Shoe Dog Book Synopsis

Shoe Dog is a candid and riveting book by the founder of Nike, Phil “Buck” Knight, highly recommended by our guests Dr. Jas Chahal and Joon Nah. The memoir describes the origins of the world-famous brand and begins in the 1960s when Knight begins to travel the world. He has one goal, to import high-quality and low-cost running shoes from Japan. Fueled by a dream, Shoe Dog describes Knight’s journey filled with terrifying risks, ruthless competition and multiple triumphs. Keep reading for lessons that you can learn from Phil Knight and his humble beginnings.


Lesson 1: It Takes Time to Build


When Knight first attempts to sell his imported shoes in 1962, he faces multiple setbacks. Sports stores already have enough shoes and don’t need his product. So. he decides to travel to athletic track meets and attempts to sell his shoes to enthusiasts. It takes him 2 years to start the company and only manages to rent space for an office 3 years later. In 1972, Nike develops more recognition throughout the United States, a process which took 10 years from Knight’s initial vision. The lesson for physiotherapists is that creating an amazing product or providing a wonderful service does not magically happen overnight. If your goal is to own a clinic, then you have to acknowledge that building a patient caseload takes time, along with the innovation and development of your brand. Throughout the book, Knight explains that he did not create Nike with the vision of getting rich quickly and retiring early. While that may be the goal for some aspiring clinic owners, it is important to realize that growth and development take time. As the old adage says, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And we can definitely attest to the fact that Nike is an empire.


Lesson 2: Knowing How to Lead vs Knowing How to Manage


In the book, Knight explains that even though he oversees operations, he prefers to lead rather than manage his employees. As he read many books about leaders, he found that his heroes weren’t the type to say many words. Knight states “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” An important detail however is that his employees were driven and motivated. He admits that “my management style wouldn’t have worked for people who wanted to be guided.” For physiotherapists in leadership positions, it is important to hold employees accountable for their actions, without micromanaging them. Instead of constantly worrying about what your team is doing, trust your employees and enable them. If you have hired the right staff then they will be dedicated to your purpose and mission values, allowing you to prioritize actions that contribute to the larger mission of your business.


These were a few of the valuable lessons found in Shoe Dog. We, at PT Business Corner, definitely advise giving it a read and would like to thank Dr. Chahal and Joon for their excellent recommendation!




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