Someone to Respect and Admire
Blake Mycoskie is a young successful American author and entrepreneur who was born in August 26, 1976 and raised in Arlington, Texas with two other siblings- sister Paige and brother Tyler. Blake teamed-up with his sister, Paige, to compete on the second season of CBS’ The Amazing Race and finished in third place and split a prize of $25,000. He started doing business while in college where he founded a door-to-door laundry service, an outdoor billboard company in 1999, Reality Central in 2003, partner with founders of TrafficSchool.com to create Drivers Ed Direct- an online drivers education service and in-the-car training school featuring hybrid cars and SUVs, and Toms Shoes in 2006. TOMS – Shoes for Tomorrow
Although the 29 year-old owned businesses before 2006, the one that he started after his vacation to Argentina not only transformed him, but the reason behind its foundation was unique in its own special way. It all started while taking a break from his busy work at Drivers Ed Direct. While learning the Argentinian culture, he noticed that almost everyone, including himself, was wearing alpargata shoes. Alpargata is the national soft and casual shoe worn by Argentinian. It gave him an idea that maybe the alpargata would be good in the United States market, but did not think much about it until he met an American woman working voluntarily to give shoes to children who were without any. Heart-broken by the effects of the revealed flaws-mismatch, incorrect size and insufficient quantity- in donated shoes, he traveled through villages and confirmed by visually witnessing the seriousness of being shoeless. This motivated him to think about starting a for-profit business that will provide shoes to kids, without having to go through the problems that others face at the shoe drive. Blake shared this story with his polo teacher, Alejo, assistant, translator and later became a very good friend and business partner.
Planning to modify the alpargata by making it more comfortable, durable, fun and stylish, work began in Alejo’s family barn. After numerous rejections from many, they finally found a local shoemaker who believed in them. With additional help from other artisans, they started making shoes out of the shoemaker’s garage-size factory with only two old machines for stitching fabrics, followed by trials of finding the longer-lasting materials. He made 250 samples and took them back home with him. Not knowing what to do them, he asked his best female friends for help. They offered support by purchasing their own pairs and gave him a list of stores that might be interested in selling them. With little luck via email and phone, Blake took some shoes to try and convince the American Rag shoe buyer. She immediately became hooked on selling the shoes because of the story behind them. The story hit the front page of the Los Angeles Times, which was also the reason why orders for TOMS shoes went up from 900 to 2,200 in one day. Having only160 pairs of shoes left, he hired three interns to help with customers while he return to Argentina to make 4,000 pairs of shoes. The dramatic increase in sale and popularity on TOMS shoes resulted to the selling of 10,000 pairs during summer. The most incredible thing was, he was using his Venice apartment living room to run his TOMS retail Shoe Company. In the end, his greatest moments came when he returned to deliver the “promised free shoes” to the children in need. He was overcome with emotion of seeing kids, living in poverty, filled with joy, laughter and gratitude from receiving and finally owning a pair of shoes. Blake devoted himself to give more shoes by using his “buy one give one free” motto to help children around the world who are in need. Within 5 years, TOMS has given more than a million pairs of shoes to children whose feet sorely need shoes. I admire Blake Mycoskie because he is a young and driven business leader who had compassion to help children in need. Blake had empathy for children’s feet needing shoes after he visually clarified and witnessed the effects of walking barefoot. He also had a lot of respect in regards to the Argentinian culture and their national way of life. He succeeded in achieving his goal because of the effective way of communication that he used by expressing himself clearly and persuasively to friends, partners and colleagues. The reactions from them revealed that Blake’s character has a high level of interpersonal and social skills. His honesty in keeping his promises to the children, friends and himself, demonstrated integrity. In the beginning, while trying to sell the shoes via email and phone, he realized that the quality or the method of communication needed altering, because his audience was not receiving the message right. So he showed up in person, in which the audience reacted by
actively listening while he tells the story behind the shoe. If I was in Blake Mycoskie’s place or worked for his shoe company, I would make the same choices over and over again. His persistence help built and instilled confidence in the choices that he made as a leader. There was not one moment of negative thinking or pessimistic, he set a goal without hesitating and drove on straight towards success. Just by reading his story, makes me want to be a part of his organization and “Start something that matters”.
Grist staff (2006) Blake Mycoskie, founder of eco-friendly driving school, answers questions http://grist.org/article/mycoskie/2/
M. E Hattersley (2009) Management Communication: Principles and Practice, 3rd Edition
B. Mycoskie (2011) Random House LLC, Sep 6, 2011 –Business & Economics : Start Something THAT Matters http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=G1 am8cNM5cMC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=blake+mycoskie+biography&ots=