In the 2016 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Letter, Warren Buffett described Shoe Dog as “The best book I read last year ” and even with this glowing recommendation, the book did not disappoint as Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, takes you on a detailed and insightful journey into the creation of one of the most iconic sports brand.
At Stanford, Knight was a middle-distance runner but with an entrepreneurial mind having wrote a thesis titled "Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes What Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?". Post Stanford, Knight embarks on an around the world trip, stopping in Japan to sign a distribution arrangement with Tiger running shoes, now known as Asics.
From 1963, Blue Ribbon as it was first called, follows the typical path of a start-up in which sales don’t seem to be a problem with Knight and the misfit team doubling revenue year in year out. A lack of capital, increased competition from Adidas and Puma plus a failing relationship with Tiger provides number of situations where the business could have failed.
While there are a few lucky breaks, Knight does not spare any detail as his formidable, candid and relentless approach pushes the business and the team.