Nike founder’s memoir a testament to American dream

Christopher Walker, Editor - in - Chief

Phil Knight, founder of iconic American athletic corporation Nike Inc., has written his memoir, “Shoe Dog,” chronicling the founding and early days of his company.

Deeply inspiring and thoroughly fascinating, “Shoe Dog” is a testament to the power of perseverance and the conviction to stay true to one’s calling through the most daunting of odds.

Many Americans and others around the world were not alive at a point in time when Nike was not the undisputed king of athletics. For the American youth, Nike has always existed; its global dominance has been taken for granted.

That is why this memoir is so fascinating: It paints a picture of a time when Nike was not the powerhouse it is today, when it was just another small company run out of a misfit college kid’s car trunk.

Nike could have failed for a million different reasons at countless moments; bankruptcy, lawsuits, and internal struggles could have doomed the corporation during its infancy, and “Shoe Dog” tells this important story.

The book reads less like a memoir and instead feels more along the lines of a first-person point-of-view novel. Riveting, exciting and inspiring, it is a testament to the quality of the prose how the reader goes through this emotional rollercoaster when the ending is known to every man, woman or child who has seen the globally iconic swoosh logo.

The memoir starts in Oregon, where oddball and hardheaded recent college graduate Phil Knight is unsure what to do with his life. A college track athlete, Knight envisions a future for himself in athletics, and he decides to try and become the sole American distributor of Japanese shoe company Onitsuka’s iconic “Tiger” shoes.

Knight forms Blue Ribbon Company to secure the deal, and is able to sell the Tiger shoes in America for several years. He lives at home and earns a scrappy living, barely being able to make ends meet. He recruits a small sales team who goes to college track events and sells the shoes.  

However, several years into their contract, Onitsuka betrays Blue Ribbon, and makes deals with multiple other American distributors to sell “Tiger” shoes. Knight gets wind of the betrayal several months before it is supposed to take place, and Blue Ribbon decides they have the groundwork and resources to make their own footwear.

They make a name change, design a logo and the rest is history.

The book follows Nike from this point until its initial public offering, when the company becomes available for the public to buy stocks in and increases the founding member’s wealth immeasurably.  “Shoe Dog” is one of the best books I have ever read, and it deserves to be read by any businessmen, aspiring entrepreneurs, or casual reader.

This book will make you believe in the American dream again.