Jansport backpacks have been around since 1967 — the Summer of Love, baby– when Skip Yowell’s cousin had an idea for a better backpack, built around a lightweight, adjustable aluminum frame. Murray formed a company. His girlfriend was a virtuoso on the sewing machine. Murray promised that if she’d marry him, he’d name the company after her. She did, and he did, and JanSport was born.
In 1967, no self-respecting flower child was thinking about business plans. In his book, The Hippie Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder & Other Mountains, Yowell describes the JanSport team as “three hippies…no business plan…even less money…All we had was Murray’s innovative design, Jan’s skill, my creative instincts and a shared affinity for Dylan music and beer.”
One message is clear, says StartUpJournal:
Enthusiasm matters. We never really learn, from reading the book, just how much money Mr. Yowell has made or how big his company is. (Answers: a lot and very.) But we do learn about how he took dealers on climbs of Mount Rainier, joined an Everest expedition and got involved in goofy promotions like the “Bak-A-Yak” fundraiser for a Himalayan excursion.
Sounds like having fun is a solid core business principle — one that’s too often neglected in today’s frenzy for power and profits. How about you? Are you having fun yet? If not, maybe you should take a tip from an ex-hippie. Maybe we all should…