Book Review: Start Something That Matters


"A leader can create a company, but a community creates a movement."

My latest review is for the 2012 book by Blake Mycoskie, Start Something That Matters, which chronicles the beginnings of his company, TOMS, and the lessons he has learned from the journey.

I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read with some great takeaways, good stories, and a positive message. It's a message I can certainly get behind and have believed in for a while now. I always try to vote with my dollars and make globally conscious purchases. Every company should incorporate such tenets into their organization, seeking to make the greatest positive social impact they can with their efforts, whatever it is. They can donate money, time, or resources to help others, and we'll all benefit in the end. It just seems that it is far easier for a lot of people and groups to be selfish and not empathize with the struggles of others (especially if they cannot relate, and never went through such struggles). The good part about all this is that it is never too late to start making a difference in people's lives.

Some of the other quotes I took away from this book were:

"...To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. [Often attributed to Elisabeth-Anne Anderson Stanley]"

"In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow"

"Today’s successful leaders are those willing to share credit as much as possible, who give away as much as they can, and who promote an environment of creative cooperation instead of rabid competition."

What I like about TOMS is that it is a for-profit, social good company. They can exist, and they can do just as much good in the world (if not more) by working to make a profit. Their shoes and other items are desirable and valuable, and by working to make money, they can use those profits to make a positive social impact. A lot of other companies have followed in the footsteps of TOMS in recent years, and I think that's a beautiful thing. I love my TOMS shoes and my Warby Parker glasses, and my Krochet Kids hat. They all have the added benefit of helping others in need around the whole world. What's not to love?

Check out Start Something That Matters at any of your favorite book retailers!

Thanks for stopping by!

How Higher Ed Is (Or Should Be) Like a Social Good Company

i-want-change I had an epiphany the other day while talking to my partner regarding a mental connection about higher education and social good companies (like TOMS, Warby Parker, Krochet Kids, FEED, and many others across the country). They share many of the same traits and goals but in some other very important ways, higher education is falling behind these organizations in realizing their place as a social institution meant to benefit the community it serves.

First off, the similarities between the two. Higher education institutions and social good companies both are making money in order to propel their missions. Colleges and universities are funding their endeavor to educate the citizens of tomorrow, while social good companies are selling a product to benefit their chosen cause. All the money (typically) goes toward that end goal. While they have to pay for personnel to fulfill and facilitate their operations, they put their profits to good work rather than just sitting on them. This is generally called a "double bottom line". A lot of major corporations are trending this way, with huge donations to various nonprofits or their transition toward supporting responsibly made products. There is a push toward this in the economy since a lot of people vote with their dollars in terms of buying products that align with their values. They won't buy something that isn't responsibly made and look for items that are sustainable, fair trade, organic, etc. Some companies and higher education institutions will even go as far to include the planet in their impact, abiding by a "triple bottom line". This entails all the possible impact organizations can have; profits, people, and planet. This is an even harder reality to embody but those companies that do are definitely leaving their communities far better than when they found them.

The differences begin in terms of the rates of adoption between social good companies and higher education institutions. A company like Krochet Kids was built recently from the ground up as an entity that kept their global impact in mind. Many colleges and universities have been around for decades (or centuries) with greatly varying missions and traditions. They could not have foreseen the need for globally conscious sustainability measures that are necessary now in the face of climate change. While some institutions have done well adapting, these venerable organizations just aren't as nimble when confronted with the dynamic nature of modern social need.


College students are more globally minded and connected than ever before. They understand the needs of their community and want to be engaged in doing social good and changing the world. They are eager to learn how and that is where student affairs professionals can come in. We can offer programs and opportunities to capitalize on this energy to create socially conscious leaders who understand the urgency of the problems facing the world and have the confidence to try to solve them.

Changemakers Logo

This was the original vision behind Rutgers Changemakers. I had the pleasure of working with this initiative when I was studying as a graduate student at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. It was an amazing effort that I was proud and privileged to be a part of with some awesome student affairs colleagues, namely Krista Kohlmann among others.

I will be presenting on Rutgers Changemakers at ACPA 2015 with Krista. Our session is 1PM on Friday, March 6 in the Tampa Convention Center, Room 37. I hope to see some friendly faces there.

Thanks for stopping by!

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 04/25/14

Geek-and-proud Good tidings to you all! Thanks for stopping by.

Here are some things that I've been geeking out on recently:

So my partner and I just watched a bunch of episodes of this new show after we had both been nudged by multiple people to check it out. We were definitely impressed. It's strongly narrative driven and has a nice dose of sci-fi to keep me hooked. All of the first season is available on Amazon Prime right now and the second season just premiered recently so jump in now since there isn't too much to catch up on.

I just started reading this book since I felt like I needed it. It had been sitting in my Amazon wishlist for some time after an offhand reference by someone peaked my interest. I'm about a third of the way in and it has some powerful advice as well as actionable takeaways to help you live a more zen life. I'm enjoying what it has to say since I'm always all about slowing down and reducing the noise in my life, now this book is helping me maximize to truly achieve that goal.

I'm a big fan of TOMS shoes. I've blogged about them before in varying capacities but just for the record, I own two pairs and their stickers are posted in a few different places around my apartment. They make good products and do good for the world. I couldn't really ask for too much more. I'm going to commit to doing the Day Without Shoes which is next Tuesday, April 29. Even if you can't participate on your own all day, just going for as long as you can as an awareness effort all helps the cause. Look forward to some posts and pictures from the day from me!

Check back every Friday for more awesome geek outs!

Take care and enjoy your weekend!

“Responding to ...

“Responding to relatively ordinary experiences and events in an extraordinary manner can drastically alter the trajectory of our lives and careers.”

Excerpt from Shake the World: It's Not About Finding a Job, It's About Creating a Life (2011)

A great book I just finished. Check it out!