Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog is a book about Phil Knight and his journey of eventually creating one of the world’s biggest shoe and sportswear brands ever.

Phil Knight was born on February 24, 1938 in Portland, Oregon. Growing up, Phil was always into running. He would frequently run the many trails around Oregon. Phil was also a key member of Cleveland High School’s track team. One day he decided to take a trip around the world, and that’s where his adventure started. He visited Japan in 1962 and discovered the brand of running shoes that was known as Tiger (Today the brand is known globally as Asics). Phil fell in love with the shoes and wanted to take them back to America to sell.

He got a meeting with Onitsuka and was able to make a contract so that he could sell their shoes in America. Following this, Phil formed Blue Ribbon Sports with his track coach Bill Bowerman. The shoes were very well received and over the next few years Phil and Bowerman opened retail spaces in Santa Monica, California, and Eugene, Oregon. The business was growing very well with profits doubling year after year. Eventually, due to a lack of understanding and repeated issues, Phil and Bowerman split from Onitsuka and formed Nike. Nike’s first shoe, the Cortez, debuted at the 1972 Olympics. The Cortez was an instant hit. It was incredibly popular, and still is to this day.

-Emilio V.

Shoe Dog is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Launch by Jeff Walker

launch_jeffwalkerWhen an Internet millionaire promises you the “secret formula to sell almost anything online, build a business you love, and live the life of your dreams,” how do you approach it?

With a very skeptical mind.

However, when I began reading Jeff Walker’s book Launch, I pushed away my doubts to try and learn a thing or two about online businesses.

To begin, Jeff Walker was a stay-at-home dad who created a successful online business using a technique he calls the Product Launch Formula. After discovering that his method was relatively unused by the rest of the business world, he began releasing training courses and books on how to emulate his success. According to Walker, the Product Launch Formula has been used by his students in a variety of different markets, from stock trading to dog agility training.

Essentially, the Product Launch Formula involves building an email list of people interested in your product, creating a close relationship with those people, and then building up anticipation to your product launch. Although I can’t personally testify to the formula, I think the book itself is very well written. Jeff Walker markets himself as someone who understands and relates to struggling entrepreneur, and not just some marketing god bestowing his eternal wisdom upon us peasants. When explaining any concept, Walker always provides at least one real-world example he’s encountered, often his peers’ success stories. Right in the beginning, he talks about a man who used PLF to sell over 600 copies of a board game using his technique.

The one change this book needs is more specifics to each step. Sometimes the success stories presented became repetitive. I would often finish the page knowing that the PLF model can work, but without knowledge of how to start. I’m sure he offers meticulous details in his online courses, but I won’t be paying thousands of dollars for those anytime soon.

For any budding entrepreneur out there, this book is a glimpse into one man’s road in online businesses. Even if Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula isn’t for your business, it might help you build your business knowledge for the future.

-Phillip X.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

zerotoone_peterthielZero to One, written by  famed businessman Peter Thiel, is the essential guidebook to aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere. Short and concise, this handbook explains all aspects of problems in the business world, along with the key ingredients to create successful startups.

What sets this book apart from the dozens of other “guides to success”? The answer is its simplicity. Most books promising instant success provide convoluted plans for making money and small tricks for manipulating the business world. However, what Zero to One emphasizes is that there are no easy roads to success. There isn’t one formula or business model to instantly attain success. Instead, this book shows how to find a niche in the market and ensure a long term business strategy.

What’s more, Thiel doesn’t just explain this in a mind numbing and inapplicable way. For every single concept introduced, Thiel provided an example. When talking about long term strategies, hewrites about the Cleantech Bubble. For a short period of time, it seemed the entire world was focused on finding renewable sources of clean energy. Dozens of solar energy companies bloomed, only to be crushed in a few years. With the discovery of fracking, and the lack of innovative clean technology, nearly 40 solar companies went bankrupt in one year. Of course, successful companies are also displayed in this guide. Thiel highlights the winning moves by each startup, and the similarities between them. He also shares past experiences on starting his company, PayPal, and the difficulties he met along the way.

Even if you don’t plan to be an entrepreneur, Zero to One is still a very good read. It offers a quick but comprehensive view at where the future is headed. It shows how to find the balance between the idealistic and realistic for the most successful startup. Every startup company takes effort to run, but the hardest part is starting it—from zero to one.

– Philip X., 10th grade

Zero to One is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Overdrive.