Live your truth. Live Epic. Get Real. Inspire others to Greatness. This is a small taste of the language used and the air breathed by the gathering of athletes and yogis, lululemon employees and special friends (aka ambassadors) alike over the past three days at the Ambassador Summit in Whistler, BC.
What’s impressive about this is that neither the language nor the mentality started or stopped with the summit. The bedrock of lululemon athletica, founded by a small group of like-minded individuals and led by Chip Wilson (it turns out they were all neighbours!), is based on harnessing passion through bravery, truth-telling, honesty, and much more.
Prior to showing up for the summit, I was asked by colleagues and friends about my involvement with the brand, often with a critical eye. I didn’t have many answers; my relationship as a new ambassador in London, England as part of opening up the showroom in Chelsea was vague, and my knowledge about the driving force behind the company and its corporate governance report card limited.
One thing was clear. From the start of my relationship there was certainly a positive vibe from everyone I came into contact with at lululemon, and with every interaction I had more and more confidence it was genuine. When I arrived at the Vancouver headquarters, it was no different. I was overwhelmed with the authentic kindness stemming from each person within the organization (in honesty, Vancouver is an exceptionally friendly place). Then, there were the many different ways the ‘corporation’ expressed its gratitude towards the employees, including through transparent communication, exceptional leadership, resources and support for personal and professional development, and the offering of a beautiful yoga and fitness practice space and free classes throughout the week. My breakthrough moment though, was in seeing and hearing the dedication from the executive members — to the ambassadors, staff, community, product producers and larger community, the world we live in — to create change and greatness. This included experiencing the full participation at the summit of the CEO, CFO, VP of branding and head of the design team. The familial interactions between everyone on an individual level was truly endearing.
After a couple of days, I don’t have all the answers as to what makes this company great, but I know truth from fiction. lululemon is not like *any* other company. The people are genuine, inspiring, down to earth, and at the same time, aspirational. They don’t perceive themselves as a company, but a group of people fit to change the world, and this includes paving the way in corporate governance from design to final product in an international production line. At the end of the day, people and relationships are what matter, and lululemon certainly takes this to heart.