“Just read it” – Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike


Throat constricted. 

Lost for words. 

I’ve got a few tears in my eyes during some parts of the book. But tears were literally streaming down my face when I reached the final chapter of this Nike memoir. 

It would be normal to cry for novels. And I’ve done that too many times. But for the memoir? Real life story? Never have I imagined a real life story could move me this much emotionally. 

Recently, when I’ve read stories of people making efforts after efforts fighting for their passion and belief in some of my books, I’ve got teared up at some certain moments. For some reasons. Funny, isn’t it? 

Grit and perseverance. Somehow, that really moved me. 

In this memoir, Phil Knight words and feelings truly touch my heart. There’s something about his novel-like writing style, almost like I’m reading his diary, while he was sharing his own experiences from day 1 of his Crazy Idea back in 1962. Along the journey, he told us all, unfolding everything in front of us. His writing feels very sincere, even intense, expressing shiny moments and many more dark moments of entrepreneurship. 

He wrote everything without holding back, at least that’s the feeling I’ve got. The reason I probably like this book the most, is that I don’t feel any sugar-coating in his writing. Not even bragging about the success (And it’s Nike we are talking about here!). On the contrary, I feel he is too humble and it’s shown in his writing! If anything, I felt his worries, insecurities, self-doubt, issues after issues to solve, obstacles, fights after fights, along those 20 year journey before the company went public in 1980. He captured the feeling of a start-up owner so perfectly; struggling, feeling lost and unsure of what to do next, but he and his team had been relentless and kept going and going and going, simply because he did not want to lose. 

It reminds me that it’s normal to feel unsure! It’s perfectly ok to feel lost. You have to find the purpose, of what makes it all worth fighting for. This book is a great example of showing why and what they all fight for. 

I feel overwhelmed by the passion and belief that he’s building more than “sports things” Nike is more than business. It’s what connects people, enables people to dream. He believed he has built it, and this is what he was searching for when he was fresh out of college traveling around the world, and first started Nike in 1962. 

But oh boy, was it easy. Of course it never was. The story threw myself in a wrench, when the company got kicked out of the bank, no cash flow (Throwback memories to my first accounting class at 9AM in University of Bath, and Mike our professor yelling “Cash is king”), and the fight with the U.S. government a few years afterwards. Even we all know the outcome that everything was ok in the end, the stress and worries at that time must have been too much to bear. I simply couldn’t imagine. 

Knight used the word “Maybe” a lot. Even when he talked about the iconic swoosh logo (costed $35, designed by a college student), “Not the best, maybe it will grow on me” One chapter after another, I feel his feeling of lost and uncertainty, more than I could count, on those early days of building Nike. 

And he shared his regrets and other mistakes in life as well. It’s a trade-off between work and family, isn’t it? The part when he mentioned that his own son refused to wear Nike shoes because Nike took his dad away almost broke my heart. Imagine his. 

I’ve loved this book so much because it sounds SO REAL. And it speaks directly to the heart. Beautifully written, too. It’s almost like he crafted it. I still try to figure out if Knight did write it himself. But I don’t see any other writer names on and inside the cover. 

This moved me so much that I had to watch some YouTube interview to see what this man is like in person. Nothing striked me more than the clarity of his speech and, is that the determination I see in his eyes? at the age of 78. So well-composed. 

What can I say but read it? Just read it. My best book of 2016 so far. Read it if you wish to be inspired. For anyone. 

Last but not least, I have to thank my long-lost middle school friend who recommended this book under a comment on Facebook, on my photo of the first Nike pair I own posted only a couple weeks ago, Nike free run. For once, I love social media for connecting people together and, this time, making me discover another special, meaningful book.