The Donald has nothing on this board room Patagonia

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Going by the Boards

Green Goldfish #145 – Patagonia

patagonia board room green goldfish


You don’t put your hiking and climbing company headquarters next to the beach without a good reason. Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, grew up with a passion for surfing. It has always been a big influence on the brand. In fact, Chouinard penned a business book called, “Let My People Go Surfing.” The book talks about the importance of providing your employees with flexibility during the work day. In the words of Yvon,

I had always avoided thinking of myself as a businessman. I was a climber, a surfer, a kayaker, a skier and a blacksmith. We simply enjoyed making good tools and functional clothes that we, and our friends, wanted. My wife, Malinda, and I owned only a beat-up Ford van and a heavily mortgaged, soon-to-be-condemned cabin on the beach. And now, in 1975, we had a heavily leveraged company with employees with families of their own, all depending on us.

After pondering our responsibilities and financial liabilities, it dawned on me one day that I was a businessman, and would probably continue to be one for a long time. It was clear that in order to survive at this game we had to get serious. But I also knew that I would never be happy playing by the normal rules of business. If I had to be a businessman, I was going to do it on my terms.

Work had to be enjoyable on a daily basis. We all had to come to work on the balls of our feet, going up the stairs two steps at a time. We needed to be surrounded by friends who could dress whatever way they wanted, even barefoot. We needed to have flex time to surf the waves when they were good, or ski the powder after a big snowstorm, or stay home and take care of a sick child. We needed to blur that distinction between work and play and family.

It’s one thing to talk the talk, but Patagonia backs it up. According to Whole Living:

The company encourages outdoor activities. It even has a place where employees can store their surfboards called “The Boardroom.” [see picture in the New York Times]

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a YouTube video on Patagonia Surf – Built for Purpose:

All of the examples in this post were taken from the Green Goldfish Project. The Project is a quest to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe for employees. Green goldfish are the little signature extras given to employees. They help differentiate a company, reinforce culture, increase retention and drive positive WoM. The book, “What’s Your Green Goldfish?” will be published on March 29, 2013.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.

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