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5 life lessons from Shoe Dog: ‘Just Do It’ (and don’t ever stop)

There’s nothing better to switch off and clear the head than putting on a pair of Nike runners, sticking a podcast on, and getting outside and pounding the pavement for an hour or two.

Sometimes, I get my best ideas whilst on my runs.

Have I ever been running and had the idea come into my head that I want to sell Japanese shoes from the back of my car? A path that would eventually lead me to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar, multi-national company?

Nah. I did once decide on one of my long runs that I wanted to set up my own coffee business, the kind that influencers would want to come to and Instagram the shit out of their flat whites though.

Same thing.

So I didn’t get that idea. But 58 years ago, Phil Knight did.

More than an autobiography

I promise I’m not in the business of writing book reviews. I promise I’m not sponsored by Nike but I’ll happily take a few free pairs of runners if anyone is offering…

I’m not into autobiographies and when Shoe Dog was first recommended to me, I wrote it off as a rags to riches tale. A “I had it hard but now I’m turning over $30+ billion a year” type of tale.

But this isn’t just an autobiography. Inspiring, motivational, business manual (what to do and what not to do) – all of these words can be used to describe Shoe Dog.

It had been a very long time since I’d read book that I could not put down but Shoe Dog broke that long spell.

Nike or Dimension Six?

The story of Nike is far from smooth. After borrowing $50 from his father and literally working his way to Japan, he secured the first ever deal to import Japanese running shoes to America’s west coast without actually owning a company.

He went from selling imported shoes to athletes at track meets to running a company developing and selling its own uniquely designed shoes in multiple countries, being by worn by Olympic athletes, basketball and football players and the general public alike*.

However in this same time, Nike/Blue Ribbon was often on the verge of bankruptcy, relied heavily on bank loans and faced lawsuits in America and Japan. He worked multiple jobs to keep the company going and sacrificed his personal life.

He was far from perfect. He initially didn’t see the value in advertising and wrote off the name ‘Nike’ preferring Dimension Six. Imagine Jordan putting his name to a pair of Dimension Sixes?

But he built a team of skilled people he trusted to keep him on track. Without that team, we probably wouldn’t have the name, the Swoosh and the ‘Just Do It’ tagline that is known across the world.

Your 5 life lessons from Shoe Dog

It’s an interesting story but you’ll come away learning a lot more than just Nike’s history. If you’re looking to start a business, build a career or even just build positivity in your life, this book has a few key takeaways that you might just need to hear:

  1. Passion – you need belief in what you’re doing otherwise you’ll lose that drive. That passion and drive shouldn’t be money. Phil’s passion was making a better running shoe. He could have stopped with the first successful Tiger shoe but he didn’t. He sought…
  2. Continuous improvement – you need to accept that you will never have the finished product. There’s always some aspect that needs to be improved. You might fail. Fail fast, learn quickly. How can you use failure or improvement as a motivator?
  3. People – surround yourself with the right people. Not the ‘yes people’ nor the ones who will continually shoot you down. Who will support you, share your passion, challenge you when it’s needed and offer you a different perspective?
  4. Investment – this could be your time or your money. It’s a no-brainer but success rarely comes quickly. It requires effort so be prepared for it. I wrote this book off initially because I thought Nike was one of those ‘right place right time got rich’ stories. I was wrong…
  5. Most importantly, that crazy idea you had might not be so crazy. So chase it.

So expect one of my coffee shops on a street corner near you sometime soon…

“Let everyone else call your idea crazy … just keep going. Don’t stop”

*Here’s just a few players that knock around in Nikes:

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1 comment

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