Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike

Audio CD(Unabridged)

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In this instant and tenacious New York Times bestseller, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight “offers a rare and revealing look at the notoriously media-shy man behind the swoosh” (Booklist, starred review), illuminating his 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.

Bill Gates named Shoe Dog one of his five favorite books of 2016 and called it “an amazing tale, a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey, riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Phil Knight opens up in ways few CEOs are willing to do.”

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 car in 1963, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year. 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 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. In Shoe Dog, he tells his story at last. At twenty-four, Knight decides that rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, new, dynamic, different. He details the many risks he encountered, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs. Above all, he recalls the 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 transformative power of sports, they created a brand—and a culture—that changed everything.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781508211808
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 04/26/2016
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 759,257
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.20(d)

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 Emeritus. He lives in Oregon with his wife, Penny.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Shoe Dog includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: high-quality, low-cost running shoes. 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. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors—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, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers. Together, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Discuss the book’s epigraph. Why do you think Knight chose this passage as the epigraph? How does it frame your reading of Shoe Dog? In what ways do we witness Knight grow from a beginner to an expert over the course of the book?

2. At age twenty-four, before he started Nike, Knight set out on a backpacking trip around the world. What role did travel play in shaping his worldview? In what ways do you think Knight’s international backpacking trip set the stage for his unconventional path?

3. In Knight’s early struggles with equity, he remarks, “Life is growth. . . . You grow or you die" (page 77). In which instances was Knight faced with this predicament—to grow or to die? How did he respond? What is an instance in your life in which you chose growth and what impact do you think that decision had on you?

4. In the early days of Nike, when it was still called Blue Ribbon, Knight assembled an eclectic collection of employees, but the common thread among them was that almost all were ex-runners or recreational runners. How important is passion in driving success? How did Nike employees’ lifelong dedication to running help build a better shoe and a better company?

5. In the acknowledgments, Knight thanks his wife, Penny, for waiting (and waiting) as he worked long hours. Even in the early years of their relationship, can you identify instances of Penny’s patience and steadfast support? How did their partnership, originally forged in the classroom at Portland State, give Phil the foundation to chase professional success?

6. Knight cites one of Steve Prefontaine’s most famous quotes as a source of inspiration: “Somebody may beat me—but they are going to have to bleed to do it.” What role did Prefontaine play in the early success of Nike, both as an inspiration and as a brand ambassador?

7. “It’ll have to do,” Knight first said of the iconic Nike swoosh design, for which he paid an art student only $35. The name “Nike” itself wasn’t Knight’s top choice—he preferred “Dimension Six.” Discuss a time in which you have succeeded by accident or stumbled on a brilliant idea.

8. Knight writes, “Sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, of taking part in other people’s victories. And defeats. When sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete, and in that convergence, in that transference, is the oneness that mystics talk about” (page 212). How does Knight understand and demonstrate the symbolic power of sports? In what ways do you think that Knight and Nike have built the connection between fan and athlete in our culture?

9. How did Knight, over the course of his life, become an effective leader and entrepreneur? What were the factors that contributed to his successes?

10. Knight advises in the last chapter: "I’d tell men and women in their midtwenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling” (pages 381–82). What do you think is the difference between a career and a calling?

11. Consider the legacy that Knight built with Nike. How does Knight’s legacy compare to other great American entrepreneurs, such as Steve Jobs or Henry Ford?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Nike began as a paper at Stanford on the potential market for importing Japanese athletic shoes to the United States. As a group, discuss past college or school projects that you felt passionate about. What makes those ideas stand out in your memories?

2. If there are some sneaker heads in the group, spend some time designing custom pairs of Nikes at

Customer Reviews

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book. Very well written. Came from the heart, not just a business autobiography.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Knight's tale of his ups, downs, successes, and failures in the shoe trade. Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Did not even know who Phil Knight was until his well written memoir hooked me with the sample. As a former jogger who began in 1978, I loved reading about his struggles with Nike's beginning, as well as the tidbits about elite runners of that time. Kept me enjoying every page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Insightful and entertaining at the same time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book for everyone interested in entrepreneurship and business. Although, it's not written in a way where you're presented with step-by-step on how to do handle every situation. It's compilation of many different events from which you can learn. I have written review and summary of this book on my blog in order to help people to see what's inside the book and make it easier to understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good buy, good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Expertly told, this tale written by Knight feels more like fiction than reality. It was perfect and hit me at a time when I really needed it in my life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has always been my dream to be an entrepreneur. I have never been the best with school, but have always known that I was meant for more. The book I chose for helping me to be an entrepreneur was, Shoe Dog written by Phil Knight the founder of Nike. In the book, it gives you successful tips on how to be a businessperson. Some of these tips include: what’s your plan, how to execute it, will people buy this product, and the final product. In Shoe Dog, Phil Knight explains to young people such as myself that “You only get a few chances to start something crazy, so go broke when you’re young” (pg 134). This quote really got me thinking. If you are a young kid and think that you have a crazy idea that might just work, then go for it! You have nothing to lose as a kid. Knight is one of the most inspiring and greatest entrepreneurs to this day. It wasn’t always an easy going for Knight however. Knight questioned, “How can I leave my mark on the world, though, unless I get out there first and see it” (pg 34). He decided to partner with Mr. Ontisuka in Japan to help get his company up and going. I really enjoyed this book because it gave me helpful directions on how to be a successful entrepreneur not just an average one. Although the book was very well written there was one spot that I really didn’t agree with in it. Knight always relates back to faith when in believing in himself. The way that I took this is kind of like religion to me so it was very hard for me to connect with this certain topic in the book. This book has really pushed forward my dream of becoming an entrepreneur, therefore I give this book a 4.5 out 5 stars. If you are trying to be an entrepreneur than this book is for you. It gives you all the aspects of being a successful business person, from the beginning to the end. The idea, the plan, the outcome, and the finale. It wasn’t until after reading the book that I knew maybe one day it could actually happen. This book has really inspired me to never give up on my dreams because you never know where though dream will lead you. Not only does this book give you tips on how to be prosperous but you also get to read an incredible journey about how a small-town kid became the face of the world.
Aiden Langheim More than 1 year ago
lished on April 26, 2016, is the story of how Nike was founded. This gripping memoir was written by Nike founder, Phil Knight, and chronicles Mr. Knight’s journey in building one of the world’s most iconic footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories, and service organizations. Shoe Dog starts in 1962, when Mr. Knight was 24 years old and just earned his MBA from Stanford University. As a former Division I runner, Mr. Knight decides to pursue his passion of creating and selling running shoes versus taking a more conventional job like many of his peers. The reader experiences Mr. Knight’s constant challenges, self-doubt, and seemingly continuous financial struggles as he seeks to build a successful shoe company in a highly competitive market. This book is worth reading for people not only interested in sports, business, and history, but also those wanting inspiration to pursue their passions. Initially, I was drawn to the book due to my interest in sports and running cross country. I found, after finishing the book, that the business topics and historical references were just as interesting. Shoe Dog should be a “must-read” for all entrepreneurs and future business people. The book is full of several examples of how one can succeed professionally by continuing to persevere, seeking out great people to work with, remaining courageous, and as the famous Nike slogan says, always making sure to “Just Do It”! Mr. Knight's professional journey is inspiring. While Shoe Dog may look daunting at first glance due to its 400 pages, Mr. Knight’s use of words creates a page-turning adventure for the reader. Mr. Knight also gives the reader a close-up view into his personal life, which makes sense as his business life blended into his personal life for many years as he built the company. Mr. Knight’s passion and regard for his company stand out as is evident is when he calls Nike his “business child”! Shoe Dog is much more than one man’s personal journey of building a business around shoes. It is a story of a man who had a calling and pursued that calling through good times and bad. Mr. Knight’s memoir, Shoe Dog, will inspire and give hope to all those wanting to pursue their individual dreams!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very surprised at how good this book was. Uncle Phil is definitely a very smart man. Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed immensely learning how Phil Knight and his close associates built an international company that employs thousands. Thank you Phil for sharing your story. Go Nike!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was hooked from the first page! Phil Knight writes just beautifully! I literally wasn’t able to put the book down from the day I started it. His passion/ obsession for his craft spills over time and time again with each page. His heartfelt recollection of his journey- especially that of his sons- registered deeply within my own heart and moved me to tears. I am so happy I found and read this wonderfully crafted book. It has inspired me immensely, but more importantly it has further solidified the importance of time spent with our children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's so reassuring to see an awkward soul like the rest of us keep his convictions while chasing his dreams and make the world a better place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Would recommend this to just about anyone. Inspiring, honest and heartfelt. Everyone knows how it turns out in the end but each page keeps you wanting to know more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a thrilling jog in Phil Knight’s shoes. Equal parts humor, suspense and seriousness made for a wonderful book. Entertaining and motivating!
JANICE CLARK More than 1 year ago
I like the book. I think it is interesting to see how a company and brand grew. Nike is such an amazing story and continues to dominate the shoe and apparel world. Definitely worth reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fantastic read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is hard to put down. I enjoyed it. Many parts made me laugh out loud.
Bendandsnap64 More than 1 year ago
"Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results"
Mbkass More than 1 year ago
Really fascinating book that is a combination of a biography about Phil Knight, a history of Nike's founding and growth into a global apparel powerhouse, and an entrepreneur's "how-to" guide for budding start-ups (though that how-to is dated to Nike's events and not necessarily reflective of today's business climate). It's a pretty inspirational story. Only ding is that it would have been nice if Phil had covered the 80s/90s more and gone into detail about relationships with key athletes and sponsorships.