Published in


Book Summary — Let My People Go Surfing

You can find all my book summaries — here.

1 paragraph summary:

Everything about Patagonia, an outdoor gear product-company with environmental sustainability at its core. The book provides insights into the early beginnings and philosophies guiding the company principles to be product and environment-first.


My company, Patagonia, is an experiment. It exists to put into action those recommendations that all the doomsday books on the health of our home planet say we must do immediately to avoid the certain destruction of nature and collapse of our civilisation.

Quality Control

Quality control was always foremost in our minds, because if a tool failed, it could kill someone, and since we were our own best customers, there was a chance it would be us!


In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness.

Studying Zen has taught me to simplify, to simplify yields a richer result. The rock climber becomes a master when he can leave his big wall gear at the base, when he so perfects his skill that he can climb the wall free, relying only on his skill and the features of the rock.

The Beginnings

Since there wasn’t much profit at the end of the year, we paid ourselves by the hours worked. None of us saw the business as an end in itself. It was just a way to pay the bills so we could go off on climbing trips.

By 1970 Chouinard Equipment (pre-Patagonia company) had become the largest supplier of climbing hardware in the US.

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.


To recreate the entrepreneurial atmosphere of the sort we’d had at Chouinard Equipment, we broke the line into 8 categories and hired eight product czars to manage them. Each was responsible for his or her product development, marketing, inventory, quality control, and coordination with the three sales channels — wholesale, mail order, and retail.

In hindsight, we made all the classic mistakes of a growing company — not training managers, consolidation of channels and products and keeping business objectives in sight.

The company was restructured five times in fives years, no plan worked better than the last one.

Our Mission:

Make the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.


If you wait for the customer to tell you what to do, you’re too late. My customers didn’t want a model T, they wanted a faster horse — Henry Ford

The keyword is discovering instead of inventing. There’s simply not time for inventing.

Patagonia puts quality first, period. A more sales-driven company might sacrifice a degree of quality to achieve on-time delivery, and a mass marketer might sacrifice both quality and on-time delivery to maintain the lowest cost.

  1. Measure twice, cut once
  2. Fair trade certified products
  3. Borrow ideas from other disciplines

Many companies communicate with their customers primarily through advertising. This grabs your attention but can’t hold it. A quick glance, and you’re back to the article you were reading. In order to tell our whole story, we need customers’ undivided attention. Our customers are readers and the catalog was the primary means of communicating our stories.

Branding is telling people who we are. Promotion is selling people on our product. Our promotional efforts begin with the product.

We are a product-driven company. That means that product comes first and the company exists to create and support our products.

What our employees all share is a passion for something outside themselves, whether for surfing or opera, climbing or gardening, skiing or community activism.

Evil doesn’t have to be an overt act, it can be merely the absence of good. If you have the ability, the resources, and the opportunity to do good and you do nothing, that can be evil.

I believe the way toward mastery of any endeavour is to work toward simplicity, replace complex tech with knowledge. The more you know, the less you need.

👇My Newsletter — SUBSCRIBE HERE👇



Goal: Read and summarise one book a week

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store