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.
Great read for anyone concerned with "sustainability" or anyone who loves Patagonia in general. Yvonn is a pioneer and more companies would do well to follow on his footsteps.Published 8 days ago by Zachary
Really enjoyed this bio. It was so intriguing to learn about the man behind the company.Published 18 days ago by spbxr
This was a gift to my nephew who became an employee at Patagonia on 6/1/15.Published 20 days ago by Leota B. Jones
Best thing I've read in years. It isn't just that it is a great read, but it gets you thinking, not a like spy thriller, but about things that really matter, if you have any... Read morePublished 1 month ago by PensiveBob
great thoughts, but little bit black and white for me.
this book will make you think about your consumption and lifestyle
I'm not the same person who started reading this book. I never thought a "business book" could affect me so deeply. Thanks!Published 2 months ago by EDUARD POU VILA
I purchased this book for some baseline research on organization behavior. Yvon Chouinard obviously has figured some things out and really has written a fantastic book that wholly... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Squeakyvaulter
A real eye opener! Thoughts given about how a responsible company ought to be run. Now if Patagonia would offer tall XL, I'd pay extra for it.Published 2 months ago by Arroyo