Monday, May 4, 2015

Favorite books from the brand builder behind The North Face

Hap Klopp’s Required Reading

In 1968, a newly minted Stanford School of Business MBA named Kenneth (Hap) Klopp bought a two-year-old outdoors store in the San Francisco Bay area named The North Face. Over the next two decades, he vertically integrated the business — expanding into the manufacturing and wholesaling of high-quality outdoor apparel and gear — and laid the foundation for a brand that generated US$2.3 billion in revenues in 2014.

Klopp sold The North Face in 1989 and embarked on a new career as a consultant, teacher, and writer. Today, he serves on the boards of several high-tech companies, including data visualization firm Obscura Digital and nanotechnology materials firms Cocona and Mission Athletecare. He is also a professor of marketing at Hult International University and the author of two decidedly irreverent business books, The Adventure of Leadership: An Unorthodox Business Guide by the Man who Conquered “The North Face (with Brian Tarcy, Longmeadow Press, 1991) and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Business Management (with Brian Tarcy, Alpha Books, 1998).

I asked Klopp how he chooses business books, and he explained that he looks for books that relate to three themes: changing social values and trends; the disruptive effects of technology; and the preservation of entrepreneurial energy in mature companies — the last a challenge that he labels “turning the arrow back.” He recommended the following four books.

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