on August 12, 2011
If you find you have a bookshelf crammed with inspirational business books - you probably don't need to make room for this one.
Though if you are just starting on a road to self discovery, finding your niche, and need some motivation, this book is most definitively for you.
I love Tony Hsieh (Zappos) but found his book long, flat, bland - and I found Blake's book to be short, flat, bland (for someone that has a shelf of books crammed with business inspirational books).
I've come to the conclusion that brilliant founders of successful upstarts are much better at doing than writing.
If you've read Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Tom Peters, - doubtful you'll feel satisfed after reading this. If you aren't familiar with any of the authors I mentioned, then I think buying/reading this book is money and time well spent!
It is not necessary to be a serious student of current affairs to realize that most of the institutions in our society no longer work. Our governments at all levels are dysfunctional, spending more than they take in, more concerned with the welfare of government bureaucrats than the citizens they are supposed to serve. A close look at many of the larger charitable institutions reveals that administrative cost far exceed the money spent on the stated purpose of the organizations.
It is very easy to become discouraged and disillusioned with our society and the direction it seems to be heading in. But then I read Start Something That Matters and at least I think maybe there is some hope.
The story of TOMS is very inspirational. Starting with very little money but a lot of dedication and a vision for creating a dual purpose business - offering a unique product and providing free shoes to underprivileged children, the success has been exceptional.
The book uses the story of TOMS as a blueprint to inspire others and to show them how to go about starting something that matters. The book does not dwell on how inefficient most government and large organizations efforts are. Instead it focused on what worked for TOMS and a few other examples highlighted in the book.
At the heart of the TOMS model is transparency. There is an honest desire to help others. They did not use their charity as a means to gain free and/or favorable publicity. They kept the program simple, sell a pair of shoes, give away a pair of shoes.
The book gives some general guidelines for how to model your own program that matters.
The book is extremely short and very easy to read. I would have loved some more real life stories about the "shoe drops". But in keeping with Blake Mycoskie's philosophy, he kept the book short and simple. The book is meant to inspire and awaken you to the possibilities you that you can do more worthwhile things with your life.
The value in this book is not so much the TOMS story but the idea that we as individuals can make a difference in the world. I believe part of the message is implied - what we have been doing does not work. There is more to life than accumulating material possessions. Trying to accomplish aid programs through government and large organizations is fraught with mismanagement, misuse and in many cases diversion of the aid. The real message is that if we want to bring the world closer together, to really help those in need, we need to do more ourselves. We should not rely on others. We are capable of starting something that matters.
If you want more fulfillment in life then find some way to help others, find a cause that you believe in and then do something to bring that cause to life. Use the concepts outlined in this book and Start Something That Matters.
on October 31, 2011
While I appreciate the author's good intentions of making a positive impact via private initiatives and his passion; I can hardly endorse a very broken, irresponsible and oxymoronic model of "profitable-charity" that has done much harm and destruction under the guise of altruism and responsible consumerism.
Let me explain...
Business model: Launch a private initiative by sourcing production from a cheap, labor rich country; market those goods to first-world consumers under the banner of serving the poor and a 1-to-1 model of putting shoes on the feet of impoverished children - therein saving their lives; lastly, market your company as if it is not-for-profit - unmotivated by margins - strictly focused on saving lives and addressing poverty in the 21st century.
Why this is flawed: This is an initiative that has a great marketing strategy, coupled with an incredibly flawed and destructive business model. While selling merchandise (shoes in this case) that are extremely marked up, under the guise of serving the poor in another country, TOM's has convinced its consumers that you can be both trendy and a responsible consumer. The only problem is that TOM's built its model on a marketing plan aka what would sell (developed world), as opposed to a responsible understanding of the need (the developing world). Forced to honor its commitment to it's 1-to-1 policy, TOM's has dumped thousands of its shoes on the open markets of developing countries, driving hundreds of native companies out of business. In fact, TOM's has most often done far more harm than good, and all while making a tremendous amount of profit as a high-margin enterprise.
A different approach: Blake should consider purchasing his shoes and other resources from the companies that he is driving out of business. While American shoes may be made of canvas in Argentina, most models that are distributed in developing countries are sourced in countries like China and Vietnam; therefore, he should present transparency in his supply chains, and seek to transfer his purchasing (and profits) to companies that are sourced in the very countries where he is distributing shoes - rather than undermining the few thriving private initiatives in the very regions he seeks to help. This model of charity (or in this case, "profitable charity") is BROKEN, and the fact that Blake has found a way to fund it through a marketing campaign that cloaks his enterprise as a "responsible, informed, alternative approach to consumerism" is detestable.
But enjoy the book, drink the kool-aid, and live on a yacht if it makes you feel more responsible - apparently it's the cool thing to do.
As a parent, I have believed that there are two jobs I had other than providing the necessities for my children and that is to teach them that there are consequences to their actions and that they can make a difference in the world.
This book is all about that way of living. It's completely entrenched in Blake's life and in his corporate culture.
He donates one pair of shoes for every pair of Tom's shoes he sells. And he has made a huge difference in doing so.
He will show you how with plans large or small, you can make a difference in at least one person's life, and hence the world.
Every business leader, entrepreneur and thoughtful person should read this book. It forces you to look at ways you can and should do more.
It certainly gave me the push I needed to change how I was running my business.
I loved this book. You will too!
on September 1, 2011
I enjoyed this book; I was truthfully looking for a book to help get me out of my rut and start something that mattered. I was a little worried when I realized that for the most part (95%) is about starting a BUSINESS that matters. If you aren't looking to start a business, then you may want to check this book out of the library.
However, the positivity of this book is amazing. I wish my employers had the attitude and caring that Mycoskie and those few rare employers that really do care about their product and their employees have.
Mycoskie tells about how he started his business called TOMS and what he did to get it where it is now. The difference between this business and most others? He started it to give back to the world, shoes for children - well anyone that needs them. Buy a pair, he donates a pair.
He also writes about how a company really needs to be like a family (my POV) that no one person is more important than the other and everyone needs to trust and work together. You have to trust your employees and in return they will trust you.
He tells about his keys, and other CEO's keys, to success and ways to give back to society and why we should too.
So, since I'm not starting a business what do I think of it? I actually would recommend people read it. Why? Because it makes you think. If you're stuck in a rut (like I was) then change it, you have the power to. Better yet, change it by helping others.
I read this book in one day, I smiled and cried at the stories of people who went on these shoe drops (the TOMS company takes any employees that want to go and some customers to do this to some part of the world) and see how much it changed their lives, that they were making a difference to children and people who could never afford to own shoes.
As Mycoskie notes, you don't need a fortune or everything at your fingertips to make it happen, in fact its better that you don't. But start now, and start by giving to others.
Blake Mycoskie's self-help book "Start Something That Matters" shows how to combine a for-profit company with a social mission. His book uses the story of TOMS his successful for-profit shoe company as a blueprint to show and inspire others to start something that matters.
While traveling in Argentina (South America) in 2006 Blake met a woman who belonged to an organization that collected shoes from donors to give to impoverished kids. When Blake witnessed the blisters, sores and infections on the children's bare feet the idea came to him to create a for-profit shoe company with a social mission. He created a new version of "alpargata" Argentina's comfortable, casual, canvas shoe and for every pair of shoes his company sold he pledged to donate a pair of shoes to a needy child. He named his company TOMS (a promise for a better tomorrow). Blake has fulfilled his promise. TOMS has given more than a million pairs of shoes to children in need the past five years.
There are seven themes in Blake's self-help book: find your story, face your fears, be resourceful without resources, keep it simple, build trust, giving is good business and the final step which is moving from thinking about doing something to actually doing it.
To find your passion and mission in life Blake offers three questions: "If you did not have to
worry about money, what would you do with your time? What kind of work do you want to do? What cause would you like to serve?"
Blake's story is changing the definition of success. He says the quest for success is not the same as the quest for status and money. The definition has broadened to include contributing something to the world. He says TOMS is a success precisely because they created a new model. The giving component of TOMS makes their shoes more than a product. They're part of a story, a mission and a movement anyone can join.
Blake also shares the stories of other people who started something that matters. Their stories show how we can make a living, have the time and freedom to do the things we love and contribute to making the world a better place.
on October 9, 2015
I don't know. Something about corporate philanthropy that denies the larger impact their organization has on the world gives me an especially sour taste. I read this. Cover to cover. And I still couldn't empathize with Blake's journey and I don't think Toms shoes make the world a better place, as he claims, after all. His story and attempt at socially conscious corporatism is noble-ish, but shoelessness is a symptom of poverty, and shipping shoes across the world made by poor shoemakers paid low wages, making a big profit in the process ... isn't exactly attacking the symptom of poverty, no matter how many shoes they ship off.
SoleRebels is a competitor that operates similarly and the Ethiopian woman who founded the organization said, “If you give a kid shoes,” she told me, “they wear out or they grow out of them, and then what do they have? If you give the kid’s parents a job, the whole family will always have shoes.”
So I guess I get his story. And I think corporatists would enjoy the read. But corporate philanthropy is far from addressing the real problems that create change in the world — and while Toms opened the conversation about poverty to a wider, consumerist audience ... I still think his claim is overreaching.
This isn't just the fascinating tale of TOM's Shoes. Start Something that Matters shows you how to develop a business to support a cause.
Most people have a passion for something, solving some problems; under-resourced individuals or groups, clean water, a disease.
Author and entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie reveals how to build a business so that is supports your support of that cause.
He teaches the power of story and how story captures the attention of readers, viewers and potential buyers.
He shares how to create unique events that gain attention from the media.
And, he shows business pros much, much more, through tons of other tales about entrepreneurs who've succeeded.
Well worth reading for fun, stories and potent learning moments.
on August 8, 2015
Fabulous book! Really gave me motivation to get my project Arteforelephants (a site that raises money for conservation charities through the sale of fine art) off of the ground! It gave me a ton of information in a relaxed, informal manner. If you are looking for hard core- "How to make a business plan", "How to do a cash flow analysis" type of book than look elsewhere! This book isn't that. I found the best use for this is when I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I am trying to do; I can go back to this book and draw on Blake's words of wisdom and success to keep me going through the "what the heck was I thinkin'?'" times. I hope the author will experience great gratification that his work is out there, germinating a billion side projects!
on August 22, 2015
I liked reading this book quite a bit. Most business books I read, I find I never finish because I keep stopping to take notes and then eventually lose interest. This book I actually finished in about three days because it was filled with good stories. Very enjoyable and very easy to read. I will definitely go back and read it again.