Shoe Dog Summary – A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, Phil Knight

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight, is a truly fantastic book, delving into his time building the sports apparel empire known as Nike. It depicts the struggles, triumphs, and everything in between that occurred to Knight during the creation of his business. This is a story of resilience and what humans can accomplish when you put forth your undying dedication.

This post is a summary of Shoe Dog, highlighting the best concepts and ideas we have got from reading it and we are also going to tell you whether it is worth reading the complete book.

Shoe Dog Summary

As mentioned, Shoe Dog documents the beginning stages and overall process that Knight took to build the brand, Nike. It primarily includes the timeframe of the 60s-80s, showcasing Knight’s many international travels and business triumphs. In contrast, Knight reflects on moments of slight failure or setbacks he had to overcome throughout the process.

Shoe Dog summary

Cleverly, Knight has composed this book with twenty chapters – each chapter presenting a unique year in his life. Not only does this book showcase the beginning stages of Nike Inc, but Knight also allows insight into the balancing act of a newly thriving businessman; who’s also a husband, son and father.

Through the engaging use of his life experiences, Knight openly shares with readers his many philosophies on life and business. He utilizes this book as a stark message for readers; to put forth immense effort and push forward in the pursuit of our calling(s), regardless of whether we’re presently aware of what that is.

Main Concepts & Ideas from Shoe Dog

Both the advice and concepts detailed throughout this story are presented through Knight’s moments of triumph and failure. Because of his esteemed notoriety, readers can be assured of the validity, appreciating the sincerity in the presentation of Knight’s recollection. Here are a few of the main concepts that are brought forward throughout this book;

Even the Largest Corporations We’re Once Small Start-Ups

As Knight explains, he did not just wake up one morning and Nike was the international sensation that it is now. The company had humble beginnings as ‘Blue Ribbon’ – in partnership with Bob Bowerman. The company was birthed from Knight’s increasing knowledge and concern over the sneaker market. At the time, only running shoes were available, leaving other categories wide open.

Through his travels and ability to make a business partnership with Onitsuka Tiger (known as, Tiger in the U.S), a Japanese shoe company, he began marketing shoes. He and Bowerman continued to expand the brand and product base, until it became the renowned brand, Nike.

Despite not being paid for years, Knight continued to progress his ambitions from that of a small no-name business, to an internationally respected corporation. He showcases this to further his message that even the smallest businesses have the capability to become large corporations, with the right team behind them.

Business Requires Perseverance and Determination

Detailed amongst many setbacks on his path to creating a shoe empire, Knight makes a point to mention how he never let this overcome him. He put his head down and continued the process, making necessary changes as he saw fit.

He explains how on more than one occasion, Nike was on the verge of complete bankruptcy – even noting that both Tiger and the US government sued them.

Despite this, Knight never gave up on his dreams and ambitions – making it so we’re all able to purchase Nike shoes and apparel to this day.

He explains that regardless of who or what is attempting to stop you, you must be determined to control the result of any given situation. This requires tremendous perseverance, but as Knight explains, the most meaningful things in life do.

Business is a Balance Between Intuitiveness and the Continuous Pursuit of Knowledge

As a content creator or business owner, Knight emphasizes the importance of remaining in connection with your intuition. He highlights this through the example of submitting the name Nike, initially. After the legal battle with Tiger, the company had to scramble to meet a deadline to rename and manufacture products. At the last moment, someone had mentioned Nike, the Greek word for victory. It was quickly dismissed, however, for Dimension Six or Falcon.

At the moment of sending the information off to the factory, Knight’s intuition began to kick in. Something was telling him to choose Nike, even noting that he began reminiscing over his meaningful experience in Greece, at the Parthenon.

He followed this intuitive feeling, changing the submission at the last moment to feature the name, Nike. Had Knight not followed this intuitive thought, the company may not have become what it is today.

Knight also speaks of the importance of continuing your pursuit of knowledge. He explains that versatility is an essential skill when learning – you must be willing to adapt and reeducate yourself.

He explains that when the first Nike factory was a conceptualized idea, he had no idea how to run one. He chose to commit himself to widen his knowledge base, as it was a necessity to furthering his business.

Who Should Read Shoe Dog?

While this can be categorized as both a memoir and a self-help book, it could also be enjoyed by any fan of Nike – giving insight on the brand’s founder. This makes this book a fantastic choice for lovers of multiple genres!

It’s an excellent resource for small business owners and start-up companies alike, but also offers excellent advice in terms of a person’s work ethic. Anyone looking for these sorts of insights, will greatly benefit from reading this book.

Review of Shoe Dog

I will preface this review by stating, I’m both a fan of Nike products and this book. I found that considering the book was written by the founder of the company, I was immediately reassured that the content would be factual.

Not to mention, there is truly no denying the immense fame and wealth of this corporation – making this book a highly insightful resource for a small business owner, like myself.

Lastly, I genuinely appreciated the transparency that Knight presented throughout this book – even detailing somewhat sensitive moments of failure. Whether you’re new to the realm of business, or you’re an experienced entrepreneur, there is something to gain from reading this book.


In conclusion, Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight, is both an engaging and perceptive book. Presented through the means of a crucial part of his life’s story, Knight takes us on the journey to creating the Internationally renowned brand, Nike.

Through offering readers an abundance of honest advice, Knight depicts how anyone can achieve their dreams as he did. Carrying a meaningful message for any reader, this book is both a worthwhile and highly recommended read.

Marilyn Nissen
Written by Marilyn Nissen

Marilyn Nissen is the founder of, a highly reputable book summary and reviews website. With over a decade of experience in summarizing and reviewing books, Marilyn is a trusted authority in the book industry.