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Shoe Dog

Tuesday 5 September 2017
Bill Gates recommended that I read Shoe Dog. I read Shoe Dog.

It is the autobiography of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, and is a compelling story about how a student from humble beginnings set up what is now the world's largest athletic shoe manufacturer.

The main thing that I found striking as I read the book was that it was a company that struggled to pay its bills for many decades. Their sales kept growing until they had millions of dollars of turnover each year but there was a constant battle to persuade their bank to extend their credit so they could pay for their next shipment. It was a time when there were fewer banks which were less reluctant to lend to in startups like they would go on to do in the dot com decade. The result was that all he had worked for could be lost to creditors at any moment. The great products and reputation would be lost in the same instant.

I was also struck by the role of the Japanese in the success of the company. It was only a couple of decades since the Americans had dropped atomic weapons and firebombs on their nation and yet the shoe manufacturer and a Japanese investor believed in Phil Knight and stood behind him when no American company did the same.

This is an inspiring read for anyone who wants to build something great from scratch.

You can buy it at