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Posts Tagged ‘Coolest Company on the planet’

Yvon Chouinard : People Worth Knowing

In Educational, Environment, People on March 18, 2010 at 19:04

When people use the expression “Who’s the man,” they typically point back at themselves sanctimoniously and say, “I’m the man.” In my experience that person is rarely correct.  Yvon Chouinard, on the other hand, just happens to legitimately answer that timeless question. That’s because Yvon Chouinard truly is “The Man.” He would probably never admit it, but that’s because when you’re actually “the man,” you don’t have to tell anyone. They already know.

Yvon Chouinard

Chouinard is a legend of sorts. Not only is he famous for rock climbing, backpacking, and conservation, but he’s also a great water man and very (“Very” is an understatement) successful business man. His story of success is any outdoor-enthusiast’s dream come true. Chouinard is the founder of Ventura, CA based company Patagonia. If you’ve never heard of Patagonia, then chances are you don’t get outdoors that often. His company  has become a behemoth in the outdoor apparel industry and is synonymous with quality, integrity, and environmental protection.

Patagonia has become a poster-child for sustainable business. While many companies are complaining about environmental regulations and the high-cost of becoming more sustainable, Patagonia is showing the world that you can have a highly profitable business that considers people and planet in every step of the process. Protecting people and planet has been a long-standing personal value of Chouinard’s that he’s integrated into his company. Several years ago, Chouinard co-created an organization called One Percent for the Planet whose primary goal is to get the business community engaged with conservation and restoration efforts by donating one percent of all it’s profits to environmental organizations around the world. As Chouinard says “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” Take a look at the evolution of the organization that stemmed from passion, desire, and value:

Patagonia may be known primarily for it’s great apparel and environmental values, but it’s also been recognized and ranked as one of the “Best Places to Work” by Outside and Fortune magazine. The employees are happy, healthy and empowered. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to work in an environment like that!

I think what impresses me the most about Patagonia is its ability to go against the “business as usual” paradigm and become an industry leader by sticking to it’s core values and beliefs. It not only wants to be an environmentally conscious business, but it want’s its customers to be as well. One way they are doing this is by teaching their customers what goes into the creation of a garment. Patagonia tracks the environmental impact of it’s clothing and shares that information with the public through their project called “The Footprint Chronicles.” As you can see, transparency is a company value as well.

If that wasn’t enough for you, then I encourage you to read Chouinard’s book titled “Let my people go surfing.” In his book, Chouinard outlines his business model and life philosophy. It’s a great read and reiterates Chouinard’s title as “The Man.”