Yvon Chouinard, founder of the outdoor-clothing brand Patagonia, is a no-nonsense businessman and environmentalist. Last year in November, on Black Friday, Patagonia took out a full-page ad in the New York Times with the headline Don’t Buy This Jacket. Below a picture of the fleece jacket in question, the ad copy listed, in grueling detail, how much water was wasted and carbon emitted in the course of its construction.

This act is pretty self-explanatory of Mr. Chouinard’s executive style, which is propelled by his sense of idealism, ambition, self-assurance and total hubris.

Patagonia is renowned for its commitment to environmental issues and eco-sustainability. Chouinard’s approach to leading his company is less about the bottom line and more about providing a road map for future entrepreneurs. In his 2005 autobiography, Let My People Go Surfing, he states “If I had to be a businessman, I was going to do it on my own terms.”

Till date, Chouinard adheres to his ‘management by absence’ business approach, which sees him far away from Ventura (the headquarters’ location), “wear testing” the company’s outdoor gear while climbing or fishing. When he greets employees, he inquires about their recent climbing feats and invites them to surf at his house the next time the waves are rolling. His flex-time policies allow workers to come and go whenever they want—say, when waves are high at the nearby surf point—as long as deadlines are met. The fact that this privately held venture churns out profits while minimizing ecological impact is a testament to its philosophy. Would anyone like to work for this man and his company?

Source: Seth Stevenson | 04-26-2012

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