Lessons in Leadership
Blake Mycoskie is the "Chief Shoe Giver" at TOMS Shoes, a company that he founded in 2006 to provide shoes to impoverished children around the world. He has been a professional entrepreneur since his sophomore year in college when he founded a campus laundry business.
Previously, he founded Driver's Ed Direct, launched the advertising firm Mycoskie Media, worked as spokesperson for the online company GreenTiePoker, was CEO of Closer Marketing Group, and served as President of Phil Hellmuth Productions.
He has also had experience on reality television. He was the contestant for Tennessee on Fox's "Sexiest Bachelor in America Pageant" in 2000 and finished third in the second season of CBS's The Amazing Race in 2002. As a result, he launched an all-reality television network called Reality Central in 2002. Mycoskie studied philosophy and finance as an undergraduate at Southern Methodist University.
Question: How do you juggle your responsibilities as a leader?
Blake Mycoskie: In terms of leadership, what I’ve found is you really do have to wear every hat before you can ask other people to do it.
So with TOMS Shoes, even though we’ve grown really fast, I have kind of worn every single hat along the way. I might’ve only worn it for a week or two. But at least when I hired that person or brought that person on, I’ve been able to say, “These are the challenges. These are the opportunities, and go after it.”
And with that point, one of the things that is a cornerstone of my business philosophy and leadership is really not to micromanage people. Spend a lot of time making that decision on who to hire. But once you hire them, just let them go.
And it’s very interesting in that I’m only in the office maybe five or six days a month. And there are times when I’m not in the office for two months at a time. So you can imagine a fast growing company of a lot of young people, who don’t have a lot of experience, with a boss that’s only 31 years old, who’s never around. So it really takes a lot of trust in the people that you have.
And you also have to be a good leader from afar. You’ve got to be able to use technology and tools available to lead people. And so that’s one thing that I think that I have an advantage being young over a lot of older CEOs is that I really embrace the use of technology, writing a blog, keeping the whole team kind of understanding what I’m doing every day when they don’t see me every day.
Recorded on: April 28, 2008
Trusting your people allows you to lead from afar, says Mycoskie.