Gathering Minds - Shoe Dog

For our Gathering Minds Meeting this past month the MMX team and friends read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. 

About the book:
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 fifty dollars 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 start-ups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all start-ups, 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.

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We loved this book! It was super engaging and illuminating to read the behind the scenes start up story of one of the most iconic brands in the world today. Our biggest takeaways were:

  • Passion is #1: Everyone that started Nike was passionate about running and making the running experience better for everyone involved. 
  • It doesn't need to be perfect to move forward: Phil Knight was not convinced on the name Nike but he was under a deadline to submit something and Nike was his best choice at the time. Today we can't imagine it being called anything else! 
  • Always improve: Nike publically came under fire for unsafe working conditions in their international factories... what wasn't shared was how much of an improvement Nike had made since acquiring the factories. The upside of the negative press was that it forced the Nike team to ask themselves if they could do better... they could and they did. They created new technology that reduced toxic emissions and freely gave it to all competitors to make factory conditions safer everywhere. 

On a scale of 1-10 where 1 equals a book with little value one would not wish to read again, and 10 equals a fantastic book with the ability to grow an individual personally, professionally or both, we rated this book 9.5.

Are you interested in personal and professional development? We invite you to join our Gathering Minds Meetings! Check out some of our past reads below:

Next month we're reading Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service by the Disney Institue. Email for more details. 

by Kelly Heesterman