about Phil Knight before reading this book. I couldn’t even find a picture of his wife after a google search. That how private his family is. Now that I’ve devoured the book… I can now say Phil Knight is just the Irumole (God) of sport shoes and business.. The best part about him: his personality. which is so relatable, that anybody can be a Phil Knight anywhere in the world. You can tell that I like him right.
This book is an autobiography (he’s a good writer by the way) about how he started his business Nike (the brand not the Yoruba name) from a $50 loan he got from his father into one of the most valuable brands in the world today. I like that it’s not a self-help or motivational book. It felt like my granddad was telling me the story of his life.
I recommend this book to every wanna be or already established Entrepreneur. This guy was in debt for almost 20 years of his career, was an introvert, a lecturer, took a time job to sustain his family and was just not your typical business person.
Here are my takeaways from the book including spoilers, lessons and just my best parts: close this tab if you are hate spoilers, Just warning you now.
- Nike was first called Blue ribbon. which in my opinion was a horrible name. Thank God they changed it.
- Uncle Phil (yes I am claiming him) was in debt for almost 20 years. He was in fact in debt from the beginning to almost the end of the book. Not to buy range rover but to keep his business alive. Yes those Nikes’ you are wearing were sold to you by an Onigbese. This hit home for me because I hate debt and a debtor looks to me like a financially unstable person. Financial insecurity tops my list of fears in this world but here’s someone who used it to build an empire.
- Travel: travel opened his mind… travel while you can. it makes a load of difference. when Uncle Phil was a young boy, he didn’t know what to do with his life so he decided to travel to different places in the world. He slumed it out and almost died in one country. I think that was when he knew he had to do something different. Nothing life changing or anything but travel woke something up in him. I know our economic situation doesn’t make casual travel to India feasible but sitting your butt in your house doing nothing doesn’t help anyone.
- His attitude to money: This was also an eye-opening part of the book, “For us, business was no more about making money than being human is about making blood”. Yes you need to make the stuff, but only to serve your higher aims.” I was like whaooooo… Money should be your means to an end NOT your end.
- he was an absentee father. yes he admitted that. he spent more time with his business than his children. I like that he admitted this fault and didn’t try to give excuses for it. He didn’t even talk about his children much in the book and when he lost his first son in an accident, he started to realize what he had missed out on. People always say women can’t have it all.. well No one can have it all. You need to sacrifice something to build another. Just make sure your sacrifices are worth it.
- He sold encyclopedias at some point and hated it. I mean who happily buys an encyclopedia. Sales is horrible, i can testify cos I have done it but when you love what you sell it doesn’t feel like sales t when he started selling Nikes. Enjoy what you do.
- Trainings are very important: he had an MBA from Stanford before he was 24. This is for those of you who want to drop out of school because you want to do business or be the next bill gates. Education is very very important. Get the best you can. Even though you don’t know what you’ll do with it just get the best the best education you can.
- Experience: Yes education is very important but no business school can teach you street smart.. get your ass away from that computer and go do some actual street work. You can’t buy experience. Combining education and experience, Uncle phil also says, “we must all be professors of the jungle”
- Entrepreneurship is HARDDDD: don’t let the media fool you with the glitz and glamour. salaries, uncertainty, disappointments. Get ready for these and more if you want to claim that CEO tag.
- Get ready for delayed gratification but I don’t support killing ya sef ontop work. He didn’t become a millionaire overnight but he made sure his family was comfortable.
- He hated marketing and advertisement but let his persistent employee get his way. Dont fire someone cos they are different from you.
- have a backup plan: Business fail and that’s fine. Nike CEO had a backup plan. who are you?
- You cant do it alone. surround your self not with the brightest minds but with the most passionate people. Make sure you like them and have fun while working. Don’t hold the world to your chest.
- there’s no skill that isn’t bankable
- Don’t stop innovating, even when people steal your idea.
- His team was called the Buttfaces.
- His friend abandoned him for a woman and he had to take his trip round the world by himself. Then he got dumped by a girl he really liked. No be today.
My best quotes from the book.
“The cowards never started, and the weak died along the way — that leaves us.
“It’s never just business. It never will be. If it ever does become just business, that will mean that business is very bad.”
Money: whether you have it or not, whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not, it will try to define your days. Our task as human beings is not to let it.
“When you see only problems, you’re not seeing clearly.”
“If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.
The harder you work, the better your Tao (luck, God)
Have faith in yourself but also have faith in faith.
Then my best:
And those who urge entrepreneurs to never give up? Charlatans. Sometimes you have to give up. Sometimes knowing when to give up, when to try something else, is genius. Giving up doesn’t mean stopping. Don’t ever stop. Luck plays a big role. Yes, I’d like to publicly acknowledge the power of luck. Athletes get lucky, poets get lucky, businesses get lucky. Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome. Some people might not call it luck. They might call it Tao, or Logos, or Jñāna, or Dharma. Or Spirit. Or God.
I am intrigued by the Pacific North Western part of USA., it seems like a lot of great founders either started or come from one of their cities… Starbucks, Nike, Amazon, Microsoft etc.
This book was revived by Bill Gates in December 2016. If your book makes it to Gates Notes then it is good. you need no extra validation. I don’t particularly like all his favourite books but its a list worth checking out.
I get asked a lot how I am able to read with a full-time Job, business and life in general. I try to read 25 books per year and I think that’s attainable. I tried 52 books in 2015 and I almost killed myself. Not again. It’s not a competition. But there’s a method to the madness. I try to read 1 big/major book (250 pages and above) and one small book or short story every month (50 pages ish) this way i can read at least 2 books monthly and maybe 25 books yearly. This strategy works perfectly for me and I end up surpassing my targets. Reading is not a competition. it’s also not by force. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable experience. You can also do Blinkist, and audio books.
next big book for me is Born a crime by Travis Noah.. I’ve had that book since February 2017 or so but no motivation to read it. who wants to help?
Guys, Shoe Dog is gold…. who wants a copy?
Giveaway time: I have PDF copies to giveaway to 5 people. Leave a comment and tell me why you want the book with your email address and it could be yours.
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