Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurship’

Shoe Dog

Sunday, July 1st, 2018 | Books

Shoe Dog is a 2016 memoir by Phil Knight, founder of Nike.

Most of the story focuses on the early days, from just before he founded Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964 to when he took Nike public in 1980. It feels like a true entrepreneurs story, grinding it out from selling trainers out of the back of his car, through the almost-bankruptcies and endless crises and eventual triumph.

It paints Nike in a good picture. They innovated, brought new shoes to the market, changed the industry. But then, any memoir is likely to do that. If you read Grinding It Out, Ray Kroc comes over as lovely guy. But I guess I want to believe because I genuinely love the stuff Nike makes. I’ve tried running in other people’s shoes and they’re not as comfortable.

When I bought my Nike holdall, it came with a label saying “we’ve been there since the beginning. For as long as we’ve been making shoes, we’ve been making bags.” I’m sure this is 100% true and not just a strategy to ward off buyer’s remorse. But it is weird that Knight didn’t mention bags anywhere in his book, even though he did talk about the launch of their apparel launch long after he had started selling shoes.

If you’re interested in the story of Nike, or you like tales of entrepreneurship, this is a good read. Otherwise, you’re probably not going to get much out of it.

James Caan – The Real Deal

Friday, November 9th, 2012 | Books

I’ve just finished reading The Real Deal: My Story from Brick Lane to Dragons’ Den by James Caan. He is a dragon (now former dragon I assume, as he isn’t on the latest series) who started by building up several recruitment companies, and now runs a private equity firm that invests in SMEs.

Was it an interesting read? Certainly. Was it a useful read? Yes, I think it probably was.

The same themes come up across books by different entrepreneurs – invest in the right people and it will pay dividends, work hard and make sure you understand your business inside out.

I actually really like James’ way of doing things. For example, at the end of a meeting, he’ll take time to double check whether the other party has any concerns. So often, you’ll walk out of a meeting already resenting the deal you have just done, and so James’ final check allows him to resolve issues there and then.

He also argues that he is actually risk adverse, and only really pursues an opportunity once he has minimised the risks – investing isn’t about taking risks, it’s about taking smart risks when you know the odds are in your favour – think of it like poker pot odds, you might have some losses, but if you play the right game, you’ll eventually turn a profit.