Courtesy illustration by Martin Bucella


Probably no creature in the world knows more about how to win friends and influence people than a dog, so the title of real estate executive Scott MacDonald’s new business book, Think Like a Dog (IU Press), makes sense.

The book is a conversation between MacDonald and his dog Sadie, a yellow Lab. It opens with a topic dear to dogs: treats. Sadie outlines several of her strategies (“I do not take no for an answer”), before MacDonald steps in to give the human angle. He agrees with Sadie that, “Unless a person is looking for treats and thinking about treats, he or she will probably not find them.” In other words, “Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity.”

MacDonald, an Indiana University alum who earned his B.A. in political science in 1970, has been around dogs his entire life. As a self-described “corporate ‘fix-it’ guy” who helped underperforming companies turn their businesses around, MacDonald wrote the book in part to share his business wisdom. 

He had another motive, though, which he explains with a dog analogy: “Dogs like to leave their mark, but their marks get washed away by the rain.” In contrast, MacDonald has been leaving his mark by establishing college scholarships around the country. The largest number—22 and counting—are at IU. All profits from book sales will fund more scholarships.

Growing up in a poor family outside Chicago, MacDonald worked in a factory to put himself through IU. “College opened a lot of doors for me,” he says. Now that he’s “gotten a little bit ahead,” he recognizes his good fortune and his ability to make a difference. “Scholarships are one thing you can do that will help other people’s lives forever,” he says. 

His scholarships carry a special stipulation: Recipients are required to participate in community service projects while they’re in school. “When I get feedback from the kids who’ve received these scholarships,” MacDonald says, “they all tell me they got a lot of satisfaction from helping others.”

In other words, sharing treats is as important as acquiring them.