Thursday, May 28, 2015

Conscious Leaders Care about Patagonia

As a kid, I was on the Patagonia mailing list. This was pre-internet days. Every month, I received a large format, full color catalog with amazing pics of people doing amazing outdoor activities around the world (an image of a guy salmon fishing in Alaska is burned into my memory banks). Patagonia fueled my imagination. They inspired me to become an outdoor enthusiast (even more than I had already been). This manifested in camping, skiing, hiking and rock climbing. It manifested in trips to Colorado, Florida, the Arizona desert, and many other locations. The hiking practice continues to this day, 20+ years later.

What is it about Patagonia that is so special? Well, for one thing, they are a conscious business. If they open a plant anywhere on the planet, say Vietnam, the plant must meet or exceed U.S. standards if they want to win the contract.  That includes the way employees are treated. No sweat shop operations going on under their watch.

They make some of the best products ever. When you go to extreme climates, it is advisable to have clothing and equipment to match the environment. You do not want a zipper failure at 20,000 feet above sea level. Patagonia is a trusted brand for massive functionality, even as they have become a status symbol in recent years

They place an emphasis on quality over quantity. Many of my friends and family members have worn the same Patagonia jacket forever. It just keeps on going and actually looks better over time.  Patagonia, as a business, would rather you buy one jacket from them and wear it for 30 years (they will repair it as required) instead of what happens in the typical consumer culture pattern of buying a new jacket every year, weather you need it or not.

If you are a lover of the great outdoors, Patagonia may well be the gold standard as the place to work. Employees are treated exceptionally well. If you work at HQ, you may find everyone, yourself included, heading down to the beach for a swim or some surfing mid-afternoon. They walk the talk. Everyone gets to spend time in nature and not just inside the office.

How aligned are your daily activities with your Core Values? Does your organization actively try to have a positive impact in the world?