Today on Business Rockstars, Ken Rutkowski talks with the former CEO of Patagonia, Dr. Michael Crooke, who was recently selected as one of North America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior along with co-honorees Tony Hsieh (Zappos), Mark Parker (Nike), and Howard Schultz (Starbucks).
Dr. Michael Crooke is an Assistant Professor of Strategy at the Graziadio School of Business and Management (Pepperdine). Dr. Crooke is the founding and lead faculty of the school’s Social, Ethical, and Environment Responsibility (SEER) Certificate Program, he teaches the Advanced Strategy course for this program in the spring trimester and the final capstone MBA Strategy course which students complete the semester before graduation. He is also the first Avemere Professor of Practice appointed to the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon.
In January of 2012, Dr. Crooke was selected as one of North America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior – 2012. This honor has been awarded by Trust Across AmericaTM, a think tank dedicated to unraveling the complexities of trustworthy business behavior. Recipients include leaders from the public and private sectors as well as authors, consultants, researchers and academics. Michael’s selection is based on his extensive and positive contribution to building trust in business. Co-honorees include: Tony Hsieh (Zappos), Mark Parker (Nike), Thomas Friedman (Author), and Howard Schultz (Starbucks).
In April of 2012 the Ford Foundation named Dr. Crooke one of the “10 Innovators Changing Our World,” and profiled him as one of ten cutting-edge innovators who are shaping new sustainable businesses and influencing positive change around the world. This new series is comprised of 10 short films profiling 10 unique innovators and eco-entrepreneurs changing how industries are shaping sustainability. The films profile the eco-shifts each has made, from developing smart plastics to establishing the first university-led environmental certification program, and creatively demonstrate how inspiring ideas have quickly become reality.
Michael Crooke is concurrently an independent consultant counseling various high-growth businesses on strategic issues and, in particular, developing direct to customer strategies that create an emotional connection to the brand. Projects in process include development of a Hollywood social entrepreneur business and development of a consumer retail/direct strategy for a legacy business. He also serves as a consultant and Advisor to publically held Solazyme (SZYM). In addition he serves as a member of the board of Miraval Resorts, participating in strategic decision making regarding branding, marketing, and compensation. Other boards include: Family Christian Stores (Blackstone representative), Kevita LLC, and ReVolve electronics. In 2009 Crooke led the successful turnaround and repositioning of prAna LLC, an outdoor industry clothing/lifestyle company. At PrAna Crooke and his team focused on re-positioning the firm from a wholesale company to a direct sales model. As CEO, Crooke and his team divested unprofitable operations, developed new strategies and completely revamped all aspects of the operations in order to scale. The company is now profitable and growing over 35% per year.
From 2005-2007 Crooke partnered with Steve Case (co-founder of AOL) and became the founding CEO of Revolution Living, a group of companies working to change the way consumers and brands interact. Revolution Living was founded on the principle that business success is predicated on a commitment to corporate citizenship, environmental stewardship, product/service quality, and financial strength. In 2007-2008 Crooke served as the senior advisor to Revolution.
From 1999 to 2005, Crooke served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Patagonia, Inc., and Patagonia’s parent company, Lost Arrow Corporation. He succeeded Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder, in taking the Lost Arrow post. Patagonia, a designer and distributor of technical outdoor clothing, is widely known for its commitment to product quality and environmental responsibility.
Prior to his arrival at Patagonia, Michael served as CEO/Chairman of Pearl Izumi, the premier manufacturer of cycling and performance apparel based in Colorado. In addition, he was Managing Director of legendary backpack innovator Kelty Packs for several years and has also worked in senior leadership roles with other outdoor companies, including Yakima and Moonstone Mountaineering.
Michael has previously held director positions on the boards of the following organizations: 1% for the Planet founded by Yvon Chouinard; Channel Keepers (Santa Barbara chapter), founded by Robert Kennedy; Patagonia, Inc.; and the Conservation Alliance, the outdoor industry’s environmental grant-giving organization, including one year as Board President.
Crooke holds a Ph.D. in management from Claremont Graduate University. His dissertation examined the role of values (CSR) in high performance organizations. Crooke holds a B.S. in Forestry and an MBA from Humboldt State University. The California State University has recognized Dr. Crooke as one of 50 stand-out alumni, calling him a “force of nature”. Early in his career Crooke served as a Navy SEAL with Underwater Demolition Team 12 (UDT12) for four years, after successfully graduating from BUD/S training class 89 (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL).