Book Cover
Shoe Dog

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

TL;DR: Phil “Buck” Knight has a Crazy Idea :tm: after graduating from Stanford business school. The trials he has to go through, and his response to them, make for a riveting story.


  • resilience is the overarching theme of this narrative. Resilience in the face of mistakes, failure, just keeping on keeping on.
  • Respect for writing this himself! I don’t think his voice or his story could have been told better by anyone else.
  • Really felt all of the characters. Felt their individual personalities, expressed through very well-written anecdotes, and especially felt Buck’s deep relationships with all of them.
  • So many great nuggets of wisdom sprinkled around the book. I love the narrative voice.
  • Leadership lessons: lead by example. Be firm but empathetic. You are not above reproach.


That morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy...just keep going. Don't stop. Don't even think about stopping until you get there, and don't give much thought to where "there" is. Whatever comes, just don't stop. [...] Half a century later, I believe it's the best advice -- maybe the only advice -- any of us should ever give. (L82)

He was easy to talk to, and easy not to talk to -- equally important qualities in a friend. (L186)

Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. (L501)

Bowerman's strategy for running the mile was simple. Set a fast pace for the first two laps, run the third as hard as you can, then triple your speed on the fourth. (L713)

I'd been slightly better at selling mutual funds, but I'd felt dead inside. So why was selling shoes so different? Because, I realized, I wasn't selling. I believed in running. [...] People, sensing my belief, wanted some of that belief for themselves. Belief, I decided. Belief is irresistible. (L775)

Hayes was to the numbers born. [...] He looked at numbers the way the poet looks at clouds, the way the geologist looks at rocks. He could draw from them rhapsodic song, demotic truths. And uncanny predictions. Hayes could use numbers to tell the future. (L1167)

There are team players, I thought, and then there are _team players_, and then there's Johnson. (1508)

No one could get your blood going like Bowerman, though he never raised his voice. He know how to speak in subliminal italics, to slyly insert exclamation marks, like hot keys against the flesh. (1605)

Imagine that, I thought. The single easiest way to find out how you feel about someone. Say goodbye. (1822)

Life is growth. You grow or you die. (2058)

He denied, fumed, bargained, got depressed, then accepted. The Five Stages of Jeff. (3603) [I love the narrative voice in this book. This is just one example.]

Somebody may beat me--but they're going to have to bleed to do it. (3921)

[Buttface] not only captured the informal mood of those retreats, where no idea was too sacred to be ridiculed, it also summed up the company spirit, mission and ethos. (4191)

It was us against the world, and we felt damned sorry for the world. (4260)

The cowards never started and the weak died along the way. That leaves us. (5016)

Mr. Hayami nodded. "See those bamboo trees up there?" he asked [...] "Next year...when you come...they will be one foot higher" (5326) [w.r.t. training managers internally]

The better [you] get, the bigger the bull's-eye. It's not one man's opinion; it's a law of nature. (5380)