Blake Mycoskie is the Founder & Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes. He has pioneered a new business model that is revolutionizing corporate giving: One for One. Because of TOMS simple promise to give a pair of shoes for every pair sold, the company has given more than 140,000 pairs of shoes to children in need since May 2006. By the end of 2009, TOMS plans to give an additional 300,000 pairs of shoes to children in need all around the world!
In February 2009, former President Clinton introduced Blake on stage as “one of the most interesting entrepreneurs I’ve ever met.” Bill Gates highlighted TOMS in a special article that he wrote for TIME magazine entitled “How to Fix Capitalism” and in spring 2009, ATT even featured TOMS in an international ad campaign.
Blake has been an entrepreneur since college, when he started a campus laundry service that became a successful national business. He has since started four more companies. His second startup, Mycoskie Media, revolutionized outdoor advertising by creating huge wall murals in major cities; the company was eventually sold to Clear Channel. His third company was a much-publicized cable TV network that brought Blake head-to-head with Rupert Murdoch (Rupert won). His fourth startup was a driver’s education school that featured hybrid cars and SUVs. After returning from Argentina, Blake decided to sell this business to focus full-time on his latest creation, TOMS Shoes.
Between business ventures, Mycoskie found time to star in CBS’ primetime series, The Amazing Race. Partnered with his sister Paige, Blake raced around the world for 31 days and came within 4 minutes of winning the $1 million dollar grand prize. To this day, Paige still jokes that Blake owes her a half million bucks (it was Blake’s decision to not look at a map on the trip’s final leg).
After losing The Amazing Race, Blake approached the winning team and persuaded them to invest in his next business venture. He then approached winners of other reality shows, such as Survivor, and got them to invest, too. That became the seed money for Blake’s cable TV channel – which was, appropriately, the first channel dedicated entirely to reality programming.
Blake is 32-year-old and lives on a boat in Los Angeles.
Its only hours until the end of the fast and I can’t stop thinking about food. The thing about a fast is you have to be really careful how you come out of it, and that means no burger and fries as your first meal (!) but a half glass of OJ and sliced bananas. Earlier this afternoon I went to the grocery store and ended up spending an hour looking closely at food, reading labels, asking questions about organic versus non-organic, really comparison shopping.
And then it hit me on my drive home from the store…I am sooooo unbelievably lucky that I have these food choices to consider. Not only do I have a choice about whether or not my OJ is organic when I first break my fast, but I get to choose to break it. The refugees of Darfur do not have a choice AT ALL. They have no say in when their next meal will be, much less what it will consist of. They have no choice but to live in fear of starvation and violence. I pray tonight, as I bless the food that will soon nourish my body, that someone somewhere reads this and the many other blogs, videos, and testimonials from the people of Darfur; I pray that someone will do something about it. And do something now before more needless lives are lost to this genocide.
It is almost 11 pm and I cannot sleep. This is the end of my second day of the fast. I have experienced many emotions and states of mind today that I did not expect.
Backing up, the first day was uncomfortable. I was hungry but my mind seemed to be in a consistent state, unlike the ups and downs I have experienced today. Today I started out full of energy, then totally tanked and was hit with headaches. And now this evening I have a burning energy I cannot explain. It feels like I just had a double espresso, but my body has not had any caffeine in over 48 hours. I cannot sleep, and I am drawn to the fastdarfur.org website to read the blogs of those who have experienced “day 2” before me. Instead I land on the profiles and videos of the child refugees. I listen as one boy speaks about eating meat and drinking milk back home in Darfur and I cannot begin to imagine how deep and simple his desire for food and a normal life are at this very minute.
Being displaced is inconceivable to me but I can tell, for lack of a better term, it just sucks. I know that is not the most poetic way to say it, but this is surely the way it seems and it is so infuriating to think that so many people are displaced at this very moment (robbed of their lifestyle, their health and so much more) and we as a nation have every power to change that, but we are not. We are sitting on the sidelines.
I am not sure if my participation in this fast will make a difference to anyone that can do anything about it, but I know that 3 days is worth trying, and I would go 30 more if I knew it would change things, even for just one of the children’s profiles I have just read.
I have never done a fast and I am certainly dependent on regular meals. 2 weeks ago I agreed to Fast for Darfur when my friend Shannon asked me to keep the fast going from June 1-3rd. I instinctively agreed without really thinking it through, mainly out of my respect for Shannon and how important this effort was in her life. Later on, reading Shannon’s blogs, I realized what a challenge, physically and emotionally this would be and I have been scared ever since.
The situation in Darfur is serious. I do not want my participation to be about me, but a signal to anyone following that I believe this effort to stop the injustice going on is worth disrupting your life for. I want to feel the pain they feel, even if for just a few days, and in only a fraction of what they feel considering I am still free, sleeping in a bed and supported by loved ones. I hope that my experience will change me, and that I will come out of my fast a more aware being. And lastly, it is my plea to anyone reading this to do something, anything in support of ending the genocide and injustice going on in Darfur.