Azeera's Reviews > Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard
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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 as a company created to fund a freedom loving climber lifestyle is today a billion dollar company. A company that they built living out of tin shacks and rock ledges and car vans as they continued to fall in love and be worried for the environmental degradation.

Yvons passion for climbing is reminiscent of Phil Knight’s (Nike founder) passion for running. And so is the story of how both Nike and Patagonia were built after decades of struggle. Bootstrapped companies that stayed true to their values. In contrast to today's founder stories being about creating habit changing technology or quickly capturing market or selling stock and core values to venture capitalists to turn billionaires overnight, Yvon’s or Phil Knight’s stories are about grit, about having been true to their values for which they founded the company or the culture they sought to create.

Yvon speaks at length about celebrating the oddities of his employees , about how he wanted patagonia to be the place they climbed steps two at a time, went surfing and was always a family. Patagonia had a babies room in 1970s, a child development centre where kids cam back to parents after school and maternity leaves long before the law had mandated companies to have it. The human resource ohilosohy of the company thus focuses on a) hiiring employees who are ithin their extended network b) love the outdoors and have a passion for something larger.

Yvon and patagonia’s love for the outdoors also made them deeply consicious of the environment footprint that our lives were making and their product design was thus evolved to reflect a commintment to creating sustainable and durable products which minimises impact. Their commitment to donating 10% of their profits and 1% of their sales to NGOs that work on envirnoment protection reflects the founder’s commitment of creating “ not yet another selfish that he had a deep disdain of as a child.

A few new lessons lace through the book like the bit where Kris, the reluctant CEO learned how to run an entire business by seeking help, or how risky sports have taught Yvon to push the limit but to never go off the edge.

As a lover of founder stories, while patagonia INC and yvon leaves me impressed, the book falls short in many places for a reader. It does not explain enough how it tided over the 1991 crises that came in from having unsustainable growth driven by disparate product lines. The philosophy that Yvon has listed out also begin to read like the “boring” vision mission statements that organisational development consultants frame out for large corporations.
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Reading Progress

March 13, 2018 – Shelved
March 13, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
June 30, 2018 – Shelved as: need-to-buy-myself-a-good-old-copy
June 30, 2018 – Finished Reading

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