Mycoskie speaks enthusiastically about his journey into the heart of the third world and to the hearts of consumers who participate in his effort to provide shoes for those without. His “one for one” program—through which he donates one pair of alpargatas to a shoeless child for every pair sold—is a touchstone of his presentation. A self-described entrepreneurial missionary, Mycoskie shares how his commercial inspirations feed his philanthropic aspirations with audiences great and small, from international corporations, to nonprofit organizations and college students looking for direction and inspiration.
Before his travels led him to the fashion industry, Mycoskie and his sister were contestants on the CBS reality show The Amazing Race, which is a televised scavenger hunt around the world. They came within four minutes of winning the $1,000,000 prize.
While in college, he started a pre-paid laundry business and owned an outdoor advertising firm in Nashville, Tennessee. He later assisted in the creation of DriversEdDirect, a driving school featuring eco-friendly cars, personable instructors, and a step-by-step, organized curriculum.
Then he trekked to Argentina where his life was forever changed. He compromised his well-paying job to start TOMS Shoes for Tomorrow there, where he was motivated to give a pair away for every one sold. After countless hours meeting with Argentine shoemakers and driving down dirt roads with potholes the size of watermelons, he crammed duffle bags with shoes for protecting the feet of hundreds of children whose livelihoods depend on walking along polluted, disease-ridden streets. As Mycoskie explains it, these efforts give the underprivileged a leg-up in the world, and provide them with necessary tools to safely pursue their own goals each day, one step at a time. His presentations are high-impact lessons on building a startup company, testaments to the human spirit, and proof that businesses can be good community citizens.
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