In Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, readers get a fascinating look inside the history and philosophy of both Patagonia and its irascible, opinionated founder. From its beginning, the book shares a sense of Chouinard's strong-willed personality and his love of the outdoors. He recounts a mostly happy childhood spent in a still-unspoiled southern California, climbing, diving, fishing, and surfing. The narrative soon moves into Chouinard's early entrepreneurial efforts, which were less focused on market-share domination than on earning a basic living to finance his own sporting habits. As his company's first catalog noted, delivery could be slow in the summer months, when Chouinard typically left the "office"--a dilapidated shack converted into an ironworks--for climbing adventures across the American West.
Eventually, though, the story settles into a pattern familiar to business audiences: Patagonia grows rapidly, takes on more employees and product lines to sustain hungry demand from customers, but overreaches with over-ambitious expansion plans and suffers a hiccup in its adolescence. This make-or-break juncture of a business's development often contains the most interesting material, and here Chouinard and his beloved company are no exception. He describes a series of wrenching decisions through which he and Patagonia management team navigated in 1991, as sales growth stalled while capital and operational expenses sprinted ahead. From this crisis emerged Patagonia's first-ever layoffs, affecting a hefty 20% of the workforce, and a serious re-examination of the business's core principles and methods.
The historical part of Chouinard's book largely ends at this point, and gives way to an exposition of philosophies which emerged at Patagonia during its dark moments in the early 1990s. The rest of the book serves as a kind of primer to business, the Patagonia way: one chapter each on product design philosophy, production philosophy, distribution philosophy, image philosophy, financial philosophy, human resource philosophy, and so on. Fans of Patagonia can revel in the company's working details, as can those who support or want to build businesses with self-consciously cultivated soulfulness. Readers who enjoyed Gary Erickson's story about Clif Bar, for example, should definitely find this a welcome addition to their bookshelves. --Peter Han --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The title of this book emphasizes the importance of a flexible work culture. But Yvon dives deeper than that, into the very Soul of why a business exists and the good it can do... Read morePublished 4 days ago by James Rick
Extremely well written, strong detail of Yvon's expansive background but still concise. The narrative pulls you in, and provides an honest look in at Patagonia's place in a diverse... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Brent
Fantastic book. This is an amazing brand that was built by a man who had a clear head and wanted to give back.Published 1 month ago by Carl Bardy Jr.
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... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Adam
Scary but true look at the health of our planet and all we are doing (not doing) to degrade it further. Read morePublished 1 month ago by wingo
Good story telling laced with great examples of alternative ways to run a company, and lots of sobering facts on sustainability.Published 1 month ago by M. Gebert
Against the current business interest he is rarely mention in academia and media.Published 1 month ago by Luiz Kagohara
Yvon Chouinard is a personal and professional hero of mine. "Let my people go surfing" is a manual for those of us who live off the beaten path; those of use who'd rather... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Andrew Luke