Shoe Dog: Sports, Shoes and beyond


  • This book has also given me a lot of chew on — generally and philosophically. In general, the book has so many references of other books, historical figures, places, events and movies, that every two pages I go down the rabbithole which opens up a world I didn’t know about previously. A true reader’s delight
  • Haters will say that Phil was privileged. Stanford graduate who could afford to go on a world tour before deciding what to do with life. And a family which could afford to sponsor his world tour (air tickets in early 1960s), and also the initial capital. Yes, he was from a well to-do family. So was Bill Gates. But that does not take anything away from his success, which you realise as you read on. The only big advantage which he had was that he himself was an athelete and Sports ran through his veins. He knew the coaches of college teams, partenered with his own who went on to coach the Olympics team, friends with national-level record holders. He knew the pulse of atheletes and Nike was a pure reflection of his passion for sports. And when you do what you love, it’s not work anymore.

Favourite Quotes

  • “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”― Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
  • He was easy to talk to, and easy not to talk to-equally important qualities in a friend. Essential in a travel companion.
  • “You are remembered for the rules you break.” — General Douglas MacArthur
  • Reality is non-linear, Zen says. No future, no past. All is now.
  • Like books, sports give people a sense of having lived other lives, for taking part in other peoples victories, and feet. When Sports are at their best, the spirit of the fan merges with the spirit of the athlete, and in that convergence, and that transference, is the oneness that mystics talk about.
  • Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.
  • (Of Bowerman) Those ice-blue eyes, which missed nothing, gave nothing.
  • He detested being called Coach. Given his background, his makeup, he naturally thought of track as a means to an end. He called himself a “Professor of Competitive Responses”, and his job, as he saw it, and often described it, was to get you ready for the struggles and competitions that lay ahead, far beyond Oregon.
  • Because, I realized, it wasn’t selling. I believed in running. I believed that if people got out and ran a few miles every day, the world would be a better place, and I believed these shoes were better to run in. People, sensing my belief, wanted some of that belief for themselves. Belief, I decided. Belief is irresistible. Sometimes.
  • I was happy, may be as happy as I’d ever been, and happiness can be dangerous. It dulls the senses. Thus, I wasn’t prepared for that dreadful letter.
  • There were many ways down Mount Fuji, according to my guidebook, but only one way up. Life lesson in that, I thought. Signs.
  • The basic rule of negotiation: know what you want, what you need to walk away with in order to be whole.
  • Coach yourself to put away hurt feelings and/or thoughts of injustice. The art of competing is the art of forgetting your limits, your doubts, your pain, and your past. You must forget the internal voice that screams and begs to take not one more step. When it is not possible to forget it, you must negotiate with it. (Yes, you raise some good points, but let’s keep going!).
  • Running — it is hard, it is painful, it’s risky. The rewards are few and far from guaranteed. No real destination seems to fully justify the effort. The act itself becomes the destination. It’s not that there is no finish line, you define the finish line. Whatever pleasure or gains you derive from the act of running, you must find them within. It is all in how you frame it, how you sell it to yourself.
  • “Sell us your company”. He said it so very softly. The thought crossed my mind that some of the hardest things ever said in our lifetimes are said softly.
  • Don’t go to sleep one night. What you most want will come to you then.
  • “No brilliant idea was ever born in a conference room,” he assured the Dane. “But a lot of silly ideas have died there,” said Stahr. — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Last Tycoon
  • It was us against the world, and we felt damned sorry for the world. That is, when we weren’t righteously pissed off at it. Each of us had been misunderstood, misjudged, dismissed. Shunned by bosses, spurned by luck, rejected by society, short-changed by fate when looks and other natural graces were handed out. We’d each been forged by early failure. We’d each given ourselves to some quest, some attempt at validation or meaning, and fallen short. Hayes couldn’t become a partner because he was too fat. Johnson couldn’t cope in the so-called normal world of nine-to-five. Strasser was an insurance lawyer who hated insurance — and lawyers. Woodell lost all his youthful dreams in one fluke accident. I got cut from the baseball team. And I got my heart broken.
  • “Beating the competition is relatively easy. Beating yourself is a never-ending commitment.”- Nike ad
  • When you see only problems, you’re not seeing clearly.
  • Dec 2, 1980- Our stock was worth twenty-two dollars a share. That was the number. We’d earned that number. We deserved to be on the high end of the price range. A company called Apple was also going public that same week, and selling for twenty-two dollars a share, and we were worth as much as them, I said to Hayes. If a bunch of Wall Street guys didn’t see it that way, I was ready to walk away from the deal.
  • After forty years I’ve stepped down as Nike CEO, leaving the company in good hands, I think, and good shape, I trust. Sales last year, 2006, were $ 16 billion. (Adidas was $ 10 billion, but who’s counting?)
  • I thought of that phrase, “It’s just business.” It’s never just business. It never will be. If it ever does become just business, that will mean that business is very bad.
  • I struggle to remember. I close my eyes and think back, but so many precious moments from those nights are gone forever. Numberless conversations, breathless laughing fits. Declarations, revelations, confidences. They’ve all fallen into the sofa cushions of time. I remember only that we always sat up half the night, cataloging the past, mapping out the future. I remember that we took turns describing what our little company was, what it might be, and what it must never be. How I wish, on just one of those nights, I’d had a tape recorder. Or kept a journal, as I did on my trip around the world.

The cowards never started and the weak died along the way. That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen. Us.



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