Why You’ll Regret Not Building Your Dream Career

I talk about the core concepts and lessons inside Phil Knight's "Shoe Dog" and translate them into how you can apply them as an osteopath.

Podcast Episode Transcript

I’m not afraid to tell you that this book made me very emotional.

You know when someone explains a feeling you have so well that it comes as a relief that you’re not the only one who feels that way? Yeah. That’s what Shoe Dog did for me.

This book explains so much of what I’ve been trying to tell osteopaths for years and now that I think about it, is one of the reasons why Osteohustle exists in the first place.

Anyway, not only is it filled to the brim with practical advice, it’s packed with permission to think about what kind of career you want and then go hell for leather to go and get it. Because, why not?

Shoe Dog is written by Phil Knight who is the Founder of Nike. Shoe Dog gives you permission to plan, build and grow the career you want in life, because Phil says: “whether you like it or not, life is a game – play it”.

Welcome back to Behind The Osteopath. My name is Alan Zaia, I’m an osteopath, Founder of Osteohustle where we plan, build and grow dream careers for osteopaths.

We have 85 followers and 23 reviews and we’re nearing the end of season one, I’ve decided that if I’m going to continue this podcast, it must create a stir in the osteopathic community. For me to do another series, we need 100 followers and 30 reviews.

Thank you so much to everyone who’s already left a review and follows – it means more than you know that you find value in what I’m trying to do here – especially as I’m sticking my neck out trying to talk about the hard things, hoping to make a positive change for you and our profession.

So, as you know, Behind The Osteopath is based on my belief that you should never open a clinic without fully understanding what it takes and a part of that means I’m covering 10 books I believe every osteopath should read.

Shoe Dog is book 8 in the series. I first read this in 2019 and have of course read it again for this podcast. Osteohustle started in September 2019, so yeah, this book would have absolutely impacted the beginnings of Osteohustle. That’s fun to think about!

So with Shoe Dog, it’s Phil Knight’s memoir. So the lessons I’m going to cover don’t necessarily happen in order as they do in the book, so please do read this for yourself too.

Oh, and that while this book is geared toward owning a practice, there’s advice related to associates too.

Oh and the last thing: it’s Nike, not Nike. Even Phil Knight said so as much as I hate it!

Alright, let’s dive into lesson 1:

Lesson 1: Don’t settle for a job, seek a calling

We’ve all heard the Mark Twain quote: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Luckily for most of us, we enjoy being osteopaths. But what’s clear in my experience is that a lot of osteopaths aren’t happy with how they’re being an osteopath, in the sense of most of the osteopaths I’ve spoken to and worked with have never thought about why they’re doing what they’re doing and feel they’re not meeting their own potential.

Why are you a clinic owner?

Why are you an associate?

Why did you hire that associate?

Why did you join that practice?

What do you really care about and want from your career, and why is that?

These are essential questions to ask yourself because the answers give you a deep sense of purpose, meaning, fulfilment and most importantly, direction.

Phil says, and by the way, this is bracketed for those in their twenties, but I’d challenge every one of you, regardless of your age to consider this. He says: “I’d tell men and women in their mid-twenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.

Here’s the truth.

Some people say that osteopathy is limited in it’s career opportunities, how you can only be an associate or a clinic owner. And while that’s partially true, what you can do as an associate or clinic owner is far broader than you think.

In late 2022, Louise Pratley and I co-founded The Making Waves Summit, it was a celebration to those in osteopathy who are doing things differently. We had over 20 speakers.

We had Gemma Fisher who’s not just a clinic owner, but the first Human Performance consultant Osteopath within Formula One.

We had Arthur Codsi who’s been an associate all over the world and wanted to provide a centralised place for osteopaths to easily find their ideal associate and associateship, so he created Osteojob.

We had Chris and Mandy Bell who wanted to pair their passion for travelling with osteopathy, so they created The Outback Osteos – who bought a van and for three years lived in it full-time travelling and practicing osteopathy all across Australia, especially the most rural outback communities who need it most.

Louise Pratley spoke about being a part of the team who launched a clinic franchising business called Osteo & Physio, who at the time of recording have 8 practices across the UK.

Just within Osteohustle, you know, I run this company full-time and let me tell you about some of the osteopaths we have at Osteohustle HQ.

Andrew Terry is the owner of the Compass Health Clinic in London, a clinic tutor, osteopathic skills lecturer and business lecturer at the LSO – and he’s our senior business coach.

Jen Nash is an associate in London – she’s our branding expert and also runs her own branding agency called Figure Out Creative.

All of these osteopaths are following their calling. And of course it can take time to figure out, and of course it can change, but you can use it to do incredible things and unlock so many doors, using that piece of paper we call a degree.

So, what’s your calling? What’s your big plan? If you need help, send me an email with the subject as CALLING and we can have a chat.

Lesson 2: Find what you believe in and talk about it

When it comes to finding what you believe in, the key is to challenge yourself to really sit down and ask yourself: “What does osteopathy and being an osteopath mean to me?

There are dozens and dozens of shoe companies and there are hundreds of osteopathic practices. What makes you different? It’s what you believe in and believe me, it’s all about making people feel something.

So, I want you to start talking about what you believe in with your patients, make it the core of your branding, your marketing messages, your entire patient experience, how you speak to your patients – it will make your business succeed because you’re making them feel something.

Phil says: “Driving back to Portland I’d puzzle over my sudden success at selling. I’d been unable to sell encyclopaedias, and I’d despised it to boot. I’d been slightly better at selling mutual funds, but I’d felt dead inside. So why was selling shoes so different? Because, I realised, 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.

As long as you’re staying within the advertising standards, there is no limit to what you believe. Phil says: “You only get a few chances to start something crazy. If you’re young and don’t have much to lose, it’s best to go for broke”.

To end lesson two, I’d like to share this.

When doing my research on Phil Knight, I found a video from Simon Sinek, who’s also featured on this podcast.

He’s what Simon had to say that encapsulates what I’m trying to express perfectly: “Phil Knight’s way of talking about Nike was truly inspiring. He once shared a memorable story at a large conference where he asked the audience to stand if they had ever run for exercise. Most of the room stood up. Then, he asked those who ran at least once a week to remain standing, and most of the room sat down. He continued, asking those who ran twice a week to stay standing and so on until he found those who ran three times a week, rain or shine, regardless of the weather or temperature. Only a few remained standing. Looking at them, he delivered a powerful message: “The next time you’re out there before the Sun is up, it’s dark, cold, and wet, and you’re running by yourself, we’re the ones standing under the Lamppost cheering you on.” This story encapsulates the essence of Nike’s ethos, where “Just Do It” is not about winning but about trying and doing. Nike, at its best, celebrates the ones who do, not just the ones who win.

Lesson 3: Know when to quit, but don’t ever stop

Phil says: “Those who urge entrepreneurs to never give up? Charlatans. Sometimes you have to give up. Sometimes knowing when to give up, when to try something else, is genius. Giving up doesn’t mean stopping. Don’t ever stop.”

There are a few different ways to think about this lesson. But I want to try a different angle.

One of our coaching clients runs three practices and they said that they can’t run all three at once. Of course I’m not going to mention any specific details. And after looking at everything to do with all three businesses, we suggested that they should close what I’ll call practice C because of multiple reasons that can be summarised as: by quitting practice C, you can give so much more to practice A and B.

This is obviously devastating news and they said that before we started working together that closing one of the clinics was probably the right choice. And of course they were so determined to make everything work.

While we’re still in the early stages of phasing out practice C, after the decision was made, again, it was emotional, but they quickly started to feel more in control as we’d given them a plan restructure and grow practices A and B.

The point being, knowing when to quit is genius and knowing when to quit means taking calculated risks, as we know from our three clinic owner coaching client.

I’ll briefly talk about calculated risks because it’s an ever-developing, fantastic skill to have.

Calculated risks are not blind leaps into the unknown. Rather, they involve a careful evaluation of three potentials:

  1. Potential outcomes – Thinking of all that could happen.
  2. Potential benefits – Thinking of all positive factors.
  3. Potential drawbacks – Thinking of all negative factors.

Taking a risk means making smart informed decisions that have a reasonable chance of success, even though the outcome may not be guaranteed.

For example, this could be deciding whether you should leave your associateship, expand your practice, hire a practitioner, moving locations, working in a different country, thinking of letting an associate go or hiring a coach to help you take things to the next level or start a new venture.

I hope that understanding more about calculated risks is helpful.

Lesson 4: Hard work leads to more luck

So, this is the ideas that luck may determine an outcome, but the harder you work, the better your luck. This is something that comes up time and time again so even though it’s quite self-explanatory, it’s fair to say that this lesson is so common amongst people who have gone on to do amazing things.

So, Phil says: “Luck plays a big role. Yes, I’d like to publicly acknowledge the power of luck. Athletes get lucky, poets get lucky, businesses get lucky. Hard work is critical, a good team is essential, brains and determination are invaluable, but luck may decide the outcome.

Luck comes up a lot in episode 9, so go listen to that after.

Lesson 5: Get a complementary mentor and partner

So, here Phil highlights the importance of seeking out mentors who can provide guidance and support, as well as the value of finding a business partner who complements your strengths and shares your vision. The idea here being that together, mentorship and partnership can help you overcome challenges and achieve your goals.

In the book, Phil’s mentor was Bill Bowerman. Bill was his track and field coach at the University of Oregon. He helped Phil develop his passion for running and then later, helped evolve the design and quality of the running shoes that would become the foundation of Nike. So much so that Bill went on to become the co-founder of Nike.

They shared the same passion for running and vision for bringing something new to the market.

One of the biggest lessons I can give you from this podcast is to find your mentors and if you’re considering opening up a practice, please think about doing it with a partner. Again, go and listen to episode 9 about discovering your unfair advantage.

Lesson 6: Forget about the competition

Nice and short, but this one is not just a lesson, but more of a practice. So, remind yourself of this the next time you’re worried about your competition. Even better, make them an ally.

Phil says: “I thought back on my running career at Oregon. I’d competed with, and against, men far better, faster, more physically gifted. Many were future Olympians. And yet I’d trained myself to forget this unhappy fact. People reflexively assume that competition is always a good thing, that it always brings out the best in people, but that’s only true of people who can forget the competition. The art of competing, I’d learned from track, was the art of forgetting, and I now reminded myself of that fact. You must forget your limits. You must forget your doubts, your pain, your past.

Lesson 7: Let people surprise you

The final lesson is a really interesting one for me because as someone who started Osteohustle by myself and now have a great team around me, I’ll admit that in the beginning, it was hard to think that they could ever do something as well as I could.

Oh, how wrong I was and this is the same for all the clinic owners with associates.

I’m telling you now that the people you work with will have fantastic, no brainer ideas that will improve your practice.

In my experience, associates often bring ideas to the table and they either don’t get addressed or are ignored or told that it goes against the way things are done.

This could be something as simple as saying that, for example, the treatment couch has been needing a service and it not being prioritised or that there’s a great opportunity over at the local sports club to develop a business to business relationship. Your associates will have weird and wonderful ideas and I absolutely implore you to hear them out.

Phil says: “Don’t tell people how to do things. Let them do their thing. Encourage everyone to be themselves. Let them surprise you with their results”.


Remember to rate the podcast and subscribe so we can hit our bring on season two target.

In summary, Shoe Dog is an extremely inspirational book that gives you permission to just do it. If you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences, please use the Q&A section if you’re on your phone by tapping on the episode and scroll down or you can reach out to me via email.

Thank you for listening to Behind The Osteopath.

Please sit down and ask yourself what you want from your career. It will be the best thing you’ve done for yourself in ages.

See ya next week for book 9. Subscribe so you don’t miss it as soon as it comes out.

Written by Alan Zaia M.Ost

Founder & CEO of Osteohustle. You’ll find Alan coaching osteopaths, travelling in a van or writing our weekly newsletter, The Hustle.

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