7 Business and Life Lessons to Adopt from Patagonia Founder, Yvon Chouinard

In: Insights

One of the most addictive podcasts out there, in our opinion, is NPR’s How I Built This, with Guy Raz. Every episode takes you on an adventure, from the birth of an idea, whether by accident or on purpose, or even out of necessity, through trials and failures, hard work and perseverance, perfect timing and a bit of good luck here and there, and an inevitable happy ending. Because these are the successful brands we’ve all heard of.

There are tips, tricks and inspiration to be gleaned from every episode, but one of our many favorites is an interview with Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard. What’s perhaps most fascinating about it, is the fact that he truly does not want fame or fortune. In fact, he has tried many times to slow growth in order to keep the company small. But despite his efforts, Patagonia continues to grow and have record-breaking years.

So, what tips can we learn from the man with unstoppable growth and success? Below are some highlights from his episode.

7 Lessons to Adopt

**Note: This is not a word for word transcript on the various parts of the episode. The ideas themselves are from Yvon Chouinard, although we’ve paraphrased where appropriate. Listen to the entire podcast here when you get a chance!

Baby Steps

If I get an idea, I immediately take a step forward. If that seems right I take another step. If it doesn’t feel right, I take a step back.


Try to grow slowly, because there are two kinds of growth. Growing stronger or growing fat.  We wanted to grow slowly, so all decisions were made as if we would be around for 100 years.


This company (Patagonia) is the resource I have, and I should use that resource to show a different way of doing business.


Once I decided I was a businessman, I learned everything I could about it. I studied every kind of business style, from all over the world.

Team Building

Hire motivated, young, independent people and leave them alone. But you can’t just decide one day to adopt this. You have to start with the very first hire. “Ant colonies don’t have bosses, they know their job and they get it done.”


If you want to be successful in business, you just have to do it differently. Do it how no one else has thought about. Break the rules. Do it better.


The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. Everything pulls you to be more and more complex. But if we go to a more simple life, it won’t be an impoverished life, it’s going to be really rich.

We love his overall approach to business and life. It seems more common these days to hear about the need to do more, consume more, or to buy one more piece of technology in order to truly succeed. But Yvon shows how success can be achieved through living simply, caring for others and the environment, and taking your time to do it right. Check out his full episode and take a moment to get inspired by some of the other amazing guests on this podcast as well!