Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Shoe Dog is a memoir by the creator of Nike. Knight starts the book with a description of a need to find something. He had done well in school, with a background in Accounting and an MBA. He also served in the Army active and then reserves. While trying to figure out what to do, he decided to travel the world. He would travel for a bit, stay somewhere to make some money and then continue his journey. It was about experiences, seeing the things people have done, seeing the world out there. After returning, there were a couple times he held accounting jobs and even got a CPA, but his desire was in more. To be his own boss, to create something. This ended up being selling running shoes. He would import shoes from Japan and sell them. His approach was centered around growth. Knight would scrape together money from family or the bank and buy shoes to sell. With all that money, he’d increase his order. This happened cycle after cycle. People he knew became employees, selling the shoes, opening stores, serving as managers and so forth. Growth was exceptional, but cash flow hurt. They would have tremendous successes yet struggles with their supplier. Then they branched out, more locations, more risks. Dealing with banks and financing options. Some notable court issues with breaking a supply contract and then with US Customs were noteworthy and struggles, yet through effort they got through them. A key part of their success was finding athletes and signing them to be members and ambassadors. After much delay, Nike went public which was a huge boost to cash flow, enabling them to realize more growth.
How it influenced me
A wonderful book of insights. There were acknowledgements of short comings, and stories of successes. I am envious of his ability in accounting and acquiring people with tremendous accounting, law, and sales drives. Despite his lack of ability to develop his team and build the relationships, being on the mission together, overcoming everything was huge. It emphasizes there isn’t one way to be a leader, and while he may have struggled in certain aspects, he had awareness but leveraged the natural ability to give freedom. A big takeaway for me, as I’m approaching the new year is that life has ups and downs. We all know it. It happens to everyone. To see 14 million or more in sales, and yet struggling to pay basic bills seems crazy, but down times and issues happen. Instead of being hurt by the bad times and feeling like life is rough, it is better to realize it’s a down time, embrace it for an opportunity to buckle down, work hard and prepare yourself for a tremendous up.