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Book cover for Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog

Author: Phil Knight

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Autobiography

Themes: Memoir, Business

Format: Audiobook

Finished: June 5, 2017

Purchase link

Here is the quote from Ryan Holiday’s reading list email that got me to pick up the book:

Ostensibly the memoir of the founder of Nike, it’s really the story of a lost kid trying to find meaning in his life and it ends with him creating a multi-billion dollar company that changes sports forever. I’m not sure if Knight used a ghostwriter (the acknowledgements are unclear) but his personal touches are all over the book–and the book itself is deeply personal and authentic. The afterward is an incredibly moving reflection of a man looking back on his life.

I binge-listened to this book over the course of three days. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it, even if you (like me) aren’t into sports. It is so much more than a Nike story.

I enjoy reading autobiographies because they provide a glimpse of how the author views themselves, their accomplishments and failures, how they thought about the situations they encountered, and how they approached everyday life. Sometimes those autobiographies reveal that the accomplished person doesn’t think clearly or humbly at all, in which case you should take their ideas with a grain of salt. Others reveal that their character, thoughtfulness, and humbleness run much deeper than traditional biographies picked up on.

Shoe Dog came out on the right side of this. Phil Knight confronts his struggles and failings head-on, discusses deeply personal situations, tells the stories of how he took leaps of faith to get off the ground, and lays out the lessons he learns along the way. The book ends just as Nike starts to get big, which positions Knight well for a follow-up book.