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Summary

In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company's early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world's most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands.

In 1962, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and created a company with a simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his lime-green Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed $8,000 his first year. Today, Nike's annual sales top $30 billion. In an age of start-ups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all start-ups, and the swoosh has become a revolutionary, globe-spanning icon, one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable symbols in the world today.

But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, in a memoir that is candid, humble, gutsy, and wry, he tells his story, beginning with his crossroads moment. At 24, after backpacking around the world, he decided to take the unconventional path to start his own business - a business that would be dynamic, different.

Knight details the many risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream - along with his early triumphs. Above all, he recalls the formative relationships with his first partners and employees, a ragtag group of misfits and seekers who became a tight-knit band of brothers. Together, harnessing the transcendent power of a shared mission and a deep belief in the spirit of sport, they built a brand that changed everything.

©2016 Phil Knight (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

Critic reviews

"Narrator Norbert Leo Butz...infuses his delivery with drama and suspense, keeping the listener engaged with each chapter. Knight claims to be a shy introvert, but Butz isn't fooled, portraying the chairman as a straight-shooting, no-nonsense leader who keeps winning because he's relentless in his pursuit of success...." ( AudioFile)

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Wow. 10/10. A must for entrepreneurs...

What an amazing book. I had no idea about Nike until I read this. What a book. Buck Knight's grit and determination. What a guy. Complete new view of Nike and great read for entrepreneurs who are stuck in the daily drudge of making it work. Genuinely gutted this book is over. Well written. Laughed, smiled and genuinely cried... Fantastic. 10/10.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic! A great read

Never really knew about the history and origins of how the Nike brand started - what a story!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic story - beautifully written

Phil Knight has a real gift for writing, wonderfully written for someone who is not a professional writer. The story of Nike is inspiring - the guts and bravery shown by all involved is astounding.

This book definitely made me laugh and nearly made me cry. Both Phil Knight and this story are truely authentic, a refreshing change from the modern era of entrepreneurs whose anecdotes and perspectives are tainted by vanity and insecurity.

Bravo

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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A fantastic story.

One of the best books I have bought. Inspirational story. I literally couldn't switch it off. Recommended for anyone in business.

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All entrepreneurs need to read this

It’s not just a book on business, it’s an amazingly told story of the absolute downs and the ups of Nike that draws you in. Phil Knight is a legend and so is his story

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This is how Autobiographies should be written!

Gripping and exciting life story! Love the insights into Phil’s thinking at each of the crtitical points of his life! It’s inspiring to know that some of the thoughts I have on my entrepreneurial journey are not looney! Above all the learning from this book is always trusting one’s gut! A must read for every biding entrepreneur out there!! I hope a movie is following soon??

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Great story about a great company.

I really enjoyed the book. Phil Knight seems to be very down to earth normal person. I t was really interesting. The reader was very good and kept me interested all the way through.

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Just do it...

The best book I’ve ever read - bar none! So good, I bought it as an audio book too, and it didn’t disappoint ... An amazing and honest account of a business and cultural icon. Strikes a comfortable balance between business book and an autobiography, ‘Shoe dog’ is entertaining, insightful and at times, incredibly heart rending. Honest and at times, almost poetic, it’s a real joy to read. Don’t think about whether to buy it, just do it - you won’t be disappointed !

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You habe to read or listen to this book.

Really great narration by Norbert Leo. A true, genuine story of a man behing a great company. The reading was the most pleasurable thing, I could pass my time with, while travelling. Truly, learnt a lot.

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Very inspired by a very humble misunderstood man

fantastic narration. really really enjoyed this book. i feel more motivated than ever and would definitely reccomend. very digestible

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  • Brock
  • 02-06-16

A must listen to book- It's the perfect biz memoir

This book was full of everything I ever hope for in a book. It was super interesting, and hard to put down. Iit was funny, and I found Knight to be a person I was cheering for throughout the book as he faced one trial after another. It was a truly inspirational story. I wish everyone I know could read this book

It was also an awesome business book. It discussed significant business challenges Nike faced throughout its journey to becoming the world leader it is today. As a business owner I was very interested to read about the number of times it seemed as though Nike may need to close down due to challenges it faced, yet each time they found a way to overcome the problem. It is an amazing story of Knights resolve to never give up. I also loved hearing about Knight's leadership style of allowing the voices of his employees to be heard, even when they ran counter to his ideas. I think this is a must read for business owners, but everyone who's heard of Nike will enjoy it too.

The only negative about this book is that it's not nearly long enough. I would love to hear there will be a sequel to this book. There are so many aspects that could be delved into more deeply, and with the way Knight wrote this book I know they would be just as riveting as everything in this book.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan D
  • 07-07-16

Just read it. (or listen, whatever)

I don't typically review books that I've read or listened to. Even the ones I love. But this one is different. I couldn't be more grateful for having come across this story. One of those perfect books at the perfect time. As I listened to the last hour I had to pull my car over and just absorb it all. And I had tears rolling down my cheek. I hate being a softy but this story hit me at a time when I needed to hear it. All entrepreneurs should take this one in. This is the inspiration I needed to keep the grit alive. Thank you Mr Knight!

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Daryl
  • 19-03-17

Highly readable autobiography

I don't know much about Nike - aside from the fact that I owned a pair of Nike street shoes that lasted me longer than any pair of shoes I ever owned.
This book is a terrific look at the origins of Nike - the bluster, the bravado, the fear, the mistakes, everything that went in to the birth of a billion-dollar company.
Phil Knight is not always likable, but he has a way of introspection that is both charming and accessible. He acknowledges his mistakes - even big ones - with a combination of humour and regret. Sometimes the only way to proceed is forward, and that's what he's done. It's amazing that a billion-dollar brand came out of - in its beginning - the trunk of a car supplying someone else's shoes.
I also found that Phil Knight described the world events surrounding him and his little company in the early days. It provides more than a glimpse of Blue Ribbon (which became Nike), but how it had to adapt to the changing world around it.
I understand why all of the origins of the company were detailed - leaving something out wouldn't have worked - but I would have preferred more than an epilogue detailing the last 25 years of Nike. Even adding another 1-2 hours to this accessible, compulsively readable book would have been less jarring than having it jump forward from 1980 or so to 2007.
But this is a minor quibble with a riveting book with a terrific narrator.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 17-07-16

Just do it

This book is the story of the man who built the Nike shoe Empire. It had never occurred to me that I was a Nike customer, but during the course of the listen I realised that I own 3 pairs of Nikes (a pair of golf shoes and 2 pairs of ‘trainers’), so they’re obviously sufficiently globally ubiquitous to have had an impact on my life. When I started at University, in 1980, I remember my new friend Jez Brown showing me his pair of Nikes as if they were something special. At the time they seemed a bit odd and I wasn’t sure if they would catch on or just be a flash-in-the-pan. That was my first exposure to the brand.

The story of Nike starts in 1962, the year I was born, when an ambitious young man, passionate about running, has the wild idea of going to Japan to import running shoes, pretending that he already owns an established shoe business in the US. He throws his heart and soul into building this business, recruiting a posse of similarly devoted eccentric characters along the way. He’s always up against adversity, always on the brink of bankruptcy – but somehow he survives and scrapes through to the next phase, even though selling the shoes is never a problem. The problems are always supply and cash flow.

The book ends in 1980, when Phil and his band of odd-bods finally yield to the pressure to allow Nike to go public. This is something they had resisted because they liked the home-spun ethos of the company. Once the company went public it signalled an end to the author’s financial worries (he instantly became a very rich man), an end to the company’s constant battles against adversity, and an end to the story (apart from an epilogue).

This is a great listen. Completely compelling and entertaining from the first to the last word. Recommended.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 09-07-16

Breathtaking

The best book I have ever read. Thank you Phil Knight for taking the time to inspire, comfort, or warn us all out here. Thank you.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Ignacio J Fanlo
  • 06-07-16

Fantastic listen

Couldn't wait to hear the next chapter. Engrossing and inspiring. I recommend everyone that likes audio books and Entrepreneurship list be to it.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • 30-05-16

great story about building a business

This was a super close up view of how Phil Knight and his gang built Nike. What I found most interesting was Knight's play-by-play on some of the key moments...what he was thinking and why he chose the path he took.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Amin
  • 29-05-16

Epic book - absolutely loved it!!

As an entrepreneur, I identified with this book like no other that I've read - the well written narrative makes reading this book like living the experience moment to moment - wow.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Neil
  • 12-11-16

Truly inspiring and a fantastic reality check

I wasn't expecting Phil to be just like any one of us. Lost in his way; finding his way; escalating challenges. As I lived through his journey through this audiobook, it helped me go through my day to day work/life challenges.

Highly recommended. Nike fan or not.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Davine
  • 09-07-16

A Must Read For All Entrepreneurs!

Shoe Dog is highly transformational and inspiring. It will move you and keep you engaged the whole time. Usually I'd pace a book throughout a week or so, however I couldn't resist the urge to binge chapter to chapter. I can truly say this book has changed my life for he better!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful