Write Your Own Story: Life Lessons Shoe Dog Taught Us


Hi MAGS, Marian here! One of the things that has helped me along my entrepreneurial journey is reading about the stories and lives of other entrepreneurs. It’s the primary reason we look to promote and highlight millennial entrepreneurs on our platform. Reading about an entrepreneur teaches you a lot about patience, strength and perseverance. Hearing the stories of others reminds you that whatever you want to achieve is indeed possible.

One of my favourite entrepreneurial stories is “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight. The book starts off in 1962, where the Nike founder shares the story of how Nike actually started. After graduating from the University of Oregon, Knight decides to travel to Asia with the crazy idea of infiltrating the shoe market and starting a company of his own. He literally sets off to find a supplier without a legit business model or name. BRAVE! The story eventually provides a wonderful illustration of the trials and tribulations of being ambitious, being the underdog and eventually becoming both an American and global powerhouse. The story is truly inspiring. Here are some of the I lessons from the Phil Knight and Nike story:


Phil Knight set out for Asia with a dream I don’t even think he took very seriously. Through the pursuit of travel and growth, he eventually established a shoe business. Though his business venture didnt take off right away, Knight kept the dream alive and kept working towards it.


Even when Knight is able to sell some shoes, he keeps working as a professor in pursuit of survival and for the sake of his dream. This simply shows that goals and dreams aren’t reached in a day. They can take YEARS! It also reveals that the pursuit of success and happiness does not end simply because we must work jobs that do not coincide with our dream businesses. Spend time honing your skills and developing your own plans. Don’t spend all of your time contributing to the betterment of someone elses’ creation and leave yours aside.


Surround yourself with hardworking, supporting people who understand what you want for yourself. Surround yourself with individuals who are committed to their own dreams and are willing to encourage you along the way. As much as you look for people to support you, be a supportive individual as well! There were several instances in the book where Phil Knight took chances on individuals that knew nothing about running a shoe company, but were committed to the cause and as a result, contributed to the company’s overall success.


At the end of the book, Phil talks about Nike’s ongoing plan to keep making the shoe game, sports and the world, better. Even though he has retired from the company, it’s clear that his vision will always guide the goals of the company. He also makes it clear that he knows Nike will outfit many generations to come (including millennials!). He understands the race will continue and he has simply passed on the baton.


Throughout the book, I found that despite his success, Knight always expressed his gratitude. Even when Nike was yet to be the sport apparel powerhouse it is today, Phil shared his appreciation for the journeys he took, his coach, the people that worked for him and even the athletes that would eventually sign to the Nike brand. One of my favourite parts of the book is when he describes an encounter with NBA phenom Lebron James (who has proven to be one of Nike’s greatest athlete investments) where he explains to Mr. Knight how grateful he was for the Nike brand and for the chance they took on him. This taught me to always be kind, thank the individuals that help you along the way and always remain grateful, regardless on how successful you become.

As entrepreneurs, your experiences will become vital to your businesses. Make the most out of them. In the midst of failure, pick yourself up and try again and allows aim to do better.

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