Shoe Dog Summary

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The lowdown: Learn how Phil Knight crated the biggest apparel company of all time with no more than an idea in this Shoe Dog summary.

Nike is one of the most successful brands of all time.

Their shoes and apparel are known the world over.

The only thing crazier than how big Nike is, is the story of how the shoe brand was founded.

Shoe Dog is the story of Phil Knight, Nike’s founder, and a man who lives Nike’s famous tagline, just do it.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
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Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Phil Knight (Author) – Norbert Leo Butz, Phil Knight – introduction (Narrators)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 04/26/2016 (Publication Date) – Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

The three main lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Knight’s story are:

  1. Your passion will override people who think you’re crazy
  2. Let your team in on making decisions
  3. Stay true to your values
shoe dog summary

Lesson One: Your passion will override people who think you’re crazy

Phil Knight originally wanted to import Japanese running shoes to America.

He had the idea while attending Stanford Business School.

However, he had absolutely no experience in the industry. and most believed he was crazy.

To boot, he was a shy and shitty salesperson.

However, Knight took a chance and went across to Japan to pitch his proposition to a room full of Japanese businessmen.

Turns out, the timing was perfect, and Knight was given 300 shoes to start selling in America.

If Knight had listened to those doubters, who knows what shoes we’d all be wearing today!

Lesson Two: Let your team in on making decisions

Knight surrounded himself with great people and gave them freedom.

He originally worked with his old running coach who worked on the Japanese shoes to customize them for performance.

Knight also let his employees in on big decisions.

For example, when it was decided that Blue Ribbon (Knight’s original company name) would stop selling Japanese shoes and start creating their own, he put it to the staff to help think of a name.

The name ‘Nike’ came to an employee, Jeff Johnson in a dream, and Knight, someone who had travelled to Greece (Nike is the goddess of victory), went with the name.

Lesson Three: Stay true to your values

You can call this lesson ‘read the fine print’.

In the 90s, Nike was in a lot of hot water with the working conditions of employees.

Nike, like many other brands, rented sweatshops in Asia, where employees were overworked and criminally underpaid.

These horrendous sweatshop conditions were featured in a report, which turned Nike into the poster-child for poor working condition.

While many other brands used the same sweatshops, Nike was the biggest name, so when the report was released, Nike became the center of attention.

Since then, though, Knight has stood close to his original values, and has worked hard to improve conditions for Nike workers.

Nike raised factory workers wages, to the point where one country put a cap on the wages of Nike employees as they were getting paid more than doctors. The local government believed that if factory workers were getting paid more than doctors it would be bad for the economy.

Nike also innovated to improve working conditions, creating a new glue for shoes which eliminated 97% of toxins in the ‘glue room’.

Nike then gave this glue to their competitors, and the water-based glue is now industry standard.

My Personal Takeaway

I am nearly 30 years old, so when I see a brand like Nike, I find it hard to imagine a world before they were popular. However, knowing the struggles that Knight originally went through was a great eye-opener.

Did this summary excite you?

Book summaries are great, but I also really believe that you will not fully understand the book or the author without trying the real thing. Learn more about this subject by listening to the full book for free via Audible.

Put it into action

Surround yourself with passionate people! Knight’s first employees were Nike believers and were able to help grow the business like it was their own.

You should consider buying this book if…

Any young entrepreneur, or anybody who is curious about the success of others.

Or, read our other business book summaries.


Hey, I’m Erik… a Swedish university student, marketing professional, and life-long learner. Here at BookSummaryClub I summarize my favorite non-fiction books into easily digested posts. Hope you like what you’re reading!

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