The last book I read in 2019 was Shoe Dog, a memoir by Phil Knight; the co-founder of Nike. It’s a great book for entrepreneurs and leaders in any domain.
Building a company in the 60’s, pre-internet and pre-venture capital was super hard. No email, no instant messaging, no social media. So I got great perspective because he started Nike almost 60 years ago, it was a different era, and he walks you through everything!
One critical skill every entrepreneur needs is the ability to sell. Many entrepreneurs struggle with selling, Phil Knight was not an exception. At the beginning of the book he mentions how he doesn’t like, and sucks at, selling. But he learned to because he realized that he wasn’t selling a product, rather his belief:
Driving back to Portland I’d puzzle over my sudden success at selling. I’d been unable to sell encyclopedias, 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 realized, 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.
This is why confidence is yourself, a belief in what you’re selling is so important. One reason most people don’t like selling is because they believe it is manipulative; which basically means whoever is selling has to manipulate because they don’t really believe in what they’re selling, they just want to sell and don’t care about the outcome.