Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike by Phil Knight…what a story! I am not a big fan of autobiographies, but I definitely enjoyed the style of writing in this one. It reads like a novel. Full of twists and turns as well as valuable insights and lessons. Not only is a great story, it is also filled with great examples of what the power of intention can produce together with purpose and action.
Let me share with you a few of the key lessons that I learned from this book
- State your intention and own it.
Phil was clear from early on that he had a “crazy dream” and that was to own a running shoe store. Everything he did thereafter was ultimately to make that dream a reality. It was his sole focus. It drove him. His single-minded focus is what ensured that he would succeed.
He often quotes the following from George S. Patton in his book “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” He knew what he wanted to achieve and largely left the people around him to get on with it. Another example of how clarity of intention enables delivery of the intended result and sometimes more
- God/The Universe will send you the right help at the right time
Whenever he needed to take the next step, help was always there. It came in different forms, a new employee who had a skill that he didn’t realise the business needed or, a new supplier or a new source of finance just when everything seemed to be falling apart. When your intention is clear, the right help will come at the right time. You just need to be open to it and embrace it.
An example is employee no.1, Johnson. In the book, it appears that he was largely left to his own devices. He created the first store. He came up with idea of making branded T-shirts and photographing athletes with them on (even if they weren’t wearing Nike). He was as passionate about selling those Japanese running shoes and, in many ways, his initiatives took the company to the next level.
- You will make mistakes, but you can overcome them
I think it is fair to say that Phil Knight made several mistakes along the way. Some massive and some small. Most of the time, the way he overcame them was through honesty. He didn’t always have much of a choice, but he stresses how honesty saved his hide more than once and it also brought them business when they weren’t expecting it. Of course, it’s one thing to make a mistake but the important thing is to own up to it, learn from it and move forward.
- Be open to learning
It appears that Phil Knight was quite the reader. He enjoyed learning and especially about other cultures. He also looked for opportunities to learn from other people. He was constantly growing and evolving. Often, he didn’t even believe in what others were recommending but he just did it anyway and that includes using the name “Nike” as the company name.
- Passion and purpose are powerful
There is a passage towards the end of the book that communicates the power or purpose way better than I could, so I am just going to share it here: “We wanted, as all great businesses do, to create, to contribute, and we dared to say it 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 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 are helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, then call me a businessman.” A similar sentiment was shared by Steve Jobs when talking about Apple. For me, it’s further proof that a selfless purpose together with passion and focused action are an unstoppable combination. Yes I know, we pay through our noses for those very products. They do achieve their intentions though in that their products do let us live more comfortable or convenient lives.
At the end of the day, if you are true to your purpose and you don’t just do something for the money, the money will come anyway. Let’s not be naive though, the trick is being true to your purpose but be business savvy at the same time.
There’s a lot more learn from the book. I plan on reading at least once more as there is always more to gain from it.
Hope you enjoyed this review. If you have read the book, I would love to hear your take on it.
Until next time… Happy Reading