We all have seen those Nike commercials encouraging us to push the boundaries, to keep evolving, to keep getting better and to be a stronger self. More than mere pieces of communication they are small bites of the spirit which this brand stands for. Therefore last christmas when my secret Santa gifted me Shoe Dog, a memoir by Phil Knight himself, I was delighted. I looked forward to read the story behind this icon. A brand which has been so consistently seeding aspirations while selling shoes. And this memoir does tell that story so beautifully. Not many could have imagined at the time that an idea born out of a college project, with years of sweat, toil and an indomitable spirit would shape up into one of the most iconic brand of our times. It is a story which is so befitting of what Nike wants you to do in all those commercials.
While you read this candidly written autobiography you realise that Phil Knight is also a master storyteller. He easily onboards you on this journey which started in 1962 with his first visit to Japan to meet Onitsuka Inc. This meeting began it all. He in a moment of spontaneity had struck a deal with them, having formed an imaginary company Blue Ribbon Sports on the spot. Blue Ribbon would actually come into existence only after he got back with a contract to distribute Onitsuka’s shoes in a few states in US. What follows is a roller coaster ride which Phil would take along with his one time coach and business partner Bill Bowerman . Along with him were his team, equally driven and most of them misfits in a sporting arena. The journey is vividly unfolded with anecdotes about how everyone came to be part of it. They throw light on the role Phil’s family members played and how they all also evolved as he went from strength to strength along with his team. How his father who seemed disapproving on the outside did support him through the years, an art only fathers have. How his mother’s silently but strong conviction lent him the strength he needed when his idea needed to take off. And his sisters who were the first employees. Then there are his own personal ups and downs. Sacrifices and failures.
The book connects at a level that you start feeling every up and down which these guys went through and finally made their mark. You feel joyous at every milestone and a little disappointed at every setback. It motivates you to find your calling and then give it your all with a never say die attitude. It underlines the importance of your family .It shows what a great culture and a bunch of like minded people with an unfailing spirit can do to an organisation. It leaves with you spirit of “Just Do it”.
“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path yourself,”
― Phil Knight