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What mistakes have you made in starting your business?
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: What mistakes have you made in starting your business?
Blake Mycoskie: I’ve definitely made a lot of mistakes.
I’m very optimistic, and I think most entrepreneurs are. So if I come up with an idea of, like, oh, this would be a great place for us to sell TOMS [shoes] or great opportunity for us to really revolutionize this concept in the business, I tend to not see why it won’t work. I only see why it will work. And that does get in the way sometimes as a businessperson.
A perfect example is, when we started selling TOMS [shoes], we sold them in these really cool canvas bags. Everyone thought they were beautiful. They were simplistic. They were good for the environment, because we didn’t have the cardboard and the packaging. And everyone loved them. And when we first started selling TOMS, we were only selling in little boutiques. So, fine, they could manage 20, 50 canvas bags of TOMS very easily in a basket by the checkout.
Then we started selling in Nordstrom. And we thought, oh, this is great, we’re selling in Nordstrom, we’ll continue with the canvas bags. But Nordstrom is built upon very specific methods and protocol. And they have stockrooms. And in their stockrooms, they stack these boxes and they are very organized. And it allows their employees to go in and out and sell lots of shoes in a hour period of time. Well, what happened with the bags is even though everyone loved it, including Nordstrom, we didn’t really listen to the advice of the stockroom people who said we really should use boxes because this is going to be a tangled mess with these bags and these strings.
Sure enough, we launched Nordstrom to great excitement in the consumer side and great excitement on the salespeople. But two weeks after we’re there, all our bags were a big pile of mess in the stockroom. And they couldn’t sell any shoes because they didn’t want to waste half an hour going and untangling the shoes when they could’ve gotten commissions on three other pairs of Cole Haans.
So our business really took a hit this last year, and we had to transform everything from bags to boxes, which was a big, big change for us. And it cost us a lot of money and a lot of time. But now we are in boxes, and we’re seeing great sell-through in Nordstrom again. So it’s a perfect example.
Recorded on: April 28, 2008
Most entrepreneurs are optimistic, says Mycoskie.
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- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
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