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Shoe Dog Phil Knight Book Summary

40-word Summary: Shoe Dog is Phil Knight’s autobiography of the challenges faced during his journey as the founder of Nike shoes; a world-changing brand.

Book Summary: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

I bought this book recently and have taken the last few days to really dig deep into Phil’s world. Unlike many who have had an impressive success story, very little was known of Phil Knight until he wrote his autobiography.

Reading this book, I couldn’t help by feel that he was quite the frugal guy until the end of his journey. In fact, for much of Nike’s history, he was completely broke and struggling to keep the lights on.

In terms of tangible value for the reader, Phil says:

  • In your younger years, you’ve got nothing to lose. Stay broke but build consistently. That is – avoid the temptation for luxury goods and experiences while you’re building the empire.
  • Find a solid business mentor. Personally I did this in September last year and it sky-rocked the way in which I think about business. Instead of a shotgun approach of “I hope this works”, I instead think “This is going to work because the metrics are evident”
  • Avoid being a micro-manager where you tell people how to complete their tasks. Instead, build systems but allow them to find their flow-state.

Through the book, Phil focuses on 3 key lessons.

1. Charge forward while you’re young.

Phil can see the writing on the wall; we’re all going to die. Being fearful of progress is a trap that many people fall into. To build a crazy and wildly successful business is best done while you’re young.

For instance, many people praise the results that I’ve accomplished on this blog. However, I’m young. I’m motivated. Above all else – I’m building for decades ahead in the future.

I felt this part of the book was captivating and resonating to a degree, though it felt like preaching to the converted. You’ll probably find it highly valuable though if you’re early into your business or personal development journey.

Nike was a crazy idea as Phil points out often. An idea that just actually happened to work, because he was young.

2. Mentors and partners make you

This was an eye-opener for me. While I’ve got a mentor (coincidently also named Phil), I’m still looking for the right partner. Any takers?

In Phil’s case, his mentor (a running coach) became his partner in business. Someone who knew the ins and outs of running shoes and what the consumer needed, not just wanted.

When you get two people working together in harmony, it’s almost as if a 3rd mind is created. Napoleon Hill alluded to this almost 100 years ago with Think and Grow Rich.

3. Define the standards but let people flow

While many companies have strongly worded policies and procedures, Phil instead chooses a different approach. He proposes that we allow employees to shine by showing results outside their scope of works.

This hands-off approach to managing an international team is the key to hiring today but got its start in the earlier days of Nike. If you’re looking for another results-focused company that promotes employee’s to somewhat fend for themselves, then check out Mindvalley.

By allowing employees to innovate and voice their opinions in an open forum, Phil proposes that companies would find them more of an asset to not just the company, but the product and the end consumer.

Best Shoe Dog quote

There are many good quotes inside of Shoe Dog, so no, I won’t spoil them here.

However, my #1 pick would be this one:

Brazen, controversial or just simply tough love. You can argue with Phil Knight on this quote, but he’s right. The cowards never start and the weak certainly die along the way. As one of my mentors proclaims “Don’t bring a water gun to the real battlefields.”

So often I see people start and then fall off the bandwagon. After all, with the blog, I do serve the business opportunity crowd. Those that either never start their journey, or often if they do, never finish what they seek to achieve.

Phil couldn’t have built Nike to what it is today without a degree of burning the ships.

Shoe Dog in review

I genuinely loved this book after reading a few other Shoe Dog reviews. Despite the thickness at 383 pages with my paperback version, it only took several hours, however I did spread it out over several days.

If building your empire based on strong company values is important to you, then Shoe Dog is at the top of my list. I’d recommend a notepad to take notes as I have.

In the world today we have an incredible amount of opportunity to build a genuine online business, as is the case with Mindvalley. It takes time, effort and energy, and yes, as Phil highlights, the younger crowd have the upper hand.

If you’re ready to take action on your crazy idea, then Shoe Dog is the perfect starting point.

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After doing this for 10 years, I’ve learned that online success doesn’t come cheaply, easily or fast. It’s merely consistent work, day in and day out, yet the rewards are certainly worth the constant grind.