How Clay Mathile's Founder’s Intent still guides Aileron today — and what we can all learn from it | Aileron

Clay Mathile was a champion of the power of a well-constructed vision. He saw a clearly articulated, documented vision as a key resource that would guide an organization toward an intentional future — so it may come as no surprise that he equipped Aileron with an incredibly thorough, detailed vision that defined his hope for Aileron’s future.

His long-term vision for Aileron — what he defined as his “Founder’s Intent” — is a resource that our team still references regularly when making strategic shifts, big decisions, and future-facing plans.

As you join us for a month of dreaming, we invite you to explore Clay’s vision for Aileron and learn about the power of dreams through his example.

“My hope is that Aileron will forever meet the needs of future generations of entrepreneurs, practicing what it preaches — using professional management to guide its mission and shape a brighter future for our communities.”

What is a Founder’s Vision?

Clay took time to define the purpose (and non-purpose) of his Founder’s Intent in the document itself. He says: “The primary purpose of this vision is to provide future generations of family, board members, employees and the community we serve a clear understanding behind my original intent and dream for Aileron. It’s also meant to be shared with others if it helps further the cause or spirit of Aileron. It should provide ‘perspective, context, focus, and core beliefs’ for future decisions and direction, while not handcuffing the organization to a specific set of rules that might someday be obsolete.”

Aileron’s Founder’s Intent defines why Aileron exists

The role of a vision isn’t to define the day-to-day operations of an organization or to hold all the answers; it’s meant to serve as a big-picture view that provides direction and focus. Clay did so beautifully when he articulated what he envisioned the forever-focus of Aileron to be, without being so detailed and prescriptive that the organization would grow to become chained to outdated beliefs or ideals.

“The focus of this organization is to serve the small business owner and their team who want to take their organization to another level, but also recognizes that this can’t happen unless they drive change using a system of professional management. These individuals may have dirt under their fingernails, or they might work in a sterile high-tech environment — but regardless of their industry, product, or service, these individuals are passionate leaders who are willing to be vulnerable, growth minded and driven by purpose.”

The Founder’s Intent also provides high-level guardrails in the form of four cornerstones: aspects of the organization that should remain at its core indefinitely, regardless of how the organization or external environment evolves in the future. Those cornerstones are:

  • Trusted friend: Providing a safe environment where business owners can be supported and explore all their thoughts, concerns, and dreams without judgment or hidden agendas
  • Professional management: Advancing professional management as a system that empowers business owners to lead thriving organizations
  • Sustainability: Living and modeling professional management as we responsibly steward our resources to maximize our impact and last forever
  • Growth and development: Positively impacting individual lives and helping people, communities, and future generations grow and prosper

It also defines what Aileron isn’t

Clay balances his clear direction for Aileron with his hopes for what the organization doesn’t become, including: a formula, an academic institution, internally focused, or an environment with hidden agendas. These clarifiers help serve as guardrails for the organization just as much as the hopes he lists above them.

Explore Clay’s Vision for Aileron

Aileron’s Founder’s Intent is a constant source of inspiration and direction for the organization and our community. As you join us on Founder’s Day and spend time in January doing the life-changing work of dreaming, we hope you find inspiration in his words, too.