Shoe Dog: A dynamic anecdote of Mr. Knight’s business child
The United States of America……whenever we think of this country something aspirational comes to our mind. We keep on visualizing of the tall skyscrapers looming on the skyline of New York city as if it epitomizes a benchmark for success. With a vibrant and a dynamic business culture, this country has witnessed innumerable brands of most aspirational value in the world with over billions of dollars in turnover. Nike being one of them has been aspirational to many such young boys and girls as well to many fashion enthusiasts. The book “Shoe Dog” gives us an insight about what really goes on to create such an aspirational brand. The tale is a self-narrative of the founder, Mr. Phil Knight which is an evidence of what goes into the process if you wish to “cash in” into your passionate idea.
A fresh grad out of business school Mr. Knight craved to fulfil the mission of importing high quality running shoes from Japan. But such an unconventional mission meant that most of the people did not showcase a very optimistic attitude towards Mr. Knight, as it was just a couple of decades ago that the world war II had resulted a set back in the bilateral relations between the Japanese and Americans. Yet Mr. Knight risks himself of undertaking the mission and experiences a turbulent ride in undertaking his mission. His journey of nurturing his business child Nike has got all ups and downs like the crests and troughs of a sinusoidal wave. From regular cash flow problems to managing the dirty politics played by rivals Phil Knight describes all the problems that he had to tackle. Operating a business has got its own merits but the demerits are enough to throw you to depression and anxiety. From cultural differences between Japan and America to synchronizing with regular supply and demand to quality checks, every such glitch can mean death of your business child if not taken seriously. Convincing your investors, employees, bureaucrats and business partners to divert to your way of thinking is one of the most common people management skill you would need if you want to become your own boss.
Phil Knight also describes the wins that you would encounter in your missions but those successes must not push you to your comfort zone which can be lethal both to your personality as well as to your business child. Mr. Knight also emphasizes on the importance of relationships in life. Maintaining relationships with people at all level filled with optimistic attitudes will help you to cruise effortlessly in all sorts of tough situations. But maintaining such quality relationships require you to have a win-win thinking and an empathic attitude towards people.
The most important take away from this book can be summarized as to build some aspirational brand, your company need not to make a great product or hire the best CEO. It has to do with building and maintaining great spirit amongst all the stakeholders. The very tagline of the brand “ Just do it” is very inspirational and as aspiring as owning a Nike shoe. Sometimes in the process of building something great…..something that just sticks to the minds of the people we tend to ignore the average people. We often search for the great talents and minds. But as highlighted by Mr. Knight that although associating your brand with a great mind might give you a competitive edge but in the end if you can maintain great spirits that will motivate the average minds to synergize all their energies and create something extraordinary.
So this book is a must read for all those who have a dream of building something aspirational in their life and with its simple narrative style it is very self explanatory. The only drawback of this narrative is that Mr. Knight often uses numbers to depict the business situations mainly the credits and debts. This can induce boredom to people who are not quite familiar with the methodologies to interpret those numbers. With that this book will surely be one of the most preferred in your reading list as it would surely score a 8 out of 10 points as per my rating standards.