Let My People Go Surfing - By Yvon Chouinard

Let My People Go Surfing - By Yvon Chouinard

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Ten years after its original publication, Penguin Books has released a completely revised and expanded edition of Yvon Chouinard’s classic memoir, Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, with more than 40 percent new material and featuring a new foreword by Naomi Klein, author of the bestselling book This Changes Everything.

In the new edition, Chouinard explains how his business and environmental views have evolved in a decade marked by global recession and intensifying environmental crisis as well as unprecedented success for his company—bringing great opportunities as well as hard challenges for Patagonia along the way. We are pleased to share the preface from the second edition with you today.

“To know and not to do is not to know.”

—Wang Yang Ming

The original intent in 2005 for writing Let My People Go Surfing was for it to be a philosophical manual for the employees of Patagonia. I never expected at that time that this simple book would be translated into ten languages and be used in high schools and colleges and even be influential in large corporations. Even Harvard University has done a case study on our company. We have always considered Patagonia an experiment in doing business in unconventional ways. None of us were certain it was going to be successful, but we did know that we were not interested in “doing business as usual.” Well, we have survived and even thrived for close to half a century, even longer than that if you include our first company, Chouinard Equipment for alpinists. Patagonia Works is now the name of our company, which includes under its umbrella our clothing company, Patagonia, Inc., and a food company, Patagonia Provisions. We are also invested in several other like-minded start-up companies. Ironically, we have become the large company that we never dreamed of, nor wanted to become.

We are still family-owned and we continue to enjoy our work, and I don’t feel that we have had to compromise our values in becoming this large company. We have no intention to sell out or to become a public company, which would compromise on our mission “to use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”