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Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman
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Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  2,235 ratings  ·  276 reviews
Whether you care about adventure sports, the fate of the natural world, or pure brand maintenance and business success, Patagonia, Inc. is one of the earth's most interesting and inspiring companies. For almost forty years, its reputation for unsurpassed high quality, maverick innovation, and long-term environmental responsibility has put it in a class by itself. And every ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 6th 2005 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2005)
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Lid Hi, it's a mixture of some genres. Long story short - Yvon tells his story and the whys and the hows of Patagonia's creation; and what Patagonia…moreHi, it's a mixture of some genres. Long story short - Yvon tells his story and the whys and the hows of Patagonia's creation; and what Patagonia stands for.

Biography, Autobiography, Entrepreneurship(less)
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Community Reviews

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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
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 ...more
Alper Çugun
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
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 ...more
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.
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
Patagonia is a truly inspiring company. While this book is a relatively quick read, its tenets left an indelible mark on my conscience. Prior to reading this memoir by founder Yvon Chouinard, I was somewhat familiar with Patagonia's business model as well as its reputation for superior quality products, but I had no idea how intrigued I would be by the company's story until getting into this book.

I found Chouinard's description of the company's beginnings to be incredibly interesting and candid,
The Young Urban Unprofessional
After reading this book I'm definitely drinking the Patagonia Coolaid. I told my roommates not to let me buy any Patagonia gear for at least a month after reading this book so that I don't make any rash purchases. I felt it was a great book that talked about the early days of patagonia and chouinard equipment (to become Black Diamond). However, it was defintely a chance for Yvon Chouinard to stand up on his soap box and talk about how awesome Patagonia is and how it's products are far superior t ...more
Erick van Til
Part how-to manual, part memoir, Let My People Go Surfing is a must-read for anyone who is a fan of Patagonia and/or Black Diamond's equipment. Let My People is also a manifesto of sorts for both ethical sourcing and environmentally sustainable business and consumer practices. Lots of great history on things done well and less-than-well by Yvon and his crew back in the early days. Anyone familiar with Mr. Chouinard's communication style will appreciate his salty opinions; anyone not should be pr ...more
Ryan F.
Ryan Fincher

The non fiction book Let My People Go Surfing written by Yvon Chouinard gives a first hand experience about starting a company. Yvon Chouinard single handedly started Patagonia, a business that makes the highest quality climbing gear in his garage. Yvon had a passion for rock climbing and surfing ever since he was in high school and joined a rock climbing club. He used this passion to fuel his creativity toward these sports. Yvon said, “I wanted to make my own climbing
Jenny Earnest
I've always admired Patagonia's refined visual identity system and aesthetic style as a student of graphic design and as a lover of the outdoors. But as I started doing some casual reading on Patagonia's website about the company's philosophies, I grew hungrier and hungrier for information on the environmental crisis. Given all of the wonderful articles Patagonia led me to online, I figured this book that founder (and climbing idol) Yvon Chouinard wrote would be a good (and fun) place to start. ...more
Brian Perusek
Great read if interested in the life of Mr. Chouinard, the Patagonia brand, Patagonia itself, the outdoors and environmentalism. I was surprised just how much of a focus this read had on environmentalist, politics and policies, and Chouinard's true "left wing" practices. He spiced it up a bit with religious opinions and how beliefs a play a role in how we respond to the environment; especially in political arenas, and how his own foundation in Zen Buddhism leads him to focus on a more mindful su ...more
It's been about a decade since Let My People Go Surfing was published, but it remains an extremely relevant and important book. In a charming and unpretentious tone, Chouinard relays his background and how that influenced the philosophy of Chouinard Equipment and later Patagonia. There is ample information on the history and rise of Patagonia, but the meat of the book covers Patagonia's philosophy. In short, the company seeks first to promote environmentally sustainable business practices. The c ...more
Very challenging book, which forces the reader to examine themselves in ways they might not want to. Yvon Chouinard built Patagonia in a purposeful manner, though not without making many mistakes along the way, which he takes full blame for. He and the company are guided by philosophies that underlie every aspect of the business, notably the commitment to do the least possible harm to the environment. They also give 1% of sales to activist groups annually and purposefully constrain their growth. ...more
Yvon's ramblings on business and sustainability. He repeats a lot of mantras used by others (e.g. cradle to cradle) and the book is sort of disjointed. It's obvious he just told stories and anecdotes to a ghost writer who tried to create a logical whole.

At the end of the day, he doesn't manage to resolve the core dilemma between profits/business and ecological sustainability. His company has certainly done some very interesting things in this regard, but he doesn't delve too deeply into them. In
Becky Crump
Why we love this one - above and beyond the recommendation that employees need to have fun. It’s a memoir by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia - kind of every eco-employee’s hero. This book looks at his wild and adventurous early days and follows through to his current life as a CEO. Yvon inspires all leaders to consider their people and the environment above all else and also reminds us that you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. Climb a rock, ride a wave, or simply walk in t ...more
Do what you love, really, do what you love. It's that simple.
A quick read and a glimpse into the life of the man who founded Patagonia. He was an outdoorsman who while climbing saw how the pitons for ropes disfigured the rocks and invented a removable chock. This effort evolved into a company founded in several philosophies for his enterprise. The business of course being a means for his life outside of the office. Written in ground level language that faces the hard truths of business ethics and environmental responsibility. I recommend to those who hate ...more
I loved this book for letting me learn more about Patagonia as a company, the founding members thereof and their (both the members and the company) philosophies towards sustainable production. It gave me a great perspective on using less, and sourcing in ways that are more environmentally friendly and less damaging. What I especially enjoyed was seeing Chouinard's perspective as a mountain climber, returning to some of his favourite places to see them destroyed by the very tools he used to make. ...more
I found this book to be very interesting. As can also be extrapolated from the extended title, the author is apologetic about his position as a businessman. This book is essentially his apology (as in explanation) to all who would question his moral standing for becoming what has become so rhetorically demonized within his sphere of influence. What I found most interesting, is that what he discovered through observation, experimentation and examination, was the conservative business model. This ...more
As I am someone who thoroughly enjoys the outdoors and all that nature has to offer, this book inspired me. Although I currently do not own any Patagonia products but know of them and their products, I was very intrigued by the history of the company and found out many things that I did not know and, quite honestly, admired.

For instance, I was unaware that Patagonia, which started out as Chouinard Equipment-- Mr. Chouinard noticed that El Capitan was being damaged by climber's pitons and decide
Steve Bradshaw
An inspirational book providing the history, philosophy and business principles behind Yvon Chouinard's creation and development of Black Diamond and Patagonia. Chouinard is stubborn, hard-headed, and even arrogant at times, but the thrust of the book is powerful and slick. Under his guidance, Patagonia has become an icon for sustainable manufacturing, environmental protection and employee well-being. The title "Let my people go surfing" refers to a Patagonia tradition that when the surf's up (o ...more
For those who don't know, Chouinard founded and owns Patagonia. I typically abhor business books, they make my brain feel awkward in its own head. This one, however, was truly remarkable and I highly recommend it to anyone ineffectually stuck despising corporate influence, or wanting to know more about how businesses can make better environmental and humanitarian choices rather than greedily exploiting resources, focusing on nothing but growth and the bottom line. It was so refreshing to read de ...more
This was a fantastic book about the business of Patagonia. At first I was expecting a book more based on Chouinard's life and how Patagonia came to be. This was true for about the first quarter of the book. From there he described more about the choices of the business and what set them into motion.

With a near collapse of the business in 1991 the business decided what was critical to the long term survival. Though it was counter to the normal practices of businesses it has been good for them. A
This book is something that i want to continuously return to in order to remind myself how a business can be aligned with our natural world, which is the most important resource we have and that regardless of the business you're in, you can do your part to preserve it. I was like a kid nodding my head as I read this book because Yvon was able to put into words so many of the thoughts and emotions i've also been feeling. For example, thoughts about the way businesses are broken and lack of incent ...more
Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a book called Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, written by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard?

The Bottom Line

In a way, Chouinard became a businessman to subsidize his global travel and outdoor endeavors. Along the way he and others built Patagonia into a global organization that demonstrates a company can be people and planet friendly and profitable.

Let My People Go Surfing shows there is a viable alternative to chasing quarterly earni
I appreciated this book and it made me think. (What more could you want?) The first half tells the story of Patagonia; I appreciated the fast narrative. The second half describes the philosophies that govern Patagonia today; this part made me think. Throughout, Chouinard's voice is clear and simple, thus effective at saying precisely what he wants. Its conversational, but that's what you'd want from a seasoned man with a story to tell.

The book made me think because Chouinard generalized about a
"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
The history of Patagonia was sort of interesting. Yvon's Chouinard's business strategies were no more valuable than any other 'Do business like this because it worked for me' book. There were, however, moments that captured the hypocrisy of every "environmentally-friendly business" and every individual "environmentalist" which were worth the read. Refreshing, Chouinard recognizes that every product Patagonia makes and every product we buy does damage but likens the un-hopeful pessimist to the un ...more
It's amazing to read about a lifetime's worth of work - not just Yvon Chouinard's (founder of Patagonia) life, but also that of what has become a large organisation, and all the people who have been and continue to be involved in it. As I think of the sadness and misery involved in most workplaces for most people in the world, I really do appreciate the forthrightness of Chouinard's personal and business philosophy:

1. Lead an examined life.
2. Clean up our own act.
3. Do our penance.
4. Support ci
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“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.” 61 likes
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