"I'd go barefoot all the time if I could."

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Reflections on Steve Jobs' Influence, Going Barefoot and Staying Foolish


Steve Jobs, Credit: Apple, Inc.After reflecting on the recent passing of Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and former CEO of Pixar, I thought it might be appropriate to share a few words on how Steve's influence has shaped my personal journey to founding and leading The Primalfoot Alliance. I write this not to compare myself to Steve Jobs - far from it - but instead to share how I try to use his example as a foundation for this organization's mission to advocate for people who go barefoot.

I have long been fascinated by Steve's leadership of Apple and Pixar. I've admired his dedication to excellence and his very open desire to "change the world" through his actions. Indeed, it's hard to use any device with a microchip inside and a color screen that has not been influenced in some way by Steve Jobs. I can't help but find it ironic that Apple's former "Think Different" campaign encapsulated Steve himself in its words about other visionaries:

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

As you know, we who choose to live barefoot outside of our home, the swimming pool or the green grass at the local park are often considered "crazy" by our shoe-centric society. We are misfits. We are certainly rebels. To many, we are considered troublemakers, though we have no intent of being such. We see things differently because we know that the status quo of wearing shoes all the time and the rules demanding we must do so are what's actually "crazy" - not us.

Sometimes, however, it feels like the barefoot lifestyle is a pretty crazy thing for which to advocate. On a phone call a while back, this organization's vice president Daniel Howell, PhD, and I shared with each other about how we never expected to be in this position. He never expected to write and publish The Barefoot Book. If you had told me just a few years ago that I'd go barefoot all the time AND start an organization to advocate for those who want to live barefoot without hassle, I'd have though you were - well, you know. Label it however you wish, but I love to go barefoot and I love to advocate for the feet of anyone who cares to go without shoes.

Ever since the beginning of this organization, it has been important to me that The Primalfoot Alliance "think different" about how we advocate for bare feet (In many ways, I don't have respect for the status quo). I wanted to have a smart, dedicated group of advisors to help along the way. Over the past 18 months Daniel, the advisory board and I have been working to slowly build interest and support through social media. We've posted information on our modern Website to educate the public about living barefoot, created effective resources that barefooters can use to advocate for themselves "on the go," and successfully held "Your Day Without Shoes" in June for the first time to encourage people to go barefoot because they want to - not because a shoe company wants to sell more product.

We want to be an organization that can't be ignored because we're changing things for bare feet for the better. The advisory board and I have had many discussions about ways for this alliance to raise funding to enable all the programs we've talked about. I would like to see a drastic expansion of "Your Day Without Shoes" next year. Daniel and I have spoken more privately about an all-new primary message for The Primalfoot Alliance in 2012 and new ways of approaching the dreaded confrontation about your bare feet in the local store. There have even been discussions about taking a clear, well-developed case to government boards, councils and legislative bodies throughout the U.S. in order to receive their official support. More information about our initiatives will be released in the future, but let me say that they're REALLY exciting!

Crazy? Maybe so. Genius? We hope so. Challenging the status quo? You bet.

Some veteran barefooters who are reading this might think these things can't be done and that such change is impossible, but I refuse to try old ways of advocating that have failed and I refuse to quit trying new ways. If one technique doesn't work, we'll think different and try another. We'll keep banging the drum of bare feet until we are heard and society wakes up to the cold, hard fact that it's wrong to discriminate against people who simply don't want to put on shoes to go shopping, eat out, visit the library or even work - who just want to let their feet be feet first. We shouldn't have to wear shoes because someone else tells us to.

Mr. Jobs, in his 2005 commencement address to Stanford University graduates said something that, I think, applies perfectly to barefooters and The Primalfoot Alliance's mission:

"Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Finally, he wrapped up his speech with a quote from the back of the final issue of The Whole Earth Catalog:

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."

We will, Steve. Thank you.


Michael Buttgen
Founder and Chief Primalfoot Officer
The Primalfoot Alliance

p.s. Did you know that Steve Jobs enjoyed going barefoot?

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Reader Comments (3)

I really like your attitude in this posting! It reminded me of some footage I recently saw where a TV announcer sat smoking a cigarette and even announced the make of the cigarette (Parliament).
If society can turn around its attitude about smoking the way we have seen, I do believe it can also change its attitude about having healthy feet!


PS: I am dreading the Minnesota winter that will soon make me wrap my feet in something 'conventional' and warm....!

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohan

This post was lovely, and full of so much meaning. I've only recently really looked into the Primalfoot Alliance, but have been going barefoot for over a decade. (since I was a child) It's nice to see the ideas behind the creation of this group as well as the type of people it calls to it.
On that note, are you aware of a man named Bob Neinast? He runs this blog
and has been involved with a few court cases on this very subject. He seems like the kind of guy who would benefit from being a part of this organization, as well as a valuable asset it.

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSkyCaptainNow

Amazing post.
I'm a minimalist zelot.

I love barefoot topic the best, when i have to argue with someone a good point.
[its harder to pitch people vegetarian diet, or coffee enemas and yoga :]

Just because they are ignorant of the magic of their feet, it doesn't mean that it's unacceptable to be barefeet.

I frrkn love my barefeet.

No wonder babies always try to kick their shoes. they want their lovely feet back.

May 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLucky Love

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