The entrepreneur and author of Start Something That Matters believes giving things away is good for business. 1. A little imagination goes a long way. In 2006, while vacationing in Argentina, I noticed impoverished kids walking around with no shoes on—which put them at risk for disease. When I got home to Los Angeles, I started brainstorming and came up with Toms, which donates one pair of shoes for each pair sold. We've given away more than a million pairs.
2. Stuff can't make you happy. When I started distributing shoes in Ethiopia, South Africa, and South America, I saw that the people had so little, yet seemed to worry so much less than my friends and family back home. Instead of stressing over gadgets, they were talking around the campfire.
3. Giving feels good, but it's also good for the bottom line. Charity is a viable growth strategy for a lot of companies. Our customers get excited to be a part of what we're doing. If you ask anyone wearing Toms how they first heard about us, most won't mention an advertisement; they'll say a friend told them our story.
4. Your home should inspire you. A few years back, I downsized to a sailboat. Now I wake up when the sun finds its way into my bedroom. I'm more in tune with nature, which has influenced my shoe designs. I'm reminded every day to keep things simple and comfortable.
5. Life is more fun when you stop caring what other people think. I've been blessed with a lot of things in life, but God did not give me rhythm. Still, I love to dance—which past girlfriends always found hilarious. Recently I got onstage at a concert and started bouncing around and hitting a tambourine in front of thousands of people. I was probably off the beat, but you have to do what you enjoy.