Leadership Summit 2010 | Blake Mycoskie – Making Conscious Capitalism Work: The TOMS Shoes Story

Posted on August 5, 2010


“In the past three years I’ve discovered that passion and compassion can build a business.”


RESOURCE: www.toms.com
RESOURCE: http://www.facebook.com/tomsshoes
RESOURCE: One Day Without Shoes

Giving is not just something that feels good, it is also good business strategy.

All we have to do is focus on giving. Our customers will do our marketing for us.

We encourage our employees to be a part of the giving. They want to incorporate giving into their work life, not just their personal life. You may not be able to do the one for one, but you can incorporate giving into your culture and it can be transformative to your organization.

Q: Non-profit culture in a for-profit company? Why not just start a non-profit?

A: Simple. Continuous and sustainability.

If you want to do something great in the world, you have to ask.

If I had waited 60 years, then I would have missed out on the blessings of giving now. It’s never too early to start to do good.

April 5, 2011 – take off your shoes.

TOMS started as a spontaneous desire to give shoes to kids who really needed them. Faced with this need for the first time in Argentina, I did not want to simply start a charity, for I worried about sustainability. I mean, yes, I could have asked friends and family for donations and that would have worked for a year or two, but what happens when we have something like Hurricane Katrina and my donors are supporting the needs of victims, or what happens when we find ourselves in a tough economic downturn? I could not imagine going to the kids we had been supporting and saying, “Sorry, no shoes this year.” So, I started TOMS as a for-profit business based on a simple model. We started in my apartment with three interns, one who runs much of the operations today, and our efforts were not fueled with investment capital but a deep passion to help those original kids. And I have found in the last three years that passion and compassion can build a buisness.

-Blake Mycoskie, accepting the U.S. State Department’s Award for Corporate Excellence, December 10, 2009

— VIA —

Our family has bought 5 pairs of TOMS already, and in conjunction with Soles 4 Souls, our youth — with help from our church — collected over 4,000 pairs (some think way more) of shoes that were shipped to Haiti.

It’s hard not to think why other companies don’t do this as well. I think, too, of Paul Newman’s brand and the (RED) campaign, and the millions they have given away. The difference seems pretty straight forward. While Newman and (RED) make philanthropy part of their business, TOMS makes philanthropy their business.

I’m intrigued and believe that this third kind of business (not “for-profit” and not “non-profit”) will have its own set of challenges, however, it’s hard not to be inspired and supportive of his efforts.