Introducing Yvon Chouinard – Let My People Go Surfing

Written by Stuart Haden on January 23, 2019

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard (the founder/owner of outdoor clothing and gear brand Patagonia) is a classic read for anybody interested in organisations – their purpose, culture and values. The title alone is enough to challenge and support your philosophy of working lives. “We all needed to have flextime to surf the waves when they were good.”

There are some great tale of Yvon’s life and the values that he lives by – enjoyment, friendship, flexitime, personal image and creativity. As a word of warning he describes how this can’t necessarily be developed into a formula. “Because so much of the image relies on authenticity, a formula would destroy it.” He hints at one rather unusual way of measuring this. “We all had to come to work on the balls of our feet and go up the stairs two steps at a time.”

There aren’t any real take home learning’s as such, instead the book offers some very powerful philosophies – product, production, distribution, image, financial, HR, management and environmental. Deeply serving others could be offered by way of a summary, and therefore taking a stand for employees, suppliers, customers and the environment. But if there was a call to action remember “Leaders take risks, have long term vision, create the strategic plans, and instigate change.”