Lululemon’s CEO of the Year

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Canada’s Globe and Mail Report on Business magazine has named Lululemon Athletica’s Christine Day CEO of the year. This news comes after the Vancouver-based company was criticized in the media for its new “Who is John Galt?” shopping bag (a reference to the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged).

Day, who came from Starbucks and has served as Lulu’s CEO since 2008, has overseen tremendous growth during her tenure. “Lululemon saw its stock climb to almost $60 this fall, up over 280% from when Day joined the company, and a whopping 250% gain year over year,” according to the article.

Day points to the company’s stated values as a driving factor in that growth. “Investing in your health
will pay big dividends for individuals and society,” she told the magazine, “elevating the world
from mediocrity to greatness.”

Of course, the anti-mediocrity sentiment led to Lululemon’s controversial use of the Rand quote. “I believe in a culture of personal accountability and not compromising your values,” Day said. “Atlas Shrugged is both about not accepting mediocrity and being personally accountable for the life you are creating.”

But Lululemon has always used inspirational (or what the magazine calls “communitarian”) messages for their logos, such as, “The pursuit of happiness is the source of unhappiness” and “Friends are more important than money.” It’s this selling of ideals, and not just yoga pants, analysts say, that has fueled the company’s enormous success.

“Compared to more price-driven products, Lululemon
apparel gives its customers the feeling that they’re purchasing a lot
more than mere ‘value,’” the article states. “Buy a Cabin Long Sleeve T-shirt and you’re
involved in bettering yourself. Pick up one of those cute Lucky Luon
headbands and you’re joining a community of like-minded people. … It’s a thing of virtue. Budget in other spending categories if
you must, the brand seems to whisper, but don’t stop taking care of your
body and building a better society.”