Leadership Summit Session 7: Blake Mycoskie

Blake MycoskieAcknowledged as one of today’s most dynamic serial entrepreneurs, Blake Mycoskie launched five successful companies before the age of 30. He is best known as the founder and “chief shoe giver” of TOMS shoes, a for-profit company with a unique social enterprise model that has drawn tremendous media attention. Providing a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold, they have distributed more than 400,000 pairs of shoes to children around the world to date. Darren Whitehead, teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, will interview Mycoskie on leading organizations with a cause and navigating the start-up phase of an organization.


  • Why did you get into the shoe business?
    • I wasn’t trying to get into the shoe business. I was on vacation in Argentina, saw some volunteers doing a shoe drive. Thought it was unsustainable. Didn’t want to start a charity, wanted to start a business.
    • For every pair of shoes bought, they give away a pair.
  • The word “give” is on just about every wall in the offices of TOMS. Why?
    • It feels good to give.
    • What I’ve learned is that giving not only feels good but it’s a good business strategy.
    • In a NYC airport, had never seen anyone wearing TOMS. Saw a girl wearing a pair, asked her about the shoes. Pulled Blake aside and told him all about TOMS.
    • If we focus on giving, our customers are going to do the marketing for us.
    • Have given away more than 600,000 pairs of shoes.
  • What distinctive are a part of the TOMS culture?
    • We involve all our staff in the giving.
    • For every employee that’s been with the company at least 2 years they pay for a trip for them to do a shoe drop.
    • Not everyone can do a 1-for-1 strategy, but every company can incorporate giving and service.
  • Why didn’t you just start a non-profit?
    • Invested money gained from sale of previous business into TOMS.
    • By doing TOMS as a for-profit, it has enabled it to be sustainable and grow.
  • One Day Without Shoes
    • Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vlz3QKHJBac
    • First year 250,000 people participated.
    • Doesn’t cost anything to take off shoes, but enabled people to have conversations.
    • Didn’t spend a dollar to advertise, but had some amazing partners.
  • What happened when you came up with the idea for TOMS?
    • Not a big deal when I had the idea.
    • Became big to me 6 months later when I did that first shoe drop.
    • Woman came up to him and told him that her 3 kids had been sharing 1 pair of shoes.
  • TOMS has captured the attention of young people. Why?
    • Young people want to have a voice and want to do something that matters.  Can’t always afford to do something big, but they’re going to buy a pair of shoes.
    • We make it very easy for them to act.
    • It becomes a part of their identity.
  • What have you learned about the importance of strategic partnerships?
    • Very blessed.
    • Not just corporate partners, but churches as well.
    • The reason why the ATT thing worked is because we gave them an authentic story that worked. I’m never in the office.  Their technology enabled me to do what I was doing.
  • How important is asking people to accomplish your goal?
    • People really enjoy it because then they get to be a part of your vision and your journey.
    • You can’t be bashful if you want to make change.
  • What part has your faith played in TOMS
    • Give your first fruits
    • They stayed true to that principle and didn’t deviate for the 1-for-1 principle even when they were losing money.
  • What would you say to other young leaders?
    • Come work for us!
    • We need fantastic leaders to help us get from here to there.
    • Thought as a freshman in college that he would be a successful entrepreneur so that then he can give back when he’s retired.  But it’s never too early to start giving.
  • How can churches get involved?
    • Go barefoot on One Day Without Shoes – April 5, 2011


  1. Tweets that mention Leadership Summit Session 7: Blake Mycoskie | Live Intentionally -- Topsy.com - August 6, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Becky Robinson, Paul Steinbrueck, Paul Steinbrueck, Lynn Noe, jay phelps and others. jay phelps said: RT: @PaulSteinbrueck: BTW, if you're not familiar with @TOMSShoes, check out this 2 minute video – http://bit.ly/brHfpG (via @DrJasonJones) […]

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