Let’s Surf and Get Dinner


Presidents, activists, famous artists and religious figures dance through my head. Then, I reflect on the book I just finished: Let My People Go Surfing- The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia. The book reflects on Chouinard’s experiences in business and how he came to form Patagonia and its strategy.

Before reading this book, I was an avid fan of Patagonia. I wear my mom’s quarter zip, reversible jacket from the 80s with pride. The jacket looks new and protects against wind, rain and cold making one of my favorites to wear for crew practice. I knew a little about Patagonia’s environmental efforts from research, after all, Patagonia was the company that I used to help determine what I wanted to major in in college. (I saw the position of Art Director on the website and fell in love with how it combined art and business.) However, these points keep me stagnated as little more than a groupie who happened to properly use the clothing.

After reading Let My People Go Surfing, my passion for Patagonia grew. Thus, if I could have dinner with anyone, it would be Yvon Chouinard. I’d want to further discuss his transition from outdoorsman to founder and how he balances those two semi-conflicting roles. I’d want to discuss how other business could implement Patagonia’s practices, such as donating 1% of sales to environmental grassroots efforts, and how such practices could change the world. However, the reason I would want to have dinner with him the most is because I want to get to know him. What kind of person is courageous enough to tackle these huge environmental issues? How creative do you have to be to figure out that running a company as an example is the best way to bring about change in the world?

Thus, Yvon Chouinard would be the historical figure I would take out to a nice (vegetarian) dinner.

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2 thoughts on “Let’s Surf and Get Dinner”

  1. The phrase ‘let my people go surfing’ reminds me of Marie Antionette’s alleged line, “let them eat cake’. This would be another thing to ask Chouinard. While Patagonia’s products and mission statement may have environmentally friendly purposes, the company as a whole has faced controversy in the past in dealing with these issues. It would be interesting to hear Chouinard’s perspective on the individuals that were alienated here. “Conservación Patagónica, the foundation behind Patagonia National Park, has also channeled its energies toward infrastructure building, but it has largely overlooked public outreach. Its image among residents has suffered as a result. The community was incensed when the foundation bought and then shut down the biggest ranch in the region, contributing to what residents saw as the decimation of their traditional way of life. The purchase, made in 2004, was for a 173,000-acre tract, ideally positioned between two national reserves, allowing for a sweeping stretch of conservation land. ”
    (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/world/americas/in-patagonia-caught-between-visions-of-the-future.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0)

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  2. What a great choice! Patagonia’s business strategy and success are something I think a lot of company’s should consider and strive to emulate. Entrepreneurs and executives like Yvon Chouinard help alleviate the stigma many other corrupt profit hungry executives have made for corporations.

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