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Book Rec: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

“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.”


Even if you don’t care about the brand, this journey of entrepreneurs, friendship and self-discovery is relatable for everyone. The co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight, is quite the storyteller and provides wisdom for everyone. I really appreciated the vulnerability from one of the most successful CEOs in the world in Shoe Dog.


Shoe Dog Summary

book jacket in black with gold letters of the title and author with a bright red orange Nike swoosh over it all

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 $50 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 startups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all startups, 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.


Discussion Guide for Shoe Dog


  1. What did you think of Phil Knight’s entrepreneurial spirit and his “crazy idea?" Would you have taken the same risks he did?

  2. How did Knight’s relationship with his former track coach, Bill Bowerman, shape the trajectory of Nike?

  3. In what ways do we witness Knight grow from a beginner to an expert over the course of the book?

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New book--haven't read this type of book but this review makes me want to now--THANKS!

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