Patagonia’s Former C.E.O. Retreats to the Rainforest
You suddenly left Patagonia last year. What happened?
I was talking about interacting with the Chouinards in 2019 because, to be honest, I felt that I had accomplished everything that I wanted to accomplish as a leader. I felt as if I had learned everything I wanted from Yvonne. Many CEOs stay for a short time at the fair. I think it is good for companies to have new leadership.
When the company made the announcement, it was essentially effective immediately, and there was no immediate successor name. This is very unconventional corporate governance.
Yvon does nothing the traditional way. He is not going to follow the optics of public companies. We just got into the hump of everything going on with Kovid. Business declined. We were actually going through the process of seeing what the future would look like. And the reality is that it makes more sense to lead new leadership, and move that process forward. It was a mutual decision. At some point, the student has to leave the master.
When you left, did you consider other CEO jobs?
Some surprising CEO opportunities came to me, but they were in retail brands and other companies that I felt were contributing more to our environmental problems and not solving them. When I think about what I want to dedicate myself to over the next decade, it comes to answering the question: “How do we use trade as a force instead of evil and greed? To create jobs, to give people satisfaction that they are helping the world, and not harming it? “
The reality is that I feel like I am reaching a different point in my life. In the Vedic system, there are four stages of human life. The first is a student, the second is a homemaker, and the third is retirement. The Sanskrit word for the third is actually vanaprastha, Which means going to the forest. The idea is that during this phase of your life, you entrust your day-to-day responsibilities to the next generation and become a mentor and teacher. I am literally living in a rainforest, so it is more than a metaphor in my case.
With the benefit of hindsight, is there anything that you would have done differently in Patagonia during the early months of the epidemic?
I don’t think I would have done anything different. We were dealing with something that was completely unknown. And I think we deal with it in the best way that we possibly can. I think Kovid taught the world that we are all interlinked. Our businesses need to be flexible. Our supply chains need to be flexible and innovative and adaptable.