Summary of Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

June 19th, 2019
  • Phil Knight was a very competitive runner. The one liner about the book is that essentially Nike was formed out of Phil being a very competitive runner and believing that he could create shoes that people would love to wear and would help them with their running. He started off by getting the distribution rights to tiger shoes, which came out of meeting some businessmen in Japan that I think his dads contacts got him in touch with. He then battled to get away from this restrictive agreement in order to start producing his own shoes, under the name nike, across factories all over the world. Then they branched into clothes and various other products. It took far more years to get the business started, and a lot of sweat, stress and hard work!
  • Throughout the book he talks about countless 6mile runs he did, throughout the growth of Nike to get his thinking straight. Made me want to go out for a run after every chapter!
  • One of the things he did early, which is impressive because it was so much harder to do back then, was borrow some Money from his dad to travel around the world
  • Through some contacts from his father, it was during the round the world trip that he first got a taste for selling shoes
  • Quote repeated early on and throughout the book is "Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results"
  • Let everyone else call your idea crazy but don't stop until you get 'there' even when you don't know where there is
  • Japan was renown for it's impeccable order and cleanliness. "Minimalist. Expect nothing, seek nothing, grasp nothing.
  • "You are capable, you are confident, you can do this"
  • Reference to the analects of Confucius - "The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones"
  • Mount fuji guide book, many ways down Mount Fuji but only one way up. Life lesson.
  • Johnson, hire basically as the first sales guy introduced some impressive strategies (for the 70's) including creating an index card for every single customer with their personal info, shoe size and preferences and then Johnson could contact them at all times so they felt like . VIP customer. Sent them birthday cards. Sent the Christmas cards.
  • And as some customers freely shared feedback, Johnson began collecting it and creating design ideas from it (UX in the 70s :) )
  • Then when the first store was opened, Johnson made it into a runners dream, comfy chairs, runner books, photos of tiger shoe running athletes, and created an atmosphere for runners to hang out and and talk.
  • Easiest way to find out how you really feel about someone is when you have to say goodbye
  • Ongoing battle with Adidas and Puma (owner by two German brothers who despised each other) They were up to all sorts of dirty tricks during the olympics (not sure which year it was) stuffing money into running shoes and things like that, to secure the top athletes to run in their shoes.
  • Knight and the company had a constant ongoing battle trying to secure top level athletes only to see them leave for other lucrative deals or sometimes simply switch back to another trainer without telling them
  • The average person takes 7500 steps per day, 274 million over a lifetime, 6 times around the globe
  • Hit problems when Nixon decided to float the dollar in 1971 and put an end to fixed exchange rates. This caused huge problems in terms of the cost of manufacturing as the Yen would fluctuate wildly, totally unpredictable and so planning for the future was incredibly tough.
  • Wanted to make sure fear of failure would never be the downfall of the company. THe aim for when they did fail at things, was to do it fast, learn from it and do it better next time.
  • Problems with banks not want to give them they had no money in the bank but were growing rapidly...banks thought it was a risky strategy
  • Knight was also reported to the FBI because they thought the way the business was being run and using money was fraudulent

By Jonathan Clift, a UX Desginer based in the UK.