Read, Start Something that Matters, and Read “Start Something that Matters”

Because I’ve had some time to read for pleasure, I thought I would introduce you all to a book that I think can transcend all disciplines. My social worker friends and colleagues will enjoy its uplifting tone and its charitable themes, my business-savvy friends can gain insight into a unique sector that is both profit driven and leaves a positive social footprint, and those of you who are avid readers in search of a meaningful, quick read, well…you’re in luck, too!

Oh, and did I mention that for each book purchased, a new book is provided for a child in need? Now that’s a cause I can get behind! 🙂

A child who reads

What I have found throughout my educational journey in social work is that social work students and recent graduates are searching for a way to apply their clinical skills in a way that can positively change the world. Unfortunately, these individuals often feel as though their empathy, active listening, and other clinical skills do not translate into social enterprise and entrepreneurship. Start Something that Matters written by Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, provides an inspiring roadmap for anyone yearning to learn “how to make a difference in business and how to make a business out of making a difference” (Mycoskie, 2011, p. 20). Professionals of any discipline can find useful tips and tricks within this honest, straight forward, insightful text.

The book starts off my introducing a new definition of success, one that is adapted to today’s market of more socially conscious customers and employees. The author describes the foundation of a successful business model and business leaders as those that 1) have a story, 2) do not shy from an uncomfortable situation and who utilize fear to motivate and inspire, 3) are resourceful, 4) value simplicity, 5) establish and maintain trust, and 6) consider giving to be a main component of their business and personal lives. In addition to elaborating on ways to incorporate these six concepts, the author provides practical ways to develop appropriate an online presence, meet major players in the community, overcome mistakes, find and establish relationships with mentors, create community partnerships, make the most of free resources, promote creativity in the workplace, hire employees who are a good company fit, create titles and job descriptions for employees, become better organized, manage time effectively, and a myriad of other invaluable skills.

For each of the aforementioned concepts and skills, the author provides concrete examples from successful business leaders and the mistakes of those whose business ventures failed. Rather than learning only from the founder of TOMS, readers have the opportunity to gain insight from integral businessmen and women at Nordstrom, TerraCycle, Pepsi, Southwest Airlines, Donors Choose, OneShot, and a multitude of other companies that either began their business with giving incorporated into their model or have adapted with the changing times and redefined their ideas of success.

Further, the author provides links to a number of educational blogs, recommended reading, social networking groups to join, and a variety of free resources. Pages 92 through 94 list free resources to build websites, utilize conference calls, compare your company with competitors, and other services. By providing these resources, the author prepares readers to continue to gain knowledge and skills and to apply those skills as they implement their ideas. The book ends with a call to action where the author describes his evolving goals for TOMS and his supporters. “Today I would say that my goal is to influence other people to go out into the world and have a positive impact, to inspire others to start something that matters…” (Mycoskie, 2011, p. 182). Social workers and aspiring change agents will find Blake Mycosckie’s book inspirational and helpful as they go consider their options moving forward and, hopefully, Start Something that Matters.

Call to Action

  • What are you doing to incorporate giving into your business and personal life?
    • If you aren’t, what steps do you need to take to make that change?
  • What books are you reading/have you read that you feel could be helpful to inspire other change agents?



Mycoskie, B. (2011). Start something that matters. New York, NY: Spiegel & Grau.

I have faith in you all. Let me know what you’re doing to Start Something that Matters. What do you think? Comment below.

Be the change,



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