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Book Review: Get Set and Go

The book has anecdotes from great philosophers and historical battles through out —and beautifully interlinks the same with real life situations in startups and business enterprises

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Shoe Dog is a phenomenal story of Phil Knight — an American who rose from a small town to create the most iconic brand Nike. Knight served as the CEO of Nike from 1964 to 2004 and is now a Board chairman.

In Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike (Simon & Schuster), Knight states the real life lessons and the obstacles he faced in trying to create something. Shoe Dog is an epic tale of Knight’s faith, determination, excellence, failure (quite a few of them), triumph, and his hard-earned wisdom. Each one of them is a priceless read. There is also a fantastic narrative around his tryst with love during this journey. It’s especially a great read because Knight has traditionally been very media shy, hence a lot of this comes as an exciting surprise to readers like us.

The book begins with Knight fresh out of business school. Caught between the societal pressure of working in a ‘socially acceptable’ job and the need to follow his dreams, he borrowed $50 from his father and launched a dream with one simple mission: getting highest-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan to help runners. Selling these shoes from the trunk of his truck, he managed to gross $8,000 in the first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales are at $30 billion and it is one of the most admired brands globally. Part autobiography, part business lesson, the book has anecdotes from great philosophers and historical battles through out —and beautifully interlinks the same with real life situations in startups and business enterprises.

Being a startup, I could relate to almost every word of it. I specially loved the part where it highlights how the entire world expects ‘acceptable stereotypes’ from you; the bankers, parents, ruthless competitors, etc. And this is where Knight’s journey to the top scores brownie points. A phenomenal narration of a bold vision getting transformed into one of the biggest companies in the world — and one of the biggest brands. Success does not come overnight; and that is the message in Knight’s book.

What will also catch your attention while reading this book is the bold, risky and on-the-spot decision making of the founder. In one of his meetings with his Japanese vendors, Knight is asked if he has offices on the East coast and he immediately confirms the same even though he did have any office (or any employee to work there and above all any cash or facility from bank to fund the next purchase order, which he promptly accepts).

The drive to continue what one is doing and the ability to be able to decipher those silent nonchalant voices which guide you is communicated beautifully through this book. The simple way in which the name Nike was chosen is also interesting. The company also chose it as the ‘non obvious choice’ and said ‘maybe it’ll grow on us’ — and yes, it did.

Knight’s story is something that every entrepreneur in India can relate to — and aspire to recreate. I hope a few of us are able to create organisations as iconic as Nike in the years to come.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Hitesh Gossain

Gossain is CEO,

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