Success in life is not always measured by the almighty dollar.
“The lady was crying, tears running down her face and speaking in Spanish.”
Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, is speaking about the moment his life changed forever. We are standing outside a coffee shop in small town and he’s telling me of the moment that occurred thousands of miles away that changed his life.
TOMS is Mycoskie’s company based around the ‘One for One’ business model he invented — donating a pair of shoes to children for each and every pair of TOMS shoes sold.
For Mycoskie, this moment happened in a small village in Argentina. A woman, with three small children in tow, is standing in front of him weeping emotionally. Mycoskie and his friend, a local, are packing up their small van filled with shoes they’d just shared with local children and preparing to drive to the next small rural community.
“So I turned to my friend and asked him to help me out. At first I thought she was upset — and then I began to see tears develop in his eyes and I knew something else was going on.”
Not everyone has a closet filled with shoes. As a matter of fact, for too many in the world, a pair of shoes is a necessity many people value like clean water and a roof over their heads. This woman and her children are just these people.
“So my friend turns to me and begins telling me about how this woman’s three children share a single pair of shoes — a black pair of men’s lace up oxfords — to walk to school.”
The shoes do not fit well. And because of this, the shoes are extremely uncomfortable. The shoes cut into the each boy’s ankles and cause them to bleed, leaving scabs and scars. But in this rural area, the boys need a pair of shoes to walk to school. And in this woman’s home, the boys take turns wearing the shoes so they can attend school.
As Mycoskie’s friend relays his story to him, a wave of emotion and clarity washes over him. Beyond food, water and roof over their heads, an education is key to helping anyone move from one stage level in life to another. And it is just what this woman dreams for her children — to live a life better than hers. To be able to live in a world where these daily worries of what most of us take for granted are not a daily challenge to overcome.
“It was right then I realized I’d found my calling,” Mycoskie said, emotion leaking into his voice.
Although Mycoskie is young, he’s already found one of the most rewarding keys to life: there is a level of reward not measured by dollars and cents. A level beyond the monthly financial reports, a level beyond poring over marketing materials and lining up shipments of product to vendors. A level, honestly, very few people in this world will ever find.
Through the tears of one woman, this young entrepreneur discovered his calling — to use his talents to help people in need through a sustaining business model. His “One for One” model is changing lives around the world — one footstep at a time.