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North Star Leaders Podcast

Clayton Lewis

Season 1 Episode 7 21 Nov 2023

Transcript

Clayton Lewis:

In the process of defining success, that's heavy lifting and it's taking your vision, it's taking your aspirations, and it's operationalizing that and that's where I see a lot of companies over time sometimes lose their way because they'll have aspirations. They'll define them in January and they sit on a shelf until December. If every quarter, you're not checking in and saying, are we making progress? Are we not making progress? What did we just learn in the last 90 days? And then based on those lessons, what are the changes we're going to make moving forward?

Lindsay Pedersen:

The world needs what only your business can bring, and as a leader, it's your job to deliver. But where do you focus? Where do you direct your time, your team, your budget, and your emotional energy? We are learning this together on the North Star Leaders Podcast. I'll be talking to purpose-driven leaders about the choices they make to create audacious economic value while also realizing their distinctive purpose. I'm Lindsay Peterson, brand strategist, author of Forging an ironclad brand and host of the North Star Leaders podcast. Let's get to it.

Today I get to be joined by my guest, Clayton Lewis. Clayton has more than three decades of experience launching and scaling early stage companies, including two companies that he helped to take public Onvia and HouseValues. He was general partner at Maveron and he co-founded Arivale in 2014 with Dr. Lee Hood where he was CEO. Today, Clayton advises CEOs and he sits on the board of trustees for Harborview Medical Center. Clayton, welcome to the show.

Clayton Lewis:

Thank you. Thank you. It's such an honor to be here. Look at that smile.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Look at your smile. I'm so happy to see you. Clayton, to start us off, what is your favorite thing about what you do?

Clayton Lewis:

It's changed over time, but my favorite thing about what I do today is that I'm in a position to use joy as my filter. And so when I look at my day, when I think about my time, when I think about who I interact with, I literally am thinking, is this bringing me joy? And so I'm so fortunate to be in a place where I'm positioned to be able to do that and it's making life so rich.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Could not love that more. When did you become conscious of this? So, joy is the filter, joy is the North Star. Did you do a deliberate exercise to identify that or did you suddenly just wake up and know that that was it? Was it gradual? How did this come to be?

Clayton Lewis:

The joy of being 64 is that there are arcs to your life, I think and arcs to your career. In my twenties, life was all about what I was passionate about. I was engaged in politics. I was fighting the good fight. I loved what I was doing in politics. And then in my thirties and forties I changed my primary objective to be to make money, and that sounds crass, but I'm a kid that was raised in small towns in Idaho and Wyoming, and I have a tribe that I live with and I wanted my tribe to be cared for and to have no fear ever for any of them from a financial perspective.

So, it was very interesting that my passion, my drive in a very fun intellectually invigorating way was, let's check that box to making the money we aspire to make. And then ultimately, when I was able to check that box and I launched Arivale, which you mentioned with Lee Hood, that was almost going back to my twenties of my passion. My passion has been health and wellness. So once again, now the joy of being at this stage of my life is because I've checked the box of having an impact on the community. I've checked the box of covering for the tribe and making sure we're all taken care of for the longterm. It's given me both the space, the peace of mind and the flexibility to be more balanced than I've ever been in my life. And so that's a pretty interesting place to be at the moment.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Wow. Yes, it is. And it's interesting how there are seasons that call on leaning into different priorities or leaning into different emphases. When you think about being the CEO of Arivale, when you were at the point where you were bringing joy back in as a filter in addition to commerce, if you were to contrast that with leading companies before that joy had been brought in as a filter, what's the difference as a leader?

Clayton Lewis:

So, I've met with lots of individuals at various stages of their career and the first thing I ask is, what are you passionate about? It's also super interesting that as a venture capitalist that became one of the primary filters for the decade I did that. Is the entrepreneur passionate about what they're solving for? Because if you've got passion, your ability to charge through brick walls to change the world, you have a lot more oomph behind you and a lot more drive I think, and motivation.

What was interesting about the work I did professionally in my thirties and forties is that I loved the teams and so I learned a lot, a lot from working with individuals including yourself on how to build really thoughtful, effective, successful businesses. I was intellectually curious about the work we were doing and Onvia, we obviously were helping small businesses, HouseValues, helping real estate agents. My mom's been a real estate agent her whole life. My brother-in-law's a real estate agents, so it was to a degree a family calling, but small business and real estate is not Clayton's passion. What was so intriguing about the Arivale experience is that because it was my passion, it was both an asset and a liability.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Say more about that. That's intriguing. There are downsides to having a passion source for the energy and fuel you bring to running the business.

Clayton Lewis:

When people often, a favorite question is like, what have you learned in life? What I learned at Arivale is that I was so passionate about the work we were doing, the team, we had 150 employees that were extraordinary. We had 5,000 clients that we were changing their lives and changing the trajectory of their health. What was so interesting is I looked at all of those signals and I became somewhat blinded around the fact that at the same time we raised over $50 million. We were GeekWire's startup for the year. We had all these incredible stories and incredible experiences, but I wasn't using all of my intellect to say, is there really a product market fit here and are we on the right path? So my passion was driving an early flame and igniting in a company and bringing in together a common vision, but that also led to the blindness of not fully appreciating that even though I had the best VCs from the nation backing us, we were not a venture capital business. As you know, they aspire to be billion dollar businesses, not to slowly pace into what they're doing.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah, it's interesting how the very thing that is your secret sauce, the source of the passion, the joy, it's like this deeply human quality is also something that can take us too far or we can, to use your word from earlier, get out of balance. They're both very human. It's a human thing to have a passion. It's a human thing to have this sense of, I believe in it. It's so important to me, it's so important to these 5,000 people, to our employees, to the people whose lives we've changed. Can't get rid of your humanness and still have that beautiful source either. You have to have both.

Clayton Lewis:

But what's also interesting is I think the passion and drive has the ability to have individuals lose context and lose perspective. And I definitely did that. By the fifth year of Arivale, my family who I'm so in love with and so close to, they all thought I was pretty unpleasant. Because I literally was working every minute I was awake and in my heart of hearts I knew it wasn't working. I was just by a force of will going to make this thing work. And so lost the discipline about having family be an important part of life.

I don't know if I took a break in three years. And so someone who historically his whole life has been really thoughtful and joyful about traveling with family and friends, put that all on hold. There is sort of the tipping point where you go too far and while passion is powerful, it also can lead to outcomes that we don't aspire. I like to say Arivale was the most rewarding and crushing experience of my life at the same time in both ways. And so, now of course with a few years behind me, the rewarding part is much bigger than the crushing, but it was a powerful impact on me. Very powerful.

Lindsay Pedersen:

When you're the CEO of a company that's getting the accolades that Arivale was getting, or if you're the CEO of a company that's not getting all of those accolades. In Arivale's case you had this North Star, joyful moments, I believe it was.

Clayton Lewis:

Yes.

Lindsay Pedersen:

What's the really brass tacks utility of that, other than in a big picture way, it fuels you, it fuels employees, it brings good things to customers, but what's just a very almost mercenary use of that as a North Star when you're the CEO and you're navigating day-to-day decisions big and small?

Clayton Lewis:

Yeah. When you think about your vision, your mission, why you exist, if it is front and center, if it's woven through everything you do, then your ability to one, align a team on the most important work. Two, your ability to define success and define success in a 24-month increment, define success in an annual, define success on a quarterly basis and most importantly, define success for the company, for the departments and every individual. And then create a learning culture where it's not about success or failure, it's about what did we just learn and how is what we learned guiding us towards our North Star? Real simple logistics or sort of tools that we've used over time is that, first I would call you out in terms of the work you did with us on our brand strategy is that we had a vision. But then I think one of the most important things you've got to do as a company is you've got to figure out how do you communicate that vision?

And we knew as a startup the idea of going to market and saying, we're going to help you live joyful moments, people would be like, what? And then that was too high on the emotional arc to actually ever A, aim for and to B, legitimately take to market. Once again in the work we did with you that was so important, coming down one level and saying, okay, we're going to help people optimize their wellness to avoid transitions to disease. So optimize wellness, short-term, avoid transitions long-term, and that's obviously not your go-to market language. But all of a sudden that became the roadmap of, how are we going to communicate that? What are our reasons to believe? What are the benefit statements associated with that? So first, I think you have to step back and if you have a North Star, how are you going to translate that North Star into motivation for your team? How are we going to motivate that North Star into something that is either solving a pain point for a customer or surprising and delighting? And then all of your communication tools leading back to the benefit statements that help people believe, wow, here's the benefit if I can get close to that North Star. And then organizing very quickly your reasons to believe under that. So once the framework, your messaging paradigm.

Second thing is then how do you bring it to life culturally? And there's some things we did at Arivale that were so powerful. We had team meetings where all of us got in a room and if we weren't in the room, people would be on camera every other week. And at the start of every team meeting, we had coaches that worked with our clients. Two coaches would get up and share stories anonymously from an Arivale client on terms of what was working or what was not working. What was so powerful about that is, it was all about are we helping that person live a joyful life or what are the examples of optimizing wellness and avoiding disease? And to have our 30 engineers in the room listening to it, to have our biz dev team listening to it, to have all the coaches listening to it, and I can tell you half the room would often cry because literally we were saving people's lives.

And the thing about Arivale, it wasn't eat right and exercise. It's what would bring you joy. Well, what do you want to be doing that's joy filled? And that is what led to the extraordinary outcomes for our clients and also for the long-term engagement.

Next thing I think is super important is that once you've got your North Star, the next thing to really articulate under that are your company values. And then what's so wickedly important about company values is do you actually hire to them and do you fire to them? You've got to have both sides of that coin where if our North Star are to help people live joyful lives, hey, we've got to live joyful lives. How are we doing that as a team at Arivale? And then concurrently, what are the attributes that demonstrate that?

Another thing we did in our team meeting is team members would nominate each other for living the Arivale values. What became so powerful for that is people would randomly nominate each other and then we'd read one per team meeting. It wasn't just talk, but it was actually the team members recognizing each other and then calling out like, did X representing the value of Y, and we created this huge wall of all the nominations over the years of people doing that. That's an example.

And then I think finally in the process of defining success, that's heavy lifting and it's taking your vision, it's taking your aspirations, and it's operationalizing that. And that's where I see a lot of companies over time sometimes lose their way because they'll have aspirations. They'll define them in January and they sit on a shelf until December. If every quarter you're not checking in and saying, are we making progress? Are we not making progress? What did we just learn in the last 90 days? And then based on those lessons, what are the changes we're going to make moving forward? That's another super powerful way about the North Star, how do you bring it to life legitimately? How do you hire and fire to it? And then how do you execute against it? Because a North Star does not magically come to being.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah, it's like the North Star setting and then there's the North Star living. Operationalizing it and having structures like the team meetings and the celebratory moments like those and also the accountability. I mean, I also hear you saying we held our own feet to the fire in a kind of cadenced way so that it's part of the way we do business. It's not an idea, it's a practice so that it doesn't get lost.

I feel like the thing about something as big as joy, that when you're in the day-to-day vortex of whatever your job is, if you're the CEO, you're on the marketing team or you're on the product team and you're fighting fires or you're doing things that are not moment to moment joyful, that can kind of forget almost, you can forget that North Star just because you're always swimming from the shark that's closest to you. Those structures or artifacts or practices and rituals in meetings give you accountability and keep reminding you of the North Star and celebrating you when you follow it and not punish you, but kind of remind, give you a little tap on the shoulder when you're not.

Clayton Lewis:

Additionally, if you have a North Star that people are aligned around and if you are very legitimately demonstrating values that are moving you towards that, people will put up with a lot of pain and people will be willing to go the extra mile. But also within that, I think what's so wickedly important is that you're completely transparent with the team.

At Arivale, I tried to always be in the team meetings, pretty clear about, we had to do three things. One, we had to materially lower our COGS, our program given we did clinical labs and genetics and gut microbiome, our COGS were very high and it was Lee Hood's vision and my vision that we were going to launch Arivale into a market where COGS were high and we thought they would decline dramatically over time. That was the time with Theranos. We were going to have these pin pick bud thoughts and there was sort of a lot of excitement about what could happen in the reduction of COGS.

COGS did not come down materially during the life of Arivale. So that was challenge one that we had an assumption around our business. Our challenge two is that we could figure out our CAC, our customer acquisition cost. We did so many things to reduce our customer acquisition cost, so many tests, but ultimately we were an early adopter program. And then the third element, which is a little bit of where we have the shiny object, and it led us to some false signals is that our early dataset to this day is one of the most rich, complex, dense datasets in the world because for comparing genetics with microbiome, with clinical labs, with lifestyle, and then every six months we'd update those datasets. There was such excitement in the market about that, that we had healthcare systems invest in us, insurance companies, labs. We were on the cover of Nature Biotech or some magazine.

And so the dataset of Lee's vision around using complex datasets to long before you make a transition to disease, understand the earliest signals and intercept the disease before you had symptoms. Those were the three things we needed to do with Arivale. The dataset was so shiny and outperformed, but unless we got the flywheel to work at reducing the COGS and figuring out customer acquisition, the dataset could never grow to the size it needed to grow to. So the distraction, but I think a big part of it, you've got to have a North Star, but wickedly, pragmatic and blunt with your team around these are the things we need to solve for and we solved for one, but the other two, we did not impact and did not solve for,

Lindsay Pedersen:

Right. A North Star is not a panacea. It's a tool. It's a tool. It's a really powerful tool, but it doesn't solve every problem.

Now you've had a few years of distance and you look back and now it's more rewarding than crushing were your words, and you have the cool privilege of advising CEOs who are now leading companies that are disrupting their spaces. So now that you do have the benefit of that distance, of that wisdom from that time, what's it like for you to see these people who you respect and relate to also using a North Star or do you encourage them to use and what's the role of North Star in your advising of CEOs?

Clayton Lewis:

I think that if there's not that core that people are rallying around and really speaking to them in terms of this is why we do what we do, than I think it's pretty hard for people to stay aligned, to stay focused and have clarity around the definition of success. So a local company, I know you've met the founders, Vimocity, Dana and Kevin Rindal, they're helping utility workers actually with movement and musculoskeletal injuries are the number one injuries for utility workers.

And so their North Star is, how many lives will they impact? And when they think about lives impact, it's not just the utility workers, it's the call center workers, it's warehouse workers, and it's even the family members. And what I love about this startup company is that their passion around that is extraordinary. So as we go through and we look at their aspirations, their mission, we look at their key objectives, their key results, they're all driving their work down to how do we have greater impact on lives of helping these people ultimately once again, do what they want to do and have lives filled with joy?It's not roll, stretch and breathe. It's, what are the lives we're impacting for joyful moments, for a degree, for how Vimocity approaches it.

Now, back to your question, what's interesting is I probably get two to three pings a week from companies in the health and wellness space that want to learn what was learned at Arivale, and I'm always happy to share the lessons and how people can leverage them. But pretty aggressively, I put on my venture capital hat and as a VC, we're looking at three things. We're looking at what's the size of the market, what is the team and what is the solution? What's interesting is in those, I usually set up 45-minute calls, as I listen for half an hour and ask tons of questions and almost say nothing because the rule of life is talk 20%, listen intently 80%. It's so interesting that are they showing up A, with passion? That's the first thing that I'm filtering for. B, do they have clarity of what they're solving for?

What I would say, most entrepreneurs lack from a North Star perspective is, they're trying to boil the ocean as opposed to going in and having clarity that this is the reason that we exist. For most conversations I have, I'll listen intently. I'll give them a little bit of coaching of what I heard them say at the end and then see where they try to take the conversation, and normally they try to take it one to three places. One, they're put off by my coaching, and so that was that. Two, they'd like me to see if I can do some further coaching with them or three, leverage Rolodex and connect them with folks and sort of based on where they are on their clarity of North Star and the reason they exist is my test of, will I engage or not engage with them, or if I want to engage, what type of assignments can I give them? What type of takeaways to potentially get some greater clarity around that?

Lindsay Pedersen:

So the North Star is a filter for who you select to work with or who you invest your time with?

Clayton Lewis:

Yes.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Tell me if I'm wrong here, but I imagine they don't necessarily use the language, this is my North Star. You are probing for it or you're listening for it as they talk about what motivated them to try to solve this problem, what's the seed behind that? Actually, that's something I'm curious about, the language, the terminology that people use for this. North Star is one that I like, but sometimes people will call it what's their why or some people will even use mission statement or I like to call it brand strategy, but somebody else might call it what their tagline is. What do you think is the most useful language to use for what we're describing this idea that enables focus and is the source of energy for the leader?

Clayton Lewis:

I'm pretty agnostic about the language and what I try to do as I work with companies to figure out what are the words that they're using and lean into that. Ultimately, if I end up working with a company, I do at the highest level use a very standard paradigm of mission, vision, values, aspirations, bold steps, key objectives, key results, because you can cascade out of all those, and there's such a common vernacular around the reasons that those exist. Then I think the north star definitely comes out of the vision mission work.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yes. I find it interesting because some of these terms are polarizing or people have reactions to, well, that sounds woo woo, or that sounds corporate or, so like you, it actually doesn't really matter to me what it's called, and it's just don't throw the baby out with the bath water, if you don't like the term, call it what you need to call it because it's useful.

I'm going to get to some rapid fire questions in a minute, but just kind of turning to how you set yourself up to be a leader. How do you fill your tank outside of work? What are the things that you practice and what are rituals for setting yourself up? And this is for you, but it also might be how you coach your CEOs just to show up because it's hard to be a leader. It's really, really difficult to be a leader, especially if it's a disruptive venture backed business. What are the tools that you coach yourself to do and coach your own advisees to employ, to just be who they want to be as a leader?

Clayton Lewis:

Well, I think it falls into some rules, and I guess this is where my head goes when you ask that question. One, I do think you have to set weirdly audacious goals that are inspiring, and I think you have to not only set those goals, but you have to be very vocal about them. Then positioned yourself to invite people on the journey with you, and you've also positioned to ask for help and people love to help. The first thing as a leader is sometimes we're scared about setting something that seems bold and audacious because people are going to think we've lost our mind, or oh, that's crazy, or hears irrational. But what I love about setting bold, audacious goals is that, one, you're holding yourself accountable. Two, you can then start to attract people who share your passion, your vision for what you want to accomplish, and then holy cow, when you do that, magical things happen.

I mean, my whole life, I've been so fortunate in that I've always, for whatever reason, set bold, audacious goals, verbalized them, and then usually I think, I should have tried harder or I should have set a more audacious goal because I made progress on that. That's one. Be audacious, be bold bold, be verbal, invite people to join you and ask for help because people want to help.

Next thing I'd say is that life is about relationships. Life is completely about relationships, and in Seattle, I'm so fortunate that I think I've been at six companies and there are people that I've worked with at three of them because we have such an extraordinary relationship. They know my strengths, my opportunities, I know the same thing for them, and we've built this simpatico relationship where we almost can just look at each other and know that boom, that's what needs to get done.

And so these relationships then not only are professional relationships, but their personal relationships where some of these people have come and spent time with me in Southern California and various places, and so understanding that life is not transactional and relationships are not transactional, but life is about the relationship. Life is very much about the relationship.

The third thing is you've got to smile, and so people often say like, I'm the happiest person they know and smiling and joy and happiness is contagious. This stuff we do in the startup world is super hard, really can beat you down, but ultimately when I walk into a room, especially as CEO, if I smile, the whole company's going to smile. If I'm sad and downtrodden, there's going to be a lot of chat like, what's up? Something's not going right. As a leader, you also have to know that you're projecting confidence, you're projecting clarity, and you have a lot of responsibility to be able to keep that energy up.

If we said those are the three buckets, than what do I do as a CEO to stay sane? Even in all of the chaos of Arivale or being a venture capitalist, I competed in Ironman triathlons, and so my exercise routine every week ranges from 10 to 18 hours a week depending on the week, and people would often say, "Really? Given what you're responsible for, you're off doing all this exercise?" But that actually brought balance and discipline to my life because I've lived my life in 15 minute increments. To be scheduled every 15 minutes while I'm working, that's just like boom, boom, boom and those are not times that I'm reflecting on the whole, it's time spent with people, and so it's during my biking, my running, my swimming on my own that I'm processing and thinking through all those elements and able to recharge my batteries to then keep coming back to those meetings, keep coming back to those bond raising, storytelling, giving speeches that brought discipline to it. So, that's tool number one.

Tool number two is love, love, love and embrace your family. My husband and I are amazing uncles and we've got six nephews and nieces, and when they turn 13, 15, and 18, we'll take them anywhere in the world except North America on adventure trips. The joy to be with a 13-year-old, the first time they were in Bhutan or Cuba or India and to see these young adults become world citizens, and now I wish you could meet them as adults. Just extraordinary. So, not thinking that you're so self-important and that you can't take breaks as I started to do with Arivale. Take breaks, embrace your family, and embrace your next generation and live large with these opportunities of young people. You and Alex, extraordinary parents, and you've got big journeys going on right now. That I think is another super powerful tool for staying sane.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Hear, hear. That is so beautiful. And just for listeners who don't know, Clayton, he was kind of modest in saying that he competes in triathlons. He competes in and wins, not just triathlons, Iron Man triathlons, so just because you soft pedaled that a second.

I can see how the structures, whether it's time with your nephew's, time with your family, big chunks of time going to another continent, big chunks of time riding your bike, another structure that's been a theme of this conversation, is proactively putting those structures in place to counterbalance the demands that are going to come from the other side of the ledger so that you don't have to in the moment always be adjudicating your boundaries because they're already set and you've already refueled your tank and you are masterful at that. I've learned so much from you when it comes to that, so thanks for articulating that so well. It's a quality of a great leader, but it's also just the quality of a happy person.

Clayton Lewis:

Ah, thank you.

Lindsay Pedersen:

So, doubling down on that. Doubling down on what Clayton said. Okay. We are now at our rapid fire questions. I have five of them and each of these, if you can, give me a one word answer. Okay?

Clayton Lewis:

Here we go.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Okay. Your last splurge purchase?

Clayton Lewis:

A fourth triathlon bike.

Lindsay Pedersen:

See what I mean? Okay. My next question might now be answered. As a triathlete, what is your favorite of the three segments? Swim, bike, or run?

Clayton Lewis:

Bike. Bike. Bike.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Bike. Bike. Bike. What is your guilty pleasure and don't say training for a triathlon.

Clayton Lewis:

Now with all this new research, it seems like red wine, which was supposed to be healthy has now got to be a guilty pleasure.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, shoot. Okay.

Clayton Lewis:

But I don't believe it. I think anything in moderation is good.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah. Okay. What once was a virtuous pleasure, is now a guilty pleasure. You deserve it. Would you rather be able to run at 100 miles per hour or fly at 10 miles per hour?

Clayton Lewis:

Run at a 100.

Lindsay Pedersen:

What is your favorite movie of all time?

Clayton Lewis:

Schindler's List.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, yeah. My teenage son just watched that for the first time and was sort of mesmerized. I'm newly revisiting it as an adult and appreciating it. Yeah, it's one of my favorites too. Okay. Well, Clayton, this has been so fun. Where can people find out more about you or connect with you on social media or what have you, if they're interested in learning more?

Clayton Lewis:

LinkedIn is the best.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Okay. Clayton Lewis, and we'll put that in the show notes for everybody. Perfect. Thank you for joining me today, Clayton.

Clayton Lewis:

That was so fun.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Thank you.

Clayton Lewis:

Thank you.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Thanks for listening to this episode of North Star Leaders. Make sure you don't miss an episode by subscribing on your favorite podcast app. For show notes, transcripts and newsletter signup, visit ironcladbrandstrategy.com. Please join us again for another episode of North Star Leaders.

Lindsay speaking

About Lindsay

Lindsay Pedersen is a bestselling author and brand strategist with a scientific, growth-oriented approach to brand building. She has advised companies from burgeoning startups to national corporations, including Zulily, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Coinstar, and IMDb.

Her background as a P&L owner at Clorox fostered in Lindsay a deep appreciation for the executive’s charge: increasing the company’s value. There, she led mature, billion-dollar businesses and newly-launched categories, from Clorox Bleach to Armor All to Brita. In each case, she was solely responsible for increasing the business’s value.

Thanks to this executive perspective, Lindsay demands that brands be hard-working, disciplined and rigorous in growing a business. Her brand strategies are tested in the crucible of her proprietary Ironclad Method. Lindsay arms leaders with an empowering understanding of brand, and an ironclad brand strategy to guide choices as they grow.