Patagonia | A Role Model That’s Built to Last

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If you’re a Jim Collins’ fan, maybe you got the “built to last” reference.  He’s featured in the April 2009 issue of Inc. magazine, and as always, has some great insights.  Like his observation that about every 20-30 years there is a major development in the evolution of business that we become aware of only in retrospect.

Here’s his major observations on the last 100 years or so–

  1. Around the turn of the last century, business corporations emerge as the building block of modern society.  Sounds obvious enough, right?  Yes– but how many people living in that moment recognized the revolution that was unfolding right in front of them?
  2. From the 1920s to ’40s, management emerged as the fundamental function and discipline in society. We were becoming a society in which management would be one of the central, important professions– like practicing medicine or law.
  3. After WWII comes another big development: work can be broken down into segments and reassembled in ways dramatically increasing both performance and humanity.
  4. During the 1980s, the idea of the entrepreneur shifts from “those crazy, creative people” to a profession, as people start to realize that it’s not about temperament or personality, but about action. We embrace the idea that entrepreneurship is actually a systematic, replicable process.

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By this point you’re no doubt wondering– what does any of this have to do with Patagonia, you nerd?

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Ralph Lauren | WWD 2002 Retrospective

 

Having worked at Polo Ralph Lauren from 1997-2001, I am filled with great memories of all the incredibly talented people, the magic of the 650 Madison offices, and most of all– the power of the brand.  Never before or since have I even come close to experiencing anything like it.  When you work for Ralph, you’re definitely part of something much bigger than yourself.  And it’s very true what they say– working for Ralph is like attending Polo University.  It trains your eye and taste level like no other place, and is considered the one of best “finishing schools” in the industry.  Just be strong enough to maintain your own sense of individuality and point of view–  

If everyone has the same exact tastes & opinions– someone is obsolete.

I stumbled across this old May 14th, 2002 WWD Milestones issue that celebrates Ralph Lauren’s history, career & contributions– and thoroughly enjoyed the little trip down memory lane. At the time that it came out I had a much different reaction though. It was not long after I had left Ralph and still struggling with whether I had done the right thing or not– seeing this larger-than-life article was like a punch in the stomach. I remember thinking– what did I do.  Life is good, I’m happy, can’t complain. But I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I had never left. No regrets though. I strongly believe everything happens for a reason, and I truly appreciate all the experiences that I’ve had and the people I’ve worked with– and there’s a lot of good stuff still ahead.

 

WWD Polo Ralph Lauren 1

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