Shoe Dog by Phil Knight: Summary & Notes

Rating: 9/10

Available at: Amazon

Related: Losing My Virginity, How to Get Rich


One of the best business memoirs I’ve read. The story of Nike as told by cofounder Phil Knight is one of perseverance, luck, and skill, and there’s something for every entrepreneur to learn from the journey. Highly recommend.


  • Whatever comes, just don’t stop.
  • Selling becomes easy when you believe in what you’re selling. Belief is irresistible.
  • The first step doesn’t have to be your own product; you can sell something that exists, but is new to your area, instead (Knight imported shoes before creating his own).
  • The art of competing is the art of forgetting: forget your limits, your doubts, your pain, your past.
  • Lack of equity is a leading cause of failure.
  • Treat jobs as an internship: Knight honed his understanding of businesses while working in accounting for PwC.
  • Keeping a detailed database of contacts is the mark of a great salesman.
  • Balance in life isn’t always possible; you just have to be happy with the balance. Knight worked during the day and spent his evenings and weekends building the business, with no friends, exercise, social life.
  • “”If my life was to be all work and no play, I wanted my work to be play.”
  • The primary principle of accounting: assets equal liabilities plus equity.
  • The single easiest way to find out how you feel about someone: say goodbye.
  • Knight quit his job at age 31, going full-time at his company with a salary of $18,000 per year.
  • No matter the sport—or human endeavor—total effort will win people over.
  • Grow or die.
  • Change never comes as fast as we want it.
  • The answer to poverty is entry-level jobs. International trade always, always benefits both trading nations. Business is also a great deterrent to war.
  • When you’re young, think long and hard about how and who you want to spend your time with for the next forty years. Don’t settle for a job or a profession or a career: seek a calling, even if you don’t know what that means.
  • When you become one of the best, you’ll always have a target on your back.
  • Sometimes you have to give up. Sometimes knowing when to give up and try something else is genius. Giving up doesn’t mean stopping. Don’t ever stop.
  • Luck plays a big role. But the harder you work, the better your luck.

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