let my people go surfing: the education of a reluctant businessman, by yvon chouinard.
this is the best business book i’ve read in a long time, hands down. and, that’s a bit strange, in many ways. because it’s not a pure business book — let’s call it a business memoir. chuoinard tells his own life story, including a detailed telling of the creation of chouinard equipment, and then patagonia. he’s sometimes-arrogant, he often unfairly generalizes, he occasionally overstates his case. he’s overly proud of this “i did it my way” path.
but… it works. and there are nuggets in here that are so wonderfullly different than what one would read in other business books. in a sense, this is a “life book” — it’s about leading a company who is voraciosly and unflinchingly committed to its mission and values, even when those are contrary to profit. it’s about a company or an organization being about something other, something more, than revenue and profit. and, really, it’s about being the kind of person who knows herself, knows his values, knows her strengths, knows his commitments, and works ruthlessly to keep them. for chouinard, those values are all about the environment. so the book is packed with both the theoretical and the practical when it comes to environmental issues (including lots of side stories).
personally, i found the environmental stuff really helpful. we (ys) aren’t patagonia (either in their singular commitment to environmental issues, or in many other ways). but we are trying to become more green. but the environmental passion of patagonia transfers, conceptually, to what other organizations could be passionate about (assuming that something is outside of themselves).
1/3 personal and organizational memoir
1/3 environmental manifesto and practical organizational guide
1/3 business book on passionate commitment to internally and externally focused organizational mission and values
i’m going to buy a case lot of these (really), and give them to the ys exec team, the ys green team (a group of ys staff working on ways to help ys be more environmentally friendly), and some on the zondervan leadership team.
(i’ve been a bad, bad hat-tipper lately. someone recommended this book to me, and i don’t remember who it was.)