Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

I don’t own a pair of TOMS. My wife owns several pairs, but TOMS are not really my style. Despite my lack of interest in shoe design, I have grown fond of the mission and passion of TOMS.

I was in college when I first heard about TOMS shoes. Popping out of nowhere were these young men and women who could not stop talking about these relatively simple shoes and the story that accompanies them. At first I was rather indifferent to the TOMS shoes story. I chalked this company as another manifestation of slacktivism: people buying shoes in the name of helping others but in the end they just like wearing a fashionable shoe.

Once a girl told me that buying a pair of TOMS was the right thing to do - even though I did not need another pair of shoes. I told her I could donate the money instead, in which she replied, “But why do that?” I continued to mention that TOMS is not a charity but a for-profit company, to which she just left me alone.

At this point you probably think I am anti-TOMS but I am not. I truly believe that the business model created by TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie could be the redeemer of capitalism. In this book, Mycoskie walks through the steps and missteps, and the joy and challenges of starting something that really makes a difference.

Mycoskie spent many years as an entrepreneur looking for the next big thing that will make him wealthy. What he inadvertently found was a calling to something much higher. TOMS is a for-profit company because he found that model much easier to work with. Non-profits rely completely on the whim of donors. The idea for TOMS came after he met a woman in Argentina trying to run a non-profit shoe drive that didn’t have enough shoes.

I highly recommend this book, especially to college students who are globally-minded who want to make a difference in the world. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the globe to make a difference. You don’t need all the know-how to be successful. You don’t need all the resources immediately. You just need to start it and you need to start it now.