TOMS Founder Blake Mycoskie: The More You Give, The More You Live

For The Curious,

Many years ago, Blake Mycoskie asked a wise man for some advice. That man wrote it down for him. “The more you give, the more you live.”

It has guided Blake ever since. Certainly, in the creation of TOMS – which you probably know as TOMS shoes. For every pair sold, a pair is given to an impoverished child who needs footwear. The serendipitous experience that started TOMS in Argentina in 2006 evolved into a half billion-dollar company that has given away 88-million pairs of shoes and also restored eyesight for those in need through the sale of eyeglasses.

The wise man could never have foreseen the crazy series of events that created the buy-one/give-one model which has been adopted by many other companies. Even Blake was surprised as it unfolded.

But as time passed and TOMS grew, it got so efficient at giving that it sometimes felt to Blake like it was on cruise control.

Blake never expected to be back at the start, with a chance to make another monumental change in the world.

But then, last October, there was a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. A week later, there was another at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California. These public shootings have been steadily increasing ever since the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999. And Blake’s wife, Heather, began to wonder if it were safe to send their children to school.

Blake did not want to live in fear, and when he asked himself what he could do about the situation, another start-up moment appeared.

He threw himself – and the company he founded -- into stopping gun violence.

Not by banning firearms – but by establishing universal background checks.

It’s a brilliant move because it transforms a very contentious issue into one that nearly everyone can agree upon. Ninety percent of Americans support universal background checks.

These checks are a proposed federal policy change. This change would require a background check every time a gun is sold. It stops the people who shouldn’t be having them from buying them at gun shows and through direct selling methods.

TOMS put up $5 million to get the movement in motion. And after you hear Blake tell the entire story, I hope you’ll add your support by going to to send a postcard to your representative.

It brings me great joy to have created this podcast so that you can hear about Blake’s journey from the start and get a sense of how an entrepreneur thinks.

May this new year be a healthy and safe one for everybody.

It’s a promising day.

And I hope to receive a happy photo from everybody listening.



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Kevin Hekmat