Monday, October 19, 2009

Speaking at Rackspace

This past week I did a speaking engagement at a company called Rackspace in San Antonio, Texas - a company who is the world's leader in hosting all due to their amazing "support". From the moment I walked in, I knew this was a special place. The office was no frills, but each cube was decorated as if it were entering into a Mardi Gras parade contest. Then my host warned me that the CEO was kinda crazy, and absolutely fanatical, and to be ‘ready' when I met him. I just smiled, for I have often heard my staff explain me in the same way.

Photo with Lanham and Graham, CEO and Chairman of Rackspace

As I rounded the corner to the "support" area, I saw a strait jacket on the wall in a glass case. Surrounding it were pictures of different employees wearing the strait jacket with big smiles. I have seen some interesting fashion since we started TOMS, but without a doubt this was a first...strait jackets? Of course I had to ask.

Turns out getting the strait jacket is the highest award at Rackspace, and it is given to the employee who demonstrates the most fanatical support to its customers, someone who is so "fanatical" that they literally need to be restrained, hence the strait jacket. Wow, this is my type of company! No nonsense, all the focus on the customer, and having some fun while doing it.

My talk went great and after I was done, they presented me with a custom pair of TOMS they made, with their logo sewed on the shoes’ canvas. With a little extra touch, they glued in special orthodics to the insoles for, well I bet you can guess it, "support".


Compassionate Canuck said...

Dear Mr. Mycoskie,
I'm an academic and researcher who studies compassion in work organizations, and I'm trying to find a way to get in touch to invite you to participate in an academic conference (the Academy of Management) next August in Montreal, Canada. AOM is the oldest and largest management association in the world, with nearly 20,000 members from over 100 countries. Last year's conference had approximately 10,000 attendees including scholars from a variety of social science disciplines as well as practitioners such as consultants and organizational leaders from a range of industries and organizations. It is a very eclectic and inter-disciplinary group. You can see more about AOM at This year's theme is "Dare to Care: Passion and Compassion in Management Practice and Research", and so we want to bring in people who can speak to compassion within organizations (e.g., humane treatment of employees who are going through awful circumstances...e.g., the death and loss of loved ones, marital strife) as well as compassion OF organizations, such as Tom's. I know it's a long shot, but having you speak about your work and the organization could provide a vivid example to management researchers, organizational leaders, and policy makers alike about what is possible and necessary going forward.
You would be one of a few other presenters in a two-hour symposium so the time commitment really involves getting to and fro Montreal. If there is any chance that you would be willing and available to participate, please send me a note at
Thanks for considering!
Jacoba Lilius
Assistant Professor
Queen's University School of Policy Studies
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

jonstovall said...

I'm a web developer at Rackspace. Your story really inspired me; not only in terms of philanthropy -- it reminded me that I can contribute to the success of our company by thinking differently (and I want to because we're different). Thanks for coming down and I look forward to your next visit.

GeoFetch said...

It was an inspiring session. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us Rackers!