Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie

5 MinutesIn Book Reviews

Time to Read: This is a read of a few hours. Featuring plenty of natural break points and lots of boxed-out case studies, this book is ideal to pick up and put down. Narrated by the author, the audiobook is 4 hours 50 minutes.

£10.39 from Amazon


This is an easy and inspiring read for anyone minded to start an enterprise of their own, whether for profit or not-for-profit. It would also be ideal give to a young person to show what can be possible, starting from relatively little.


Mycoskie, who founded TOMS Shoes with a social as well as business mission, is very honest about where he has gone wrong as well as where he has got things right.

He significantly emphasises how failures – if you learn from them – are a key part of the growth process. The tone of voice he uses is very personal – as I was reading it I was thinking about my own start-up business. It was an enjoyable read and  felt like a written tutorial.

The varied case studies and references included were fascinating. In particular, the chapter on being resourceful without resources highlighted that this type of information is missing from other similar books like this. Mycoskie gives incredibly practical and specific examples of what can be done with very little, rather than simply making sweeping generalisations about how it is possible to grow a multinational business from your garage.

I have no strong criticisms of this book – perhaps other than the fact that I cannot find anywhere how the One for One scheme works in respect of the book itself, and I am a sceptic about giving books away as the research in this area is not positive. That said, the giving process in respect of the shoes, sight, water and so on is well outlined on the giving page of the website.


Mycoskie is the founder of TOMS shoes, a company he launched in 2006 with the mission to match every pair purchased with a new pair given to a child in need. Prior to that, he had created and launched several other businesses.

The book is based on his experiences, good and bad, on his journey to achieve his goal, through a highly readable series of anecdotes and case studies.

Mycoskie is a big fan of using quotes to help overcome fear. He even ends his regular biography with the Gandhi quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Some of his other favourites include Winston Churchill’s success definition: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm,” and Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous lines: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

He also believes reading biographies and autobiographies are helpful in facing fear when you are starting a business, not just books themselves but using websites to gain tips. He suggests remembering: “Think small. It’s best not to regard your next step as a tremendous risk. Think about it as one small step on a long journey.”

His final chapter entitled ‘Giving is Good Business’, is honest and inspiring about the fact that it is possible to achieve this, and not only that, in this day and age it is likely to make you more successful as well.

Random Fiction Suggestion:

Diary of an Ordinary Woman’ by Margaret Forster. This book is exactly what the title says –  from 1914-1995, a diary of an ordinary woman through two world wars and their aftermath, post war austerity and women’s ‘liberation’, Greenham Common, old age and death. Beautiful.

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