Start Something That Matters

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Author: Blake Mycoskie
Title: Start Something That Matters
Published: Sep. 6, 2011

I knew relatively little about TOMS before I started on this book. I really enjoyed reading Blake’s story and the lessons he continues to learn throughout the journey. What started as a unique idea to help put shoes on the feet of impoverished children has blossomed into a worldwide brand that continues to do great things for less fortunate individuals.

I found this read particularly inspiring. Blake describes how he started TOMS with very little, working out of his apartment in California. In some instances, they had so little money in the bank they couldn’t afford to pay the bills. What ultimately matters is that they continued to work to make things happen. This was perhaps my favorite quote:

‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.… If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.

I also really enjoyed his take on telling a story. It reminded me a lot of Simon Sinek in his now-famous TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Sinek outlined that great leaders start with the “why” not with the “what”. By portraying your overall vision, people buy into your mission. Mycoskie had a tremendous quote on the topic:

When you have a memorable story about who you are and what your mission is, your success no longer depends on how experienced you are or how many degrees you have or who you know. A good story transcends boundaries, breaks barriers, and opens doors. It is a key not only to starting a business but also to clarifying your own personal identity and choices.

If you like reading inspiring stories of companies and individuals changing the way the world works, I would highly recommend giving Start Something That Matters a read.

Reading Notes

You don’t always need to talk with experts; sometimes the consumer, who just might be a friend or acquaintance, is your best consultant.

They teach that having a story may be the most important part of your new venture; that fear can be useful; that having vast resources is not as critical as you might think; that simplicity is a core goal in successful enterprises; that trust is the most important quality you bring to your company; and, finally, that giving may be the best investment you’ll ever make.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.… If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.

Kelleher, who stepped down as CEO in 2008, once said, “I can teach you the secret to running this airline in thirty seconds. This is it: We are the low-fare airline. Once you understand that fact, you can make any decision about this company’s future as well as I can.

Spending extra time to find good people allows for more trust once you hire them, which frees up tremendous time (and anxiety) down the road.

If hiring excellent people becomes one of your top priorities, and the whole company pitches in together to make it a great process, you will wind up with excellent employees and a more trusting environment.

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