Shoe Dog is one of those books I came across thanks to Amazon’s suggestions. To be honest, I had no idea who Phil Knight was but I’m a big fan of biographies — auto and otherwise- and since I was curious about that all-too-familiar Nike Swoosh, I just had to have it. So, I got onto my Amazon (Prime) account, pressed that enticing yellow buy button and received the coveted little brown packet in the mail the very next day. When I opened the box and took out the hardbound book, my roommate took one look at it, judged the book by its cover and sarcastically praised my ability to pick ‘boring’ books. I couldn’t get started on the book right away because I was just finishing another four up (I can’t multitask beyond 4 books) so I put it on my bedside table hoping to get to it soon.
The next day I came back from work only to see my roommate’s nose deeply immersed in a big black book with a familiar red logo on its cover. Turns out Bill Gates named Shoe Dog as one of his top books of 2016 on his Twitter account, and since his word clearly trumps mine, she thought she’d give it a go. As you could’ve guessed by now, she’s no fan of biographies but she just could not put this one down. After a few days she was done with it, and finally after all those recommendations by Amazon, Bill Gates and my roommate, I managed to get my hands on it.
The book, really is, one of the best biographies I’ve ever read.
What stands out most is Phil Knight’s narration — it doesn’t feel like a biography of a businessman who created one of the most widely recognised brands in the world but rather the story of a young man with a dream and his many, many struggles as he tried to keep his company afloat and somehow survive while raising a young family himself. The more I read, the more I admired this behemoth of a brand whose logo looks out at you from windows in every mall and which every kid recognises at just a glance. I couldn’t believe the sweat, blood and tears that had to be shed for so many years for Nike to even exist. I couldn’t help but think what a wonderful time-capsule biographies usually are — the biographer’s constant struggle to get to God-knows-where, but written only years later in retrospect from God-knows-where that usually turns out to be its-actually-quite-nice-up-here. I’ve heard people who aren’t into biographies often say you already know who this person is, why do you care about their life. What these people often miss, is that these people who have books written about them now, are not just about that—the truly inspirational people are the ones who reach the top through relentless struggle and their journey is a goldmine of lessons for anyone willing to embark on an ambitious trail themselves. Shoe Dog, is just that.
Phil Knight painstakingly takes you through his life as he builds and re-builds Nike in the pages of the book. You can’t help but empathise with every struggle he went through, feel joy for every little success he had, silently cheer him on through every hurdle he faced. After reading the book, you will come out on the other side with an even deeper emotional connection with your new friend Phil and the ubiquitous Swoosh.