Read: January 2023

Inspiration: As a sports fan, I wanted to learn more about the story of Nike and its founder


Written with the help of ChatGPT, below is a brief summary to understand what is covered in the book.

“Shoe Dog”, published in 2016 by author and Nike co-founder Phil Knight, is a memoir that chronicles the journey of building one of the world’s most recognizable brands. Knight takes readers on a rollercoaster ride of his entrepreneurial journey from the company’s humble beginnings to its eventual success. He shares the ups and downs of the business, including the challenges of securing financing, navigating legal disputes, and managing the company’s rapid growth. The book is a testament to the power of perseverance and the importance of taking risks in pursuit of one’s dreams. Overall, “Shoe Dog” is an inspiring read that offers valuable insights into what it takes to build a successful business.

Unedited Notes

Direct from my original book log, below are my unedited notes (abbreviations and misspellings included) to show how I take notes as I read.

Phil Knight born in Oregon, amidst world wars, to U Oregon then Stanford Biz then military for a year, then lost so go travel all over (moved to Hawaii for a bit), had idea in biz school to import shoes from Japan so go to Japan to scope out imports as part of travels–“Crazy Idea”, think can import and be lower priced, borrow from parents to travel–take risk, begin selling 1964 Tigers from Japan—take loan from dad, shoes cheap for 6.95, mail order biz grow as Phil go to track meets to pitch runners, former coach at Oregon Bowerman join at 49% partner before launch b/c believe, called biz Blue Ribbon—exclusive American distributor of Onitsuka shoes, brief issue with competing east coast distributor so to Tokyo to fix and get one year west coast exclusivity, sister was employee 1 then Jeff Johnson 2 as first salesman, Boweran always tinker with runner shoes for Oregon team and do same with Tigers—suggest tweaks to improve, late ’66 get exclusive all US distro rights (competition no more), continue to double sales in each of first 3 years—new east coast office, Knight work as accountant to pay rent then quit to teach so more time for Blue Ribbon, grow to 300k sales 1969, adidas and puma big competitors (run by brothers who hate each other), Bowerman fame grow at Mex City olympics 68, Woddall was early employee and ex-runner who was crippled in accident—1970 mother loan Knight savings to keep biz running as bank very strict on lending with no cash in bank account since all reinvested, 1971 cross 1 million in sales but trouble as Onitsuka disappointed and want more/other distributors, so Knight had to look elsewhere and stall—to plant in Mexico, employee 1 Johnson had idea to call Nike last second before initial Mexico order for soccer shoes test, Knight needed new bank too, 1974 sales cross 4 million but sued by Onitsuka and to trial, also not profitable so investors anxious, Knight not handle questioning well—had done sketchy things such as steal for Japanese lawyer briefcase, 1974 yen volatility begin and labor costs up so have to rapidly shift production—find factory in Exeter to rebuild (big change) but pace for 8mm sales and new celeb endorsers continue, 1975 growing but cash flow struggle as inventory skyrocket—Bank of California drop them, owe 1m to creditor and 1m to Nissho—then find out Bank of Cali report to FBI as think fraud, Prefontaine was hugely popular American runner/recordholder from Oregon who rep Nike—die suddenly 1975 at 24 in accident driving from party, Bowerman’s Waffle Trainer shoes patented and take off ’76–add blue colorway and become everyday wear not just athletic, incorporate as Nike ’76 from Blue Ribbon, dollar vs yen swinging so decide need to focus on Taiwan production (US prod’n small)—go to tour small factories which can be biggest customer, 1976 at 14 mill sales and keep considering going public as need cash by Knight refuse to avoid culture change and beholden to shareholders, 1977 M. Frank Rudy (former engineer) and Bob Bogery present Nike with “air soles” idea—revolutionary shoe design change, 1977 US customs send bll for $25m on archaic retroactive import duty law pushed by Converse and other competitors to stop Nike’s success, 70m sales 1977 and track for 140mm by 1979 but Knight near burnout—always worried by problems on horizon and not being great father, by end of ’78 lean into apparel to truly overtake adidas, 78 launch Tailwind with Rudy’s design but fail miserably as recall—too many innovations in 1 new shoe, had connections to fight off federal fine, ’80 turn to china for production as taiwan and korea face similar issues that japan did, then ’80 also decide to go public via 2 share classes so inner circle not lose control but raise cash, settle with feds for $9mm, had to now navigate gvt in Beijing, dec 2 1980 go public at $22/sh, same week as Apple, instantly worth ~200mm but keep going, value all along: transparency, honesty, and trust/success follows

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Welcome to JeffReads, where I share summaries of the best books I’ve read on business, politics, science, technology and more.




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