Book Review: Let My People Go Surfing

let my people go surfing by Yvon Chouinard was a recommendation from a colleague.  I may not have run across this one on my own…and I’m glad I didn’t miss it!  This book was primarily about doing work that matters and truly caring about people.  This book was not written from a Christian perspective, but I can make that connection myself.  The principles are there.  Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia.  I own a few of his products and it was really cool to hear the story behind how all of that came to be.

Chouinard took something that he loved…being outside and having amazing adventures…and turned it into his life’s work.  Along the way he invited others into the adventure and realized that he had to learn about business and leadership.  He also learned a lot about how to care for a team.  And he graciously shared many things he messed up along the way!

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • Patagonia exists to challenge conventional wisdom and present a new style of responsible business. We believe the accepted model of capitalism that necessitates endless growth and deserves the blame for the destruction of nature must be displaced.  Patagonia and its two thousand employees have the means and the will to prove to the rest of the business world that doing the right thing makes for a good and profitable business.  1
  • One of my favorite sayings about entrepreneurship is: If you want to understand the entrepreneuer, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, “This sucks. I’m going to do my own thing.” p. 38
  • The story is really about how we are trying to live up to our mission statement: “Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” p. 70
  • “When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem.  But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” Richard Buckminster Fuller p. 91
  • Mutual commitment requires nurture and trust, and those demand personal time and energy. p. 114
  • “A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which.  He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing.  To himself, he always appears to be doing both.” L.P. Jacks p. 157

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