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

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  9,320 ratings  ·  791 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 ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Penguin Books (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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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  9,320 ratings  ·  791 reviews


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Preston Kutney
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Ryan Miller
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Julie
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Mason Wiebe
Feb 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Willian Molinari
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, non-fiction, doist
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
...more
Cate
Nov 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Alper Çuğun
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Joe
Mar 09, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
...more
Enrico Berta
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Ben Gigone
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading for every entrepreneur and business-person. Our world will be much better off when more companies structure themselves alongside Chouinard’s philosophies. Patagonia 4ever
Renee
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Ynna
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Amy
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biz
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.
Grace Lawrence
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. We’re all going to die of global warming but besides that feeling of crippling depression, great read!
Chris Kendig
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
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).
Jordan
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Emily McKinney
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Brooke
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Eivind Lindbråten
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Inspiring book showing us how to practice ethical business and how difficult that is. Some of the ideas are quite radical. ...more
Lucia
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Vidya Balakrishnan
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
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!

Will
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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*
Kenny Leck
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Yvon Chouinard's words, "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."
Valentine
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!
Dan
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
"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
...more
Stephen Porter
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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
...more
Karen
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Gloria
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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