March Business Book:
Let My People Go Surfing the education of a reluctant businessman by Yvon Chouinard (founder and owner of Patagonia)
I so enjoyed reading this business book. As a fan of Patagonia clothing, I was looking forward to learning about the history of the company, since I emulate it with my own business. They care about the environement (so much so that they donate 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment) and they are commited to making the best product.
Since many of my friends are facing the challenges of raising a family while also maintaining their own careers, I was impressed to learn that Patagonia was way ahead of its time when they implimented a maternity leave policy paying their employees to stay home and nurse their infants (father’s too) and opened an on-site child care center (at the time it was one of only 150 in the country — today there are more than 3,000).
The book is framed around 8 of Patagonia’s ‘philosophies’, which are an expression of their values and how they apply to design, production, distribution, image, human resources, finance, management, and the environment.
“Is the product line simple” is one of the questions Yvon Chouinard asks of himself and his employees when discussing their product design philosphy. This is something that I’ve struggled with in many ways. He writes, “People have too many choices these days. They are tired of constantly having to make decisions…”.
One of the important things my clients pay me for is to make certain decisions for them. Too many decisions can detract from the experience. Giving clients too many images to choose from, for example, is creating an unnesceary burden on them.
“When we’re doing our job right, each style of ski pant has a distinct purpose.” When I’m doing my job right, each photograph is serving it’s own distinct purpose to tell the story. Too many choices, and too many photographs blur the bigger picture (no pun intended!).
I could go on and on about this business book. I’m very happy I read it. In the end, Patagonia– a highly successful and inspiring company– maintains its humility and eagerness to simply do better. … “Patagonia will never be completely socially responsible. It will never make a totally sustainable nondamaging product. But it is committed to trying.”
Thanks for the inspiration Patagonia!