Let My People go Surfing
Yvon Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia and outdoor adventure company. Yvon was a climber and at age 14 he began making his own climbing pitons. He could make two an hour and was selling them for $1.50. As he got more popular he went into business with his buddy. By 1970 Chouinard Equipment was the leading supplier for climbing equipment in the US. However the gear was damaging the rocks, further innovations were needed.
The book discusses how a bunch of climbers started this company that later changed name to Patagonia, how they are in “business to save our home planet”. How they have such an epic, loyal following World Wide, using marketing campaigns such as “Don’t buy this Jacket”. A campaign that went viral and encouraged consumers to bring their equipment back in for repair rather than toss it aside and buy new. It discusses the internal company culture that was at the forefront of everything they did. How pow days were encouraged, if the surf was good then staff came in after etc. It speaks of how they built a creche in the office because they didn’t want to lose their best, dedicated staff. How singing off the same song sheet can be result in fierce loyalty and productivity.
Let My People Go Surfing has been a huge inspiration for us at STOKEDNZ. A company that puts ethics at the forefront of every decision. Nature before profits! As we set out to build our company we have tried to follow a similar approach. Our Towelies (Hooded Towel Ponchos) are just the beginning.
Throughout the book Yvon challenges your values as a human, a consumer and a business person.
Yvon’s book opens with:
"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 to 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 values over profits always! The company is not simply a result of skilled marketing, it is an ode to the authenticity of it’s founder and the culture he established. Yvon never wanted to be a businessman, he loved to climb and he needed a little coin to pursue that passion. As the company took off Yvon grappled with success.
After 35 years in business Yvon had figured out why he stuck by Patagonia, saying “ 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”.
Their mission reads on their website as “using business to save our home planet”. This philosophy took time to catch on but has resulted in loyal customers and driven, satisfied, high performing employees.
If you need an honest,thought provoking, inspiring read I highly recommend “Let your people go surfing”!
If you have read I would love to hear your thoughts.
Have a rad day