Now He’s Really Started Something

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“One for One” – it was a revolutionary idea when the founder of TOMS shoes, Blake Mycoskie, came up with it back in 2006. Today it is part of a broader new movement called Conscious Capitalism, an idea that melds profit with social activism.

Mycoskie recently released “Start Something That Matters,” a book chronicling his journey to create a philanthropic company like TOMS, and providing us with a new model for success, that belongs right up there with Coach John Wooden’s time-honored and much-used “Pyramid of Success.”

In “Start Something,” Mycoskie tells of a vacation to Argentina, taken whenhe was running his fourth start-up company.  While traveling, he aimed to immerse himself in the local culture.  He ate what the locals ate, drank what they drank, and wore what they wore – a soft canvas shoe, known as the alpargata.

On the trip, he also met a woman volunteering for a shoe drive.  The idea was new to him, and he quickly learned that many children are without shoes, causing not only inconvenience, but also exposing them to illness and disease, and often, preventing them from being able to attend school, where shoes are required.

After witnessing firsthand the effects on these children of being shoeless, he felt compelled to do something.  Realizing that relying on donations meant that resources, and thereby shoes, would not always be flowing in, he developed the idea to create a for-profit company that would both sell shoes and distribute them to those in need.

Mycoskie says, “It was a simple concept: Sell a pair of shoes today, give a pair of shoes tomorrow. Something about the idea felt so right, even though I had no experience, or even connections, in the shoe business.”

He christened the business “TOMS,” a name derived from the concept of “tomorrow’s shoes,” and thus was born a company that took the humble alpargata, tweaked it a little to make it more marketable to the fashion-conscious American consumer, then vowed to give one pair away for every pair sold – a radical idea.

Mycoskie partnered with locals in Argentina to design and craft the shoes, then turned to his friends and associates back home to begin his marketing campaign.

As you can tell by strolling through any mall,  campus, or major retailer, his idea has been an overwhelming success.

While his is an inspiring story, it is also a blueprint for anyone wanting to follow in his footsteps.  In today’s global community, it is not enough to simply want to be successful by conventional standards.  More and more, success is defined not only by money and social standing, but also by the contribution one is making to the world at large, and the level of personal satisfaction able to be found in the work being done.

This book is recommended for anyone who is ready to make a change in the world, share a new model for success with their children, eager to love what they do, or is simply curious about how someone who never made a pair of shoes, attended fashion school, or worked in retail created one of the fastest-growing footwear companies in the world by giving shoes away.

Mycoskie reminds us among other things that quite literally, “giving may be the best investment you’ll ever make.”

With this book, “One for One” continues.  For each copy sold, a new book will be provided to a child in need, and in an effort to increase the ripple effect even more, one half of the proceeds from book sales will go towards creating the Start Something That Matters Fund, which will support inspired readers in their efforts to make a positive contribution to the world.


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