I don't often do book recommendations (maybe I should do more?) but I've just finished the brilliant book "SHOE-DOG" and I have to tell you about it. It's a memoir, written by the founder of Nike - the legend that is Phil Knight. And it is very, very, very inspirational.
It's odd to think of Nike as a startup - run from a back bedroom in Oregon 🇺🇸 by a guy in his mid-twenties. The story begins in 1962, even before there was a company - it ends in 1980. In between is an absolutely epic ride! I found myself laughing, (almost) crying and feeling some of the stress and anxiety that Phil went through as he followed the entrepreneurial path - with all its risks, victories, highs and lows.
It's expertly written (almost like a novel!) in an easy to read narrative. But at the same time, it’s a biography. It does not pull any punches, explaining even the most controversial of decisions. A must-read (I'd suggest) for CEOs and entrepreneurs who want to understand what it takes.
Along the way I picked up a few valuable lessons:
➡️ Never stop innovating - it gives you the edge on the competition. This is what took Nike from a tiny startup to competing with giants like Adidas and Puma.
➡️ Make it safe - Nike had a leadership team who felt safe around each other - this is how Nike overcame some of its darkest moments. Making people feel safe allows the honest conversations to happen and creativity to thrive.
➡️ Stay grounded - know your purpose and spirit. For Nike it was all about the spirit of running and the dream of victory. Phil hired and promoted people based on their attitude to these values.
➡️ Trust your people - Phil often threw his most loyal team-members into the deep end. He trusted they would swim not sink - and they did!
➡️ Share with those who love you - Phil talks about how he shared the rollercoaster ride with his father and wife. They helped him through and kept him honest.
➡️ Never stop learning - Phil was always learning and encouraging others to do so. Not academically - but practically with a hands-on approach.
➡️ Have a global approach - The book explains the interesting dynamics of manufacturing in the far east, importing and exporting and leveraging different markets all contributed to the successes (and a few failures!) of Nike.
➡️ Do what is needed - Phil travelled, learnt, adapted, changed suppliers, set up factories. His bravery and steps into the unknown in the quest for victory are what built Nike.
He has some interesting insights into the naming and creation of the brand identity of Nike too - but I'll leave these for you to discover!
All in all, I’d give it 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. A brilliant and thrilling read uncovering the unconventional wisdom of what it means to succeed in business.
If you want to be inspired, pick up a copy on Amazon here >> - you won't regret it!