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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Appearing in the Wall Street Journal: A Powerful and Mostly Painless Lesson in The Press and Positivity


Sure, it's cool to appear in one of the United States' major news sources but I didn't feel that good about it. This past week, I appeared with other long distance hikers in a front page Wall Street Journal article about advances in performance sock technology and how wonderful Darn Tough Vermont Socks are. The thing is, I agree that Darn Tough socks are great. it just didn't come off that way in the paraphrased paragraph I was attributed with. You can read the full article here.

My paragraph read:

Joshua Stacy, who hikes about 2,500 miles a year, says his Darn Tough socks bunched up, got wet, and gave him toe and heel blisters because they didn't fit him snugly. Now he swears by socks from Fits Sock Co. that feature a small toe cup and deep-heel pocket and slide easily onto his feet, he says.

I felt pretty bummed when I read these two sentences because I realized that my role in the article was to provide a counter argument  to the rest of the story. I learned a powerful lesson: never even approach a negative comment during an interview. The severity of comments can be easily spun.

My seemingly negative review of Darn Tough bothered me enough that I wrote them a letter a few days later. I wanted to explain that I still love their socks and raved about them to everyone after my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. I'm just trying FITS right now and they have been quite good as well. Gear choices are a constant experiment.

Here is the letter I wrote Darn Tough:

Hey Darn Tough,

I wanted to apologize to you guys for the journalistic spin that was put on
my words in the recent Wall Street Journal Article. To set the record
straight, I raved about your socks after my Appalachian Trail thru-hike last
year. Their durability was unparalleled and they were the best socks I had
ever used. This winter, I was given some FITS socks to try and I really
liked the way the hugged my feet. In the several hundred miles of use I've
put on the FITS they have been hotspot free but they have yet to be tested
by a thru-hike. I'll be setting out for my PCT southbound thru-hike on June
20th and if the FITS fall apart, I have some Darn Toughs on call to be sent
to me on the trail.

I know, all in all, my paragraph in the article is pretty much meaningless
but it has really been bothering me and I wanted to get this off my chest. I
still love your socks, I am trying different socks right now but that
doesn't mean that I don't think you guys make an outstanding product. Darn
Tough socks are still part of the rotation. I want to thank you guys for
making and standing behind a top quality American product.

Respectfully and apologetically,
Joshua Stacy

Darn Tough responded with a letter that put my mind at ease:

Hi Joshua,

Thank you for writing us.  We really appreciate you taking the time to let
us know how much you really do care about Darn Tough Vermont socks.  Let us
know what happens this year on your PCT southbound thru-hike this year?  It
is so nice to hear you still "love" Darn Tough Vermont socks and you feel we
make an outstanding product.  We couldn't agree more. As you know, our socks
are guaranteed for life.  I, personally, don't know of any other sock
company that does this.  Our socks are guaranteed to be the most
comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you can buy.  When you buy our
socks you buy us.

We do have a terrific team who works here to strive to make socks that out
last your expectations.  We will continue to do this in this small town of
Northfield, Vermont.  We are very proud of our American made product.

Again, thank you for voicing your concern.  No problem.  We just want you to
always be happy in Darn Tough Vermont socks.

All the best,

Andrea Donahue-Smith
Customer Service Representative
Darn Tough Vermont

I'm proud to see "hikertrash" (an endearing term) on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. I'm proud to appear in the same article as professional hiker extraordinaire Liz "Snorkel" Thomas. I'm proud to support and promote FITS socks. I'm also proud to say that Darn Tough socks are incredible! No one else has an unconditional lifetime guarantee on their socks. 

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