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Let My People Go Surfing
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Let My People Go Surfing

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,942 ratings  ·  263 reviews
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...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published July 19th 2007 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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...more
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...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...more
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
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.
Joe Komsky
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...more
Jamie
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,...more
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
Mike
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
Duncan
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...more
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
Dan
Do what you love, really, do what you love. It's that simple.
Derek
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
C.J.
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...more
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
Jack
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
Kent
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...more
Karolis
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
Linda
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...more
Nathanael
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...more
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...more
Sean
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
Kapila
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...more
julia
Working in the fashion industry, I found the story of the evolution of Patagonia fascinating, and some of their business tenants very inspiring. The book really impressed upon me how company culture and values can (and should?) dictate public image, strategic vision and brand reputation. Chouinard isn't interested in trend or even profit to a certain extent, and so pursued his personal and unique vision of Patagonia as a channel through which to fight environmental degradation, and as a means to...more
Steve
Oct 30, 2007 Steve rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, business owners, environmentalists, outdoor enthusiasts, tree huggers
Below is a review I wrote about "Let My People Go Surfing" that was published in The Strategy Brief, a San Diego business journal.


BOOK REVIEW: Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

In his book, Let My People Go Surfing: the education of a reluctant businessman, Chouinard insists that as a child he had no intention of becoming the owner of a $200 million company. Far from it, in fact. Growing up under humble conditions in Quebec, Canada, his dream was to become a fur trapper. One of his earl...more
Erin
My relationship with this book reminds me of a relationship I had with a neighbor in college. This neighbor was tall, dark haired, dark eyed, and from eastern europe. I thought he was hot and super intimidating. I also thought the way to his heart was chess. I had been playing a lot with my housemate and I usually beat her. I had an inflated sense of my skill. So I asked him to play. And we did. And he smoked me. In like, not kidding, 3 moves. I didn't even know that was possible. I assumed we w...more
bookczuk
Stumbled upon this in a pile of books given to me by someone's mother in the hopes that I'd BookCross them. Curious about Patagonia, I gave it a whirl. I went in knowing the company had a good reputation, and that even at my fittest, I wore a size larger than I usually do. The respect for the company has only grown, and the glimpse into this company was an amazing view of shared vision, and of a company that not only has a heart, but has a soul and a conscience. I learned an amazing amount about...more
Dan Walker
The author is suffering under the delusion that his customers are or should be poor Chinese peasants with zero environmental impact. So instead of sharing how he succeeded as a businessman he lectures his readers on sustainability and environmental activism and how the rest of us should dramatically lower our standards of living so that he can travel the planet indulging his escapist fantasies. It's funny how people today reject religion because they don't want to listen to a preacher reminding...more
Maron
I loved this book when I read it the first time and I loved it just as much the second time around. It's hard to describe my sincere admiration for Patagonia and their journey - especially their 8-point philosophy: 1) product design, 2) production, 3) distribution, 4) image, 5) financial, 6) human resource, 7) management and 8) environmental. Their philosophies are shaped by their common values and have been adapted to their role in the world, resulting in a comprehensive and inspiring story. So...more
Benson
Feb 10, 2008 Benson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
Recommended to Benson by: Talley Goodson
I am absolutely fascinated by the author of this book, Yvon Chouinard. Perhaps my fascination comes because I am almost nothing like him (those who know me and know of Chouinard can agree with that statement). While I enjoy the outdoors and appreciate Patagonia products, this book amazed me in the simplicity of Chouinard's life and business endeavors. Many people claim to make quality products with minimal environmental impact, but those at Patagonia actually live that claim. Furthermore, they l...more
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“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.” 51 likes
“The more you know, the less you need.” 42 likes
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