An amazing memoir by Nike’s co-founder, Shoe Dog chronicles Phil Knight’s journey from a college grad doing soul searching to founding a company with a team of extremely talented misfits like him. Phil narrated his stories so well that I felt I’m reliving the moments with him. My top takeaways from this book:

1. Do what you believe in:
“I’d puzzle over my sudden success at selling. I’d been unable to sell encyclopedias, and I’d despised it to boot. I’d been slightly better at selling mutual funds, but I’d felt dead inside. So why was selling shoes so different? Because, I realized, it wasn’t selling. 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.”

2. Grow and compete with yourself:
1) “Beating the competition is relatively easy. Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.”
2) “People reflexively assume that competition is always a good thing, that it always brings out the best in people, but that’s only true of people who can forget the competition. The art of competing, I’d learned from track, was the art of forgetting, and I now reminded myself of that fact. You must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past. You must forget that internal voice screaming, begging, “Not one more step!” And when it’s not possible to forget it, you must negotiate with it. I thought over all the races in which my mind wanted one thing., and my body wanted another, those laps in which I’d had to tell my body, “Yes you raise some excellent points, but let’s keep going anyway…”

3. Be fearless and fail fast:
1) But my hope was that when I failed, if I failed, I’d fail quickly, so I’d have enough time, enough years, to implement all the hard-won lessons. I wasn’t much for setting goals, but this goal kept flashing through my mind every day, until it became my internal chant: Fail fast.
2) Fear of failure I thought, will never be our downfall as a company. Not that any of us thought we wouldn’t fail; in fact we had every expectation that we would. But when we did fail, we had faith we’d do it fast, learn from it, and be better for it.”

4. It’s more than business:
“But for us business was no more about making money than being human is about making blood. Yes, the human body needs blood. It needs to manufacture red and white cells and platelets and redistribute them evenly, smoothly, to all the right places, on time, or else. But that day-to-day business of the human body isn’t our mission as human beings. It’s a basic process that enables our higher aims, and life always strives to transcend the basic processes of living – and at some point in the late 1970s, I did, too. I redefined winning, expanded it beyond my original definition of not losing, of merely staying alive. That was no longer enough to sustain me, or my company. We wanted, to say so aloud. 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.”


Time to act – how this book can help you grow!

Think of Phil Knight whenever you’re pursuing something you truly believe in! Ask yourself who you are competing against, yourself or someone else? Are you willing to fail fast in whatever your pursue? What is driving you, is it money or something with a greater meaning?

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