Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie

To laugh often and love much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children. To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. – Elisabeth-Anne Anderson Stanley

Tom’s Story. I was involved in an online driver-education program. I took part in the Amazing Race with my sister. To relax, I took a holiday in Argentina. The poverty was starling and that woke me up. I saw how they walked barefoot and got cuts on their feet. I wanted to help. I considered looking for donors, but that wouldn’t be sustainable. Then, it struck me. I should create a business that provided the kids with a constant flow of shoes. I called the company TOMS with the catch-phrase ‘Shoes for a Better Tomorrow’ or ‘Tomorrow’s Shoes’. The polo teacher, Alejo, joined me on this business venture. We knew what design we wanted. Finally, we found a local shoemaker willing to work with us. We collaborated and I tweaked on the design. I sent the shoes out for testing as well. How could I get people to pay for the shoes I made? Talking to your friends works and they also loved the idea. It is very important to show up in person. Some saw that TOMS made a good story. The newspapers picked up my story. However, the inventory management system was bad and we suffered and couldn’t fulfil orders. The local shoemaker helped to manufacture shoes. The media loved our idea, which was to sell a pair of shoes for profit and then give a pair away. Once we had enough shoes to give away, we went around Argentina. I was overjoyed to be able to provide shoes for the needy children. It made everything seem worthwhile and meaningful. The children were really grateful when thanking us. It was like my life’s work. I wanted TOMS to be my life. I left my other businesses to focus on TOMS. My work had a positive impact on others. The giving aspect of the business gave us a story. There are new tenets to success that must be followed. This book will show you how you can make a difference. You will learn to create a business. You want to make the world a better place. It is possible to earn money, achieve personal fulfilment and to create a positive impact on the world.

What’s changed is the definition of success. Increasingly, the quest for success is not the same as the quest for status and money. The definition has broadened to include contributing something to the world and living and working on one’s own terms. – Blake Mycoskie

A good story transcends boundaries, breaks barriers, and opens doors. It is a key not only to starting a business but also to clarifying your own personal identity and choices. A story evokes emotion, and emotion forges a connection. – Blake Mycoskie

Find Your Story. I liked Adam and Eric. They realised that there was a toxic product and decided to make a safe one in their labs. They wanted an environmentally friendly product. They found people to take care of the packaging. Eventually, the two of them managed to get shops to carry their brand. Press love a good story. Their store received a lot of publicity. Now, they are one of the largest eco-friendly cleaning brands. They had an idea to sell, not just a product by any means. This helped to get customers excited. Stories are powerful. Never underestimate their importance. We rely on stories to remember things. A good story helps open doors. There is too many products out there and we suffer from decision fatigue. You need to connect with the audience emotionally. People are more concerned with personal stories than anything else. Facts only matter that much. Environmentally friendly products are good. Campaigns based on stories are very effective. TOMS was a very young company. The TOMS story was a huge sell. People help to spread the word too. This was the power of our story. People have to believe in what you are doing. Supporters will be loyal customers. AT&T bought our story too. Later, I filmed a commercial and it was a big success. How do you find your story? You can create the only Texan vodka. Identify the communities you belong to and find your story that helps you get off the ground. We usually get caught up in everyday life. It is important to get in touch with ourselves and articulate our passion. If you did not worry about money, what would you do? What cause would you serve? You have to feel strongly about your cause and organize your life around your passion. Commit to telling the story at EVERY OPPORTUNITY. Use ideas from your supporters as well. Listen to them. For example, TOMS organized a barefoot shoes day. Ensure your story is authentic and comes right from the heart. Connect to all the groups you know. This will be your community. When people ask you what do you do, tell them with passion. Learn to partner with others as well. Manage your social media to ensure the story is consistent online too. Find the influence makers who will love your story. Share your story with your social network. It is important to know your audience. Be specific about your idea.

It’s about creating a successful business that also connects supporters to something that matters to them and that has great impact in the world. – Blake Mycoskie

Face Your Fears. Jump right in. Do not hesitate. If you have a good story, do not hesitate to share it. Pam self-published a book. Never give up even if you receive a setback. Always aim to change the lives of others. Fear is more common than what people realize. We are more impressed by boldness. Fear is always with us. You need to learn to overcome it. For many, they give us once the ‘fight-or-flight’ syndrome kicks in. We all need a safe haven to escape from. Create a plan and overcome your fears. Sam Walton is a real success story and who didn’t give up. You must have courage of your convictions. Learn from the mistakes of others. The difference between success and failure is how you overcome setbacks. Be comfortable with fear. Life goes on and you can always start afresh. Don’t fear the unknown. You can never be fully prepared for something. Everyone makes mistakes once in a while. Do not worry about what others think. Do not wait for the best idea to come, for it never will. Learn to remember to live your story. Surround yourself to inspirational quotations. Use inspirational quotes to push you during difficult times. I often read biographies of inspiring people too. Take one small step at a time. Follow the Japanese ‘kaizen’ mindset of small improvements at each time. If you need help, go and ask for it. Create a pros and cons list. The timing is never right and the key is to get started.

Be Resourceful without Resources. We didn’t know if the TOMS business model could work. Many people applied for our internship programme even those they wouldn’t get salary. This was a chance to do something different. We let the interns have a fun time to compensate for the lack of pay. The garage is enchanted. Learn to improvise your space. Learn to lower the expectations of others. Make everyone feel like a team and create a good company culture. Most people start off with humble beginnings. Most people start businesses with a few resources. Imagination trumps money. A lack of money will force you to be alert and hardworking. A lack of money will force you to be creative in getting what you want. Too much money is toxic. If you attract too much money, you need to answer to investors too. Pets.com invested too much in advertising after receiving money from venture capitalists. If you incorporate giving in your business model, it will reap benefits. Stand for something bigger than yourself. Develop a presence where it is free. Social media is free anyway. Dispose of formal titles. Create innovative names so that the people lower-down will also seem important. Use an interesting business card so that people will remember you. Always treat the interns well and feed them properly so that they will be happy. Read other resources on how to better manage your resources.

If you have little money and have to bootstrap and improvise to pull things together, that becomes embedded in your company’s DNA forever – so as you scale up, you maintain the frugality and efficiency that helped you survive your earliest days. – Blake Mycoskie

Keep It Simple. Learn to simplify things. Always think simple and strip it down. Footwear are simple. We used the black canvas as the design. In design, simplicity is the key. Simplicity is very important. Simplicity can also be applied to a goal or a mission. Keep it simple and do the best you can. Learn to unclutter your work area. Learn to schedule things and don’t let technology enslave you. Please clean up. Own as little as you can.

Build Trust. Tony Hsieh is a successful entrepreneur in the US. Zappos was a bit hit. Their business model is all about trust. Employees all look out for the best interests of their company. Employee bonding is very important. The people were given much freedom to tweet. The turnover is very low. Trust is built with the vendors and customers too. Both internal and external trust are important. The hard approach for your staff may not be the best anymore. Make sure the whole team is on the same page. Information is not top down nowadays. Ideas can spring up from the bottom. Empowerment is the key. The soft style of leadership works better. It is important to build a climate of accountability. It is okay to make mistakes. Recall the product if has been shipped to the customer but turned out to be faulty. If someone breaks trust, you must be ruthless about it. There are companies who reward employees for admitting mistakes. Have zero tolerance for people who bad-mouth others. Always place the customers first. Tumi helps to repair bags. Being open and forthright is very important as well. We allowed selected customers to join us on shoe drops. State your goals clearly. Please offer honest and constructive criticism. Empowerment is related to job satisfaction too. Learn to trust the interns. Fine tune your hiring policy to ensure you hire the best. Wear your product so that others will believe you.

People are more likely to do favors for each other if they are friends, not just co-workers. – Tony Hsieh

Giving is good business. Even giving free lunch to needy kids can change their lives. Lauren sold bags and the proceeds went to needy children in Rwanda. Giving is more important than ever. Fight for something bigger than yourself. The smiles on the kids’ faces will definitely keep you going. Pepsi also dropped their SuperBowl commercial and gave money to people who could come up with business ideas. Social work is becoming more popular. TOMS managed to attract many different types of partners. Sometimes, for-profit companies might want to pair with not for-profit companies. Is social responsibility about increasing profits in the long term? Even if you don’t start a business, you can have tremendous impact too but starting new initiatives at work. If you can’t start something big, start something small. Start giving now. Do not simply give money away. You can offer to do pro-bono services. Incorporate giving anywhere you can at work. Trust the host organization to make proper use of the gifts. Try and seek feedback in order to improve your giving. Tailor your gift to the organization’s needs.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. – Mahatma Gandhi

The Final Step. OneShot is a non-profit that provides meningococcal meningitis vaccinations to college students. It also addresses this problem in Africa. Soon, this story caught on. You will get immense joy hearing praise from your customers. Even if you just help one person, it is an enormous achievement. Once you start helping others, you will see that your life is filled with purpose.

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