I read the bulk of “Start Something That Matters” while commuting to and from work on Chicago’s el. As I was reading, I tweeted the passages that most resonated with me…here are the quotes and context, compliments of Storify:
“Increasingly, the tried-and-true tenets of success are just tried, not true.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
This quote was found in SSTM’s opening pages and its quirky word play was what inspired me to tweet out interesting passages as I came across them. Though I usually abhor puns and think they scream “GIMMICK,” I believe that Blake has truly touched on something valuable; today’s business world is long on advice, but short on originality and risk-taking. The same can’t be said for Blake himself, nor for TOMS Shoes…which should become apparent as you continue to read.
“Stories are the most primitive and purest form of communication.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
Blake is big on story-telling and attributes it to TOMS’ success. Anyone can make a cool, comfortable pair of shoes…but TOMS was able to connect product with passion. Their customers feel like partners and ambassadors, all because of a compelling and inspiring story.
“If you doubt your own authenticity, it will sap your passion.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
Think about your contacts in the business and/or nonprofit world. Now think about the people who personally commit to their product/mission…and think about the ones that “just” do their jobs. My guess (and Blake’s hypothesis) is that you’ll see two distinct groups emerge — one that’s passionate and successful, the other that’s ambivalent and middling.
“What distinguishes the ultimate successes from the ultimate failures is what you do with them.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
Sometimes, there’s a fine line between good and bad…between pass and fail…between success and failure. Blake suggests that it’s not so much the idea that dictates a project’s success, but the drive and reactions of the person or people implementing it.
“I surround myself with inspirational quotations.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters #meta
One of the most compelling (and easy to replicate) parts of the TOMS story is how the company started on a shoe-string budget and found success before it was logistically ready to handle it. How did Blake avoid business disaster? By staying simple, exploring every possible cheap/free option and resisting the urge to burn capital (ahem, pets.com) simply because it was available.
“Simplicity is simple. Perhaps this sounds redundant. But it’s true, and it’s important.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
Power to the people! Organizational hierarchy is often important, but Blake suggests that it not come at the expense of innovation. Often, the best insights can come from those employees with ears closest to the ground. Make sure you set up a system in which their observations are collected, appreciated and acted upon.
“Being clear about where your donors’ money goes is the best way to build their trust.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
This is gospel to fundraisers, but cringe-inducing to many of our accounting offices. Yes, transparency requires a lot of extra effort…effort that will be rewarded tenfold by loyal, appreciative and increasingly well-educated nonprofit donors.
“Compliment publicly and criticize privately, but do both directly.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
These passages appear in different sections of the book, but I’ve united them here because the message is a common one.While not every for-profit business can or should work on TOMS’ “one for one” model, Blake (and a growing number of other business leaders) suggests that to build loyalty among customers, today’s companies need a connection to social good. You may not be able to give away a million pairs of shoes to children in third world countries, but your customers will appreciate and reward your genuine efforts to make a difference in your local community. And really, can’t every business do that? Shouldn’t every business do that?
“I firmly believe that every person alive can make this world a better place.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters