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Shoe Dog Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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Let’s cut to the chase. This will be a great read for anybody, but if you’re thinking about starting a business, especially a business that you expect to grow, this book belongs on your must-read list. You’ll learn things that you won’t learn anywhere else and you’ll learn things that you can only learn from a story.
You’ll learn about the constant struggle to fund growth. Most of the books about entrepreneurship don’t tell you about that. If you start a business and that business starts to grow, you are funding the process out ahead of your cash flow. The result is that you’re chronically cash poor, even when you’re fabulously profitable, and that is both counterintuitive and very tough to manage.
You’ll also learn about the plusses and minuses of going public. There’s a lot here about relationships and values, and staying true to what you think is important. There are lessons about how putting people in the right job makes all the difference. And, there are lessons about balancing being a hero at work with being a parent at home.
There are also important lessons about not taking yourself too seriously. Knight describes the “executive retreats” that Nike would have. They called them “Buttface sessions.” The name came from one of the early employees who said that Nike was the only company their size where you could shout out “Hey, buttface!” and the entire management team would turn around.
There’s another important thing, too. If you think that innovation is only something that high-tech companies do, or that it requires coding, read this book. A lot of Nike’s success comes from being an innovator in shoes.
Shoe Dog is superbly written, and you’ll enjoy it if you just read it as a story. But if you’re in business, and especially if you’re starting a business and wanting to make it grow, this book should be on your must-read list. Keep it handy, right near Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing about Hard Things.
Toward the end of the book, Phil Knight says this:
“God, how I wish I could relive the whole thing. Short of that, I’d like to share the experience, the ups and downs, so that some young man or woman, somewhere, going through the same trials and ordeals might be inspired or comforted. Or warned. Some young entrepreneur, maybe, some athlete or painter or novelist, might press on.”
I think he achieved his goal. If you want some seasoned advice to help you run and grow your company, or if you just want to read a great business memoir, pick up a copy of Shoe Dog: A Memoir by The Creator of Nike.
As the reader contemplates upon approaching the very first page… “Hey… this is the story of Nike… from the hand… heart… and mind… of the founder!”… And literally from the very first page… (If you’ll excuse the unintended pun)… you’re off and running. Mr. Knight grabs every ounce of your interest immediately… and before you know it… you’re being taken around the world… to every stop imaginable… from viewing the work of Michelangelo… to Viet Nam… to Russia… and Japan… seasoned with literary… and historical enlightenment… with the author’s intellectual embellishments… and commentary… such as… “EVEN THE SISTINE CHAPEL. ALONE UNDER MICHELANGELO’S CEILING, I WAS ABLE TO WALLOW IN MY DISBELIEF. I READ IN MY GUIDEBOOK THAT MICHELANGELO WAS MISERABLE WHILE PAINTING HIS MASTERPIECE. HIS BACK AND NECK ACHED. PAINT FELL CONSTANTLY INTO HIS HAIR AND EYES. HE COULDN’T WAIT TO BE FINISHED, HE TOLD FRIENDS. IF EVEN MICHELANGELO DIDN’T LIKE HIS WORK, I THOUGHT, WHAT HOPE IS THERE FOR THE REST OF US?”
If you’re expecting simply a business book… or sports book… you’ll on one hand be greatly disappointed... but on the other hand… you are going to be… (Excuse the not quite poetic word to follow)… flabbergasted! The early parts of the book are more reminiscent of Hemingway’s “ADVENTURES OF A YOUNG MAN”… than “The Jordan Rules”. Though Knight is highly educated… having graduated from The University of Oregon… with a master’s degree… from Stanford… as well as passing the CPA test… as a matter of necessity to help earn a living… while investing everything he had and more in Blue Ribbon Sports… the pre-cursor of Nike… the reason I have taken the time to outline his educational portfolio… is because one of my fears when I bought this book… was that the genius of a multi-multi-billion-dollar-company… might not only talk down to the average reader… but at the same time… talk “way-above-the-average-reader”. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The author has such a beautiful… easy to follow… almost… “Every-man”… manner… that you literally get caught up in his life… and story… like you’re serenely floating down a gentle free flowing river… without a care in the world. His writing style is so engaging… and all the while… he also has an almost silky… mild… tongue-in-cheek… self-observational… self-denigrating… wit about him. Additionally he has the ability of “quick” beautiful spot-on poetic jabs… such as summarizing problems between his Mother and Father: “WHEN THAT CONSENSUS DIDN’T WORK, THERE WERE DIFFICULT DAYS. AND NIGHTS. MY FATHER TURNED TO DRINK. MY MOTHER TURNED TO STONE.” Or describing the setting when he had a meeting with idol… former coach… and business partner… Bill Bowerman…. “WE SAT ON THE WIDE PORCH, LOOKING DOWN AT THE RIVER. IT SPARKLED LIKE A SILVER SHOELACE.”
The author shares his loves lost… and won… his belief in certain people… and their belief in him… and the sacrifices… they made for him. His management style over the years… some of the kooky characters he dealt with… and going from a person who didn’t really believe in… or understand… advertising… to what the world knows today. And of course embedded throughout… his… and the worlds… dealings… with… and understanding… of Japan… from the war years on. This book was a joy to read… and to reiterate… the author… has a wonderful… captivating… writing style… that combined with the mountains… he climbed… and conquered…
If you ask me… whether you should read this book or not… I would say… “JUST-DO-IT!”
NOTE: There is a mistake on page 319. On December 9, 1977 in a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets… perhaps the most devastating punch ever thrown in a non-boxing-wrestling sporting event was thrown by The Los Angeles Lakers Kermit Washington in the midst of a brawl to a charging Rudy Tomjanovich of Houston’s head. The author mistakenly wrote “Houston’s Kermit Washington.”
Knight was no management genius. He just happened to be lucky to find Bowerman and others who made the company. And by the way, how did Bowerman go from owning 50% of the company which was reduced down to 9% when Nike went public???? To me this guy should have owned 50% all the way through.
A former Agent banker from the 1990's