As you have no doubt already read, the Chouinard family signed over its Patagonia company to a charitable fund that would ensure that future business profits are used to help save the planet. Patagonia’s purpose, “We’re in business to save our home planet” took on a new dimension. Any skepticism that this was in fact the case is now a signed-in-stone reality.
The Chouinards, including founder Yvon, basically gave away the company, not to investors, or other individuals, they gave it away to the earth. Let that sink in.
If this in itself wasn’t extraordinary, so was some of the reaction.
Business analysts were on the defensive from the off, suggesting that by giving away the company, people within Patagonia would be less motivated for it to be a success. Their reasoning, horror of horrors, is that those making decisions at the top, which still happens to be the Chouinard family along with current SEO Ryan Gellert, the leadership team, together with all of Patagonia’s employees, by the way, wouldn’t be getting as much financial return on their efforts, so, more or less, why bother?
It’s about the money, right? What this opinion says instead is that we do not trust people’s motivation beyond money. That people, employees, are not motivated to do a good job, to perform to the best of their abilities, to care unless there is a fat pay cheque at the end of the day.
People need to live, of course, but we know for a fact that when staff walk through the doors of The Graphical Tree each day — they care, absolutely, about doing a good job and not letting anyone down.
In Patagonia’s case, wages will be paid, a living will be earned and the inspirational driving force of saving the planet will be a huge cause for Patagonia to be a successful company, not lining the pockets of the owners.
It works like this for them: “100% of the company’s voting stock transfers to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, created to protect the company’s values; and 100% of the nonvoting stock had been given to the Holdfast Collective, a non-profit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature…. the business will continue to run the business under the direction of the board of directors. What’s changed now is that the company has additional stewardship from the Patagonia Purpose Trust.”
Simon Sinek wrote an interesting and inspiring book a few years ago called Start With Why. Basically, what is your reason for doing the things you do? We’re not going to greenwash this piece by saying The Graphical Tree is the same as Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia, that we live to save the planet. We try to do our best within the world of large format graphics, to make it a better entity for sure (more of that here if you’re interested), but compared to the great strides that Patagonia makes, we and most other companies are still off the mark. Our ‘why’ is 100% to do a good job and not let anyone down. Motivation to get the job done, within the agreed deadline and to ultimately be helpful and friendly to our customers is our aim.
Maybe one day The Graphical Tree and other companies will go the way of Patagonia — and that this is in fact the starting point for how businesses will evolve in the future — they’ve set the bar high, and why not. Until those decisions are made you can be assured that the reason why we do what we do isn’t money lead, its service lead. And this is motivational enough. The rest follows from this.