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 book for anyone looking to build a special company that will thrive and outlive them. Yvon's talks on YouTube are great to reinforce a lot of the lessons.Published 3 days ago by Erin Spence
Very insightful read on leading a good business and doing right by the customers, employees, and environment that makes the business possible.Published 10 days ago by acteacher
An amazing insight into an amazing journey of sustainable business development!Published 12 days ago by Michael Dlask
Great read to help you visualize how you want to build company culture.Published 21 days ago by M. Healy
Good common sense management advice that any business could benefit from reading in addition to an interesting storyPublished 1 month ago by Anders
While a bit preachy at times and written in a very choppy style. The book starts on one topic then abruptly changes to another. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I would have liked to read more about the business and how the products are manufactured. Beginning of 2nd part feels s bit too much as company advertisement, but towards the end... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lucia Vaidean
A great read! Fascinating to see how one can blend business and leisure into a successful career.Published 1 month ago by John A. Ravert
From a senior statesman of the sustainable business practice world, a perspective and history on how it came to pass. Read morePublished 1 month ago by John Glanville