Business lessons from a legendary mountaineer

Rick Ridgeway on collaborating to change an industry

Who: Patagonia’s VP of Public Engagement and co-founder of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

What’s the story?

Rick has spent most of his life climbing mountains. The experience of seeing snow-capped peaks that he had climbed lose their snow — permanently — turned him into an environmentalist. And so, he joined Patagonia.

Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, set the company up with the explicit aim of using it as “a tool for environmental protection.”

That mission has led them to collaborate with other companies, notably Walmart — a “David and Goliath partnership” in Rick’s words — to drive systemic change.

What’s driving change?

Collaboration. “Global problems need global answers.”

What’s the big challenge ahead?

Keeping a sense of fun in the face of realities that invite despair. “The trouble with pessimism is that as a response, not only is it useless, but it’s no fun.”

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