"Let My People Go Surfing" by Yvon Chouinard


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Title: Let My People Go Surfing
Author: Yvon Chouinard
Start Date: 4/15/17
End Date: 4/24/17
# of Pages: 272
Edition: Penguin Books Updated paperback (2016)
ISBN: 9780143109679
Purchase: Amazon

Quick Take: divergent

Why I Chose It: Patagonia is one of my favorite clothing companies from what I knew of them and I was interested in their history. Also, I enjoy any chance I get to learn more about how and why people are successful.

Quotes: (1) "'And they did. If you just ask people for help - if you just admit that you don't know something - they will fall all over themselves trying to help.'" (2) "I've always thought of myself as an 80 percenter. I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80 percent proficiency level. To go beyond that requires an obsession and degree of specialization that doesn't appeal to me. Once I reach that 80 percent level I like to go off and do something totally different; that probably explains the diversity of the Patagonia product line - and why our  versatile, multifaceted clothes are the most successful." (3) "Core value: Maximum attention is given the product quality, as defined by durability, minimum use of natural resources (including materials, raw energy, and transport), multifunctionalism, nonobsolesence, and the kind of beauty that emerges from absolute suitability to task..." (4) "I didn't know that we had become unsustainable and that we had to look to the Iroquois in there seven-generation planning, and not to corporate America, as models of stewardship and sustainability. As part of their decision process, the Iroquois had a person who represented the seventh generation in the future." (5) "The more you know, the less you need." (6) "We believe we get the best press when we have something to say." (7) "'A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he's working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.'" (8) "So if you define wilderness as a place that is more than a day's walk from civilization, there is no true wilderness left in North America, except in parts of Alaska and Canada...'We've been cooking the books for a long time by leaving out the worth of nature.'"

Other Notes: Yvon Chouinard and I do not have identical worldviews, but the Venn Diagram overlap is strong when it comes to a love of wilderness and nature. I find his fight to steward the natural environment well, in spite of his extreme pessimism that it can be saved from over use and destruction, admirable and inspiring. He says Patagonia, his life's work, exists to attempt to preserve the environment, and if profit accompanies the effort, great. I also appreciate his view of work, and the culture he has fostered in that area...I recognize it won't fit every type of business or work, but I'm attracted to many of his ideas in that area. This might not appeal to everyone, and it is more of a philosophy of work manual than a book, but I enjoyed much of it.

BooksKarl Magnuson