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.