I just finished an awesome book, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman. It was written by Yvon Chouinard, founder of the Patagonia clothing company.
This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It covers stuff from principles of design to business strategy and corporate responsibility. Read it. Here are some choice quotes to wet your appetite:
Simplify, simplify. —Thoreau One “simplify” would have sufficed. —Emerson p. 94
There are two types of creativity: the creativity of making zero to one, and the creativity of making one to 1000. —Kazuhiko Nishi p. 97
Again, the key word is discovering instead of inventing. There’s simply no time for inventing. p.112
“I didn’t have the time” or “I’ve been too busy” to answer your letter, to return your call, to write a weekly report, to clean my desk, whatever. This is a dishonest excuse. What the person really means is that the job didn’t get done because it had the lowest priority, and in fact he may never return your call because he really doesn’t want to. People do what they want to do. p. 113
In the final analysis, the best effort we can make toward causing no unnecessary harm is to make the best quality products, ones that are durable, functional, beautiful, and simple. p.116
A letter from a Patagonia manager in Japan about customer service: A woman did request our catalog and paid 600 yen ($4.00 US) to us, but Patagonia Japan staff lost her address and phone number in messy desk and office. After two weeks husband of woman made phone call and he was so angry like volcano. He entirely refused excuse of staff. He needed talk-fight with Mr. Responsibility of Patagonia Japan. He said, “You guys lie, just take money and never send catalog. Hey, this your way? I am working legally to stop your business with the public facility.” I decided to take the train to Tokyo from Yokohama to hand catalog and apologize directly to him. However, volcano-angry customer additionally said, “Even if you come to me and my wife I will never stop to kill your business.” At his home, he needed my begging head on the floor (this is biggest humility of Samurai). The customer was impressed with my behavior and said, “Thank you for your delivery and your mind.” p. 132
Many companies communicate with their customers primarily through advertising. This grabs your attention but can’t hold it. A quick glance, and you’re back to the article you were reading or the show you were watching or on to someone else’s ad or the mute button. It is said that a TV viewer has to be hit on the head with the same ad seven or eight times before it begins to register. p. 149
Advertising, as I mentioned, rates dead last as a credible source of information. p. 157
Who are businesses really responsible to? Their customers? Shareholders? Employees? We would argue that it’s none of the above. Fundamentally, businesses are responsible to their resource base. Without a healthy environment there are no shareholders, no employees, no customers and no business. p. 159
It’s okay to be eccentric as long as you are rich; otherwise, you’re just crazy. p. 160
A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both. —Francois Auguste Rene Chateaubriand p. 165
Patagonia doesn’t usually advertise in the Wall Street Journal, attend job fairs, or hire corporate headhunters to find new employees. We prefer instead to seek out people through an informal network of friends, colleagues, and business associates. p. 168
I believe, as do most of our employees, that the health of our home planet is the bottom line, and it’s a responsibility we all must share. p. 196
[T]he single most significant reason for a consumer making a purchase was quality. Brand name and price were secondary, and environmental concerns were least important to the purchaser. p. 217
The fact that it’s a natural product is not the reason most people buy it, but it’s an added bonus. p. 217
So we gave each employee a personal trash can for recyclable paper and made everyone responsible for disposing of his or her wet garbage in separate containers scattered throughout the offices. Soon after, we started recycling all paper, with everyone responsible for his/her own recycling as well. The result is a company wide recycling effort that also saves the company money….
Another employee recommended eliminating the Styrofoam and paper cups used in our cafeteria and at the water fountains. Employees started using their own cups, and guests are handed porcelain cups for their coffee. This saves another eight hundred dollars a year. These amounts may not seem like much, but the important point is that each time we tried to do the right thing for the environment, regardless of the cost to us, we ended up saving money….
After conducting an energy audit of all our facilities, we changed over to energy-efficient lighting, repainted several wood ceilings white to reflect light, and put in skylights and innovative heating and cooling technologies. This amounted to a 25 percent savings in electricity. p. 219-20
Focus on the causes, the philosophy tells us, not the symptoms. p. 240
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. —Mahatma Gandhi p. 252
The Zen master would say if you want to change government, you have to aim at changing corporations, and if you want to change corporations, you first have to change the consumers….
The original definition of consumer is: “One who destroys, or expends by use; devours, spends wastefully.” … Ninety percent of what we buy in a mall ends up in a mall within sixty to ninety days. It’s no wonder we are no longer called citizens but consumers. p. 253
Looking for somewhere to start? Go plant a tree. Only an optimist would do that. —Amy Kumler p. 258