Forget all the phony internet garbage about how glorious the life of an entrepreneur is. Ignore the Instagram pictures of Ferraris and private jets with the word “hustle” written over it. If you want to understand what it’s like to start a business, you need to read this book.
Phil Knight is incredibly successful. He is worth more than $24 billion. The company he started is worth more than $86 billion. But the story of how he built Nike into the world’s leading sports brand is priceless.
“There were many ways down Mount Fuji, according to my guidebook, but only one way up.” Phil Knight
The success of Phil Knight and Nike is truly exceptional. What’s not exceptional is the story of how he built his company from the ground up. The challenges that Knight faced in starting and building his company are common to every entrepreneur.
“The cowards never started and the weak died along the way. That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen. Us.” Phil Knight
That’s why this book is so powerful. If you’re dreaming of starting a business to become an overnight success, this is your wake-up call. If you’re already an entrepreneur and you’re struggling through the daily grind, this is your second wind.
“When you see only problems, you’re not seeing clearly.” Phil Knight
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike is, by far, the best business book I have ever read. Maybe it’s because I’m a year and a half into a business startup or maybe it’s because of the detailed, personal perspective that Knight weaves into the story, but this book demonstrates how difficult it is to build a great company.
Knight’s success can be attributed to two main character traits. He was deeply passionate about shoes and he was persistent. He had what Angela Duckworth now defines as Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
“Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” Angela Duckworth
Phil Knight’s journey from a crazy idea of importing Japanese running shoes to building a successful, global brand is anything but a short story. Knight faced cash flow problems, lawsuits, unfaithful partners, government investigations, media scrutiny, employees leaving for the competition, and the loss of endorsing athletes. He tackled all these challenges because he believed in his company, his team, and what they stood for. He continued to push forward despite the overwhelming difficulties he faced.
“History is one long processional of crazy ideas.” Phil Knight
This is the story of an overnight success that took more than 18 years. If you’re starting a company or building a business, you probably know it won’t be successful overnight. But how many of us would give up after 2, 3, or 5 years of continuous struggle? For Knight and his team, they battled for close to two decades to get Nike off the ground.
“Whatever comes, just don’t stop.” Phil Knight
In the end, passion, desire, hard work, family, and lifelong friendships allow Knight and his team to overcome all odds. This is an incredible, well-written story that should be mandatory reading for all entrepreneurs.