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by Yvon Chouinard

The personal stories of the founder of Patagonia, Inc. describes his underprivileged childhood as an immigrant in southern California, early fame as a successful mountain climber, and company's dedication to quality and environmental responsibility. 75,000 first printing.
Download Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman epub
ISBN: 1594200726
ISBN13: 978-1594200724
Category: Biographies
Subcategory: Professionals & Academics
Author: Yvon Chouinard
Language: English
Publisher: Penguin Press; 1st edition (October 6, 2005)
Pages: 260 pages
ePUB size: 1131 kb
FB2 size: 1122 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 368
Other Formats: docx mbr lrf doc

I loved this book so much. I loved the way Yvon talks us through his own personal history, and walks us through the history of the company. The sweet anecdotes about creative problem solving (i.e. How do you get a retailer who is very behind on payments to settle up? Send their next order (of scrap metal) COD)) were my favorite parts. I also loved being able to read the mission statements, particularly the one the senior team member cobbled together over lunch while they were on a retreat in Patagonia. I loved the way the book was written in conversational English. And I loved the excerpts from ads and the excerpts from that Alpine Climber's magazine. Such beautiful writing!

One note to Yvon/Patagonia suppliers: The commercial wool industry is BRUTAL. I like that you're selling recycled wool sweaters, and would love to see you totally abandon any partnerships with commercial wool farmers. In order to sheer sheep at a rate that's profitable (most get paid per sheep rather than by the hour) they have to hurry through the sheering process. That means lots of cuts for the sheep. Plus there are some types of sheep that are prone to parasites in the folds of their rear. In order to combat that, farmers simply slice off a chunk of that area so there are no longer folds. OUCH. Again, commercial wool farmers, BAD.

Sorry, I got off on a tangent. I loved this book. It held my attention all the way through. I had trouble putting it down, actually. Yvon's voice is very sweet and actually has inspired me to ask myself, am I doing all I can for the environment? AND am I working at a job/in an industry that I'm proud of? Could I be doing something more fulfilling (for my own quality of life, and the environment?).
If not for its literary eloquence or sophistication, this is a precious read for the sobering lessons on environmentalism that too many of us can use more reminders on. Personally I find the arguments for minimalism and simplicity helpful, and they tie in perfectly with the overall tones of the book - living responsibly both as individuals and as a society. Every choice we make as a consumer has a consequence that's not necessarily reflected by its price tag, and it's something we should all be aware of. Thanks Yvon for sharing your wisdom!
Insomuch as this is a memoir and not a business management book, it's fantastic! The first part is pretty much all about the Yvon's early life (which makes me feel like less of a man lol), the history of Chouinard Equipment (future Black Diamond) and Patagonia, and the history of a few of it's offshoot sister companies. The 2nd part of the book describes various philosophies that Patagonia tries to employ in it's practices and dealings.

I found this history particularly interesting, especially given that Yvon had absolutely no business background, and throughout the book is very upfront on this fact. Describing the (sometimes comical) struggles he encountered, restructures needed and addressed, and culture developed, was very enjoyable.

Insomuch as the philosophies section is concerned, if you're familiar at all with Patagonia and it's dealings this will be pretty straightforward to you. I did enjoy the HR/benefits section, and was intrigued about Chouinard's take on innovation (borrowing, stealing, repurposing ideas ='s fast and effective) vs. invention (can be great, but takes time, is unpredictable, and doesn't guarantee value added vs. just cool). I think it was telling though that by far the longest section of this book in this section is the Environmental Philosophies section. Everyone who knows Patagonia knows this is important to them, and I thought it was telling of them to give it so much space in his book. Some of the figures - if somewhat outdated - are interesting (and scary).

If you're looking for a 'how to do business [like Patagonia]' rule by rule book, this probably wouldn't be the best starting point. For that, maybe try Yvon's other book, The Responsible Company. However, if you accept that this is a memoir about a man and the development of a company that cares deeply about it's value and understands the struggles therein, this book is great!
A solid book. Yvon Chouinard has a unique perspective on the world and company building. There is a lot of admire about his philosophies. I do wish there were many more companies in the world as mission driven as Patagonia. But, this ends up not really being a business book nor really as into the culture of Patagonia as I'd hope. It ends up sort of being a biography with more details on the company's activism.