phil knight, author, shoe dog by phil knight

10 Game-Changing Lessons from Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Have you ever wondered about reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight? What is all the fuss about this book? Is Shoe Dog a good book worth your time?

I am sure you must have worn or interacted with a Nike shoe at least once in your lifetime. These shoes are a testament to quality, aesthetics, and comfort. Their shoes are the gold standard of the footwear industry.

So, how did that shoe get into your hand? What happened in the past, leading to this giant company delivering grand products?

What is the book Shoe Dog About?

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike is an autobiography on how he built a billion-dollar empire. The book contains educational events that helped make the company what it is. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight revolves around a “Crazy Idea,” which made the author crazy and bet on giving it the light of day. It speaks volumes about the traits and skills it takes to make the company a billion-dollar company.

Today, we will cover the Game-Changing Lessons from this book to help us in our entrepreneurial journey.

Lesson 1: Passion

Ever since he delivered his thesis on the shoe industry and how it works, Phil had a thing for becoming a part of it. Being a sports person himself, his “Crazy Idea” was nowhere to be kept suppressed.
From going to Japan, meeting with business owners, learning about the trade, not to mention convincing his parents to sponsor his Crazy Idea in the first place. Phil showed immense hunger and passion for his idea and did whatever was possible. He took risks after risks to breathe life into his Crazy Idea and make it a success.

Lesson 2: Market Research

His Stanford Research Paper was a stepping stone for him. He did in-depth research on how the industry works and how to meet the demand and supply of the industry. His research led to the conclusion that Japan is the most promising country.
This “Crazy Idea,” backed by definitive research, helped him make a decision that is more likely to succeed. To properly assess the market condition and make decisions is a must-have skill. It will prevent you from making unwarranted mistakes and prevent huge losses.

Lesson 3: Willingness To Come out of the Comfort Zone

Building a business makes you do things you don’t like but must do. A similar series of events happened with Phil Knight, and every time he did them, even though he would not have done it had the scenario been different. He would meet with the banks to have them continue their credit line even when banks didn’t want to. Phil would sit in meetings that he knew would not result in anything because he was the face of the company. He did anything and everything to help the company survive.

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Lesson 4: The Right Team

You cannot build any business on your own. You have to have the support of others. But this becomes quite serious when you are in the path of making a path-breaking company.
Phil Knight had members who would live, eat, and breathe Nike. They would do anything Phil asked them to as they had confidence in him, and they knew whatever he would say would be in their best interest. For example, he asked his two employees to switch states because Phil felt the other would do a better job, and they performed better. His team never questioned his orders. The team members were proficient in their field of work, and they were best at their jobs. People relied on each other’s opinions whenever they had a task. And each one would contribute to yield the most optimal result.
We should also focus on building the right inner circle for our business, where employees work and think like owners.

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Lesson 5: Delegation Of Tasks

Each member of your team is a master of one thing or another. As an owner, you should be aware of the skills of your team members and assign them tasks accordingly. In Shoe Dog, Phil recalls how each member did their job to the best of their abilities. His lawyer was the best he ever met. He did some of the best deal negotiations for NIKE.
His future wife was an expert in doing the number’s work. Some members would meet sales guys and make sure these guys bought their products. His co-founder, Mr. Bowerman, was the force behind new shoes. He would experiment with new ideas to make their product better. And it worked very well for NIKE.

Lesson 6: Having Connections:

Having the right connections works in your favor. If you know someone who could reduce the number of barriers to building your product, you save time and become capable of doing many more things. When Phil went to Japan, a foreign land for him, his father’s connections at the printing press helped him to reach the shoe manufacturer efficiently.
When he worked for a small accounting firm, he worked for a CEO doing all the accounting work. It helped him understand the basics of a well-established business. Phil himself agreed that he learned a lot from him.
NIKE would not have been possible without another connection, Bill Bowerman. Not only was he the brains behind the shoe manufacturing, but he was also a professional coach with the network. He helped a lot in putting NIKE in every college and university and helped build the brand it is.

Lesson 7: No FEAR of Failure

Time and again, you find one common trait of every successful founder. They are not afraid of failing. In every situation, when things were not going their way or when they were not following the conventional wisdom, Phil always talks about how he would do anything to let his company survive and is not afraid to fail. He would instruct that they would need to make newer models of shoes, do more experiments, fail fast, and fail better. Each experiment would be in a forward direction. Some would fail. Some would not be worthy to launch. But some experiments would become the best-selling shoes for NIKE.
We should also become more open to trying new things. Find out what is working and what is not.

phil knight, shoe dog, book

Lesson 8: Fighting Spirit

One of the traits you learn after reading Shoe Dog is that you have to become a fighter to build a successful company. There will always be a problem, but the fighting mentality will allow you to face the challenge head-on and create a difference. Phil didn’t back down when a big player was after his distributorship. He did not stop when banks stopped giving him credit. He found a solution to problems when there was a delay in the order. Or the shipment was of the wrong sizes and colors. We also should learn to run towards our challenges and face them head-on instead of running away from them.

Lesson 9: Staying Honest

It is thought that successful empires are built on deceit and dishonesty, but you will realize that the journey of building NIKE was based on truth and honesty. This habit helped them thrive but also saved them when it mattered the most. The case came in their favor because of this. When they launched new products and had to recall them, they were expecting backlash, but it never came because of their truthful nature.
There is a crucial lesson for all of us on how to approach and deal with the people around the business.

Lesson 10: Gratitude

Recognizing the efforts of others is a necessary skill to develop if we want to excel in life. Phil knew this and was aware of the fact that you cannot do things alone in life. Not only this, he knew that there is always luck associated when you go on such a journey, and he also recognized the role of luck in his life. His life would have been completely different if he were to do any of the things he did, any differently.
As leaders of our lives and society, we must also understand that there are forces much beyond our expectations, and we must be thankful for the things we have and the people we have in our lives. And make the most out of the life we have.

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Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is an amazing book on leadership and a deep dive into the kind of effort it takes to become a success. The leadership skills will help you to get ahead in life and do the things you’ve always hoped for.


If you have read this book or are hoping to read it, do let us know about your experience by going to our forum below.

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