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1-Page Summary of Shoe Dog
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is a memoir of his time building Nike. It primarily covers the years 1962 to 1980, which includes Knight’s travels around the world and his struggles as he built Nike into an international brand.
The book is divided into 20 chapters, each corresponding to a year in Knight’s life. He also talks about his struggles as he started and ran Nike, Inc., but he also reflects on the challenges of being a son, husband and father.
After completing his education, Phil Knight traveled around the world. While in Japan he met with executives at Onitsuka Tiger, a Japanese shoe company. They agreed to send him samples of their shoes so that he could sell them on the West Coast of America. He started selling them and partnered with Bob Bowerman who experimented with shoe design while Knight oversaw finances and other managerial duties for Blue Ribbon Sports, which eventually became Nike Inc., one of the most successful companies in the world.
Knight’s designs were inspired by Bowerman’s work as well as many iconic styles such as waffle trainers (also known as sneakers).
Nike faced many challenges in the early years, but Phil Knight never gave up. He told himself he would be successful, and eventually Nike became a multi-billion dollar brand that’s worn by athletes all over the world.
The narrator wakes up and goes for a run. He thinks about how he’s from Oregon, but that most people think little of importance happens there. Even though he has accomplished a lot in his life, such as attending the University of Oregon and getting an MBA from Stanford, he still feels like a kid. He decides that it would be nice to have his life feel like play; this makes him think about his Crazy Idea. While running faster, he imagines himself executing his idea and is excited at what might happen if it works out well. He tells himself to keep going no matter what happens because failure will not stop him from trying again later on.
Chapter 1: “1962”
Knight approaches his father as he watches television. Knight wants to ask for help with his Crazy Idea, which involves flying to Japan and finding a company with which he could partner to sell their shoes in the American market. He also envisions pairing this trip around the world with a trip to see many of the planet’s most beautiful and sacred sites, but he needs money from his father so that he can do all of this.
Knight suggests to his father that they take a trip around the world. His father agrees, and Knight prepares by buying new clothes and equipment. He also asks Carter if he wants to go with him, which Carter accepts. They fly from Oregon to San Francisco before going on to Hawaii where they stay for a while. After working different jobs in Hawaii, Knight decides it’s time to leave again so he flies off alone back home.
When visiting Tokyo, he notices that World War II is still present in the city. He takes a taxi to visit many of the sites and meets with two ex-GIs who have started a magazine about importing Japanese products. They give him important advice on how to do business with the Japanese, advising him not to be too aggressive when dealing with them.
Shortly after meeting with the GIs, Knight boards a train to Kobe to meet with Onitsuka. He is taken on a tour of their factory and led into a conference room where he sits at the head of the table. A man named Mr. Miyazaki asks him what company he represents; Knight says Blue Ribbon, after the ribbons on his wall in Oregon as a child. He tells them that there is big potential for Tiger shoes in America since they are not yet sold there. After his presentation, they ask him if he would like to represent Tiger shoes in America and agree to ship samples over when it’s convenient for him.