Blake Mycoskie summited the Grand Teton during his inaugural visit to Jackson Hole in 2014. “I had never even seen a picture of the Tetons,” he says. But when a pastor at his Los Angeles church suggested an adventure, something drew Blake to the challenge. At the time, without any climbing or mountaineering experience, it was a serious undertaking. But after spending two days completing the feat, one thing was clear to Blake — “Wow. This is where I want to be.”
Before long, he was building a house with Teton views and putting down roots in his new home.
A successful entrepreneur, Blake is most well-known for founding Toms shoes and the innovative “One for One” policy that defined the company. But long before he started Toms, he had made a habit of starting businesses in established industries, in which he had no prior experience but saw potential for transformative innovation.
“I’ve been in the laundry business, the outdoor advertising/billboard business, started a television network, and an online driver education company,” he says, noting that “I’ve never seen myself as a business person, but as someone who is very curious about the world.”
He also competed in “The Amazing Race,” authored a book, is an active philanthropist, and was recently featured on “Shark Tank.”
In short, he has accomplished quite a bit in just a few decades.
The year 2020 held many surprises for Blake. His new company, Madefor, was launched with serendipitous timing. “It’s a 10-month program that helps people learn, and most importantly, sustain, habits and practices that will have the greatest transformation on their life,” he explains.
Blake and Madefor’s co-founder, Pat Dosset, were one step ahead of a growing trend toward getting offline and “single tasking,” the opposite of multitasking. In light of the pandemic, their program resonated with people and word-of-mouth led the new company to exceed annual projections by 300 percent.
Another significant surprise came while Blake was on a vipassana silent meditation retreat during the start of the pandemic. Alone on an island with a mat, a tent, and a pledge to be silent, Blake had no contact or communication with the outside world. He emerged to find cancelled flights, quarantine, and closed borders.
“It was the most surreal experience of my life,” he says. He adapted quickly to see the silver lining, which was more quality time with his young children. “I was able to reflect and prioritize. Clarity about what’s important, that’s huge.”
It’s a message that Blake finds so important he has a reminder tattooed on his arm — “be present.” He views success as creating a life where he is experiencing the present moment and is entirely engaged in what he’s doing — be it business, mountain adventures, or enjoying time with his children. Decluttering his physical and mental space, and his calendar, has been key. “I have prioritized, ruthlessly, how I’m spending my time.”
Clearly Blake has found his flow in Jackson. He says he feels most himself in nature and sleeps under the stars as much as he can. He’s taken on challenges like completing The Grand Traverse in 58 hours over the solar eclipse. And, just like his inaugural summit in 2014, he continues to be drawn to the Grand Teton. He’s summited nine times and can now easily accomplish the journey in one day.
And while Teton life suits him, Blake happily notes one complexity: “There is no limit of outdoor options, and not enough time to do it all. It’s the
beautiful challenge all of us have living here.”