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Let My People Go Surfing

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  2,657 ratings  ·  304 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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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.

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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
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
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 ...more
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
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
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 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 ...more
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
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.
Matt McAlear
Great book overall. The very beginning and end are a little dry but the middle has very solid content. I especially like their business philosophies and company policies.
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
For any of those enterprising individuals out there this is a great book for you. For some people the battle between "going corporate" and living a life of minimal impact is very real and I think this is a good guideline for a way to do both. Either way it is an interesting read and will certainly get you motivated to pursue your own personal goal.
Alexander Anderson
Let me say right off that Patagonia clothing does nothing for me. Although, I'll take it on faith that it's useful and well made, it seems to me that most of its customer base buys into the fashion reward of the brand rather than the utilitarian aspect and beauty of the product.

The company itself can claim some respect as it appears to care more about making changes than being seen to make a change (it certainly doesn't hide this fact, either). There is plain talking, patches of truth, smidgens
Heather Ramshaw
Here I am, continuing to drink the Patagonia Kool-Aid. Yvon Chouinard is a badass and his business practices are innovative and successful. The book reads easily (very story-like) despite covering business policies and standards.
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
Damir Antunovic
I freakin' love Patagonia. Love their philosophy, the way they approach clothes manufacturing and environment protection. I'm also kind of addicted to their blog "The Cleanest Line".
Chouinard does business the way I wish everyone did business. He is my entrepreneurial inspiration and this book is a fabulous overview of his philosophy.

The only reason this book gets four stars instead of five is because (by no fault of its own), it's ten years old. Since it was published in 2006, Patagonia has since done more incredible things I wish were covered in this book... like B Corps, Patagonia's results-oriented organization structure, e-commerce, and a deeper dive into Patagonia st
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
Disparlure Nagle
In his book, Let My People Go Surfing, Yvon Chouinard relates his beliefs on the topics of business, sustainability, and environmental issues through anecdotes from the founding and growth of first Chouinard Equipment then Patagonia Clothing. Chouinard's deep care and concern for the environment are evident throughout, not only when he is describing his climbing adventures, but also when he describes how he made decision about sourcing materials and human resource policies. Indeed, it is one of ...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
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“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.” 68 likes
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