I did the audio book version of Shoe Dog: A Memoir by thee Creator of Nike and although it was over 15 HOURS long – it didn’t seem it. This book is fascinating. It flew by.

The first thing that struck me about the story was just how tenuous Blue Ribbon‘s (the company that became Nike) grip on success was. From the mid 1960’s to 1980, this company faced so many edge-of-the-seat financial struggles that it is a wonder it survived at all. Actually, it is a testimony of the constant stress of small business. It is a testament to the grit and determination required on a day-to-day basis.

Steve Prefontaine

I’ve never been a big fan of Nike, but this book certainly makes me appreciate the enormous task it was for Phil Knight and his rag-tag group of cohorts to fight the likes of unsavory partners, outright thieves and behemoths like Adidas and the US government.

What was surprising was how little mention of Michael Jordan was in the book.  This is because the book ends in 1980 when Nike went public. This was just prior to the addition of Jordan and the meteoric rise of the company following the introduction of the “Air Jordan.” It did however, lay out some great information about Nike’s involvement with, sponsorship of and support by Steve Roland “Pre” Prefontaine. It reads as a well-deserved homage to one of America’s greatest middle distance runners.

If you are in business, you will love Shoe Dog. It certainly gives you inspiration when the next issue props up or you need to put in some extra late nights, have some soul-searching conversations with partners or just take consolation that “this too shall pass.”

Shoe Dog kept me company through many road trips across and around Texas and it was a wonderful journey.

by Chris Doelle