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Cultural Transformations by Nick Vaidya, John Mattone

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Chapter 7Hap KloppFounder, The North Face

Great leaders commit to becoming more capable, committed, and connected today than they were yesterday.

—John Mattone

KENNETH “HAP” KLOPP WAS BORN in the idyllic town of Spokane, Washington, which sits west of the Rocky Mountain foothills on the Spokane River. As a boy, Hap quickly realized he was different. Although a colleague would later joke, “Hap's just like everybody else, just shorter,” it was clear that something in Hap, even as a boy, set him apart from his peers.

In his early days at school, Hap was what he calls a “disturber,” unable to endure the entire day of sitting at a desk. Fortunate to have teachers who recognized his differences, Hap only attended class in the mornings, spending his afternoons on directed reading or athletic pursuits. Even so, he did well academically and excelled at sports. He possessed a kind of inner confidence innate in many natural leaders, never showing a moment of doubt. His success in athletics further emboldened him to follow his own path, even when being different wasn't easy. “All leaders are internally different,” says Klopp. Recognizing his difference early on and choosing a path without doubt helped solidify his leadership and entrepreneurial spirit.

When it was time for university, Hap wanted to pursue sports, but his father pushed for MIT. They compromised on Stanford, where Hap would earn both a bachelors and an MBA. In his senior year, Hap's father passed away, and he spent many months ...

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