TOMs shoes - a story about giving (and a guy called Blake)
I’d like to use this blog to point to some fascinating people with a special attitude to life - this time Blake Mycoskie.
This young man was (and is) an entrepenuer - meaning he was good at taking a business idea and putting on rails. But a few years ago he had a special idea for a business that would turn out to be a life changing for him.
The idea was to produce shoes for the American market and at the same time give shoes to needy children in Argentina. That’s not very new you might add. A lot of business give to charity. But this young man decided from the beginning he would give away just as many shoes as he sold. Everytime he sold a pair of shoes, he would give a pair to a shoeless child.
One for one.
You can hear him tell the story of his giving adventure here:
The idea of giving one for one turned out to be very very good.
For one thing, it turned out that giving shoes to needy children was a very good idea. Walking barefoot is hard - and with miles to school it can be unbareable. At the same time bare feet are utterly exposed to cuts and bruises that can easily be infected. So putting a shoe on a child in need was a very good idea. And personally placing the shoe on the childrens feet changed Blake forever. Up til then he thought it was a good idea. But seeing the kids and the change it made it their life put made a point of no return for him. Now he was on fire!
Secondly, it turned out this giving enthusiasm was contagious. I heard him tell the story from the early days of the company. He was in an airport, standing in line when he spotted a pair of ‘his’ shoes - this young girl next to him was wearing TOMs shoes. He casually noted they looked cool and was amazed at her reaction. Her face lit up and she turned to him and grabbed him by the shoulders saying: “These shoes are from the BEST company in the whole world. They GIVE away one pair of shoes for every pair you buy. This guy Blake, he traveled the world and he…” - The girl obviously didn’t recognise him, but she went on to tell him his own life story, as she had seen it on youtube!!
This incident (and many later to come) made Blake realise that doing something good with your business made it worth telling others about. People wanted to be part of the giving adventure and they were proud to tell their friends. This made TOMs shoes go viral - the story of the generous company spread itself. Because it was a good story.
Blake’s story is a true adventure of a man and a business in the making. And I like the way he reminds us that giving is utterly rewarding! And it will not make you poor.