Blake Mycoskie’s Start Something That Matters came up when I did a library catalog search for business-related audiobooks (I’m doing some research for a project I’d potentially like to take on).
It’s an easy read in that Mycoskie doesn’t use technical or business jargon. He acts as a cheerleader throughout, and shares stories about people who have founded successful business ventures that give back to the community in some way—like his own company TOMS, which donates one pair of shoe to a child in need for every pair it sells.
This is not the book to read if you want to know the legalities of starting a business or nonprofit venture. It’s not presented as a “how to” book, and it’s not. It’s more an inspirational tale of business people making an impact.
Mycoskie does impart some practical wisdom, though. He advises readers to focus on the story of their business or nonprofit instead of their product, because people like buying into something that resonates with them more than they like buying utilitarian gadgets (or shoes).
He also spends a good part of the book building an argument for starting a business with a built-in giving/charity component. If you wait until your business is successful enough to give, you’re probably going to wait forever—not because your business won’t succeed, but because you’ll have do extra work to make the charity aspect possible.
Plus, he argues, if you build giving into your business model, you’re more likely to attract influential partners that will help your business grow. He used AT&T’s partnership with TOMS as an example. His arguments are compelling, especially because he uses examples and data to back them up.
The book did get a little too cheerleadery for me at times, like the section where Mycoskie shares about ten of his favorite inspirational business quotes, all of which seem horribly cliche. But overall it’s a solid book, and one I would recommend if you’re interested in making the world a better place.