How to Make a Difference and Find Your Purpose — Blake Mycoskie (#249)

“You can’t lose everything when what you care about are the people and the memories you have.” 

– Blake Mycoskie

This episode of the podcast features Blake Mycoskie (@blakemycoskie).

Blake is the Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS, and the person behind the One for One® business model, which helps a person in need with every product purchased.

This simple idea has grown into a global movement: TOMS Shoes has provided more than 60 million pairs of shoes to children since 2006, TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to more than 400,000 people since 2011, and TOMS Roasting Company has helped provide over 335,000 weeks of safe water since launching in 2014. In 2015, TOMS Bag Collection was founded with the mission to help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help women safely deliver babies. As of 2016, TOMS has supported safe birth services for more than 25,000 mothers.

In this episode we cover:

  • Early entrepreneurial ventures
  • The power of journaling
  • How “the stool analogy” changed Blake’s life
  • Lessons from Ben Franklin
  • And much, much more…

This episode comes from my new television show Fear(less), where I interview world-class performers on stage about how they’ve overcome doubt, conquered fear, and made their toughest decisions.  You can watch the entire first episode with illusionist David Blaine for free at (To watch all episodes, please visit DIRECTV NOW).

We recorded three hours of material and only one hour was used for the TV show. This podcast episode is almost entirely new content that didn’t appear on TV.



#249: How to Make a Difference and Find Your Purpose -- Blake Mycoskie

Want to hear another podcast with a guest from Fearless? — Listen to this episode with David Blaine where we discuss illusion, taking risks, and the art of positive mindset (stream below or right-click here to download):

#245: The Magic, Misdirection, and Mindset of David Blaine

This episode is brought to you by InktelEver since I wrote The 4-Hour Workweek, I’ve been frequently asked about how I choose to delegate tasks. At the root of many of my decisions is a simple question: “How can I invest money to improve my quality of life?” Or, “how can I spend moderate money to save significant time?”

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QUESTION OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Blake Mycoskie:

TOMS | Twitter

Show Notes

  • Who here owns shoes? [04:42]
  • How did Blake’s mom and dad differ in parenting styles? [05:59]
  • What was Blake’s first entrepreneurial experience? [08:39]
  • The importance of journaling. [15:35]
  • What Blake learned from a local eccentric businessman and philanthropist. [19:20]
  • How Ben Franklin has influenced the way TOMS does business. [21:50]
  • How Blake’s dad reacted when he told him he was dropping out of college to pursue his own business. [24:45]
  • An aspiring entrepreneur’s recipe for disaster. [27:33]
  • The TOMS origin story — how it came about when Blake was trying to take a vacation from business. [31:04]
  • How the women in Blake’s life proved to him that TOMS was a viable business model. [41:31]
  • TOMS went from a goal of breaking even to turning high profits. [45:19]
  • When deciding on a company name, why did Blake settle on TOMS? [46:47]
  • On growing organically vs. raising venture capital. [50:12]
  • The first time Blake encountered a wildly enthusiastic stranger wearing TOMS in the wild. [51:33]
  • Advice for aspiring manufacturers? [1:00:48]
  • On not getting stuck in the rut of a costly lifestyle over building real relationships. [1:03:21]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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25 Replies to “How to Make a Difference and Find Your Purpose — Blake Mycoskie (#249)”

    1. Loved the story about Blake meeting the enthusiastic customer with the red TOMS – how he listened so intently to her excitement and learned what to focus on in order to design a business that GIVES, both to the direct customer who receives a great buying experience by feeling good about the purchase and obviously to the recipients of the ‘gifted’ quality footwear – whose lives are positively impacted in ways we may never fully grasp in an affluent society. I resonated deeply with what Blake says he has learned most from his world travels, which is “.. sometimes the people living in the most poverty…are the happiest.” And he goes on to say the reason is because of their “simple” lives where all their time is spent “in relationships”. Beautiful 🙂

  1. Curious to know if you’ve ever seen Poverty Inc. (found on Netflix, Amazon Prime, any major streaming site)? It strongly argues against the TOMS One for One policy for destroying local business, specifically in Haiti. (disclaimer that I have not yet listened to the episode or show, not sure if it’s brought up)

  2. This was such a relaxed and inspiring conversation…great job. I think it is fantastic that the TV format allows the interview to also work as an audio only. I really appreciate having the opportunity to enjoy these conversations from the show…thanks!

  3. Dear Tim,

    I was a wreck for a long time and I still am in many ways. I don’t know how, but I started to read which was a long lost habit of mine and started to read articles on the website and stumbled upon Tools Of TItans. Believe me it took 7 months to finish the book. Not many can do it, but I finished Atlas Shrugged in 3 days straight. Since reading TOT I have become a huge fan and follower of yours and as TOny RObbins says “The easiest way to success/happiness/peace is by learning to do what your Hero/mentor/inspiration/ etc does.

    Having said that, Ian following your footsteps towards success/happiness/health/peace. Any anecdotes/tips/advice/suggestions would be really be helpful in finding myself. BTW we share the same zodiac sign



  4. -Tim

    I recently read your book, “The 4-hour work week” and I am currently taking steps towards realizing the top 4 things on my dreamline. Long story short one of the steps in my dreamline are to get in contact with 3 motivational speakers and 3 best selling authors and ask 1 thought provoking question to each. I figured why not kill 2 birds with one stone and contact you since you seem to have quite a bit of experience in both. My question for you is:

    If you lost everything tomorrow, what would be standing in the way of you and your happiness?

    Thank you in advance for taking time out of your busy schedule to reply to my question, I look forward to hearing back from you soon!


  5. Loved this episode – especially the context about AM journaling and entrepreneurship. Great conversation!

  6. Very cool that the initial intention of the company was to create the giving concept before worrying about profit and so true how happiness does not derive from possessions, I’ve had similar observations in my travels. On another note… Tim… rumor has it you might be making more visits to Utah soon, let us show you a good time – [Moderator: IG handle removed]

  7. Tim I have read your “4 hour” book 2 times and it helped me a lot. I used some tips from there and now my life is changing really nice. Thanks for all high quality content and keep inspiring people!

  8. Such a great podcast, thank you and Brian so much for this!

    I’d love to hear podcasts with politicians from you, i think many of us view them in a negative lighting, but it is important to inspire kids to get into politics.

    I hope you have some good politician friends 🙂

    I’d suggest Carne Ross who inspired me to set my steps towards diplomacy.

    All the best and thank you for everything you do!

  9. My favorite lesson from this podcast: that you cannot simply choose and/or read a book on being an entrepreneur to be a successful entrepreneur. That it instead must come from a much deeper urge (or “itch”) that needs satisfying or soothing. Only under those circumstances will the ideas take root and the business flourish. Thanks so much Tim and Blake- so enjoyable.

  10. Loved this! Made a country trail run go by very fast.

    Also just watched Meru today after listening to the Jimmy Chin podcast from some time ago (incidentally, that podcast made a city trail run go by very fast, lol … yes, there is a pattern).

    It is so refreshing to learn of all these people out there just crushing it in so many different ways.

    Tim thank you so much for again enlightening us with the awesomeness that exists in the world. Personally you have made a huge impact …. I run a family practice clinic (a historically pretty straight laced type of gig) and we use basecamp, my kids now know what it is to meditate and appreciate the small stuff, I’m running at 28k uphill trail race in the fall, I feel a renewed energy for life and learning and I recently took a huge leap (for me) and put myself out there with a blog with the aim of doing good around this beautiful world. [Moderator: additional text and link removed.] Thank you again for the courage and inspiration. Peace, Jenn.

  11. What a brilliant business idea to help customers take away the feeling of guilt for buying shoes and replacing it by good feeling of doing a good deed and helping someone 🙂

  12. It was really good to hear how Blake came to startup and develop TOMS with a great product, unique manufacturing approach and a business model with amazing added value! Great mindset comes through every section of this episode. Thanks Tim for yet another great interview, learning loads of great wee bits from these guys.

  13. Hey Tim. Great interview with Blake. Could you ask or do a follow on: “How does he feels about the fact that giving away pairs killed thousands of small businesses?” Has it been something they solved after or not and how he handled it. Thanks!

    1. Here’s an excerpt from a Forbes article on the issue:

      “Toms (which has expanded beyond shoes) has since gone back to the drawing board and come up with more thoughtful forms of giving. The company now donates a birth kit (which includes a clean pad, gloves and sterile equipment to cut the baby’s umbilical cord) with the sale of every bag. With every bag of coffee the company sells, it gives money to help provide clean water. And while Toms still donates shoes, it now tries to source them from local producers to help strengthen struggling economies.”

      It was a really unfortunate and shortsighted business model, but a mistake that is easy to make because we’re so used to thinking about charity in terms of just giving stuff away. It seems like they have learned from the mistake, which is really good.

  14. Thanks Tim and Blake, sounded like you guys really clicked! I particularly valued Blake’s stool analogy, and noted this for morning journalling. And, since I’ve become a happy devotee, at Tim’s urge, of the value of morning journalling, it was really interesting to hear that you only really got going on this 3 years ago.

  15. I think I joined a cult…read the book (4-Hour WorkWeek); started listening to the blog (#1 was hilarious, this one with Blake Mycoskie was inspiring, the love doc (Esther Perel) taught me about honesty…); watched your TedX talks; bought the mushroom coffee (aka drinking the Kool-Aid) and am working on my escape plan… I work in the legal/public sector so many of your business principles are foreign to me. But I’m learning…

    So, how about having Sara Blakely of SPANX on your podcast? Youngest self-made woman on Forbes list of whatever superlative they were using; donates half her money…I think you’d like her!

  16. This was one of my favorite podcasts you have done. Blake’s story is amazing. I have been listening to you while now and know there is a better version of myself hidden deep inside me. I want to implement the tools and strategies you and your guests speak about… I began journaling several weeks ago but have really struggled with it. After hearing Blake yesterday, I decided to try it again this morning… I sat there and didn’t know what to do.

    How did you get started journaling? What is your best piece of advice for someone who is new to journaling and really wants to get started?

    Thank you for all you and do and keep up the amazing work!

  17. I am unable to locate a recent post where you are seeking extra ordinary people outside of the USA to interview.

    However, I think my topic area does fit in with this Podcast episode.

    This guy is a MUST ~ Jamie McDonald, UK

    Check out his book “Adventureman” and several youtube posts.

    Jamie spent the first nine years of his life in and out of hospital with a rare spinal condition known as syringomyelia.

    In 2012, he bought a second hand bike and decided to cycle the 14,000 miles from Bangkok to his hometown Gloucester, passing through dozens of countries. Along the way he was shot at, arrested and slept rough.

    Just two days after he finished the journey back from Bangkok; he made the decision to attempt the world static cycling record, which stood at 224 hours and 24 minutes. It was a challenge he’d conceived whilst cycling from Bangkok.

    He finally stepped off the exercise bike set up within a marquee in Gloucester after pedalling for a world record breaking 268 hours – more than eleven days. Throughout both challenges, Jamie raised tens of thousands of pounds for a charity that benefits the children’s ward of Gloucester Royal Hospital.

    In February 2014, Jamie finished an historic journey across Canada, becoming the first person in history to run the 5,000 miles from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast without the aid of a support crew. Starting in March 2013, his run raised more than £250,000 for sick children in Canada and the UK. He battled -40°C temperatures, the Rockies, a frostbitten nose, numerous potentially challenge-stopping injuries (including the permanent misshaping of his right foot) and more to finish in Vancouver, running the equivalent of a marathon most days – whilst wearing a Superhero costume The Flash. Yup, one costume the entire time – mental.

    His extremism is something I know you will connect with! Ha 😉

    As well as his philanthropic efforts.

    I am a dedicated listener of your podcasts, perfect for my 45 min commute to work each way. Thank you for keeping it real.

    I am a fan of Jamie’s as my daughter had tethered spinal cord (surgically de-tethered at the age of nine) and has syringomyelia. She is my superhero every day. Jamie’s efforts to show those with health challenges that they can overcome and surpass expectations, and fundraising for Children’s Hospitals has endeared myself to his story. I’m Canadian, he chose to run across Canada, helped further my intrigue of his journey.

    Side note, long long story … but due to my daughter’s lifelong health challenges, she’s now 21 …. When she was three years old I became frustrated with the medical world and started pursuing holistic health. For the last 3.5 years I’ve owned my own Holistic Health Centre that includes a yoga studio, practitioners and retail. Your podcast brought my attention to Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee, which I will be introducing to my customers very soon. Thanks 🙂