At the beginning of the year, our CEO, Charley Moore mentioned a book that we should all take the time to read. The book was Shoe Dog: A memoir about Phil Knight and how he started his first company, Blue Ribbon, and later the Nike brand. There isn’t much information out there about the creator of Nike. He seemed to be a mystery. It was great to have the chance to read about his story of being an entrepreneur and, the struggles that he encountered on the way to a successful business.
While in college, Knight discovered his interest in shoes at Stanford while working towards his MBA. He wrote a paper about the market for importing Japanese athletic shoes in the United States. Japan had already made a name for themselves in the camera market that had been previously dominated by Germany. He believed that if Japan can make a name for themselves with cameras why would they not do the same with athletic shoes.
In 1963, Knight decided to take a trip with his friend and first they ended up in Hawaii. He loved it there and worked as a salesman, but he didn’t enjoy working on that side of retail. After a while, Phil had decided it was time for him to leave. He would leave his friend behind, and his next stop would be Japan. He met with the board of Onitsuka Tiger shoes. They agreed to send him a sample of their shoes back to the United States. This was the first step to starting his first shoe business known as Blue Ribbon Sports for just $50; he would borrow from his father. He would continue his trip around the world he had planned with his friend before returning home.
Year after year, Knight would struggle with getting money from lenders to help him import shoes and would borrow from his family as well as keep an exclusive relationship with his Japanese shoe supplier. Despite Knights success in not only the selling of their shoes he would also help and improving their designs, but his shoe suppliers would also constantly try to get other U.S. partners even though they would tell Knight that he would have exclusive rights to the shoes in the United States. Even after all the struggles he had encountered with the banks and his supplier, Knight would eventually break off on his own and created the brand most around the world know, Nike.
This memoir was surprisingly a fun read. The book is written in a way that is a mix of personal and business stories that will keep you engaged the whole time. When I first starting reading it, I thought it was going to be written as a step by step book on how to be an entrepreneur and made it sound easy. This is not what I found at all. There is no step by step guide. It truly is just Phil Knight tells about his struggles in a way to make him sound human but also want to know how he managed to make such a successful business. His book has inspired me to realize that if there is something you are passionate about don’t give up, no matter how hard the struggle is. If you give it your all, one day you will look back and think I wish I could relive the whole thing over again.