Start Something That Matters

I’d been hearing about TOMS shoes and how cool they are. Plus, they give back.

(Photo: TOMS website)

Fortunately, the founder, or Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, published a book called Start Something that Matters. In it Blake Mycoskie tells the story of TOMS. The business model is simple: “With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One.”

The book isn’t all about TOMS, though. Blake also shares lessons learned from other organizations, such as FEED projects, chartity: water and TerraCycle. Some I had read in other books but it’s always good to hear them again.

I read this as part of my business book club. TOMS built a business based on social innovation, and we wondered if it’s possible to build pockets of social innovation within an organization, especially if a company is already large and established. Trying to change an entire culture might be difficult, but we decided if you create a pocket you might have success, and it could spread. That’s actually one of the reasons for the book club – to bring different functions of the organization together for discussion.

Blake talks about the need to “find your story.” The TOMS story resonates and is easy to tell. Is your organization’s story easily told? What about your personal story? If not, how can you make it so it is?

Stories must be specific and you must know your audience. Blake writes, “Make sure your story is crafted to appeal to the people you really want to become your supporters and that it draws from your core strength.”

One section that resonated with me and of which I need constant reminding was the chapter, “Keep it Simple.” He shared simple ideas that became great companies, including Chipotle and Craigslist.

He also talked about the need to create a simple environment in which to live and work. I confess that after reading that chapter, which stressed uncluttering your workspace, I cleaned out an entire file cabinet. I didn’t need the materials and even though they were out of site, they were weighing me down. Now I can focus on my priorities.

Although I’ve not met Blake, I suspect the book is a lot like he is – filled with energy. If you want a quick read that shares innovation, good life lessons and the story of TOMS, this is the book for you. Plus, if you purchase a book, a new book will be provided to a child in need.

Note: I didn’t purchase my book. I received it when I was selected for the Books for Bloggers Program. I’ve shared my copies (I received two) with others because the book is an easy read with wisdom worth sharing.

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