Friday, August 28th, 2009 at 10:11 am
Howies not only make really good quality clothing but their blog “Brainfood” is filled with little snippets of information that are both interesting and informative. No long essays, just a drip drip drip of environmentalism, outdoor life, sports and clothing.
Written by the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Since it’s employees include Lynn Hill and Yvon Chourinard as well as some leading environmentalists and outdoor writers it is nearly always a great read.
Paul Deegan is a mountaineer, presenter and journalist who posts thoughtful views on living and working in the outdoors. He’s also a dreadful skier.
Mark Reeves is a climbing instructor and coach based in North Wales. His blog is frequently badly spelled and some might find his choice of language offensive but it does provide a good insight into making a living in the outdoors.
Inspiration and information can come from the most unlikely source. This blog, subtitled “Warfighters, show us your gear” contains posts about equipment useful to soldiers. Frequently though, soldiers want the same as outdoor people, tough, light, effective gear that does the job. It’s worth keeping an eye on simply to see what our camouflaged brethren are using to do similar things.
Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 at 12:34 pm
Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 10:38 am
Let My People Go Surfing
by Yvon Chouinard
The Penguin Press HC
The subtitle of this book is “The education of a reluctant business man” and Yvon Chouinard definitely falls into this category. He practices MBA, or Management by Absence which has meant that everyone in his company has to have a strong idea of what they are trying to achieve. It’s difficult to ask your boss for guidance when he’s halfway up a peak in the Himalaya.
The first half of the book deals with the history of Patagonia, from its start in the back of his truck through to being a multinational equipment and clothing manufacturer.
It should be a tale of how not to do it, with itinerant climbers promoted to senior managers and a staff that has permission to disappear when the surf gets big. However the tale reads as an adventure yarn, with a real feeling of teamwork, tolerance and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. Instead of despairing at the ineptitude of the participants, you realise that this may be an alternative way of doing business.
In the late 80s, Patagonia started struggling and Chouinard realised that they had overreached themselves. When he had to lay of 250 of his workers, he decided that he needed to clarify in his own mind why he was running a business. The book goes on to explain the “philosophies” that were created to guide the company onwards.
The philosophies are like a 50 page mission statement, split into categories like “Product Design” and “Environment” and are there to guide any member of the company in making the best decision for the company. While his goals won’t be applicable to anybody else’s company, the process of setting those goals will be. If you want to see how important the environment is to Patagonia, look at their philosophies. If you want to know how they expect their suppliers to be treated, looking at the philosophies.
Every business person who aspires to create, run or work in a business that isn’t a nine-to-five, cubicle farm, sweatshop should read this book.
Links to buy: Patagonia and amazon.co.uk