Michael Aragon

Advisor to CEO, Lululemon

Team building is what I focus on most. How do you find super high agency people? How do you set goals for them? How do you set a vision and disseminate it throughout an organization so everyone is marching in the same direction?

By Adam Sylvain

During a business career spanning more than two decades, Michael Aragon T’01 has been at the forefront of technological innovations shaping the way we think about digital content and community.

In January 2022, he became CEO of MIRROR and lululemon digital fitness, responsible for building the product and platform serving the active fitness community on MIRROR, which streams live and on-demand interactive classes to users in their homes through a sleek responsive display. Aragon says the opportunity to leverage his deep experience in strategy and operations, digital marketing, and technology to lead a brand focused on helping people live better and healthier lives was an easy sell. 

“It is a phenomenal product and a terrific group of people with exciting challenges to solve,” says Aragon. “With changing behavior post-COVID, there has been massive venture capital investment in fitness platforms. The stakes are high, and we have been working hard to build a strategy, improve our processes, and develop a culture that will continue to fuel our growth.”

This past September, lululemon and Peloton announced a five-year strategic global partnership through which Peloton will become the exclusive digital fitness content provider for lululemon, and lululemon will become the primary athletic apparel partner to Peloton. Aragon led the way in bringing the multi-dimensional agreement to fruition. 

Brokering partnerships that engage consumers and contribute to a more sustainable business model is nothing new for Aragon. While at Booz Allen and Sony in the early 2000s, he worked on digital distribution models that led to breakthrough deals with Amazon and Apple. As Sony began ceding ground to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in the video game console wars, Aragon also helped the company expand its offerings on the PlayStation Network, seamlessly connecting consumers with the best of gaming and entertainment. 

In more recent roles at Crunchyroll, Twitch, and as CEO of MIRROR and lululemon digital fitness, Aragon has continued to plan and execute growth strategies for businesses at the intersection of technology, consumer, and content. Much of what he has learned is distilled in what Aragon calls his “operator’s manual”—a running catalog of leadership insights gleaned from personal reflection, careful listening, and ongoing research on how to build and manage high-performing teams. 

“The manual runs the gamut from strategic advice on setting and executing goals to the more granular details of how to write really good product requirements,” explains Aragon. “I keep adding to it over time so when I have a decision to make, like hiring a new CTO, or a growth marketer, I know what questions to ask and how to think about the problems we’re trying to solve.”

On the topic of building teams, he says it is ultimately all about finding talented, high-agency individuals who can buy into a vision and operate within a set of shared values. In other words, it is not just what you do, but how you do it that allows teams with a range of ideas, backgrounds, and expertise to come together and drive success. 

“As CEO, I consider it my greatest charge to take a compelling mission and vision and disseminate it throughout the organization in a way that makes everyone feel like we are marching toward something worth pursuing,” says Aragon. “You want to support and galvanize people so we can all execute in the best and most efficient way possible.”

As a person of color, Aragon also understands the importance of giving underrepresented voices a seat at the table. He adds that it is particularly important for leaders to look closely at the environment they are operating in and to make sure the organization reflects the audience and communities they serve. 

“To do this well, you have to consider diversity holistically,” he says. “You want diversity of race and ethnicity, but also in educational backgrounds, lived experiences, and diversity of thought. I don’t want to surround myself with a bunch of people who are just going to tell me, ‘Yes.’”

Reflecting on what inspired him to take on the CEO role, Aragon says he recognized an opportunity to impact an organization and a product that he felt passionate about. His advice for business leaders who hope to fill a CEO seat one day? Instead of the title or the money, chase the impact you can create.

“You can follow the 20 percent raise or the shiny new title, but I haven’t seen a lot of people win with that strategy,” says Aragon. “The better questions to ask are who will my boss be? Is he or she a great person? And then, what impact can I have? I would take a lower-level title any day of the week if I knew I could have some massive impact.”

Lastly, he implores aspiring business leaders to invest in their well-being and their families.

“Unhealthy and unhappy people are not great leaders,” he says. “I don’t regret a single day I coached my son’s T-ball and baseball teams, or my daughter’s soccer teams, and I’m better for it.”

Note: Following the integration of lululemon digital fitness with Peloton, Mike Aragon T01 became advisor to lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald on January 1, 2024. 

On Building Teams
“Team building is what I focus on most. How do you find super high agency people? How do you set goals for them? How do you set a vision and disseminate it throughout an organization so everyone is marching in the same direction?”

On the Importance of Diversity
“I feel it’s very important to help people of different backgrounds find opportunities. Fundamentally, I think about diversity as making sure we represent the environment we are operating in. You also need diversity of thought and diversity of educational backgrounds so you can understand different thought processes and what motivates people.”

On Leadership Growth
“My advice for leaders is to try and get outside whatever echo chamber you are in and read broadly. I’ve distilled the best of what I have learned and read over the past 12 years into what I call my operator’s manual. Whenever I’ve had to hire people, set goals, or start to diagnose challenges, it’s been incredibly helpful to me.”

This story appeared in print in the winter 2024 issue of Tuck Today magazine. 

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