TOMS Founder, Blake Mycoskie, Discusses New Book 'Start Something That Matters'
For the disillusioned office worker who's realized cubicle life won't cut it, this book's for you.
Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, released his first book last week called "Start Something That Matters." In it, he shares the secrets of his success and that of other entrepreneurs who are doing work that's had a significant, positive effect on the world.
It's only fitting that Mycoskie's book assumes TOMS signature one-for-one model. When readers purchase a copy, a child in need will get a book through the organization First Book, a nonprofit that connects publishers and local organizations.
In "Start Something That Matters," Mycoskie shares insight from Scott Harrison, charity:water founder, about earning donors' trust. He chats with Tony Hseish, the name behind Zappos, about company culture and ultimate customer service. Mycoskie also divulges tips from Timothy Ferriss, author of "The 4-Hour Workweek," about chasing your dreams and enjoying life.
Huffington Post talked to Mycoskie about the book's backstory, the entrepreneurs featured in his work and a new one-for-one twist.
HP: You were already on your fourth startup when you started TOMS in 2006. Is it realistic to think anyone with passion could succeed in a venture like this?
Mycoskie: I think it appeals to everyone. On one level, you have the kind of young person just out of college who's an entrepreneur and excited about this book. And on another level, in this time and economy, people are also just looking for positive stories. They want to be inspired in general. The book is -- and I hope you'll agree with me -- very conversational and story-driven. It's not necessarily a how-to book. It's a fun, entertaining and inspirational book.
HP: The way this book gives back is two-fold. Can you talk about who you're helping?
Mycoskie: The primary reason to start the book was to help other people start something that matters. The number one question that I get is, 'How did you get started?' My purpose was to inspire people to go out, whether it's a day or two a month or two days a year and help others. Or, to start an organization like TOMS, or convince big companies you work for to start a give-back program. Or even build morale and somehow incorporate giving.
But then we're also helping kids. One of the things that was most obvious was that children don't always have the necessary school materials. In my travels, I'd visit a school and see five kids sharing one book. In my heart, I've always thought it would be great to help them.
HP: What makes this one-for-one different is that you're using some of the product proceeds to provide your readers with grants. How will this work?
Mycoskie: We're offering the grants available on our website using half of the proceeds from the book. People will soon be able to apply online. It will help people start their own 'thing that matters.' With the grants, I wanted to put my money where my mouth is. It's my way of giving back to readers and asking them to start something.
HP: Tell us about the people you interview in the book. Why did you choose someone like Scott Harrison of charity:water, for example?
Mycoskie: Each person in the book has, in their own way, shown me or taught me something very interesting about getting started. Someone like Scott Harrison speaks to a new breed of nonprofits out there. Scott really shows nonprofits how you can brand yourself and make yourself stand out. He shows how critical it is to be very transparent. One of the biggest complaints you hear is, 'How do know where the money goes?' He assures them that 100 percent goes to help and he shows them the GPS coordinates of the well that they build. That type of detail and sharing is critical in getting trust from donors. That's one reason why Scott was important.
HP: What about Tony Hsieh of Zappos? You include him in the book, but his company is a for-profit.
Mycoskie: A lot of people don't see the connection with him in the book, but he has built one of most amazing cultures, a culture of trust and fun -- and because he has done it all in quirky ways, he has built unbelievable customer service. He challenges employees to do things in an unconventional way. I thought his advice fit really well.
HP: You just rolled out the sunglasses in June and the book this fall. Should we expect one-for-one launches more often now?
Mycoskie: This will be it for a bit. The book has been developing for over three years. The eyewear was a long-term project we developed. It took three years to build the eyewear business and it has already helped people to see again -- or for the first time. I think what you can really look to see from TOMS coming up are great success stories of people who have been helped by the one-for-one model.
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