In Shoe Dog, Phil Knight shares the unbelievable saga behind the creation of Nike. It is a riveting read and a flat out miracle that Nike exists at all. Knight never envisioned creating an industry, he just wanted to solve a problem he was intimately familiar with from running track at the University of Oregon. He had a dream. This, as most innovators will tell you, is the most important reason for starting a company.
As you follow all the twists and turns Knight experienced as he built his business, it’s amazing to realize how easily it could all have fallen apart. It’s a good reminder that a “failed” business could have had a great idea but didn’t have the right circumstances or collection of people to champion it. So many things have to go right for a business to succeed.
The most interesting aspect for me was the cast of characters that Knight assembled and their willingness to do what it took to get their products to market. I’d venture to guess that not many people—and Knight had at least two--would be willing to pick up and move across country, create and staff an office, and all while taking on a new role in the company—then do it all over again once it was a success because the company had a need.
This is a story of someone who refused to give up on his dream no matter what obstacles he faced. The writing is engaging--you feel like you’re listening to a friend. It is the best memoir I’ve read in a long time.