Blake Mycoskie explains why giving back doesn’t just feel good–it’s really good for business.
If you told Blake Mycoskie 10 years ago he would become a world-famous entrepreneur known for selling and giving away shoes, he probably would have laughed in your face. But after a life-changing trip to Argentina, the Texan realized the value of helping others. When he went on to launch Toms Shoes out of his Venice, California, apartment, he knew he was doing it for the right reasons and not just for money. “Giving doesn’t just feel good,” Mycoskie told an audience of entrepreneurs at the World Business Forum on Wednesday, “it’s actually really good for business, and there’s nothing wrong with that.” Here are three reasons why.
Customers Become Marketers
“I recognized very early on that when you incorporate a purpose beyond profit in your business, your customers will become your biggest marketers,” said Mycoskie. Take the time he was in JFK airport and spotted a woman in Tabasco red Toms. He decided to perform a little experiment and asked what she was wearing. “Toms Shoes!” she exclaimed. This response was enough on its own, but what she said next was astounding. “No, I don’t think you understand,” she went on. “This is the most amazing company in the world. When I bought a pair, they gave a pair to a child. “Turns out, the woman had watched every video of Mycoskie giving away pairs of shoes on YouTube. “She wasn’t a customer,” he said, “she was an evangelist for what we were doing.”
You Attract–and Retain–Amazing Talent
“When you create a purpose that is something more than just profit, you will attract and retain amazing talent,” he added. “Plus, it is an incredible way to diffuse all the petty office politics that happen.” The reason? “People bring their gratitude into the office.” If there’s an argument, they’ll quickly realize both sides are working toward the same goal and drop it.
Others Want to Help
When you run a socially-minded business, others will want to help you out, McCoskie continued. “We had so many partners” over the years. When Toms was less than a year old, American fashion mogul Andrew Rosen allowed them to use his Theory store windows to tell the Toms story. And Ralph Lauren offered to design some pairs for his Rugby stores, which helped them break into fashion. “These people partner with us not because they love our business,” McCoskie said. “They see they can connect to their customers in a new way. More people want to help you out and be part of it.”
JILL KRASNY | Staff Writer
Jill Krasny is a staff writer for Inc. magazine, where she covers the intersection of entertainment and startups. Prior to Inc., she was a writer for MTV and Esquire and an editor at TheStreet. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in communication. She lives in New York City.