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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most people want to read about what Jack Welch, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have done as managers. They would learn a lot more by reading about what Yvon Chouinard has to say about how he developed Patagonia.
This case history is filled with the kind of common sense wisdom that almost all companies and business leaders lack, including the best-known celebrity CEOs. Accounting rules don't require us to look at environmental damage so most companies don't think about the harm they cause in this regard. Yet if we don't do what we can to do less environmental harm, what's the point of having money in a spoiled world?
Most people don't really want to run or work in businesses full time. They would rather be doing something they enjoy more. Mr. Chouinard's approach to Management by Absence and letting his people use flex-time to go surfing when conditions are good examples of how such flexibility can be created in a successful enterprise.
Most importantly, Mr. Chouinard is a good example . . . a model leader. That's true because, in part, he wants to set a good example . . . something most business leaders don't care about today. They just want to make money.
A hundred years from now, people will be reading this book as a model of doing the right thing . . . long after everyone has forgotten the names of the best selling business CEOs today. Get ahead of the curve by starting with this book.
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on 19 November 2012
Read this after having various people rave about it to me. Should probably have taken a closer look at what it actually contains than I actually did (although I'd have probably have read it anyway). The first third, which is fairly autobiographical, is quite wonderful but I found myself somewhat bemused by the pace it whizzes through the decades and disappointed by the lack of detail on some things I'd have assumed would get more coverage (e.g the accident claims which led to the formation of Black Diamond). What took me by surprise is that the last two thirds or so of the book are devoted to Patagonia's "Philosophies" and it often feels a more like reading catalog copy or company PR/investor relations material than the initial, much more personal part of the book (although there is plenty of personal anecdote in the latter part too). Just to be clear though: if I was rating Patagonia as a company or its founder's achievements on just about any scale, they'd get a 6/5.
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on 20 August 2013
This book was everything that I thought it would be from a man I much admired 30 years ago when I climbed. Spot on as far as his view of how our world works and could work. Will become a one of those books that I buy for all of my children to use as a guide to help them try to get things right along the way.
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on 8 May 2015
First half readable, second half preachy and unreadable. A necessary read if you are into environmentally responsible business and/or the outdoor industry. The best bits are the tales of climbing with Royal Robbins et al, the worst part is the repeated thrusting of the environmental message down ones throat.
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on 2 January 2011
Having used Patagonia clothing for years, my local retailer asked if I knew much about the company, it's history and ethos, which I didn't. So he lent me this book, which is how I came to be sending a copy to my daughter and her husband who run a design and landscaping business. The author and owner of Patagonia provides a blueprint of how all businesses should develop and run. Chouinard started by making an selling a niche climbing product out of the back of his car to maintain a low impact climbing / surfing lifestyle and slowly grew a world wide business on the basis of total integrity to product quality, environmental impact at every stage of manufacture and concern for his employees and those of his suppliers. This at a time when these issues weren't issues at all as far as the world in general was concerned. He describes a working environment that I think many of us would aspire to work in, where employees are encouraged and even resourced to take on environmental issues and a percentage of sales (not just profits) are given to support research and action to protect our fragile earth and communities. Following the disastrous practices of the banking community, MBA courses are waking up to the ethical and environmental dimensions of business and I feel this should be on the reading list for all "business studies".
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on 7 January 2009
You see its all just plain old common sense. You find something you can be passionate about and turn it into a business. Then you surround yourself with like minded others and you can change the world, a bit at a time. Yvon puts it all beautifully. He even seems a little embarrassed about having been so successful without any formal training, however, he is very proud of his team's achievements. Formal training doesn't exist for the leadership he displays, you either have it in your heart or you don't. The book takes the concepts of the service profit chain model and walks you though their genesis in, Patagonia. I can't recommend this book enough. Sadly, I have only recently read it and wish I had come across it several years ago before I had to learn much of this the hard way from personal experience at Rackspace and itlab.
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on 19 November 2013
Well written, clearly stated and superb. Chouinard charts the journey of the Patagonia brand and ethos and outlines the direction for further development. Utterly relevant for any thinking human being and should be a blueprint for any buisness.
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on 28 June 2011
Let my people go surfing tells the tale of Yvon Chouinards business life, starting with learning blacksmithing using an old forge he bought in a scrap yard at 18. Then follows the history of Patagonia, with a focus on how the company gradually learned what it wanted to be and stand for.

I read the book in one sitting, it was that good. Patagonia inspires with it's coherent philosopy and most of all, it's willingness to support radical action to act for a better world. All the stories in the book on people willing to act after their convictions gives rise to hope.

From now on, I will vote with my money and support businesses like Patagonia.
In all, a recommended read for anyone wishing to try to leave the world a better for their children.
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on 18 June 2007
Who would've thought you could read a book that inspires you to climb, surf, make obscure pieces of ironmongery, design clothes and run a company - all in one slim volume.

Yvon Chouinard is one of the most important business leaders around today because he's made a values-lead business highly profitable. Any aspring business leader (and, more importantly, those already running businesses) should be forced to read this. It's the future.
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on 21 November 2013
It demonstrates how a business that sticks to its values can be ethical, profitable and sustainable.
But more than this, it's a highly engaging and personal account of how being true to yourself can bring out the best in you and those around you. It's a beautiful book in spite of being about business.
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