Shoe Dog3 min read

Published by Zach on


Nike is an “Oregon firm founded by running geeks.” Shoe Dog is how this group of geeks, specifically Phil Knight, built Nike from a basement.

Shoe Dog is not about good times. It’s about the bad times and how one man got out of them.

The amazing belief Phil had in his own company, and, more importantly, himself, was inspiring. He flew to Japan, spent all of his savings, and much of his parent’s savings on a shoe shipment, at 24-years-old. This was one of his first all-or-nothing moves.

At one point he claimed to a Japanese shoe company that he had a burgeoning American business, Blue Ribbon (a name he came up with on the spot), and an office – when he was actually living and working from his parent’s basement.

What the lesson seems to be is: make the promise, you’ll figure it out.

However, one criticism is the plausibility of Phil Knight’s thoughts when he was just starting out, at 24-years-old. At one point he says he was quoting Churchill and Japanese philosophy. But, overall, this book tells a fantastic story while teaching invaluable lessons.

As with any good book I will receive more and more from this book each time I read this. I plan to read it at least one more time.

Lessons Learned

  • When traveling, plan less, “smell the roses.” Planning exact flights and hotel rooms can cripple your wandering fancy (I think this is my least liked sentence I have ever written on this website, but the general idea is sound).
  • Arguing with words has little, to no, benefit.
  • Just promise it, you’ll figure it out.
  • When you have a problem ask yourself these questions:
    • What do you know?
    • What else do you know?
    • What does the future hold?
    • What’s Step One?
    • What’s Step Two?
  • Sometimes it’s better to be in your own bubble.
  • Don’t be afraid to believe your ideas, after all, they are your ideas.
  • Build your own business, your own society; make your unreal utopia real, then start hiring people to have fun with you there.


  • “You ask, What is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory . . . without victory, there is no survival.” – Churchill
  • I believed in running. I believed that if people got out and ran a few miles every day, the world would be a better place, and I believed these shoes were better to run in. People, sensing my belief, wanted some of that belief for themselves. Belief, I decided. Belief is irresistible.
  • Belief, I decided. Belief is irresistible.
  • 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 the mystics talk about.
  • When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers, making them happier, or healthier, or safer, or better, and when you do it all crisply and efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but so seldom is – you’re participating more fully in the whole grand human drama. More than simply alive, you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, call me a businessman.
  • …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.
Categories: Book Notes


Fiona · September 26, 2021 at 3:10 pm

Thanks. I’ve read this book as well, and it was pretty inspiring.

    Zach · October 11, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Cool right? I liked it. I would check out The Third Door as well if you liked this one.

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