Lessons from Toms Shoes

Toms Shoes is a great example of Social Entrepreneurship.  The business model is based on the idea of one for one.  For every pair of shoes that you buy, they will give a pair of shoes to a child in need.  They have recently expanded into a second area of giving with glasses.  For every pair of glasses that you buy, they will give a pair of glasses to a person in need.  Pretty awesome right?

This got me thinking about what it would be like if every business was formatted in this way.  What if every time you bought something, a second one of that same item would be given to a person in need?  It would definitely promote giving, which I am all for; however, I don’t think that profit driven businesses would be up for making this shift.  However, what if we did it on our own?  What if you made the choice that whenever you bought something, you would buy two of them and give one away?

What would the social implications of this commitment be?

1) Buy less and save more – If you knew that when you bought something that you had to buy two of them, you would think long and hard about whether you really needed it or not.  I think this would prevent people from buying unnecessary items and force them to only purchase the things that they truly need.  We are a culture of consumption but we also want things cheap.  If every time you looked at the price of something you had to double it, you probably wouldn’t buy anything that wasn’t essential.

2) Appreciate what you have – How great would you feel every time that you bought something?  That moment of purchasing something would be full of excitement as apposed to another common task.

– You would know that it was only something that you truly needed so you wouldn’t feel guilty about wasting money.

– You would feel great because you have the opportunity to seek out a person in need and bless them with an awesome gift.

– You would also be buying things less often so when you did buy something, it would mean twice as much to you.

3) Focus on Giving instead of Getting – I have definitely learned that giving is not something that comes naturally to most of us, especially me.  The more opportunities that you have to give, the more natural it becomes and the more you seek it out.  I have some friends that are amazing at this.  It is second nature for them to constantly think of how they can serve the other people they are around.  I am in awe every time I see them do this, but it does not surprise me because they have always done it.  They have practiced giving for so long that they don’t think anything of it anymore. Therefore, if you gave something away every time you purchased something, you would be practicing giving so often that it would become part of you.  You would naturally be more giving in your daily life.

The habit of giving, only enhances the desire to give.” – Walt Witman

Cultural shifts occur all the time.  What if this was one of them?  What if we got to the point where we all thought it was natural to always give something away every time we bought something?  I think that is a cultural shift worth looking into.  But first it takes a few people willing to go against the social norm.

What other shifts in our culture do see coming from a one for one mentality?

photo by tjsaab

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