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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.
A life time of scaling up, paddling up, taking off and bailing out. Read, run, read again. In a world flush with other people's money and assumed leaders, Patagonia sits in a... Read morePublished 5 days ago by John Keith
Love Patagonia gear, and I have a new found respect for the organization and its founder after reading this book!Published 5 days ago by Al
There's a lot to admire about Yvon Chouinard and his company Patagonia. However, there is a lot to dislike about this book. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Dan
Yvon Chouinard is a self confessed dirtbag who really never set out to build a business but built a global brand anyway. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Simon van Wyk
A must read for any business owner. I can't believe this isn't required reading in Business school!Published 1 month ago by Rosalyn Kemp
Love to hear the story but the book gets a little slow moving after the initial Chouinard stories.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer