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Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman--Including 10 More Years of Business Unusual PDF, ePub eBook

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Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman--Including 10 More Years of Business Unusual PDF, ePub eBook In his long-awaited memoir, Yvon Chouinard-legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia, Inc.-shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth. From his youth as the son of a French Canadian blacksmith to the thrilling, ambitious climbing expeditio In his long-awaited memoir, Yvon Chouinard-legendary climber, businessman, environmentalist, and founder of Patagonia, Inc.-shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth. From his youth as the son of a French Canadian blacksmith to the thrilling, ambitious climbing expeditions that inspired his innovative designs for the sport's equipment, Let My People Go Surfing is the story of a man who brought doing good and having grand adventures into the heart of his business life-a book that will deeply affect entrepreneurs and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

30 review for Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman--Including 10 More Years of Business Unusual

  1. 5 out of 5

    Preston Kutney

    I don't know where to start with my reverence for Chouinard. He's my anti-business business hero, a reluctant radical in corporate America. The book opens: "I've been a businessman for almost fifty years. It's as difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit being an alcoholic or a lawyer. I've never respected the profession. It's business that has to take the majority of the blame for being the enemy of nature, for destroying native cultures, for taking from the poor and giv I don't know where to start with my reverence for Chouinard. He's my anti-business business hero, a reluctant radical in corporate America. The book opens: "I've been a businessman for almost fifty years. It's as difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit being an alcoholic or a lawyer. I've never respected the profession. It's business that has to take the majority of the blame for being the enemy of nature, for destroying native cultures, for taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and for poisoning the earth with the effluent from its factories. Yet business can produce food, cure disease, control population, employ people, and generally enrich our lives. And it can do these good things and make a profit without losing its soul. That's what this book is about. " When I think about Patagonia, I think about a company that prioritizes its values over profits. The brand image of the company is not simply a product of skilled marketing, but an extension of the authenticity of its founder, and the culture he established. Chouinard never wanted to be a businessman, he didn't really care that much about making money; he simply needed to make a little cash so he could go climbing...and well, why not make climbing gear to do it? As the company slowly took off, Chouinard grappled with that success. In a pivotal moment for the company, a management guru asked Yvon "If the main goal of the company is to fund environmental causes, why not sell the company today for $100M, and give it all rather than a steady drip of 10% of your profits?". Chouinard struggled with that question until he figured out his answer years later: "I knew, after thirty-five years, why I was in business. True, I wanted to give money to environmental causes. But even more, I wanted to create in Patagonia a model other businesses could look to in their own searches for environmental stewardship and sustainability. " Today, Patagonia's mission statement is "Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis." This philosophy took decades to catch on, but today it is common knowledge that mission-driven businesses develop strong brands and loyal customers, attract the best employees, and often deliver above-average returns to investors with lower risk. When we think of contemporary innovative business leaders, we often think of people who developed products that made the future come to life. Yvon Chouinard did create a few new products, but that is far from being the most significant part of his contribution to the advancement of management. I would argue that the paradigm shift that is still under way, that you can "do well by doing good", which owes so much to Patagonia's example and success, will prove to be one of the most important business innovations of our age, and a key component of what (hopefully) tips us into a cleaner economy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Miller

    Patagonia is an amazing company with great products and a commendable mission. I'm probably more apt to purchase something from Patagonia than from one of their competitors after reading this book, but I don't subscribe to Chouinard's overwhelming anti-establishment sentiment. Somebody's got to make enough money to buy their $500 ski jackets, and it isn't the dirtbags living out of their cars, smoking pot and eating cat tuna. The environmental conservation movement should not have to be so polar Patagonia is an amazing company with great products and a commendable mission. I'm probably more apt to purchase something from Patagonia than from one of their competitors after reading this book, but I don't subscribe to Chouinard's overwhelming anti-establishment sentiment. Somebody's got to make enough money to buy their $500 ski jackets, and it isn't the dirtbags living out of their cars, smoking pot and eating cat tuna. The environmental conservation movement should not have to be so polarizing to be effective. Many "Patagoniacs" have a general disdain for people that work in professional services, but somehow don't appreciate that these are the very people that keep their company afloat! That said, a lot of their philosophy is, in my opinion, spot on. Buy better quality, keep it for a lot longer, etc.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This book changes you. If you don't come away doing SOMETHING more for the environment than you already are, well then I think there's something wrong with you. It's a do as I do book, and is quite effective at that. My company's next two printing projects will be done on 100 percent post-consumer content paper, produced with wind-generated power, and in a smaller format footprint than previously intended...because of this book. I'm riding my bike to work more often ... because of this book. I l This book changes you. If you don't come away doing SOMETHING more for the environment than you already are, well then I think there's something wrong with you. It's a do as I do book, and is quite effective at that. My company's next two printing projects will be done on 100 percent post-consumer content paper, produced with wind-generated power, and in a smaller format footprint than previously intended...because of this book. I'm riding my bike to work more often ... because of this book. I leave my car home on the weekends and do the grocery shopping with my children all on our bikes, each with a backpack ... because of this book. It all matters. It all adds up.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mason Wiebe

    Chouinard’s story of his values and what led him to start Patagonia. The principles that drive his company are really his own and he is a reluctant businessman. Big focus on quality, durability and doing more with less. He is a committed environmentalist and believes businesses should be responsible for the damage they do to the Earth. Refreshing. Quotes I liked: Doing risk sport had taught me another important lesson: never exceed your limits. You push the envelope and you live for those moments Chouinard’s story of his values and what led him to start Patagonia. The principles that drive his company are really his own and he is a reluctant businessman. Big focus on quality, durability and doing more with less. He is a committed environmentalist and believes businesses should be responsible for the damage they do to the Earth. Refreshing. Quotes I liked: Doing risk sport had taught me another important lesson: never exceed your limits. You push the envelope and you live for those moments when you’re right on the edge, but you don’t go over. You have to be true to yourself; you have to know your strengths and limitations and live within your means. -Yvon Chouinard The more you know, the less you need. -Yvon Chouinard Everything we personally own that’s made, sold, shipped, stored, cleaned, and ultimately thrown away does some environmental harm every step of the way, harm that we’re either directly responsible for or is done on our behalf. -Yvon Chouinard How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top. -Yvon Chouinard The goal of climbing big, dangerous mountains should be to attain some sort of spiritual and personal growth, but this won’t happen if you compromise away the entire process. -Yvon Chouinard …the worst thing said about him is that he was “uncurious.” -Yvon Chouinard …most of the damage we cause to the planet is the result of our own ignorance. -Yvon Chouinard

  5. 5 out of 5

    Willian Molinari

    It was 3 stars until 70% of the book but the ending deserves 4. This book is the story of Patagonia and how its founders deal with business, people, and the environment. Their way of life resonates a lot with what I think is a good way to live. Maintain a sustainable business, hire people you trust and give them enough freedom to live a good life while giving their best to make the company grow, thinking about the environment, grow only when you have to grow (to supply your demand), live a minimal It was 3 stars until 70% of the book but the ending deserves 4. This book is the story of Patagonia and how its founders deal with business, people, and the environment. Their way of life resonates a lot with what I think is a good way to live. Maintain a sustainable business, hire people you trust and give them enough freedom to live a good life while giving their best to make the company grow, thinking about the environment, grow only when you have to grow (to supply your demand), live a minimalistic life, and so many other stuff. The book speaks in the first person, about their own story, but here are some notes I took: * You don't make it perfect when you add everything you can, but when you remove everything possible and keep it to the bare minimum * Employ people who share the fundamental values of the corporation while representing cultural and ethical diversity * The quality of the product is related to its use * Provide ways to fix the product because each new product manufactured is a piece of the environment that goes away * People say they can't contact someone but this is a dishonest answer. They don't want to do it or it doesn't have a high priority for them * Deliver what your client wants when he wants it. If you don't do that he will look for a company who does. After he does that it's hard to get him again. * Expect your supplier to deliver on schedule, but you have to do the same * American companies fail in Japanese market because they try to do business by the book. * Show people who you are as a company, not a fictional character. There are companies creating fictional characters for what they want people to see, not the real truth. It's easier to show the real company if you really live what you say. * Profits happen when you do everything right. It's a consequence. * Grow only in natural rate. If there is no product in the stock, it means we have to produce more and it's natural growth * Don't create an artificial advertisement for your goods just to increase the demand. Create a product that your clients really need. We want customers that need our product, not just desire it. * We don't want to be a big company, we want to be the best company. * Hire many as people as possible who use your product and like it, they will make it even better * I never saw a company who wants to build the best product ever when people who work there are not passionate about it * We prefer to hire from our network of friends and business associates. We don't want stars seeking for special treatment, we look for the best person for the job, even if it means keeping a position open for a long time. * It's easier to teach the work to people who have your culture and like your product, but it's really hard to teach culture for high-skilled people * Let my people go surfing and believe they will not abuse their benefits. Everyone can make their own work time. Work whenever you want and feel more productive and enjoy your life. * We don't want soldiers who obey orders, we want people who question every decision and wants to make the best for the product * Managers must be always available for those who report to them. Have a common place for people to exchange ideas (cafeteria) * The answer for global environmental change is action. Don't wait for others or for the technology to solve the problem, act now * No businessman change aggressively one department without thinking on the rest of the company, but that's what is happening to the environment * A company that builds landmines but don't know what they do should go to a country where they are a problem to locals, so they can see what their product to the people. All companies should do the same with the environment. * Evil is the absence of good. If you can do good and you're doing nothing, you are doing evil. * The more you know, the less you need

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cate

    I love origin stories, and was drawn to this to read the story of how Chouinard lives a life of adventure while running a successful business. The beginning was interesting, I liked reading about his early years and how he started making climbing equipment basically on the beach and growing that into a business. The "reluctant" part of the business story wears thin pretty quickly: this guy obviously knows how to run a business, and wants to run a business, so the whole I'm-really-just-an-outdoor I love origin stories, and was drawn to this to read the story of how Chouinard lives a life of adventure while running a successful business. The beginning was interesting, I liked reading about his early years and how he started making climbing equipment basically on the beach and growing that into a business. The "reluctant" part of the business story wears thin pretty quickly: this guy obviously knows how to run a business, and wants to run a business, so the whole I'm-really-just-an-outdoor-guy-now-running-a-whoopsie!-business does not ring true. As the book goes on, it reads more like an extended version of a Patagonia catalog with Successories-type side bars meant to inspire(!). If you are interested in thread count and sewing techniques of shell jackets, this book is for you. If not, you might find yourself, like I did, paging through it like any other mail catalog while the tv is on and the dinner is warming up on the stove.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alper Çuğun

    Chouinard tells the story of how the succes of his company Patagonia has forced him to invent a whole and balanced way of doing business. He takes a longer term view focused on real sustainability and in doing so he does does away with conventional business paradigms where the goal is growth at any cost. Patagonia as told by Chouinard is an example for the rest of the world with a dedication to the highest level of quality and the lowest amount of side-effects, environmentally and socially. Once Chouinard tells the story of how the succes of his company Patagonia has forced him to invent a whole and balanced way of doing business. He takes a longer term view focused on real sustainability and in doing so he does does away with conventional business paradigms where the goal is growth at any cost. Patagonia as told by Chouinard is an example for the rest of the world with a dedication to the highest level of quality and the lowest amount of side-effects, environmentally and socially. Once you have read this, morality alone should convince you that there is no other way of doing business.The story Chouinard tells is reminiscent of Ricardo Semler's story in the Seven-Day Weekend but whereas Semler's stories tell of an anecdotal success, Chouinard rolls out a comprehensive philosophy that is the basis for all of Patagonia's action and takes Semler's principles to their logical conclusion.I am not an environmentalist in the traditional sense of the word but change is necessary. I think we can and will live in harmony with the environment if we employ a positive world changing outlook, technological progress, market forces and cradle to cradle thinking in a good way. Chouinard gives example after example of these strategies and the change they have created. Patagonia is both a profitable company and an exemplary environmentalist at the same time. They show how doing things right can be more fun, better for the world and cheaper in the long run.Personally this book has persuaded me that conservation of nature and the last pieces of wilderness is important and that the resources we consume should be in balance with the planet harvested organically and sustainably. In business the example of Patagonia has strengthened my resolve to be in business myself. For the same reasons: to do what you believe in, do good and to lead by an example others can follow.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    I'm always wary of the stories of successful people who make it seem like they fell into their success. At the same time, because Patagonia is, for a for-profit business, very environmentally responsible and family-oriented, I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, I didn't. The beginning is pretty interesting, as Chouinard writes about his early life and how his company started making better equipment for mountain climbers. I was with him for this part. He figured out how to build a bet I'm always wary of the stories of successful people who make it seem like they fell into their success. At the same time, because Patagonia is, for a for-profit business, very environmentally responsible and family-oriented, I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, I didn't. The beginning is pretty interesting, as Chouinard writes about his early life and how his company started making better equipment for mountain climbers. I was with him for this part. He figured out how to build a better mousetrap and the world beat a path to his door. As the company grew, Chouinard wrote about how little he knew about business. Mostly, he wanted to keep climbing and surfing and fishing. He makes it seem as if his business sort of magically grew. I find that much harder to swallow. You don't get to be the size of Patagonia without some very savvy business people running things. While at first it was just Chouinard and his friends, my guess is that not every employee was a ski bum. There are many reasons to laud Patagonia. The company is incredibly environmentally responsible. They were on the forefront of implementing family leave for employees who gave birth. They had child-care on site so that families can be together. But as another reviewer pointed out, Patagonia clothing is damned expensive. Chouinard certainly touts Patagonia as a company run by thrill-seeking iconoclasts for thrill-seeking iconoclasts. Then he charges prices that only lawyers and corporate executives who want to come off as thrill-seekers can afford. In my opinion, this book is a little disingenuous. Chouinard may be a reluctant businessman, but he certainly hired some very competent businesspeople to work for him and help build his company. That was not the message I was looking for out of this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Enrico Berta

    At certain times a bit idealistic and naive, however overall, if read with a certain sense of "self-conciousness" knowing that it simply won't be that easy and that many more factors are to be considered (like for example the high pricing of his clothing which he doesn't tackle at all or that working towards a sustainable environment is for most people a privilege many people simply cannot afford (here it is also important to mention that it is on the other hand usually the privileged ones who c At certain times a bit idealistic and naive, however overall, if read with a certain sense of "self-conciousness" knowing that it simply won't be that easy and that many more factors are to be considered (like for example the high pricing of his clothing which he doesn't tackle at all or that working towards a sustainable environment is for most people a privilege many people simply cannot afford (here it is also important to mention that it is on the other hand usually the privileged ones who can do something against it that are causing the environmental problems with vast overconsumption)) literally a "goodread" for me and I recommend it to anyone who is at least slightly concerned about the direction in which our world is going. Well sourced and decorated with marvellous pictures too. Sorry for the long brackets :)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    I expected to dislike this book and dislike YC after reading it, but I was wrong. I was actually quite impressed with his vision and efforts and *some* of his business policies. Most criticisms I hear about Patagonia are one of two things. First, that it’s too expensive. This is discussed and makes sense to me. He wanted to make the best quality possible, that could last a long, long time, to reduce waste. At the same time, he’s not looking to be dry-clean only, but durable and usable. I have ha I expected to dislike this book and dislike YC after reading it, but I was wrong. I was actually quite impressed with his vision and efforts and *some* of his business policies. Most criticisms I hear about Patagonia are one of two things. First, that it’s too expensive. This is discussed and makes sense to me. He wanted to make the best quality possible, that could last a long, long time, to reduce waste. At the same time, he’s not looking to be dry-clean only, but durable and usable. I have had two expensive Patagonia coats. One I wore until the zipper broke, and I mailed it in and they replaced the zipper, free of charge. The other fell apart at the seams after a strange interaction with my dryer sheets, we think, and they replaced it with the newer year’s version, which would have cost more, again free of charge and with no hassle. These experiences match what he preaches in his book. Yes, I pay more upfront, but less in the long run if it truly lasts. Also, pro deals are to let those who truly are passionate about the sport afford the gear for much less. He’s not trying to make the cheapest disposable product. Walmart has that covered. Second, people love to say that Patagonia only supports environmental causes bc it’s advertising and will help them sell more. I liked how he described how each time they made a change to better the environment, it actually saved them money. If you find a way to support your cause and run a business, that doesn’t seem worse to me than just running a business. He acknowledges the press/marketing they get, but it doesn’t mean they don’t actually care. I did feel it fell flat in some parts, esp the parts about management. Not his area of expertise. I also felt annoyed that he seems to think that working in the outdoor industry is the only worthy and valuable career. He makes fun of lawyers, but I bet he’s needed them. He seems oblivious at times to the fact that not everyone needs to live his way or share his priorities. I think this is kind of common in that world. Overall a good read, and I learned a lot of interesting history of climbing and enjoyed his learnings on business from several angles.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ynna

    Yvon Chouinard wanted to make a little extra cash so so he could support his rock climbing hobby and decided to create his own climbing equipment. Years later, a simple desire to do what he loved evolved into an outdoor recreation company recognized for its quality, consistency, and sustainability. After reading this memoir, Patagonia means so much more to me now than colorful fleece pullovers and vests. Chouinard's unusual approach to business includes campaigns which literally ask customers no Yvon Chouinard wanted to make a little extra cash so so he could support his rock climbing hobby and decided to create his own climbing equipment. Years later, a simple desire to do what he loved evolved into an outdoor recreation company recognized for its quality, consistency, and sustainability. After reading this memoir, Patagonia means so much more to me now than colorful fleece pullovers and vests. Chouinard's unusual approach to business includes campaigns which literally ask customers not to buy his products, offering repair services for used or damaged products and donating 1% of all sales to environmental causes. Perhaps the most endearing thing I learned about Patagonia is their dedication to families. Yvon and his wife Malinda didn't want to run a company where parents had to be away from their children, especially during the early years of childhood so they worked to create on-site childcare services and generous maternity and paternity leaves. Besides sharing his business philosophy, Yvon shares his Zen inspired life philosophies and how he incorporates his desire to do good into his business practices. I was inspired and humbled when reading this and forced to re-think my very American consumer habits. My biggest takeaways from Let My People Go Surfing were: 1) Buy only what you need and make sure it's high quality so you don't have to buy it again 2) The earth is dying and we are killing it 3) It's the little efforts of human beings striving to do good and make the world better that combine to make significant positive changes for our planet and generations to come This book also includes dozens of beautiful pictures of Patagonia employees enjoying themselves in nature as well as incredible scenery from around the world. I have a definition of evil different from most people. Evil doesn't have to be an overt act, it can be merely the absence of good. If you have the ability, the resources, and the opportunity to do good and you do nothing, that can be evil.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This book starts out as a fantastic story of Patagonia, the outdoor gear and clothing retailer. Then Chouinard, the founder of the company, breaks down the company into its value components. It would be great, except he repeats the same details he spoke of in the beginning. I would have appreciated a better integration of the two parts. Overall, a very interesting read, and a great lesson about keeping to your values and making sacrifices early to reap benefits later.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Grace Lawrence

    Amazing book. We’re all going to die of global warming but besides that feeling of crippling depression, great read!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris Kendig

    This book is interesting and provides some insight into the mind of a successful businessman who doesn't fetishize business (a rarity in my experience). Patagonia is undoubtedly a company that can thrive if/as the world becomes more just and responsible (also a rarity in my experience).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Great book - it wasn't quite what I was expecting, but still really enjoyed it. I liked hearing about Yvon's backstory and the philosophy behind Patagonia's business practices. The way that the reader is called to action is compelling too, appreciated the points backed up by stats that were referenced. I'll likely read the second half of the book again, as I wasn't prepared for the content and I found I wasn't in the right head space to digest it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emily McKinney

    5 stars for the first section describing how Patagonia came to be, 2 stars for the second section where the book turned into a many- paged Patagonia advertisement.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    I don't know if this book really deserves 5 stars but Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia's business priorities definitely deserve 5 stars. I'm sure Patagonia has more faults than the book lets on but their dedication to the environment is inspiring. I need to go buy something from them.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lucia

    A total must-read. This book belongs to hands of every person walking this planet. It proudly takes the place of the best book I've ever read. It wasn't worth only for my studies on climate change, but mainly on my view of consumption. This book has a plenty of topics to teach you - climate change, doing a business, cooperating with people, being fair - through amazing outdoor adventures. This book teaches you how to think twice before buying a piece of clothes (or anything producing waste), or A total must-read. This book belongs to hands of every person walking this planet. It proudly takes the place of the best book I've ever read. It wasn't worth only for my studies on climate change, but mainly on my view of consumption. This book has a plenty of topics to teach you - climate change, doing a business, cooperating with people, being fair - through amazing outdoor adventures. This book teaches you how to think twice before buying a piece of clothes (or anything producing waste), or gives you all the reasons on why to favor more expensive clothes of higher quality. Also, it gives you brand new perspective on how to make an eco-friendly business and environment itself. It's been said lately that we shall let the environment lead our development - Chouinard was practicing this ever since he founded Patagonia, several decades ago. I'd consider this man a hero of the business. Definitely recommended to everyone - you don't have to be a businessman, either a student of climate change.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vidya Balakrishnan

    This book is a must read. The author Chouinard talks about his experience as an entrepreneur. He is a nature enthusiast who happened to become successful thanks to his passion for the outdoors. What really stood out about this book is the vision and mission he had for his company Patagonia. Its amazing to read how much they believe in a cause and how much they strive to make the world a better place. Apart from the growth of Patagonia he also discusses and enlightens the reader on sustainability This book is a must read. The author Chouinard talks about his experience as an entrepreneur. He is a nature enthusiast who happened to become successful thanks to his passion for the outdoors. What really stood out about this book is the vision and mission he had for his company Patagonia. Its amazing to read how much they believe in a cause and how much they strive to make the world a better place. Apart from the growth of Patagonia he also discusses and enlightens the reader on sustainability and in what small ways any person can take responsibility and help. Patagonia is a poster child of organizations.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christian Allen

    Bit wordy on their company philosophy but really great ideas on how companies can minimize their impact on the environment. Best was their use of recycled soda bottles to create synthentic polyesters and paying employee's two months salary if they work fulltime in environmental activism. They even pay the bail of those participating in civil disobedience cases for environmental protection!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Will

    This book is a history lesson on outdoors culture, a mission statement on how to conduct responsible business and be a thoughtful citizen of our planet, and a call to action to preserve our wilderness as told through the story of Chouinard Equipment (the climbing hardware manufacturer which would become Black Diamond) and Patagonia, the iconic outdoor wear company. 4-1/2*

  22. 5 out of 5

    Valentine

    A very inspiring book for the business student that I am. It changed a bit my view on business and helped me to see how sustainable companies can be built. 100% recommended to everyone!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    "There is no business to be done on a dead planet." - David Bower Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman is a well-written, interesting and inspiring if somewhat repetitive business memoir by Patagonia founder and owner Yvon Chouinard. It is also entertaining, such as the story about their Pledge-a-Picket program. For every protester outside their stores for their support for Planned Parenthood, Patagonia pledged to give 10 USD to Planned Parenthood. The boycott quick "There is no business to be done on a dead planet." - David Bower Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman is a well-written, interesting and inspiring if somewhat repetitive business memoir by Patagonia founder and owner Yvon Chouinard. It is also entertaining, such as the story about their Pledge-a-Picket program. For every protester outside their stores for their support for Planned Parenthood, Patagonia pledged to give 10 USD to Planned Parenthood. The boycott quickly collapsed. As an outdoorsy person, the one thing I have never been able to come to terms with is the environmental impact of my equipment. Even if my fleece is made from recycled PET bottles, it is far better not to make the bottles in the first place. But then, what do we make fleece out of - raw materials? And if not, how do I stay warm when wet without a fleece or a Gortex wind jacket? Organic wool or a down feather jacket still have huge environmental impacts even if the sheep and geese are free range and organic. It seems I have always known about the Patagonia company, and that they had some environmental values, but 3 am on a cold Maine morning of a canoe trip or hike and in need of a last minute item, I always headed to L.L. Bean. If I had known more about Patagonia, or cared more at that time, I probably would have switched my loyalties. But I was still on the fence about my environmental values, mostly because I had massive student loans to consider and Patagonia's products were a bit more high-end than I could afford. However, as Chouinard has described, Patagonia has been far ahead of the field from its inception. Through its innovation and commitment, Patagonia has been able to make more environmentally-friendly outdoor products and clothing more accessible, and more importantly, more affordable for the general public. Even though Chouinard has said, "Sustainable manufacturing is an oxymoron," the company's search for sustainable manufacturing has led to some interesting data, and even more inspiring solutions. Consider the following: The post-sale care and maintenance of clothing causes up to 4x the environmental harm as the manufacture. For example, machine drying does more to shorten the life of a piece of clothing than actual wear - just look in the lint filter! Buy used, don't iron or dry clean, wash in cold water and line dry (or the amazing "fregoli" in Hungary) Dr. Thomas Power of the University of Montana has found that "only 10-15% of what Americans spend on goods and services is necessary for survival." They spend the other 85-90% on upgrades in quality. The single greatest use of energy in product lifespan is transport. A Patagonia shirt consumes 110000 BTUs, while transport from Ventura to Boston is 50000 BTUs. As a result, Patagonia encourages transport by boat, and discourages next-day service by plane. Patagonia's mission in part states that they aim to "make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis... Our bottom line is the amount of good that the business has accomplished over the year...Using business to implement and inspire solutions to the environmental crisis." It idealistically claims to measure success by the number of trees not cut, kilograms of pesticides not used, wilderness areas created or preserved. As Chouinard says, "It's ok to be eccentric, as long as you are rich; otherwise you are just crazy." However, he has made it work by tying profits to the quality of the products and services, not to the environment. "Having useful products allows you to expand your mission." Patagonia's Environmental Policy Lead an examined life (see Socrates', "An unexamined life is not worth living," in Plato's Dialogues) Clean up our own act Do your penance Support civil democracy Influence other companies Patagonia has made a great number of innovations both in more sustainable manufacturing and corporate social responsibility. It was the first in the US to start on-site daycare for employees, and provide 60 days paid paternity/maternity leave. Many of its products are reusable and multifunctional, such as their first major product innovation the reusable and less intrusive piton. During the 1980's it phased out plastic bags in waste baskets, saving 1200 USD/yr. Everyone became responsible for their own recycling, with some special baskets for wet waste around the office. They removed coffee cups at the company cafe, saving 800 USD/yr, and discontinued Styrofoam cups. Everyone brought their own reusable ceramic coffee cups. They reused cardboard boxes in the mailroom, saving 1000 USD/yr. Patagonia installed compact fluorescent light bulbs, painted the ceilings in reflective colors, added skylights and installed solar panels. In 1984, it was the first in the US to use a high percentage of recycled paper in its catalog, saving 3.5kwh electricity, 6 million gallons water, 52000 lbs air pollutants, 1560 m3 out of landfills, and 14500 trees. In 1986, it decided to donate 10% of their profits each year to small environmental and social NGOs; later 1% of sales or 10% of pre-tax profits. Since 1985, this has amounted to over 38 million USD to over 1000 organisations. In 1988, Patagonia launched its first of many national environmental campaigns, to de-urbanise Yosemite Valley. Since then, it has founded Friends of Ventura River to save salmon and the river; campaigned against GATT, against GMOs; and against heavy truck traffic through the Alps. In 1993, it was the first to begin producing fleece jackets from recycled PET bottles. It takes 25 PET bottles to make 1 fleece jacket, and between 1993-2003 this has resulted in the recycling of over 86 million PET bottles. In 1996, they did a life-cycle analysis for the 4 major fibers they use: cotton, wool, polyester and nylon. Cotton had the worst impact. Twenty-five percent of the insecticides and 10% of the pesticides used annually worldwide are used on cotton. Even though organic cotton was 50-100% more expensive, the company switched to 100% organic cotton between 1994-96. Even so, there are still impacts from formaldehyde; synthetic dyes, strong cotton thread, and water (see the Aral Sea!). The neon nylon dyes were found to be toxic, so they switched to less toxic alternatives; except there was no solution for orange, so they stopped the orange lines. In 2004, Patagonia built a new 3-story office building, but out of 95% recycled materials. Straw bale houses are fireproof, earthquake proof, mildew-proof, termite-proof, energy efficient, 25% cheaper. The amount of rice straw burned in the US each year could build 5 million 2000 m2 houses. They took thermal underwear out of the cardboard and Ziploc bags, and instead rolled them up in a simple rubber band. This simple change saved 12 tons of packaging, 150000 USD, and sales went up 25% because customers could better see and feel the product. They took all PVC out of their products with the exception of lifejackets. Comprehensive health care is provided for all, including part-time employees. Patagonia provides matching funds for employee donations to environmental/ social groups. Furthermore, employees can leave on 2 months paid leave to work on an environmental project. Let My People Go Surfing describes the company's job sharing and flexible working hours program. Patagonia employees lobbied for and got 2 million acres declared protected wilderness in Nevada. A retail outlet's parking lot in Utah became the first recycling station in the entire state. The book has in fact made me think. As a small business owner whose profile is environmental, I have had to consider many of the same issues as Chouinard. Some issues have been environmental impact, such as do I se locally produced organic Hungarian milk which is packaged in non-sustainable multi-layered cartons, or organic milk from Germany that is in refillable bottles? Or even more fundamentally, do I serve organic air Trade coffee at all, considering its large environmental footprint from transport? Moreover, I have had to consider why in fact I am in business; and what defines quality, or a degree of excellence at Treehugger Dan's. Also, if my company has slow growth or no growth, how do I become more efficient each year? Since I am also a reluctant businessman, and environmentalist first, I, like Chouinard, have had a lot to learn about business and also and how to keep the balance. "There is money to be made by endlessly working on symptoms." What Patagonia has shown is that there is also money to be made by working on the causes. I am not saying Patagonia is faultless. For example, while it ays 2000 USD towards any employee's purchase of hybrid or electric car and reserves the best parking spaces for the most fuel-efficient cars, working on more long-term solutions would be encouraging the use and development of public transportation. But at least Patagonia are trying, and with verve and sincerity.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Porter

    This is a book about the clothing company, Patagonia, and how the owner started the company through rock climbing. This book has little-to-nothing to do with surfing or a culture of surfing within the company as the name would suggest. It has A LOT more to do with a rock climber who started a business selling rock climbing gear, then added clothing to his business, and eventually expanded into the billion-dollar empire that we all know. Along the way Patagonia becomes an extremely environmentall This is a book about the clothing company, Patagonia, and how the owner started the company through rock climbing. This book has little-to-nothing to do with surfing or a culture of surfing within the company as the name would suggest. It has A LOT more to do with a rock climber who started a business selling rock climbing gear, then added clothing to his business, and eventually expanded into the billion-dollar empire that we all know. Along the way Patagonia becomes an extremely environmentally conscious company and I believe it should be given a lot of credit. It’s impressive how much they do to minimize the environmental impact of every part of their business, from the environmental cost of transporting their goods down to reducing harmful dies in the threads of their fabrics. I would not have known any of this had I not read the book, and it makes me feel better about buying and wearing Patagonia products in the future. The book is part story, mostly company-informational. The owners background story is relatively brief in the beginning and then more of it is weaved in throughout the rest of the book. In the company-information-heavy middle section of the book that starts to feel a little bit like an internal employee handbook, the owner describes Patagonia’s company philosophies, like their management philosophy, production philosophy, and other corporate stuff like financial philosophies and even supply chain philosophies. In fact, “Let My People Go Surfing” is the name of one of their Human Resources policies; it’s only talked about in the book for one paragraph. Just one paragraph, which I don’t think in any way warrants naming the entire book after. It’s a very misleading title. In comparison, there are two full pages dedicated to Patagonia’s child care policies. Why not call this a book about children instead? After all, this book isn’t really about children or surfing. Sure, maybe the idea of “let my people go surfing” is a nod to the notion that Patagonia is a different kind of company, but the owner makes it clear that his commitment to the environment is what makes Patagonia different (not that he wants to let his people go surfing). The author even says, “At Patagonia the protection and preservation of the natural environment... (is) the reason we are in business.” (again, it’s not to let their people go surfing). When the company moves their main warehouse 500 miles inland from the beach town of Ventura, CA, across the Sierras to Reno, NV, I don’t think they were worried about their employees going surfing then either. For a company that identifies themselves so closely with the environment, they should name their book after something that has to do with the them and the environment. It probably should have been named, “Live Simply” after one of their environmental philosophies and their commitment to building simple, efficient, quality products. By naming it something else it detracts from their environmental accomplishments and activism. If it was named “let my people go surfing” just because it was a little more flashy and might sell more copies, then I’d have to admit they tricked me into reading it, and it kinda leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m also kinda bitter that I’ll probably buy more Patagonia products now that I know more about the company and have a new found respect for them (minus the deceptive title of their book). Still, it’s a good book, but I give it 3 stars for the bait-and-switch. P.S. I just bought a new Patagonia snowboarding jacket.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Azeera

    What we lost out to the billion dollar unicorns are stories of grit and passion and true love Patagonia was founded by yvon for his and his friends' true love for the outdoors. Each of them fashioning carabineers and pitons for scaling the rocks they loved, or finding the most comfortable clothing that would help them hike. Each product was fashioned with care and product tested on themselves. Each time they scaled the Yosemite they were putting their lives at risk with their products. What began What we lost out to the billion dollar unicorns are stories of grit and passion and true love Patagonia was founded by yvon for his and his friends' true love for the outdoors. Each of them fashioning carabineers and pitons for scaling the rocks they loved, or finding the most comfortable clothing that would help them hike. Each product was fashioned with care and product tested on themselves. Each time they scaled the Yosemite they were putting their lives at risk with their products. What began as a company created to fund a freedom loving climber lifestyle is today a billion dollar company. A company that they built living out of tin shacks and rock ledges and car vans as they continued to fall in love and be worried for the environmental degradation. Yvons passion for climbing is reminiscent of Phil Knight’s (Nike founder) passion for running. And so is the story of how both Nike and Patagonia were built after decades of struggle. Bootstrapped companies that stayed true to their values. In contrast to today's founder stories being about creating habit changing technology or quickly capturing market or selling stock and core values to venture capitalists to turn billionaires overnight, Yvon’s or Phil Knight’s stories are about grit, about having been true to their values for which they founded the company or the culture they sought to create. Yvon speaks at length about celebrating the oddities of his employees , about how he wanted patagonia to be the place they climbed steps two at a time, went surfing and was always a family. Patagonia had a babies room in 1970s, a child development centre where kids cam back to parents after school and maternity leaves long before the law had mandated companies to have it. The human resource ohilosohy of the company thus focuses on a) hiiring employees who are ithin their extended network b) love the outdoors and have a passion for something larger. Yvon and patagonia’s love for the outdoors also made them deeply consicious of the environment footprint that our lives were making and their product design was thus evolved to reflect a commintment to creating sustainable and durable products which minimises impact. Their commitment to donating 10% of their profits and 1% of their sales to NGOs that work on envirnoment protection reflects the founder’s commitment of creating “ not yet another selfish that he had a deep disdain of as a child. A few new lessons lace through the book like the bit where Kris, the reluctant CEO learned how to run an entire business by seeking help, or how risky sports have taught Yvon to push the limit but to never go off the edge. As a lover of founder stories, while patagonia INC and yvon leaves me impressed, the book falls short in many places for a reader. It does not explain enough how it tided over the 1991 crises that came in from having unsustainable growth driven by disparate product lines. The philosophy that Yvon has listed out also begin to read like the “boring” vision mission statements that organisational development consultants frame out for large corporations.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, describes himself as a pessimist because he believes that our current economic model is unsustainable and humans aren't smart enough to save themselves and the planet. But this hasn't stopped him from taking a hard look at his company and implementing the most effective changes he can for the longterm sustainability of the company and the planet. As he says,“There's no difference between a pessimist who says, 'It's all over, don't bother trying to do anyt Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, describes himself as a pessimist because he believes that our current economic model is unsustainable and humans aren't smart enough to save themselves and the planet. But this hasn't stopped him from taking a hard look at his company and implementing the most effective changes he can for the longterm sustainability of the company and the planet. As he says,“There's no difference between a pessimist who says, 'It's all over, don't bother trying to do anything, forget about voting, it won't make a difference,' and an optimist who says, 'Relax, everything is going to turn out fine.' Either way the results are the same. Nothing gets done.” The book is divided into several sections that break down Patagonia Inc.'s various philosophies, from design to human resources to marketing to the environment. Unlike most companies, Patagonia's mission isn't to make a lot of money, it's to do good and lead by example so that other businesses can see that this is a model that works and momentum builds from there. Maybe we can save the world. "Let My People Go Surfing" is the name of Patagonia's flextime policy. They encourage their employees to get out there and climb a mountain, surf when the waves are there, volunteer for environmental causes and protest where necessary. All this sounds a little too good to be true, and Chouinard is the first to admit that there's a lot of greenwashing out there. Companies that "check the block" and advertise their products as organic without bothering to find out if those organic goods are still depleting the land or harming a village. And he realizes that Patagonia itself will always cause some strain on the planet. To make any product has an environmental cost. But he's willing to ask more questions, tougher questions, and switch gears when necessary. Many traditional business owners would see this as an unnecessary hurdle but Chouinard sees it as an incentive to stay innovative and remain ahead of the pack. Patagonia strives to outpace the competition, but reach out to help other businesses looking for a different economic model. One of the things that drew me to this book, which I could have cynically viewed as slick advertising by the company, was the introduction by Naomi Klein, the author of "The Shock Doctrine" and "This Changes Everything." Klein is an unabashed critic of modern capitalism. I found it hard to believe that she'd sell out to shill for any corporate company. More likely, there was something in the Patagonia philosophies that genuinely resonated with her own beliefs. Patagonia Inc. has also supported and/or published work by Terry Tempest Williams, Nell Sunn and Audrey Sutherland. Chouinard cites the work of Masanobu Fukuoka who wrote "The One Straw Revolution" about organic farming. That's enough proof for me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

    Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard shares his upbringing, anticapitalist mindset, and story behind starting the brand we now know and Bay Area natives call Patagucci. Chouinard is still alive and well, but he's currently looking for a grave to roll in after hearing that nickname. Tangents aside, I appreciate this read. Chouinard deeply passionate about environmental causes without being falsely optimistic or direly pessimistic. He acknowledges that playing the long game can inhibit big businesses o Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard shares his upbringing, anticapitalist mindset, and story behind starting the brand we now know and Bay Area natives call Patagucci. Chouinard is still alive and well, but he's currently looking for a grave to roll in after hearing that nickname. Tangents aside, I appreciate this read. Chouinard deeply passionate about environmental causes without being falsely optimistic or direly pessimistic. He acknowledges that playing the long game can inhibit big businesses or individuals from seeing sustainability as an option that saves anything at all. However, his experiences are a testament to the adage that slow and steady wins the race. He also touches upon how other topics like diversity, resources, and race all have a hand in working on the issue of environmental sustainability. I would love more discussion on this, but hey, that's why we have nearly infinite books in the universe. I still have some questions, namely: (1) I guess it's still not clear to me how he built such a successful company. Is it really as simple as he really loved what he did, and kept at it? I'm not sure if I'm looking for more explanations, more excuses for myself, or something else I missed. (2) I would've loved some thoughts on how to make sustainability more affordable for everyone. Recently, an informative article came out (I believe on Bloomberg) about how only a minority of people can actually afford sustainable products. We won't make enough environmental change if only some of us are in the club - meaning voting with your wallet can't ever be the only solution. In Patagonia's case, I trust that Chouinard is doing so much more than that. I also understand why Chouinard's products are so pricey - he factors in the cost to build what he feels is the best product possible. So what does he have to say or recommend we do about access? As a side note, I believe every HR professional should read and discuss this book. As someone who used to work in HR/talent, I've been fortunate to work alongside some truly forward-thinking and compassionate HR leaders who would be inclined to agree with his practices for looking after his employees. I know I'm in the minority, and I hope more people see the results of an HR team and leadership that cares about them in the workplace. Chouinard acknowledges his practices as radical, but they shouldn't be. They should be required - and perhaps his book can be a testament to why.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    As a company, Patagonia was never on my radar. I’d never browsed a catalog, visited their website, let alone purchased anything. If I knew anything about them, it was, at best, next to nothing. That is, until last year when they sued the Trump administration over its decision to sharply reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah. Unrelated, but soon after, I connected with the founders of Prairiewood, a tallgrass prairie preserve located in the Flint Hills just outside Manhattan, Kansas. As a company, Patagonia was never on my radar. I’d never browsed a catalog, visited their website, let alone purchased anything. If I knew anything about them, it was, at best, next to nothing. That is, until last year when they sued the Trump administration over its decision to sharply reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah. Unrelated, but soon after, I connected with the founders of Prairiewood, a tallgrass prairie preserve located in the Flint Hills just outside Manhattan, Kansas. Missional to their core, Kail and Becky, have long been fans of Patagonia, and see their own business endeavors, primarily in the restoration and preservation of both built and unbuilt space, as a means to an end — a way to do well and do good. Naturally, then, during one of my many conversations with them (I officially joined their parent company, Capstone3D, in January), Kail brought out a copy of Yvon Chouinard’s “Let My People Go Surfing” for me to borrow. Conceived as a manual for the employees of Patagonia, “Let My People Go Surfing” is exactly that: a long-form narrative covering both the history of the company, as well as its philosophy on pretty much every aspect of its operations. As a primer on the origins of Patagonia and the freewheeling approach to business Yvon and his first employees had, it’s a scintillating read. But that only gets you through the first 70 pages. The rest of the book, another 180 pages or so, is devoted to Patagonia’s tenets on product design, production, distribution, marketing, finance, human resources, management, and the environment. Here, Yvon gets down to brass tacks, digging into the whats, whys, and hows, and, depending on what brought you to the book in the first place, your mileage may vary. I’d argue, however, that whether you’re an activist, a fan, a customer, an environmentalist, a kindred spirit, a small business owner, a corporate leader, or a capitalist pig (okay, maybe not if you’re a capitalist pig; there’s simply no saving you), you can’t help but be inspired. Inspired, not because Patagonia is perfect and has it all figured out, because they never stop trying to do better, to do good, to do well. That’s something this planet could use a whole lot more of — from me, from you, from our corporations, and, yes, from our governments.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

    My favorite parts of this book were the chapters that dealt specifically with design philosophy and environmental philosophy. There are several chapters that focus on good business practices in terms of responsibility to customers and employees, which are important, but somewhat dry to read about if you're not specifically interested in Patagonia or how to run a business. (I for one don't even shop at Patagonia!) But overall, the book inspired me to look at the simple choices I can make to impro My favorite parts of this book were the chapters that dealt specifically with design philosophy and environmental philosophy. There are several chapters that focus on good business practices in terms of responsibility to customers and employees, which are important, but somewhat dry to read about if you're not specifically interested in Patagonia or how to run a business. (I for one don't even shop at Patagonia!) But overall, the book inspired me to look at the simple choices I can make to improve and reduce my impact on the environment. It also shed light on all the ways businesses can prioritize "good" and still make (if not increase) profits. Lastly, it alerted me to a very important potential solution for combatting climate change: carbon sequestration through regenerative farming techniques. Carbon sequestration (i.e., basically removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in soil) is only briefly talked about in the book, but this was the first time I'd ever heard about it and it sounds like a viable solution with giant potential. If you're interested in alternative business philosophies or are a Patagonia/Yvon Chouinard fan, this is a great book for you! If you're looking for a book filled with Yvon Choinard adventure stories, you will be disappointed as they are far and few between. If you're primarily interested in design or environment, this book only contains general information and there are likely better, more specific books for both topics. But it's an easy enough read, you'll be inspired to be more environmentally conscious, and you're sure to learn something.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian Wocial

    This book should be mandatory for everyone. “This story is really about how we are trying to live up to our mission statement: ‘Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.’” Even as a paragon for responsible, environmentally-conscious business, Patagonia founder Yves Chouinard acknowledges he and his company are not doing enough. That is the attitude we must all have. Given the pace of degradation to the Earth This book should be mandatory for everyone. “This story is really about how we are trying to live up to our mission statement: ‘Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.’” Even as a paragon for responsible, environmentally-conscious business, Patagonia founder Yves Chouinard acknowledges he and his company are not doing enough. That is the attitude we must all have. Given the pace of degradation to the Earth and the severe absence of meaningful, widespread business action, governmental regulation, or international policy, we should each feel a mandate to change our behaviors and live more simply. As I examine my life and my daily choices, I share these thoughts sitting quietly, pensively, and more aware, certainly not as a preacher or anywhere close to a thoughtful, well-behaves resident of Earth. I can’t explain why this book has been more revealing or thought-provoking than any of the omnipresent earnings, stories, or sources, but it has affected my thoughts in a profound way. Chouinard begins with a quote by Wang Yang Ming, “to know and not to do is not to know”. This book has provided me with more than enough to know; now, it is up to me to do.

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