FEMINEST BOOK CLUB: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

Wanna join the Feminest book club? Of course you do. ;) See this post to learn more on how to join and check the events page on when the next book club is going to be!

The first Tuesday of every month, I'm selecting a feminist, business, or self-help book to review for that month. And, rest assured — if I'm featuring it — there’s something you oughta know! 

Last time I covered FEMINEST BOOK CLUB: THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE BY BETTY FRIEDAN. I gave it a 5/5, and feel it should be required reading for all humans who are in developed countries.

feminest book club review_shoe dog.jpg

This month I'm covering Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. I chose this book because there was quite a lot of buzz around it and Nike has always been a leader in the industry. But I will say, I came away super disappointed. I’m a minority it has 4.8 stars out of 2,716 reviews. So you may not want to take my word for it.

Here’s my review in takeaways:

Takeaway #1 - I smell a ghost writer

Maybe, maaayyyybe this is Knight voice in real life. But the writing sounded so contrived that 1 page into it I googled, “shoe dog ghost writer” and was oddly enough quickly able to find that J. R. Moehringer was the actual writer behind the words.

Sure, ghost writing is very common and I don’t really care, but the fact that I could sniff it out so quickly was bothersome.

Takeaway #2 - Should I stop wearing Nike?

I’ve never read a memoir and ended up not liking the person. Isn’t that kind of the point of story telling is that we understand the persons point of view, empathize, and leave better by having a broader understanding of the human experience?

In 2011, I had a conscious conflict after reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Thinking to myself, “should get rid of all my Apple products?” He was such a manipulative human, hurt, and screwed over a lot of people, that using his products and praising him felt like supporting that behavior.

I woke up one morning to put on my black Nikes hesitated and thought, “should I stop wearing these?” Here are some of the things that I just rubbed me the wrong way about Knight:

  • obsession with “war” and being a “warrior”

  • forces “play” as his “why” but is stressed and uptight most of the time, and even in the moments he is running it’s more about winning and ego than playing

  • his admitted lack of attention and encouragement to his employees

  • his preference for people with ivy league education, lawyers and accountants because they “could pass hard tests”

  • the team meetings they would refer to as “the buttheads” (this is a real thing, cue the chauvinism, and in recent news about Allyson Felix, still exists today)

  • his regret for his lack of time with his sons but doesn’t make any real lasting change to fix it

  • unethical business practices by American standards but rationalized in Japan with ‘it’s just the way they do things there’ (he hired an internal spy, yes, a spy)

Takeaway #3 - What did Knight do?

All the things that are so inspiring about Nike have nothing to do with Knight, the sleek logo, the tag line, the gorgeous and innovative design. Logo - an accident, he didn’t even really like it, they were just on a deadline. The famous “just do it” tagline - not even mentioned in the book, maybe I missed it? The innovative design of the shoe - that was all thanks to his cofounder Bill Bowerman.

Rating: 2/5

Recommendation: Maybe good for men in their 60’s who care about winning over everything else.

Next month:

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed on Your Own Terms by Vishen Lakhiani 

Read it with me! And sign up to come to the Book Club!

Have a book suggestion? Let us know in the comments below!