Born in Lewiston, Maine, Yvon Chouinard (1938-), president and founder of Patagonia, Ventura, California's multi-million dollar outdoor-clothing company, transformed his passion into success.
"The goal of climbing that mountain should really be to achieve a personal growth. If you compromise the process on the way, you’re the same person when you come down as when you went up. Nothing’s happened." he once said.
A self-trained blacksmith, Chouinard at age 19 was inspired by his love for mountain climbing and the environment to invent a piton to scale rock faces. His piton, made of chrome molybdenum steel, not only held the rock better, but was hard enough to be reused by mountain climbers. Since then, his engineered climbing equipment has become the world's standard.
"Re-examine your motives for climbing. Employ restraint and good judgment. Remember the rock, the other climbers--climb clean," the legendary mountaineer wrote in 1974, the year he founded his pro-environmental company.
Ranked on Fortune magazine's "Best Companies to Work" For list, Patagonia has promoted ecology by contributing millions to environmental groups over the years. Employees receive paid time off to work for a favorite cause and the company provides a $2,000 subsidy to workers who buy a gas-electric hybrid car.
In celebrating his company's role as a "tool of change," Chouinard said, "Returning to a simpler way allows us to regain our dignity, puts us in touch with the land, and makes us value human contact again."
Be true to what you believe in.