November 9, 2011

The TOMS Shoe Guy Writes a Book. ~ Nicole Maniez

Start Something That Matters, a Book Review.

TOMS is a really cool shoe company. It is. The shoes have subtle, classic style. You wear them with a tiny seed of knowing that you may be helping someone, somewhere. You get to buy something, holding tight to believing your seed of good outweighs your consumerism. They have an inspiring story, past, present and future. Seane Corn wears them and she is uber cool. It’s a movement. College and high school kids form groups and get behind a cause.

When I heard Blake Mycoskie was writing a book, I thought I needed to get it from the library ASAP to add to my mounting tower of inspirational, motivational, change-the-world stack that I promise myself to read. I got it and I stacked it. The cover looked nice. A small piece of me knew I would never read it. Sometimes the small pieces can be wrong.

The next day I picked it up. I opened it up and was brought to a comfy place while reading the poem that opens the book.

To laugh often and love much
To win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children
To earn the appreciation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends
To appreciate beauty
To find the best in others
To give of one’s self
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Blake’s book attributes it Elisabeth-Anne Anderson Stanley. I liked that. I had a high-school teacher that changed my life in small degrees who had presented our 16-year-old minds with this poem. I decided to read on.

The book starts with the TOMS story. This is what I heard: Boy has entrepreneurial tendencies and has started companies that were okay, but not great financially or spiritually. No true calling answered. Boy goes on Amazing Race with sister and loses. Argentina is one of the countries they “race” through. Boy falls in love with Argentina. Boy thinks Argentinean shoes are kinda cool. Boy sees poverty. Boy’s heart and mind awaken and communicate. Tomorrow’s Shoes is born but gets a quick name redesign to TOMS. Smart Boy.

As yogis, we see the problems in our neighborhoods and across our globe. As yogis, we also feel them. I have met so many amazing yogis wanting, needing, burning to make change. I am one of them. We have brilliant ideas and hearts full of compassion. But we get stuck and overwhelmed and our brilliant ideas get beat down because we don’t have the tools or support to get our project off the ground.

Blake begins to give us some tools. I pass them on in easily digestible bites:

1. Articulate your passion. Find your story.

If you didn’t have to worry about $, what would you do with your time?

What is the story that precedes your desire? Tell people your story to help you better understand the important parts. Their reaction will help you make it concise and true. Know that your story is very important. Your story garners support and interest in your project. Your story touches hearts and motivates action.

2. Embrace the fear.

As a society, we champion boldness. But fear is little talked about. Every “successful” person has faced multiple fears, multiple let-downs and failures, and has chosen to keep going. Believe in your ability to make positive change. Accept that you will fail at things. Decide that you will keep living your passion, and moving towards your project’s goals.

3. Find your team.

The importance of a strong, supportive team is huge. You will not have all the skills, experience and knowledge to start your project. No one person can. Find the folks to complement your strengths. Trust your team. Believe in the abilities of each person to make the best choices for your project. Let your project be the team’s project.

3. Start simple and get things for free.

Start with a specific and simple project. You can add to it as it grows.

Check out www.startsomethingthatmatters.com for a boatload of free resources to get you started.

4. Now that you know your story, tell your story well. Allow your online presence to affirm your story and values.

Make sure it gives people the opportunity to connect to you and your story. Share your story with “bigmouths” who love your story. Your online presence, like a website, may be your first platform for figuring out what your project is. Take time to craft it well. Building your website is similar to building your brand. What are you telling people about you and your project?

5. Look for bigger business that want to be part of your story.

Many bigger businesses have funds for giving. Are you a part of their community? Can they connect to your project? Ask them to sponsor an event or a trial period of your program. They will benefit by supporting your brilliant story. And you get some much needed support and publicity.
One of my personal goals is create an online and in the flesh community that supports the passions of our amazing community of yogis. A place where we help each other build our community-minded projects so the dreams don’t die out with exhaustion and isolation. Our community rocks. Let’s help keep each other’s fires burnings. More on that later.

Until then, maybe you want to read these too:

Do Something: A Handbook for Young Activists – Nancy Lublin

The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

The Collaborative Habit: Life Lessons for Working Together – Twyla Tharp

The Art of Woo – G. Richard Shell & Mario Moussa

Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life, Your Business, and Maybe Even the World – Warren Berger

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman – Yvon Chouinard

Nicole Maniez is an acupuncturist, herbalist, yoga teacher and childbirth educator in the Boston area. She is lucky to get to combine multiple loves into one sweet career, doing what she loves and helping people move closer to health and wholeness. She is also a momma, an art maker, and an out-of-tune music maker. Hoping that she will never lose the ability to laugh at her follies (and yours), she cultivates her curiosity in an attempt to keep life entertaining. She loves mail. Send her something inspiring.


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