n 2006, Blake Mycoskie launched a start-up – Shoes for Tomorrow, or more commonly known as TOMS. He started it on the simple model that for every shoe he sold, one shoe would be given to a child in need. Fast forward to 2011, Blake has given over 1 million pairs of shoes to children throughout South America and Africa. One simple idea = global impact.
Blake released Start Something That Matters in late 2011 with the idea to inspire people to love their work while simultaneously having a positive impact on the world. In true Blake style, he’s not choosing to promote the book traditionally. He reached out to the blogging community and decided to give two books to each contest winner. Their only charge? Read the book, review it, and host a contest on their blog to give the other book away. He’s putting One for One in action in two other ways as well. For every book sold, Random House Publishing will give one to First Book, who provides new books to children without books of their own. He will use 50% of the proceeds from this book to create the Start Something That Matters Fund. This Fund will specifically support readers inspired by the book to launch efforts that have a positive impact on the world.
So that is where we come in. As business owners that had actually looked to TOMS as a model for our own business, we jumped at the opportunity to read and promote this book. Here’s what we thought:
The book is written as if you’ve opened Blake’s journal. It is extremely personal, something you rarely find in a traditional “business read”. He offers candid insight into thoughts, relationships, and actions that were experienced along the road that lead to what we all know of TOMS today. But this is no ordinary business book. It is not over-done, it is not full of business jargon. There are no predictions of what the economy may or may not do and boasts no organization charts. It is simple and concise. That is why we loved it.
This book is uplifting, promoting the idea that doing work while living a fulfilled life is possible. Not one or the other. The principals set forth in the book promote a more sustainable existence. Don’t we all want to enjoy each day of our life? Do something everyday that is meaningful? It’s truly the business book for people looking to live and work consciously. He provides the reader with a clear set of principals such as face your fears, find your story, be resourceful without resources and keep it simple. Each of these principals are followed by realistic examples of how they have been applied either in his business or in other successful businesses he’s encountered. Blake is mindful to also include writings from other successful social entrepreneurs. It is a constant reminder of how sharing and giving can bring smart, like-minded people together to create meaningful products and conquer problems.
Start Something That Matters provides lists of effective resources (pages 92-95 have been permanently dog-eared) that are low to virtually no costs for new businesses. We can back this first hand, as many of the resources suggested are actually ones we still use today. Most of all, he makes a great case for conscious capitalism. There are no limits for a One for One model in all fields of work. The creativity of how you can simultaneously make a living, give, and possibly solve a problem, is a great lesson.
This book is ideal for anyone who is thinking of starting a business or a non-profit with the idea to succeed with a triple bottom line in mind – Socially, Economically, Environmentally. It is also a great book for folks like us, young business owners who have already started out to do something that matters. It is a great sounding board for finding examples and reasoning that the decision of creating an alternative business model has great merit for the future of business around the world.
So join the movement, give a book and Start Something That Matters.
Some of our other top reads for the year include:
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Seth Godin
- Rework Jason Fried
- The Thank You Economy Gary Vaynerchuk
- The Presentations Secrets of Steve Jobs Carmine Gallo
- Hot, Flat, and Crowded Thomas L. Friedman
- High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky Joshua David and Robert Hammond
- End Malaria Sixty-two authors, one great cause
- Earth from Above Yann Arthus-Bertrand