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Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman Paperback – Sep 5 2006

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Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman + The Responsible Company: What We've Learned from Patagonia's First 40 Years + Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (Sept. 5 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143037838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143037835
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 1.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia Inc., presents his philosophy for a "new style of responsible business" along with a chronicle of his personal and company history in this sincere if self-congratulatory creed. A Californian of French-Canadian descent, Chouinard started forging climbing hardware and selling it out of his car in 1957 and published his first catalogue, a one-page mimeographed sheet, in 1964. Today, his sporting goods company has annual revenues of $230 million, but he nonetheless identifies himself as more of "a climber, a surfer, a kayaker, a skier and a blacksmith" than a CEO. In this vein, he lays out his alternative vision of business, detailing eco- and people-conscious philosophies on aspects of the supply chain from product design and production to human resources and management. Chouinard has backed up his rhetoric with action: Patagonia pursues sustainability, gives 1% of annual net sales to environmental groups and has set benchmarks with its employee-friendly policies. Patagoniacs and socially conscious businesspeople may appreciate this account despite its wooden writing, especially as an antidote to headlines of corporate fraud. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


No matter what you do, you will find essential guidance and inspiration in Let My People Go Surfing. (Dave Foreman, The Rewilding Institute)

Wonderful... a moving autobiography, the story of a unique business, and a detailed blueprint for hope. (Jared Diamond, author of Collapse)

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Inside This Book

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To young kid growing up ever dreams of someday becoming a businessman. Read the first page
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Estill on Dec 18 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read an interesting book called, "Let my people go surfing - the education of a reluctant businessman" by Yvon Chouinard who is the founder and owner of Patagonia. The surfing in the book refers to real surfing (in waves) unlike the surfing that most of readers coming to this blog are doing. The book is an interesting and farily easy read. Because his original start was a love of outdoor adventure and what they primarily sell is outdoor wear, his employees and his culture centre around the outdoors and the cool factor around outdoor adventuring.

He has created a perception that Patagonia is a "good for the world" company and much of the book centres around the good works that Patagonia does.

I am always inspired to read success and trials and tribulations of other business people and that is why I enjoyed the book.

This all ties back to my thoughts on branding. Patagonia has created a brand. The book is even part of it. The brand is the culture. Interesting.
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By Bernie on Nov. 12 2011
Format: Paperback
This was delivered very fast, a few days, and I literally devoured the fascinating reading from Yvon Chouinard, who has been a beacon all of my adult life.
Much fun in repeating some of his landmark routes up Assiniboine or Edith Cavell NF, "Climbing ice" having been a good reference as a teen!
The philosophies chapter should be good guidelines to most ;-))
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cd on May 6 2015
Format: Paperback
Haven't read it - but curious that the price of the paper back is less then the e-book. In turns of environmental impact you would think the authors principles and amazons pricing policy would align to incentivise people to go digital
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sacha hockenhull on March 19 2014
Format: Paperback
Its on my list but with my schedule i only have time for audio books. Hook me up! please please
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 207 reviews
74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
just drop everything and read the book Feb. 1 2006
By R. M. Williams - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of those drop everything books that you want to buy and give to all your friends and relations who will read and gain from it.

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.

thanks for reading this short review.

if you can offer suggestion like this book, please email subject amazon review.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Incredible insights from incredible man Oct. 15 2005
By John F. Mcmahon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Yvon Chouinard takes all current and accepted business practices and turns them on their ear! Being involved in the "corporate world" I am witness to all sorts of techniques, behaviours, policies, practices etc. The driving force is always the bottom line. While Chouinard is, and has to be concerned with the bottom line his path to that bottom line is both bold and unique. Clearly this is a very practical guide to a more healthy and sustainable business culture.

Chouinard is clearly a wonderful man leading a wonderful charge. Hey, I want my boss to let me go surfing!!A must read!
57 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Preachy to the point of insulting Jan. 28 2011
By TPS Student - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've loosely followed the Patagonia over the years and read the book based on the recommendation from a colleague as we search new means to "engage" employees.

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. I wonder if he has done an energy analysis of maintaining a headquarters in Ventura where undoubtedly most of his employees are forced to commute huge distances. Oh, but then if he moved his headquarters to Modesto where his employees could afford to live where they work they couldn't go surfing. And lastly, he is critical of government subsidies for things he is opposed to but thinks its fine to subsidize his solar array on his roof. Yvon, if you want to save the world knock yourself out. I will even join up with you from time to time. The moment you start insulting me, I have no use for you.

Chouinard says that people that don't espouse the philosophy he promotes should not work for him. I would follow that up by saying the companies that have contempt for me shouldn't expect my business.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, Groundbreaking, Seeking...Reflective...Disjointed Oct. 13 2005
By DenaliKen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Yvon Chouinard (YC) breaks the barriers and shatters the models of business not simply by thinking differently, but acting differently. I am a CEO and His honesty about his mistakes, missteps, is completely refreshing and provides an honest assessment of his role as entreprenuer, businessman, and steward of the earth. YC leads with his weaknesses and many failures which is atypical for the successful "how to succeed" book by the entreprenuer of the moment. He challenges everyone to think deeply about how we treat everything from people we employ, to simple things, such as overnight shipping (high cost to the environment) and making shirts that don't require ironing. Do not expect a perfect flow of language--the book is broken up into sections, but more closely represents a free flowing dialogue with interruptions and random comments. His thoughts on the environment fit nicely with a stereotypical environmentalist, and his thoughts on mutiple distribution channels could fit nicely when speaking to a Harvard Business School class. YC is an enigma. This book, while sometimes a bit disjointed and sometimes clunky, might very well be regarded in 50 years as THE book that started a new thought pattern in business that has responsibility to be profitable, and yet be responsible to the employees and the earth. The new, responsible Henry Ford of our time? BRILLIANT! GO YC!
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A leader with vision Oct. 22 2005
By Michael F. Maciaszek - Published on
Format: Hardcover
There is no better place to work than one where the employees share the vision of the company, and believe in the leadership of the company. "Let My People Go Surfing" is a detailed mission statement for a company whose purpose is to take care of its employees, and do one's best within the 'business ecosystem.' There's no question that Patagonia is a tremendously successful enterprise, and there's no question that Yvon Chouinard's vision has captivated many. He's living proof that you can lead with the customer's and employee's best interest in mind, and reap the benefits of success which transcend the dollar. I'd encourage anyone who is in management to read this book, and take what you can from the teachings within, and incorporate them into your own leadership. It's also an interesting read for anyone who has a hard time believing that you can't follow your dreams and also be financially successful.