Tag Archives: people

Yvon Chouinard – and his company where everybody would love to work, right?










Have you heard of Yvon Chouinard? I don’t remember anymore how I came across his name the other day but I was quite impressed and after doing some research I was so even more. I’m really entirely fascinated by him and his life ad work. He’s one of those people  who pursue their pleasure and passion and manage to make their living out of it and at the same time do something to make this world a better place.

Chouinard is a legendary climber, a passionate surfer, environmentalist and (outdoor industry) businessman.
He’s the founder of (among others) the company Patagonia (that might ring a bell – it’s one of the biggest high-end outdoor clothing companies) a company which is known for its environmental focus and he’s also the author of  ‘Let my people go surfing’- The education of a reluctant businessman – and even though I’m not in the slightest a business woman I’m quite intrigued to read it.


As a passionate climber Chouinard started already in his young years to make his equipment on his own, to improve it in order to protect and not damage the rocks (which was known as clean climbing) and finally made a business out of it. The particularity is that in what he’s doing he was and still is lead by his passion for nature and outdoors and not the pursuit of money which makes all the difference.
The way Patagonia is doing its business has gained attention not just for it’s unorthodox style, but because it works.

an excerpt of his book

I’VE BEEN A BUSINESSMAN for almost 50 years. It’s as difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit to being an alcoholic or a lawyer.
I’ve never respected the profession. It’s business that has to take the majority of the blame for being the enemy of nature, for destroying native cultures, for taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and for poisoning the earth with the effluent from its factories. Yet business can produce food, cure disease, control population, employ people, and generally enrich our lives. And it can do these good things and make a profit without losing its soul.

Since I had never wanted to be a businessman, I needed a few good reasons to be one. One thing I did not want to change, even if we got serious: Work had to be enjoyable on a daily basis. We all had to come to work on the balls of our feet and go up the stairs two steps at a time. We needed to be surrounded by friends who could dress whatever way they wanted, even be barefoot. We all needed flextime to surf the waves when they were good or ski the powder after a big snowstorm or stay home and take care of a sick child. We needed to blur the distinction between work and play and family.

Indeed, Patagonia was one of the first companies in the US who provided on-site child care for the children of their employees.

In the 90’s they revealed that industrially grown cotton was probably the worst product for the environment (it uses 25% of the world’s pesticide insecticide with occupying only 3% of the world’s farmland). After only 2 years the company committed itself to using only pesticide-free cotton for their products. (go to min. 39 of his speech)

Listen to his great speech at the University of California where he talks about his personal history, how he created Patagonia, and the philosophy he uses to run the company. He discusses how he has tried to minimize Patagonia’s impact on the environment, such as making fleece clothing from recycled soda bottles. He also talks about his One Percent for the Planet plan in which participating businesses contribute at least 1% of their net annual sales to groups on a list of researched and approved environmental organizations.

(even only listening to the last 15 min. gives you a good idea of his work and philosophy)



I wish there would be more entrepreneurs like Chouinard, we definitely need more of them!


I want to believe (like Tina Roth Eisenberg said) that (business) success can be built on respect, kindness and decisions that don’t always come down to money and that you don’t have to be ruthless and unethical in order to run a successful business.


PS. Maggie, sis, I think that’s the company where you should work – honestly! California, their cause and surfing is part of their working philosophy!


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I won’t die, I have a son.

Je ne mourrai pas, j’ai un fils.


“C’est un proverbe arabe, d’Oman je crois. Je me le murmure souvent depuis que je suis père, quand j’écris et que je l’imagine, devenu grand, penché au-dessus de mon épaule. Lui, c’est notre enfant: voilà cinq ans qu’il nous a offert, à sa mère et à moi, une forme d’immortalité, en ce sens que nous nous sentons encore plus vivants avec lui, merveilleusement plus vivants. Ses regards, ses rires, ses questions, l’observer jouer, l’entendre chantonner… Pas seulement un prolongement temporel, mais un embellissement de la vie, qui soudain n’a plus de limites: plus ample, plus surprenante, plus chargée de sens, de joie et d’une certaine gravité aussi. Une vie qui nous oblige à nous demander, à chaque instant: que voulons-nous transmettre?”

J’étais fasciné par ces phrases. Christophe Ono-dit-Biot est un journaliste et écrivain français.

” ‘I won’t die, I have a son.’ It’s an Arabian proverb. I murmur it often to myself since I’m a father. When I’m writing and I imagine him grown up, leaned over my shoulder. Him, it’s our child: voilà five years that he has given us, me and his mother, a certain immortality, meaning that we feel even more alive with him. His glances, his smiles, his questions, watching him playing, listening to him singing.. Not only an extension in time, but an embellishment of life, which suddenly has no limits anymore: more vast, more surprising, charged with a meaning, with joy and a certain gravity. A life that forces us to ask ourself every single moment: what do we want to pass on?”

I was fascinated by those sentences written by the french journalist and writer Christophe Ono-dit-Biot.
They’re so true, so true. Those little beings give meaning to it all, it all makes sense and everything that seemed so big before is relativised, is put into perspective and often appears so little next to them.

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Jack Andraka


Have you heard of Jack Andraka? He is an amateur scientist who discovered a testing strip that detects early signs of pancreatic cancer. But first of all he is a 16 years old school boy from Maryland! And while other teenagers his age pass their time playing video games he’s searching for a cure for cancer that might save millions of lives.

The test is still in the preliminary stages but if it works, it will be 168 times faster, 26,000 times less expensive (costing around three cents) and over 400 times more sensitive than the current diagnostic tests.

“Have you ever experienced a moment in your life that was so painful and confusing, you just want to learn everything you can to make sense of it all?” Andraka sais when asked about what motivated him to do his research.
For him, that moment came when a family friend, passed away from pancreatic cancer.

After his first research he wrote to 200 scientists asking for space in their lab and he received 199 rejections.
In 2012 he was awarded the Gordon E. Moore Award for his work, which is $75,000 by the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Pancreatic cancer is a very malicious kind of cancer because of the symptoms it’s discovered at a very late stage when the chances of a cure a very low. In 85% of cases pancreatic cancer is diagnosed when a person only has a 2% chance of survival. Andrakas test could enable a much faster and earlier detection.

On this picture you see Jack Andraka on his way to receive his award 🙂 Amazing!


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Vivian Maier


Have you heard of Vivian Maier? She was this nanny-streetphotographer from Chicago who became famous just after her death in 2009. Most of her lifetime Maier worked as a Nanny and wandered the streets of Chicago with her camera taking hundreds of pictures. More than 100,000 have been found, mainly depicting life in the streets in America in the 50s and 60s.
A real estate agent has bought the negatives as part of a storage locker at a Chicago auction house. A storage locker for which Maier apparently couldn’t pay anymore. She lived from social security and died at the age of 83. During lifetime she probably never made a penny with her photographs (she didn’t show them to anybody). Now she’s filling galleries.

It’s a weird thing with posthumous fame, I think. How life of this woman could have run differently if only.. I don’t even think primarily of the economical aspect but more of the personal. How important is appreciation, acknowledgment..reckognition in our life. What we all seek for every day. I believe there are only few who are immune to that.
And even if Maier was taking the pictures only for the pleasure of it, I’m sure she wouldn’t have been insensitive to the tribute.




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