The Creator of Nike
Have you ever wanted to know how Nike began? You know, the company that’s worth over $90 BILLION DOLLARS! Nike is by far one of my favorite companies, and I always had a fascination of how Nike became a behemoth in retail. I got a taste of how the company began while watching a documentary back in 2008. It still wasn’t enough to satisfy my appetite. That’s where Shoe Dog came in.
Shoe Dog is a memoir by the man who created Nike, Phil Knight. Knight is one of the world’s most influential business executives. He was CEO of the company for 40 years and now serves as a chairman on the Board of Directors. In Shoe Dog, Knight takes you through his life journey and all the nuances he faced building the company we know today. What I loved most about this book was 1) understanding how Knight built Nike and 2) learning about the obstacles he faced as an entrepreneur.
Nike was built on relationships ([tweetthis]Nike was built on relationships[/tweetthis])
Knight’s first deal was with a shoe manufacturer in Tokyo. In order to score the deal, he had to first figure out how to even make his way into the conference room. Fortunately, his father knew a group of guys that worked in the city. The group of guys referred Knight to another group who gave him a lesson in Japanese business etiquette. Without this connection, Knight would have a harder time meeting the right people.
As he continued to grow the business, since it hadn’t grown into a full-time commitment, he worked several full-time jobs as the company grew. One of the jobs included working as an accountant at a firm that is known today as PriceWaterhouseCoopers (a fun fact for those out there that are accounting junkies!). I highlight this point because I believe so many people think entrepreneurship is a full-time commitment. You’re either all-in or not. Knight needed experience that would not only put money in his pocket to fund the business, but also learn a skill. He leveraged his experience from other jobs to help his business flourish. As the company grew he eventually gave himself a salary and committed full-time.
Receiving financing for his business was the common obstacle
He details the issues he faced in receiving loans and making payments. At some points in the book, I was pretty surprised his team was able to pull through considering everything happening at the firm. It’s a prime example showing us that where there is a will there’s a way. Despite the number of obstacles he faced, Knight found a way to overcome every hurdle.
He constantly made decisions that determined the success of Nike. One of those decisions included switching his managers to roles based on their individual strengths. “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results”([tweetthis]“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you”[/tweetthis]). Knight lived by this quote and we see the outcome of his management style today.
Outside of Nike, he discusses his interest in travel, culture, and raising a family. He was in a constant battle of balancing his time between family and business. During his travels, Knight immersed himself in different cultures and extended his stay so his family could enjoy the experience as well. However, there were several instances where the business took up more of his time.
Despite sacrificing family time, Knight created one of the biggest companies we know today. If you are interested in starting a business, pick up Shoe Dog. Knight takes you on a journey of his endeavors which makes the book a great read if you are looking to learn from one of the best. The book gives you an inside look into how one of the most successful businessman in history ticks. Not only that, you walk away with a deeper level of insight in making your business grow.
If you found my recommendation of Shoe Dog to be intriguing, let me know by commenting below! If you are interested in picking up the book click here. Just remember, where there is a will there’s a way.
Edited by: N. Cusic