Jan. 27, 2019

Shoe Dog by Phil “Buck” Knight: Values, working for fun and building one of the biggest brands in the world


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About the Author

Phil “Buck” Knight is an American businessman and philanthropist. A native of Oregon, he is the co-founder and current Chairman Emeritus of Nike, Inc., and previously served as chairman and CEO of the company. 

As of August 2018, Knight was ranked by Forbes as the 28th richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$34.7 billion. Knight is a graduate of the University of Oregon and Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

He ran track under coach Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon, with whom he would co-found Nike. A noted philanthropist, Knight has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to each of his Alma Maters, as well as Oregon Health &; Science University. In total, he has donated over $2 billion to the three institutions.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Knight

About the Book

Shoe Dog is the story of Nike. It’s the tale of a geeky track runner from Oregon (where nothing happens) who goes on a life changing trip around the world before returning home and shaping his career – first into a practicing accountant, then teaching before following his desires into a business that allowed him to combine his passion for running with his philosophy of work being fun (which he achieved by employing a number of his friends). 

Before reading the book I knew very little about the origins of Nike and how for quite a long time, Phil Knight and the Nike team were US distributors for Onitsuka Tigers under the company name of Blue Ribbon Sports. In the book, Phil shares a lot on his personal philosophies, habits and values. Many of which formed his decision making over the years.

BIG IDEA 1 (4:03) – Work should be fun. Throughout his life and career choices, Phil used the philosophy of work being fun.  This determined his career moves and important decisions between accounting, teaching and later in Blue Ribbon and Nike.  He employed most of the people he loved whilst building Nike, which helped make work more fun for him. He was also doing work aligned to his passions; shoes and running.

BIG IDEA 2 (5:26) – A sense of adventure. Phil’s sense of adventure started when he traveled the world at 24. His travels taught him fundamental lessons and gave him experiences which he used throughout his life. It helped shape his values and sense of adventure which ultimately lead him to create Blue Ribbon and Nike.  Phil applied his sense of adventure in decision making around the companies growth, which leads us to…

BIG IDEA 3 (6:29) – Just do it. This is about taking risks. He took the risks even during the challenges he faced whilst building Blue Ribbon and Nike; from working capital, sponsorship deals, supply, opening stores and growing the business (a regular manifesto from Phil was ‘grow or die’).  This is about the idea that it is better to regret what you did rather than the things you didn’t do.

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