Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Matters to You?

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." 
~Mahatma Ghandi

Yesterday I posted that quote on the Sub Hub Facebook page as a hint to today's blog post. So, here's the big reveal... today I am reviewing (and giving away a copy of) Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie, chief shoe giver of TOMS.

When I applied to review the book, my thoughts were these: 1) I love TOMS shoes!, 2) Sub Hub is something that matters, and 3) Maybe I'll get something for a giveaway for my fans. As I wrote the blurb explaining to TOMS why Sub Hub would be a good place to review the book, I didn't honestly think I would be chosen. After all what does a substitute teaching blog really have to do with a wildly successful shoe company doing so much good in the world? Apparently TOMS saw something I didn't because I did get chosen. And after reading the book, I can see why. So much of what I was reading, I could completely relate to what I and so many other teacher bloggers out there are trying to do... yes, we are trying to make a little money to supplement a teacher's (and in my case a substitute teacher's) income, but we also offer advice, free resources, and an open ear to hopefully make the challenging and ultra important job of teaching a little easier for some.

One of the first examples that popped into my head was Laura Candler at Teaching Resources. At the end of last year, she offered funds for teacher's Donors Choose projects. Now if that doesn't follow the TOMS philosophy, I don't know what does.

For those of you who don't know TOMS, they are designed based on an Argentinian shoe, and the company pioneered the One for One business idea... for every pair of TOMS shoes bought, a pair is donated to a child in need. And besides that amazingly charitable idea, the shoes are comfortable (they are one of two brands that I can wear all day teaching and not have my legs and back ache at the end of the day). Plus, they come in so many fun, colorful designs besides basic shoe colors.

I thought Start Something That Matters was simply going to be another autobiographical account of business success, which I still wanted to read since (as I said before) I love TOMS shoes. Boy was I wrong! Yes, the first chapter does tell the TOMS story, and it is quite fascinating since Mycoskie had zero experience in designing, making, or selling shoes before he started the company. But the book is so much more than that. The rest of the book tells other inspirational business stories and urges you to make a difference in the world, do what you love and give back... and he gives lots of tips to do just that, while at the same time maybe even making a little (or a lot) of money. Yes, maybe it is a little Pollyanna, but Mycoskie does seem very upfront that most businesses won't make it. And he does offer very doable, practical advice to achieve the do-gooder goals.

One of my favorite points he makes is the power of storytelling. Mycoskie writes, "As consumers, customers will want your product for the typical reasons... but as supporters they also believe in what you're doing; they've bought into your story because it taps into something real, and they want to be a part of it." I liken supporters to blog followers... you follow a blog because you believe in the ideas, or the stories the blogger tells. I also related his "power of storytelling" message to teaching itself. People learn better and retain the information longer when the teaching is woven into a storyline.

With other chapter titles of "Face Your Fears," "Be Resourceful Without Resources," "Keep It Simple," "Build Trust," and "Giving Is Good Business," Mycoskie is obviously not just tooting his own horn by relaying his success story. Besides all that, Mycoskie is also applying the One for One concept to the book as well... with every book purchased, Random House will donate a book to a child in need through First Book. What teacher can't get on board with that? He is trying to start something else that matters... encouraging others to start organizations that impact the world. And with more than 7 billion humans on this Earth now, we can use all of that we can get.

Mycoskie starts and ends the book with a poem titled "Success" that is often attributed to Elisabeth-Anne Anderson Stanley. The final stanza goes like this, "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." I feel like all of us involved in some way in educating children do just that, but why not try to do even more? And if you are interested in jumping into the blog world to start something that matters, I highly recommend Charity Preston's Teaching Blog Traffic School. Many of her tips were echoed in the book, and it has certainly helped me get started in my endeavor to make a difference in the world of substitute teaching.

I have one copy of Start Something That Matters to give away to one lucky follower. All you need to do is subscribe to Sub Hub through RSS or email. The email is simple. Just find this picture on the right and enter your email address (watch for typos!):

But if you are like me and get too many emails already, then you can also subscribe through the RSS feed. Here is how you do that. On the right sidebar, look for:
When you click on "posts," you will see:

Then just click your choice. I use the Google option, because it puts the blog posts right into your Google Reader, making it super easy for me to keep up with all my favorite blogs. Once you have done that, simply fill out the form below to be entered for a chance to win your copy of Start Something That Matters.


  1. That's pretty cool..I didn't know he wrote a book!

  2. That's awesome! I definitely would like to read this book.

  3. I hope that my entry went through--still new to blogging, google accounts, etc. I would love to read his book---will be putting it on my summer reading list.


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