The Power-Up is the best way stay up to date on the gaming industry news. Click here to find out why!

We hope you love the books people recommend! Just so you know, The CEO Library may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.

This book has 18 recommendations

Ryan Holiday (Founder/Brass Check)

As a general rule, most new memoirs are mediocre and most business memoirs are even worse. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is an exception to that rule in every way and as a result, was one of my favorite books of the year and favorite business books ever. I started reading it while on the runway of a flight and figured I’d read a few pages before opening my laptop and working. Instead, my laptop stayed in my bag during the flight and I read almost the entire book in one extended sitting. Ostensibly the memoir of the founder of Nike, it’s really the story of a lost kid trying to find meaning in his life and it ends with him creating a multi-billion dollar company that changes sports forever. I’m not sure if Knight used a ghostwriter (the acknowledgements are unclear) but his personal touches are all over the book—and the book itself is deeply personal and authentic. The afterward is an incredibly moving reflection of a man looking back on his life. I loved this book. It ends just as Nike is starting to turn into the behemoth it would become, so I hold out hope that there may be more books to follow.

Lewis Smith (Entrepreneur & Developer/BodyTracker)

Not a programming book, but inspiring if you are starting your own thing.

Dr. Monali Y. Desai (Cardiologist & Founder/If We Were Family)

I started listening to Shoe Dog because several friends recommended it to me. So far I’ve gotten out of it that starting Nike was much more complicated than I thought it was.

Bill Gates (CEO/Microsoft)

This memoir, by the co-founder of Nike, is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like: messy, precarious, and riddled with mistakes. I’ve met Knight a few times over the years. He’s super nice, but he’s also quiet and difficult to get to know. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale.

Andre Agassi (Founder/Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy)

I've known Phil Knight since I was a kid, but I didn't really know him until I opened this beautiful, startling, intimate book. And the same goes for Nike. I've worn the gear with pride, but I didn't realize the remarkable saga of innovation and survival and triumph that stood behind every swoosh. Candid, funny, suspenseful, literary - this is a memoir for people who love sport, but above all it's a memoir for people who love memoirs.

Mike Dudas (Co-founder/Button)

Just an incredible book.

Amanda Bradford (CEO/The League)

This is a little availability bias because I just finished it, but it was "Shoe Dog" which was the story of Phil Knight starting Nike right out of business school. Obviously, I really did too because I started the League out of business school. It was just cool to read his story. It was back in the day when companies, the start up period was 30 years instead of four, like it is now. I just kind of was awed at just how driven and determined he was to keep working on it for so long. It took so long to get off the ground. [...] I don't know, it was cool. I love reading about just people who kind of did crazy stuff and it worked.

Radu Marcusu (CEO/Upswing)

Now I listen to Shoe Dog since you were the second person around me that said something controversial about it and this got my attention. My partner said that is impossible for a man Knight’s age to recall so many details, which is indeed suspicious, but I try to enjoy the story and not to develop a new conspiracy theory. So far I love this book. I love that the story feels so natural, raw, humble; it came like a breath of fresh air from the (sometimes) clicheic business biographies. The book confirmed me once again that innovation is the only way to overcome your competitors, especially from an underdog position. Nike wouldn't stand a chance against Adidas if they didn’t challenged the status quo constantly.

Irina Botnari (Managing Partner & Co-Founder/Bucur's Shelter Hostel)

I’m definitely a story-lover and maybe that’s why I like to read a lot of biographies. It’s fascinating to discover how people with different backgrounds, interests, businesses, careers have found solutions for various challenges from all areas of their life. Elon Musk, Andre Agassi, Phil Knight, Maria Sharapova, Arnold Schwarzenegger are only a few of good recent ones. A specific moment when I recall one of the inspiring stories is probably when I think I can’t anymore. I take a deep breath and move on. It’s only in our mind. We can always do a little more.

Tudor Mihailescu (Finance and Business Enablement Manager)

In every industry, there would be many relevant books but nothing would replace being in touch with the customers and people in own organisation. It’s a vast of space to recommend books, but I would suggest that learning how proven entrepreneurs or managers have done this as a good start (read about Jake Welch – Straight from the Gut, Steve Jobs, Shoe Dog – Phil Knight or Elon Musk) – admittedly, some of them may set a very high bar.

Jack Wong (Co-Founder/Shoe Mo)

Business related book? Has to be Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, loved the Nike story from start to end, obviously also because it's also footwear related. Another business related book that left its mark was "Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki" which gives a pretty interesting take on the fundamentals of customer - business relationships.

Florian Hubner (CEO/Decondia, Startup Creator)

It shows you how to run a fast-growing business where innovation is key (probably the most exciting business book I‘ve ever read).

Catrinel Hagivreta (Co-Founder & CEO/MEDIjobs)

It’s an amazing book about passion and entrepreneurship. You will learn that it will never get easy to run your business, but you have to enjoy every moment because, as funny as it may sound, what doesn’t let you sleep at night now eventually turns out to be one of the best memories of your entrepreneurial life.

Yaro Starak (Founder/

Michael Jordan and Phil Knight, the Nike founder, two different biographies, those were great. See, Michael Jordan’s was really really quite good and doesn’t seem to get talked about as much but it’s nice and solid.

Roxana Bitoleanu (Founder/Taraba Virtuala)

[One of the books that had the biggest impact on Roxana Bitoleanu] Shoe Dog, because we, entrepreneurs, can identify with the story behind Nike and the mistakes that eventually led to the creation of the brand.

Doug McMillon (CEO/Walmart)

Read some wonderful and enlightening books this year. The stories from Cal Turner and Phil Knight are especially inspiring… passionate leaders and merchants!

Warren Buffett (CEO/Berkshire Hathaway)

The best book I read last year. Phil is... a gifted storyteller.

Mikhail Dubov (Founder & CEO/Chattermill)

It's always hard to choose a favourite book, but if I had a gun to my head, I'd probably choose Shoe Dog by Phil Knight in the business category. I like [this book] because of fantastic story-telling quality and insights relevant to what I do in business and in life more generally.

Amazon description

In this candid and riveting memoir, for the first time ever, Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands. Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan.

Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it’s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world. But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery.

Now, in a memoir that’s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life’s Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him. Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes.

Above all, he recalls the foundational relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers. Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the redemptive, transformative power of sports, they created a brand, and a culture, that changed everything.

Get this book on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | iBooks

See more books recommended by

Ryan Holiday, Lewis Smith, Dr. Monali Y. Desai, Bill Gates, Andre Agassi, Mike Dudas, Amanda Bradford, Radu Marcusu, Irina Botnari, Tudor Mihailescu, Jack Wong, Florian Hubner, Catrinel Hagivreta, Yaro Starak, Roxana Bitoleanu, Doug McMillon, Warren Buffett, Mikhail Dubov

See more books written by

Phil Knight


We'd love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.