GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: Finding Your Story by Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS and author of the new book "Start Something That Matters."
When I give talks to groups of college students and business leaders, one of the first questions that I'm almost always asked is, "What's the secret behind TOMS?"
The truth behind this question is that there is no secret.
When I first started TOMS, I had no experience in footwear, fashion or apparel. I never wrote a formal business plan; there were no consultants or focus groups telling me that the idea would succeed; and there definitely wasn't much cash to go around.
The real story behind TOMS' success is just that, a story.
Back in 2006, when I returned home from Argentina, I told all of my friends and family, and pretty much anyone who would listen, about my trip: how I went to Buenos Aires to relax and learn to play polo; how I discovered the alpargata, a shoe that had been worn by Argentine farmers and polo players for more than 100 years; how I went on a volunteer "shoe drive" where used shoes were being collected from wealthy families and given to children in the surrounding villages; and how my goal was to create a for-profit business, not a charity, that would give 250 pairs of new shoes to the children that I had met.
What I didn't know at the time is just how powerful stories are.
"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.""
When you have a memorable story about who you are and what you're doing, your success depends less on how experienced you are or how many degrees you have or who you know. 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.
In my new book, "Start Something That Matters,"I describe the importance of storytelling and the other counterintuitive principles that have helped TOMS grow from an interesting idea to a company that in five years has been fortunate enough to have given more than a million pairs of new shoes to children in need. I really believe that you, too, can create something that will make a difference, whether it's a nonprofit organization, your own social enterprise, a new business you create on the side while still working in the mainstream, or perhaps even a new division of your current company.
If this sounds like the way you want to do business and live your life, I hope that even in some small way my book might get you started…
Blake Mycoskie is the Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, and the man behind the growing One for One movement. As of April 2010, TOMS has given over 600,000 pairs of new shoes to children in need through giving partners around the world. Mycoskie is also the author of the new book "Start Something That Matters."