Takeaway: With creativity, a website, and a plan to make a difference, anybody can do something significant that makes the world a better place. This book is a good guide into how.
I have a lot of friends that want to start something that matters. From prison ministries to mentoring programs to churches to community. I think that most of us have this abstract idea of what should be. Great ideas. Sticky ideas. Ideas for the common good.
But simultaneously, most of us have trouble getting these ideas any more concrete than a few idealistic conversations. Fears of failure. Fears of bankruptcy. Fears of inadequacy.
Blake Mycoskie had an idea. A shoe company. One with an uncharted business concept. A company that gives away a pair of shoes for every pair they sell. Five years later, they sell sunglasses. For every pair of sunglasses they sell, they provide medical eye treatment for someone in the world suffering from blindness.
Blake has written a book that acts as a road map and inspiration to my dreamer friends. He writes more than a biography of his company, TOMS. He writes to help change the current paradigm of for-profit business. He writes to encourage philanthropy.
A few weeks after finishing this book, I see the strengths and weaknesses of Start Something That Matters.
My main concern is that there are a lot of business start-up books out there. One of my favorites is Tribes, by Seth Godin. There are tons of inspirational books as well. The market is flooded with business start ups and business inspirationals.
I think Blake excels in creative philanthropy. Philanthropy is not just for the wealthy. Philanthropy can be for anybody motivated enough who wants to make a difference. And everyday people will buy your product or give to your organization if it helps support a significant and unique cause.
One of my favorite features of this book is Blake’s lists of creative organizations. Several of which has grasped my attention, and will get my business or donations.
Kiva is a micro-loan organization that connects you (the bank) with someone who wants to start a business. So instead of them going to a loan shark, you loan $25 to get them started. Kiva has an impressive 98.96% repayment rate!
One of my biggest reservations on donating money is not knowing exactly where my money is going. How much of what I give goes to salaries, websites and traveling expenses? Is my money even going to the cause? Blake has introduced me to charity: water, where 100% of public donations goes to 1 thing: getting people water. All other business expenses are covered by private donors. So I can go on their website, use their google map function, zoom in and see water well construction.
Half of the proceeds from the book Start Something That Matters goes towards just that, towards helping start organizations that matter. So when you buy the book, you’re also buying something else that matters.