What can an unrepentant hippie teach you about business?

What can an unrepentant hippie teach you about business?

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…

Groovy, man!

  1. Tim BerryTim Berry06-08-2007

    Great post, thanks. As another ex hippie, I say the business world is full of us. Every boomer was at Woodstock, right?

    Much more important than that, the idea of business being about doing what you like is critical, right? And it isn’t just hippies. Go back and look at the last 10 minutes of last week’s talk between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, as they both talk about how much they’ve loved their work.

    Tim Berry

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