The makeup and skincare company’s SVP and Chief Legal Officer talks about the tools and policies she’s put in place to improve its legal infrastructure
Most women have a beauty secret—something that keeps their skin young and fresh, or their hair shiny and lush. Likewise, most corporate executives have a few tricks of the trade that are vital to their success.
Ashley Good, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer (CLO) of Arbonne Intl., has both. The Arbonne products are her beauty secret and allow her to be “perfectly presentable in five minutes flat,” but, among other things, it is her legal prowess, ability to seize opportunities, passion for learning the business and studies and execution of effective communication tools that make her an invaluable asset to Arbonne.
Good’s success at Arbonne can be attributed to her proven legal expertise. After attending Duke University School of Law, she began her career at Latham & Watkins LLP. It was there that she really got immersed in corporate law. “[Working there] taught you that you didn’t have to be the definitive expert in one industry to add value, and that you can represent companies across a broad spectrum of business industries,” Good noted. Simultaneously, she learned that to truly excel, “We had to go to school on our clients, to know what is going on within that industry.”
Eventually, Good took her keen knowledge of corporate law and her desire to learn her clients’ industries to Arbonne. She hadn’t been looking to leave or to go in house. Nonetheless, the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“A headhunter called and told me there is a local skincare company looking for in-house counsel,” Good said. “It seemed intriguing. Why not interview and see what it is like? I looked at it and just fell in love with the opportunity and the company. I knew it was a great place to learn.”
Was It Fate?
Glimpsing into Good’s past, the position at Arbonne gives the impression that the stars had aligned as they should. She completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University in Human Biology—per the Stanford website, a study of human beings “from biological, behavioral, social and cultural perspectives.” It appears serendipitous that Good would find her way to a company that focuses on “inner and outer health and beauty” and “enriching lives.”
“I couldn’t have picked a better industry for me to go in house,” Good said.
When she started at Arbonne, the company was establishing its in-house Legal Department for the first time. Good was enticed by the opportunity to help the department grow as well as being second in line for the General Counsel position.
“It is great to be that strong No. 2, and to have that person above you to train you and develop you,” she noted.
And just two years later, when she was eight months pregnant, Good was promoted.
Pouring the Foundation
Good started her tenure by first “trying to improve the legal infrastructure and finding ways to be the best service providers in the most supportive way and in a way we could track and measure.” She accomplished that task by implementing a way to centralize service requests.
This year, her department also became paperless, which “in the legal world, is unheard of,” she said. Now legal team members have easy access to all of their files from the cloud, and they can work anywhere and from any device.
Another change that Good helped implement was BEST, the business ethics standards team, formerly known as the Compliance Department. “Compliance sometimes gets this negative rap,” Good acknowledged. “People are panicked when they get a call from Compliance. Talking with our Chief Sales Officer, I said, ‘People view compliance as a black, all caps, underlined, scary word. How can you go about rebranding that?’”
Good and her team rebranded themselves, and they have seen an increase in collaboration between Arbonne’s independent sales force and BEST.
Getting Down to Business
Next on Good’s agenda was learning the industry inside and out. “General Counsel have a unique position within companies because they have a great opportunity to touch every division and department in an organization,” Good said. “Spending time with my internal clients, learning what they do, has given me a well-rounded view of the business.”
Not only has it helped her to excel in her role as CLO; this has helped Good become a priceless asset to the company. “I really became a student of our industry,” she said.
Good studied the direct selling channel, learned the needs of distributors, and analyzed what the company’s competitors were doing. When Kay Napier came in as the new Chief Executive Officer in 2009, Good’s stock within the company again skyrocketed.
“Kay has this story that she tells,” Good noted. “There was one moment when a manager in the Sales Department was in her office and Kay asked the question, ‘What do our competitors do?’ The manager responded that we should ask Ashley. Kay said, ‘Ashley from Legal?’ The manager said, ‘Yes, she is the one who studies the competitors.’ From that moment on, Kay put me in charge of some strategic projects that really didn’t have anything to do with any legal issues.”
One of the projects was revamping the preferred client program; another was launching and serving as a Board Member for the Arbonne Charitable Foundation.
Down With Email
Another well-known secret to Good’s leadership and executive success has been the value she puts on effective and transparent communication. “Good communication is a cornerstone of being a good lawyer and an executive,” she said.
What is Good’s secret to communicating well? It may be her war on email. “I have observed so many situations where people misunderstand something over email. Or they hide behind email because they are afraid to have a difficult conversation or deliver difficult news. So, I have been on somewhat of a mission with my team to kill email, to bring it back to basics—phone calls and face-to-face meetings.”
Good doesn’t discount email as an effective tool to communicate basic factual information, but added, “So much of what a lawyer does is understand very nuanced details, facts and situations, and you need to talk through alternatives and options and solutions, and that just can’t be done on email.”
At a recent conference highlighting communication, Good learned of and now is adapting a three-by-three-by-three email rule which boils down to: “If it is longer than three bullet points, takes longer than three minutes to write, or if it requires more than three back-and-forth exchanges, then you probably shouldn’t be putting it in an email.”
Good’s tricks of the trade have a proven success rate. In 2013, she was awarded Outstanding General Counsel of the Year – Private Company by the Orange County Business Journal; she was nominated for three consecutive years before winning the award. Also, she was listed in the Top 20 Leading In-house Counsel in California by The Los Angeles Daily Journal.
Whether it is her knowledge of human biology, her leadership skills, her carpe-diem attitude or her desire to be a business partner, Good clearly has the secret to executive success.
“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” – Khalil Gibran, poet
Books I recommend…
“The Mayo Clinic’s Guide to Stress Free Living” by Amit Sood, “Pre-Commerce” by Bob Pearson and “Bel Canto” by Ann Pachett
Things I carry with me…
Macbook Air, Arbonne Cosmetics lip polish and Sheer Moisture lipstick, Garmin Vivofit, Arbonne Essentials nutrition bar, iPhone, iPad
Apps on my phone I can’t do without…
Box, DocuSign, Evernote, 1Password, Kayak, Ink Cards, Amazon Fresh, Spotify, Waze, Uber
I can’t start my day unless…
I hug my kids goodbye at school.
I don’t consider my day done unless…
I can unplug and relax my brain for at least 30 minutes.
I start my day by…
Getting my kids ready for school while drinking an Arbonne Essentials protein shake and a really strong cup of dark roast coffee. A few days a week, I sneak in a workout at Life Time Athletic before my family wakes up.
My definition of retirement…
Having the freedom to be a global nomad with my family
I unwind from my day by…
BBQing dinner with my family in the backyard, reading a fiction novel, or binge watching the latest buzzworthy TV series on Netflix or Apple TV
One of the best lessons I’ve learned in my career is…
As a young corporate lawyer, I was told, “If you are drafting something from scratch, you are doing it wrong. Go find precedent.” It has a surprising range of applications and taught me to study the market and competition before diving into any project.
It’s 5:00 on Friday, and my drink of choice is…
A great glass of red wine, usually zin or pinot.
To see other featured executives from Arbonne International, check out our archive.