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Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman Paperback – September 5, 2006
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I don't even know how the book came to my attention to buy i the first place, it sat in my TBR pile for several weeks until i had the time to read the first chapter and skim the rest, my usual routine with new books as they come into the house. However it is so good, from the first sentence that i just set aside my other reading and finished it.
It is about doing good and having an adventure while doing so. Partly biographical, partly a history of the company's beginning, mostly a philosophic discussion of how to interact with an increasingly polluted and destroyed planet in a responsible corporate way. It's a story about a man, from all indications one of those rare individuals who consciously walks through life (perhaps climbing is a better word for his travels) aware of what is around him and how he is responsible for his wake through the world.
From the decision to end pinions and switch to clean climbing chocks to the 1% of sales to progressive environmental activist groups, his philosophy not only interacts with his outdoor activities but with the wider world. This book ought to be required reading for every MBA, every business student in the world. And recommended reading for everyone else.
I'm not a very hopeful person, perhaps being in contact with people like the author would turn me around. He is realistic, a little pessimistic but puts his money, his deeds where his words are, in action. An excellent book, just drop everything and get a copy and read it tonight.
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Chouinard is clearly a wonderful man leading a wonderful charge. Hey, I want my boss to let me go surfing!!A must read!
I thoroughly enjoyed the first part of the book and would recommend it as a case study for any business person trying to grow their own business but especially for those confronting their first major crisis after the first success although I am not entirely sure the success of Patagonia has been more because of brilliant management and leadership or just plain luck. Probably a combination of both.
The problem I have with the book is Chouinard's preachy bigotry against anyone that doesn't fully subscribe to his philosophy of what makes the world a better place. As an avid outdoor person I accept the need to be wise stewards of our limited natural resources so I don't have a problem and would gladly support responsible organizations that do the same. But Chouinard takes it one step too far by classifying all Christians as evolution denying morons and anyone that drives an SUV as a myopic terrorist against the survival of the world. In Chouinard's world anyone that has more than one child and doesn't bicycle to work or drive a hybrid is deserving of contempt from the all knowing and all wise Zen master himself. And while he derides every form of fossil, hydro, and nuclear energy the best alternative he can come up with is to put a solar panel on his office building. I think this is all hypocritical as he jet sets around the world to bag this peak or that, admire his contributions to nature preserves, and travels from stream to stream to catch and release innocent trout.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
inspiring book, many great advices for your own sustainable businessPublished 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
I have used Patagonia's products for over 30 years so it is great to read the story behind the scenes. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Berndawg
nice reading, good story telling
... as a side note, it is clear that there are lots of gray areas ,and dark sides, masterfully avoided, as in any auto biography, but... Read more