Bill Gates says the books he’s read about entrepreneurs tend to paint a fantastic tale, but it’s often a “misleading storyline.” That’s not the case with Shoe Dog, by Nike founder Phil Knight. Knight’s book instead tells the story of what real business success looks like: “messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice.”
Gates finds Knight’s tale terrific for a couple of reasons. One is his lack of varnish: Knight is uninterested in making himself seem like a genius who played chess and against the checkers players. Gates says satisfyingly: “Even as sales of his shoes took off, his business was constantly on life support.” As Gates says, this isn’t a typical business book, which will give you a list of to-dos for success. Because that’s not how it works. Gates says that Knight accomplishes something far better than that. “He tells his story as honestly as he can,” Gates says in praise. In a world where honesty seems in increasingly short supply, perhaps especially from successful people bent on burnishing their legends, Knight’s Shoe Dog is a refreshing tome. It’s more dog than dogma, just like the title promises.