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Shoe dog, an autobiography from the creator of Nike

Kirjoitettu 11.11.19
Esseen kirjoittaja: Petra Heikkinen
Kirjapisteet: 3
Kirja: Shoe Dog: a Memoir by the Creator of Nike
Kirjan kirjoittaja: Phil Knight
Kategoriat: 1. Oppiminen, 6.3. Brandi ja mielikuvien kehittämisen työkalut

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An autobiography from the creator of Nike.

I read the book Shoedog, by the creator of Nike. The book tells the life story of the creator of Nike, Phil Knight. The book goes through Knight’s life from being a young boy passionate about running at Stanford university to his life as a CEO of a worldwide sportswear imperium.

Young Phil, as a Standford university graduate, during his backpacking trip around the world had the vision of traveling and seeing the world and hopefully finding his thing in life, and eventually getting to Japan and getting to know more of the Japanese shoe industry. He got there, and through Americans that he got to know there, he got to meet Onitsuka, his first shoe supplier. He was made the leading distributor of Tigers in America as a result of the meeting. This was the start of the company Blue Ribbon, that started from the basement of Phil’s parents’ house, expanding slowly to an office, couple offices, and eventually developed into a strong global presence among other sportswear brands.

During his trip around the world as a young man Phil tried like work as an encyclopedia salesman to see what he would like to do and learn sales. This didn’t work out and he ended up with a terrible experience with sales and so he deducted from that: “I am not a salesperson”. However, it later becomes obvious that passion towards the product is what is needed when doing sales, when the Tiger running shoes weren’t hard to sell, it came down to the seller: what are his thoughts about the product? In this case it was faith that made him better at selling, because he genuinely believed in the product. This is because faith is what sells. Phil had never ending faith that better running shoes would change the world to the better. He believed that the world will become a better place when you improve the touch between the earth and it’s dwellers. This started the creation of the powerful brand of Nike.

First, Phil started the business with his former coach Bill Bowerman, and went on adding people little by little. There were many challenges with team leadership, and I appreciated how the book explained about them in detail. The faith in the product as well as the business kept the Blue Ribbon team going through all the tough times.

There are many times throughout the book that the Blue Ribbon crew expresses their disgust towards the corporate culture, and that is exactly why they wanted to do business by themselves instead of going public, even if the financial situation was extremely tight for years. The Blue Ribbon culture was so different from the corporate culture, and they did not want that to eat up their own working culture that could be described as ‘a little crazy’. The team spirit at the Blue Ribbon is tangible though, throughout the book, and it is one of the things that I really remember. Because of this, Nike is not just a shoe brand, it is also a culture. A big family, in which Nike’s star athletes were included as well. I believe this is a key part of why Nike grew to be so successful.

Blue Ribbon changed its name to Nike after the distribution of the Tiger shoes was nearing its end, due to arguments and disagreements with the Onitsuka manager Kitami. This is when Blue ribbon had organized the making of its own shoes, designed largely by Bill Bowerman.

One of the biggest realizations that the book emphasized is that the best things don’t come easy. During the early years of the company Phil has all the reasons to stop trying, as problems after problems came his way. However he decided to be persistent and believed in himself and the message of the company and through banks signing out of any collaboration, international frauds, and 25million dollar fines from the US government, led the company to victory.

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