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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

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  4,927 Ratings  ·  478 Reviews
Book by Chouinard, Yvon
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published October 6th 2005 by Penguin Press (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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Preston Kutney
I don't know where to start with my humble reverence for Chouinard. He's my anti-business business hero, the reluctant and radical beacon of light in modern management. 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
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mason Wiebe
Feb 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alper Çuğun
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Enrico Berta
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 c ...more
Willian Molinari
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
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 minimal
Mar 09, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 asks customers n ...more
Grace Lawrence
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. We’re all going to die of global warming but besides that feeling of crippling depression, great read!
Emily McKinney
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.
Nov 11, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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!

Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
John Majors
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't put this book down. Seemed like every page had something insightful and relevant to say about the way a business should be run. Written as the story of how Patagonia came to be and grow. I love how the company has just been an extension of the founder's own passions and philosophies. Every person in an organization of any kind should read this. It's too easy to stray from the passion that started the whole thing because of structure, rules, 5 year strategic plans and governing boards. I ...more
Davis Holliday
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book highlights how a capitalistic society has created the current environmental crisis through the lack of responsibility taken by both consumers and companies. The author speaks about the environmental impacts of a large corporation, and the steps he has taken with his own, Patagonia, to lessen its natural resource depletion. This book does an incredible job of relating to the reader the importance of environmental issues, and the tremendous environmental impact of a single citizen's choi ...more
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Yvon. Kind of book that changes people and make them think!
Amazing read for any entrepreneur or person on Earth
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this goddamn book. Everybody.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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!
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The aspects of Chouinard's story that were memoir were wonderful. The recollections from his early days as a dirtbag climber to the founding of Chouinard Equipment and then Patagonia are an incredible story of a passion becoming a livelihood. The rest of the book is more business memo, and though it reveals a company that seems, at least through this prism, like a saving grace for the modern world, it can be a bit pious at times. Still, the main takeaway here is one that bears repeating: we are ...more
Damian Borchok
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shoe Dog made me want to have as little to do with Nike as possible. Let My People Go Surfing had the opposite effect on me for Patagonia.
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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,
It's a must read for those who care about the environment, along the way when you succeed in your business. There is a lot to learn from this book right from Leadership, how this company is focused on its mission, their values and how committed they are towards it. I admire and solemnly respect the author of this book and the owner of Patagonia - Yvon Chouinard, for making it environmentally sustainable. When we are focused on our goal, we easily ignore what we are doing to our environment, one ...more
Maikel Janssen
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work, think, entertainment
Very nice read, and works inspirational when thinking about the impact companies can have and the view of a bigger company on these things.

He sets out the history of the company (ending somewhere around 2005) and then goes on with the philosophies the company strives to follow.

Not all of them will relate to the reader, but there are sure a few that will get you thinking and maybe even make a few changes in your own household, company or maybe even join the 1% for the planet initiative.

Above all,
Nick LaPenna
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I mean you're going to read this book and probably feel remorse for all those times you went and splurged at the mall. I may learn to sew. Yvon owns a multi million dollar multi national corporation and still runs it like a small buisness. The quality behind Patagonia is to promote you buying one shirt, one jacket, one pair of pants etc and to have them for life. Let not money and status rule you, but recreation and the pursuit of your own life. They used to close the shop so they could go surf. ...more
Ana Pajkovska
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's the third book (after "The Third Plate" and "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future") that gets into my hands this year about a company or a person that works on saving the world and human kind. If these people are so freaking successful and are not destroying the planet while achieving, can't businesses just copy their practices? Also can we start using the pinche known solutions to problems regarding climate change?
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