In praise of Shoe Dog

By   Hannah Bickerton 1 min read

The best parties don’t mind if you turn up late. And I am late to the joy that is Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, the book that tells the story behind the birth of that behemoth of brands, Nike.

What a ride. Funny, honest, revealing and brilliantly written. I’ve taken to treating the book like one of your old set texts at school which you feel duty bound to annotate for future generations of readers.

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

You are what your numbers say, nothing more, nothing less.

Belief is irresistible

Some of these might seem like rather fatuous homilies (Brexit means Brexit, right?) out of context. But the wit and candour, the ambition born from an unshakeable trust in your vision, the struggle of managing growth in the constant shadow of running out of cash, all of this pours out of Phil Knight as if he is holding forth to a captivated audience around a metaphorical campfire. Shoe Dog is, like lots of great writing, all about the showing and not just the telling. And it is more than a business book, in the way that he would describe Nike as more than just a business.

For us business was no more about making money than being human is about making blood. We wanted, as all great businesses do, to create, to contribute, and we dared to say so aloud. When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers…and when you do it all crisply and efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but so seldom is – you’re participating more fully in the whole grand human drama.

In short, this is a brand story that can be an inspiration, whatever point you are at in your company’s evolution and whatever the ultimate potential scale of your idea.

Just do it. 

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.