Sara Blakely, Founder and CEO, Spanx
I. Love. That you guys have, to stay here so I really don't have to be that funny it's, like you could not leave the room and. I, did enjoy me meeting, John and in the back before we start I just have to say he, asked me what my husband did and somehow the conversation, came up that he used to be a rapper, and. I. Made. Mistake, I said oh yeah and he was most known for two songs shake. It like a white girl and college girls are easy and. I. Was like that, probably wasn't the right thing to say to the Dean of a school I was like oh never mind never mind anyway okay so. I'm. Happy to be here so. Sarah, thanks for being here yeah. Thanks. For having clearly, we're excited to have you I'm particularly, excited to have you here I never thought I'd be saying this to a view from the top speaker but if it weren't for you I don't think I would have been able to zip up these pants today. So. I'm so honored, thank. You. You. Famously, started Spanx with $5,000. In your bank account what. Was the hardest part about getting Spanx off the ground. The. Hardest part about getting these things off the ground was definitely, in the very beginning when you have when you first have an idea as an. Inventor, and you thought of something that doesn't exist and you want to bring it into the world. There, were two things that were happening one, was my own self-doubt, was, a really hard part of the journey and, and. Then the, beginning of all the manufacturers, that I was having to cold call and talk to to try to get my product made we're all men and it. Was much harder to explain, and to try to get them to understand, the concept, of what the product was so I heard, the word know for, two straight years trying. To get it made which then increases the, self-doubt, that can happen and, one. Of the interesting things about being an inventor is you don't go to school for it there, isn't an inventor, class, you can't major in inventing, and so. It's really a belief, system in, yourself, and the willingness to look stupid or to have, people laugh at you or to fail at, something. That, you, believe in your, your own gut check on that and so it takes a lot of confidence. So that was that, was the hardest part of my journey there was a lot of starting and stopping and like am I crazy and, everyone's saying no and but. I you know I kept picking. Myself back up to pursue it what, was it was it confidence that kept you going in the early days what was it that kept you coming back, well. My life was. Pretty much sucked so. That. Always helps, I, was. Selling, fax machines, door-to-door, for seven years and as.
Mentioned You know I this, wasn't mentioned but I had, wanted to be a lawyer my father was a trial, attorney and I, used to actually ask to get out of school growing up to watch him and closing arguments, and I. Debated all through high school I debated in college, and. I'm. Basically a really bad test taker and so, I bombed the LSAT, and I bombed it not once but twice and. So. It set my life on on, a different course for. You know I always say things like that happen and then you end up you know like those, those moments, in your life where you think I can't, believe this is happening to me is often times life's. Way of nudging you and just letting you know you're off course. Well. Thank goodness you persisted, because today we have Spanx and today's. Spanx has moved far beyond the world of undergarments, at. Different points in the company's history, you've both taken, on and walked away from the role of CEO what. Has driven those shifts well. In the early days I mean as an entrepreneur, you're every department, so I, was, the before and after but model literally, I took a picture of my own but took it to Kinkos got it laminated with. And without Spanx, on stood. In the stores and I'm like hey look what this can do for you I was. I was like the packer and shipper, I was the head of sales I, was everything, and you learned very quickly what, you're good at and what you're not good at and what you enjoy and, what you don't enjoy and there's usually a correlation, between the two and so I, often say as soon as you can for to hire your weaknesses, and a, few years into Spanx. It was abundantly clear that the lane that I needed to stay and was inventing, selling, promoting, Spanx. Actually he's never advertised, Spanx. Is 18 years old and the first time we've ever even sampled. An ad was to in, 16, and so, I was, sort. Of the the, advertisement. And and me being out in the field talking about the product and sharing the story of the why why, we're making this why it's better was.
A Big part of the formula and I needed someone to be in the company day-to-day, running the daily. Operations, so, I hired a CEO, she was a co CEO with me for a while and then she became the full-time CEO and she was that for 12 years and then. I, stepped, back in as CEO about, two, years ago it's been two years and a, lot of that has to do with timing I have four children under the age of eight and so I was growing and building my family, and it. Just organically. Feels like the right time for me to do that inside, of the company and so I still AM able to stay in my lane it's just slightly structured, differently where. I, have a very strong, management, team around, me running. The day-to-day operations. You. Still hold 100%, ownership over spanks, and you made a conscious decision to, never take money from outside investors, why. I. Never. Needed to I. Mean. I just I never needed to so I. Don't. Know if it was a super, conscious, decision, along the way more. Than just I I didn't, really have the need I, thanks. Was profitable, from the first month that I was in business and I. I'm. In of the belief system, for me in my journey to, start small, think big and scale fast and, a lot of people want to start, big and think, big and oftentimes. Get ahead of themselves and, and that, can end wildly. Successfully. But it can also cause a lot of problems. And you dilute yourself down a lot and you know then you have a lot of other people you're answering to so, that just was. The. Journey that I took you, know I mean is I started, it with five grand I've never had any outside funding. And whatever, money I made from selling Spanx. I just put back into the business I love. That start small think big, do, you want to run Spanx forever. You. Know I I'm. So I, operate, off gut and intuition, and I think when the time is right I'll know it if you, know when I first started Spanx I've never taken a business class I've. Never worked in fashion or retail when I started. Spanx, and about. Six months after I started it all these people kept coming up to me at business, events or, cocktail, parties or wherever and said Sara. What's your exit strategy I, was. Like, what. Are you talking about like, I didn't even know what that meant and so eventually I started telling people my exit strategy is I want to exit a room and look good, that's. My exit strategy so. The. Best exit strategy. You. Mentioned, that you're an inventor first, many. Aspiring entrepreneurs, even in this room struggle, to find their initial idea how. Do you constantly find ways to invent, new products, and where does your inspiration come, from. You. Know I, I. Mean. I think of a lot of ideas at traffic lights I think. Of them all the. Time in different places and I think it's part of just being hyper observant. I, I. Like, to find. White space I pay attention to what are things that haven't evolved, and why you. Know like there's certain things in our society that updates.
Itself And changes, and and you, know constantly and then there's certain things that it's not and so I'll ask myself questions all day every day it's just the way my brain works like I could even be looking at a table and be like why is the table like that when was the table first created is that the actual best design for a table or could there be something different and you, know what Spanx, went into men's and that was randomly. How that happened was because I got curious that the man's undershirt. Was created in 1918. And no one had paid any attention to it since it was literally the same thing and so, I just you know talked to my brother and my husband about it and their undershirts, that the neck stretched out or they were boxy, and bulky under clue, and I thought I'm just gonna add a little bit of lycra to the cotton undershirt for men and so, the neck won't stretch out I'm gonna taper it in at the waist so. Ideas. Come to me like that like our latest invention is arm tights and. Ladies. You. Want to stand anyone, wearing an arm tight they just showed me these I was, very excited stand, up okay here we go. So. Like Jennifer, and Naomi have them and I feel like there was somebody oh yeah. Jacket. On okay that's why okay anyway, so the invention the idea for arm tights is literally just I mean there's so much that comes from being a frustrated, consumer, so I'm a woman I'm looking at my closet most, of my favorite things are sleeveless like a sleeveless shirt a, sleeveless dress and, I'm like you know what I want to wear that differently. And I also want to wear it year-round so. I just want something that goes underneath on my arms super simple and lots of different colors I don't, want to always have to put a cardigan, or a jacket, or something over it come fall or winter when. You're transitioning in spring or even inside of office buildings I'm cold a lot and I don't want the integrity of my shirt or my dress to be covered. Up so that's how arm tights it's a little crop top made on a hosiery types, machine, which, had never been done before and you put it on over your head it stops just below your bra and the reason that is for that is less bulk under your clothes it's super breathable easy to wear and then, it's just literally like with one $30 item your. Whole closet, exponentially. Grows with looks and how you want to layer it and wear it I love. It but yeah ideas, really up clearly I love I have my. Assistant. Who's, my right hand Lisa she's been my, right hand for 16 years can attest to this but I have 99, pages. I don't know why it's 99 but she told me the other day it's 99, pages, single, spaced typed of ideas. One. More idea so, ie, I think of ideas constantly, on airplanes, in car you know talking to somebody and I email it to myself and then I just keep them and logged them Oh.
Take. Note. You've. Said that you deliberately, approached banks with a degree of feminism, you had rarely seen in business, can you elaborate on that for us well, I don't know about that I just I I approached, it with a very feminine, leadership. Style and so. I think that there's. There's. You know traditional. Business has been very masculine, and it's been a very masculine. Model, and so, I approach, it I mean and when I say that I when, I first started Spanx I was maybe, three months in and I was at a cocktail party and, I these, three guys came up to me and they said Sara so we heard you invented, something and I said yes I did and, they, said great and one, guy you know pat me on the shoulder and he said I hope you're ready to go to war and. He said business is war and I. Just remember looking at him and thinking. Why. And I, went home that night and, and sat, in my apartment. And I sat on the floor and I was thinking about all that was happening, and you, know this. Risk I was taking, and potentially, leaving my debt job and, the secure, income and, and just thinking I don't want to go to war and this, voice inside of my head just said do it different like take a totally, different approach and so, I have approached Spanx, with very. Feminine, principles, and there's there's. The feminine and the masculine, in all of us and it's all super important, but, you know using vulnerability. Really. Operating, off of intuition, if the data is, trumping. My intuition. I go, with my intuition almost. Every time so, you, know that's not, typical. In in a corporate environment so, those, kinds of things that I've done like, being vulnerable with the business I am. I felt as a consumer, I I just felt, like companies. Aren't really talking, to, me the way that I want them to talk to me I know I'm not listening to them I don't believe them I don't necessarily trust them and so, when I started, Spanx, I. Instead. Of talking, you. Know at, my, customer, I wanted to talk to them and I made. Myself vulnerable. So I like, I joked and said I used my own but in the before and after picture but. I had felt like companies, were operating. In this like we, need to be perfect, and you need to see us as the authority, and you, need me, and that's how I'm gonna sell you product, and I, was like hey, like I'm one of you like. Here's here's what's happening here's what it does for me this is why it works and it, was just a very different, approach, and I felt like consumers. Became. Really connected, and really loyal and probably, part of the reason why Spanx. As a brand didn't, need to advertise for six I mean we haven't spent, any money on advertising in 16 years because. Of a lot, of it's word of mouth from women sharing with. Other women yeah. If that flashing. Example, in the green room we had earlier, was any example, of what that virality, looks like for you then I can only imagine. Can. You tell us about a meaningful experience here, to get John to flash but he wasn't wearing any Spanx.
Moving. On from that. Can. You tell us about a meaningful experience you've, had mentoring, young women since founding Spanx, I. Mean, sure I, a. Lot. Of different women come to mind, you. Know I I, look, for women, that I can support what. They're doing in the education, and and in their businesses and entrepreneurship, but there's a group of 10, women that I started, supporting and mentoring in, Atlanta, I wanted to kind of do something really close to home who, are all doing social, impact, type businesses, for the community, of Atlanta, and that's. Been really rewarding and, wonderful. To watch and all of them now have crossed the million dollar mark and. I do a lot of work with Grameen America. Helping. Female, entrepreneurs, living, below the poverty, line here in the United States one. Woman comes, to mind Brittney Underwood, who started a Cola jewelry, and. I, mentored, her a little bit as well in, addition, to, you. Know helping to support her and mentioned. That she should try to sell. Her product at Neiman Marcus and, as, a result, you know Accola jewelry, is that all the Neiman's and she's doing a fabulous job giving, women particularly. In Dallas, homeless women employment. And. It start her company, started in Uganda, but, you, know the reality is people been asking me for. 18 years multiple, times a day for 10 minutes of my time to. Mentor. Them or to help them and, and. So I'm working. On a digital format. For that and it's in beta right now and, it's. Just a way to answer how did I do this and the, real answer of, how I did this is Spanx. Started way before I cut the feet out of my pantyhose, that's, the soundbite in the press that everybody's, talked about for almost 20 years but it actually started. Fundamentally. On when, I was 16, I worked on mind, set for myself and I'm such a believer in mind set is almost everything, and it, just happened to be a set, of circumstances I was riding my bike with one of my best friends, at 16, and she was run over by a car and killed in front of me and then. A few months later my dad left, home and my parents separated and ultimately got divorced and when, my dad moved out he, came into my bedroom and he handed me a cassette, tape series, called how to be a No Limit person by Wayne Dyer and, he. Said sweetie, I wish I discovered, this when I was your age instead, of the age of 40 and then, he moved out and. So, I started, listening to this how to be a No Limit person which was talking about visualization, law, of attraction, not. Caring about what other people think about you the, fear you know not being consumed, by the fear of failure and it's. Just the clouds parted, for me and I thought you know I've spent a lot of time being taught what to think but no one's really teaching me how to think and, it's. Tene I was so incredibly. Important, so in this digital platform, it's kind of passing, on a lot of these insights, that, deal with mindset. That, I think is the real reason that Spanx exists. So. You have this incredible mindset at the age of 16 and you're kind of almost paying it forward by, empowering women, around you what. Role do you hope the Sara Blakely foundation, will play in the empowerment of women. Well. I mean my ultimate, goal is that the male and female energy, on the planet becomes balanced, so. I. Feel. Like. All. Right, well. Good that one person who agrees with me. Yeah. So anyway. The male and female energy, on the planet more balanced and the reason why I say energy I mentioned earlier is that we all have the male and the female energy, inside, of us and I feel like the feminine, has been pretty squashed, for a long time on our planet and it's, not serving the greater whole so, what can I do in my short lifetime to elevate, the feminine, and, and.
That's. What the foundation, is focused on in how can I help the elevating, and supporting, that and I take. My opportunity, as a woman in this country so seriously. And, I. Think part of the reason that I do is because I got to watch my mom and my grandmothers, and their lack of options and. That. Was really hard and so you. Know we've been on the planet for. Thousands. Of years or millions of years depending on who you ask and, what you think but. The bottom line is my mom is only 22 years older than me and my, mom had about three or four options only, afforded. To her, because. She was a woman so. In the grand scheme of life and, how long we've been on earth I'm like I made it by 22, years like what you're kidding me so I feel, like a lot of my courage. And you know I'm scared, of a lot of things I mean I'm afraid to fly I'm afraid of heights like I've got all kinds of things but, I feel like where I get my courage is that Retta knowing. And thinking about I'm. A woman born in the right place at the right time I don't want to squander, that. And I want to make the most of that. You're. Definitely a family woman we see that a lot your family's featured on your Instagram a lot how have your how is your, relationship with your mother and grandmother influenced. You, well. I think they influenced, me I mean. I love, my mom and my grandmothers so much there, my, mom is the most supportive, person ever, but, they influenced, me more by what they didn't do. Than. What they did so. You. Know my. Mom's an artist, she's. Very sweet she's, very soft-spoken, she. Has low. Confidence but. Is a lovely and probably the sweetest person I've ever known in my life, and, and. She. Was wonderful mother so. I have four children under the age of eight I, have. An eight-year-old boy twin, boys that are three and a two year old daughter so. This. Is vacation for, me I'm so, happy to be here I, woke. Up in my hotel room and I'm like oh. We're. Happy to have, you. Mentioned, that you have so many fears including. The, fear of heights but. You're known as a leader who does not shy away from her fears, so, yes you are terrified of heights, but you've climbed on top of a hot air balloon and to be clear this is on top not in the basket to, drink tea with Sir Richard Branson. What. Fuels your drive to face your fears head-on as a leader. Honestly. The opportunity. To be a woman, like I feel like when you when you're doing something in life or you're living your life for something beyond just yourself you'll get courage you didn't know you had and so, I really, feel like when, I do things I'm like I'm, doing this for women doing, this for women you know and it, just helps me, but. That was a particularly in, insane. Moment, in my life I did a reality show with Sir Richard Branson, many many years ago and it was his take on The Apprentice and, instead. Of the business challenges all taking, place in one city like New York they, took place around the world and, instead. Of and this was the fine print I didn't totally read instead. Of if you, got you, lost, your business challenge instead of getting in the boardroom, and him firing you you had to do a world record-breaking death-defying. Stunt, with Richard. Which. I should have known because there was a 27 page, contract, that came over from Fox that I was supposed to sign and I emailed, it to my dad who I mentioned is a litigator, and the. Contract, basically was like we can submerge you underwater we can put you in political, unrest we can fight you on fire I mean it was crazy and. I emailed it to my dad and I said dad can you help me kind of tweak this and give, me some advice. And he, all he wrote back was no sane person would sign this love dad. So. I signed it. Of. Course and I spent two months with Richard Branson and I just, trusted my intuition, that he wasn't, gonna portray, me in a way you know on with Fox because literally my lawyer was on his hand he's like don't do this you're four years into Spanx, why would you ever put you know but, well. The first day of filming, I. At. 3:00 in the morning they woke us all up and. They said you know we're gonna go out into the field by Richard Branson's, home and in Oxford, England and they.
Handed Me a helmet and. I was like why. Do I need a helmet an entrepreneur, they're. Like here's your helmet and, I, got in a hot air balloon and two hot air balloons went up into the air over the English countryside first, thing in the morning and it. Was at. About 9,000. 10,000, feet and there, was a balance beam connecting the two hot-air, balloons and you were asked to walk across the balance beam and I. Was on one of only two people couldn't do it. Where'd. They people come from and, so anyway I was like I can't you know and then when they disconnected, the two hot-air balloons and Richard turned to me and he, said, Sara you know because you and Tim couldn't get across the balance beam I had to do something twice as hard and I. Had to climb, on a dangling, rope ladder. The, whole circumference. Of the hot-air balloon at 10,000, feet in the air going across the English countryside and have meet, him on top of the balloon 40. So. Sounds, fun it took me 48, minutes, to climb the balloon it, was insanely. Hard and. Yeah. So, so, my friend I don't know somebody friend Leslie gave this to me last night over dinner and it's so cool it's a hot air balloon with someone dangling off of it. I'm. Like thank you very much it. Will remind me of the the courage it took me or the insanity, to that to do that. Since. That show Richard. Branson has become sort of a mentor to you what does that relationship and that mentorship mean to you and what does mentorship, mean to you more generally as well well. He. Actually B's a friend he's a great friend and. You. Know what I like about Richard, is he has an incredible, bias for action he. Is, someone. Who just goes and you just marvel, at it he requires very little sleep he's always got a notebook with them and he's always writing ideas in it he's a great delegator he doesn't ask anybody, to do anything he won't do himself and. He's funny, I mean he won't talk about a prankster, he's funny like he likes to prank people so you just have to always be prepared when you're around him that, something's. Gonna jump out oh yeah. We have your helmet exactly. So speaking of humor as you know here at the GSB we have a class about humor in business, which. I love respect. Is all great, I. Think. It's so important. Yeah. Really, important. So, tell me why is that important, I know that as part of the spanks training boot camp one of the mandatory. Learning, modules is comedy, that every employee has to go through so why is that important, yeah well. I just found out in the greenroom that I'm one, of only two CEOs, that, you guys are aware of that also, done stand-up comedy and, the. Other one is who started Twitter right yep so I, guess, that would make me the only female CEO, that ever done stand-up comedy, ball I, the. Part. Of also wanting to stay very connected to the feminine, principles, and the feminine style of leadership starting. Spanx I also felt, like I want. It I didn't understand why why. Everybody. Was so serious. So, I thought, you know what I don't subscribe to the fact that you have to act serious. To be taken seriously and I. Like to laugh at myself I you know I looked when I worked in corporate America, for a long time and everybody was super uptight and super serious there was no humor and there was no levity and then everybody at like 5:00 o'clock became, ragingly, hilarious, like what's. Going on like. You, know and so, the. Alcohol probably, helped you, know but but, anyway I I wanted, to to. Use humor, and I loved to do that in the workplace, and yes, we have a boot. Camp at Spanx a training boot camp when you come on board and one of the modules is doing, stand-up comedy and I've, used the comedic stuff. That I did in my marketing. I mean, I wrote don't worry we've got your butt covered right on my package when I first started in 2000. Which was not very common, to do especially, taking it to the neiman-marcus to, sell it I named, my company Spanx. Which, was, you, know made people laugh and believe it or not it was very shocking at the time that I named the company Spanx, that actually had people hang up on me often I would.
Call Them and say hi I'm Sara from Spanx, and then they'd, hang up and, I'd call back and I go I'm serious, I'm a real company and my company's called spinning and. They go oh I thought you were prank calling me. So. And. Then, you know naming, my products I broke into the world's most boring category, I mean can we talk about shapewear who wants to talk about shapewear and undergarments but it, was I named it power panties, you know I started naming all my products, and it made people laugh and it gave so much energy and then all of a sudden you had Gwyneth, Paltrow, and Julia, Roberts flashing. Their Spanx on red carpets and saying I'm wearing Spanx like all these celebrities and I think it's because, I chose, to do humor and people wanted to participate in that there was energy around, that, so. So. I used it in in every aspect of. The. Marketing, I, use humor to turn around a situation, when I'm bombing it it might give me a second chance when, I cold called to, sell fax machines door-to-door, for seven years I learned very quickly that if I could make somebody laugh or smile I'd get another 30 seconds, before they'd slam the door in my face, there's. Just it's, helps, you move through pain it's. It's it's a wonderful, tool, what. Impact have you seen humor have on your bank's employees, well. They're not as afraid to fail which. Is a really critical lesson, and I think companies if you can create a culture where they're not terrified, to fail or make a mistake then. You're gonna you're gonna be a highly. Productive. And more innovative culture, so. Having. People feel free to laugh at themselves and, watching, me as their leader laugh at myself I have oops meetings, at spanks where we. Get up and I tell them what I messed up at or a mistake, that I made and I usually tell a funny story about it and I, encourage everybody else in the company to stand up and say that and then share, and make it a funny story and. So I think. That that helps, you. Have any stand-up, comedian role models. I. I don't you know I like, Tina Fey a lot I think she's fabulous and, super funny and I didn't grow up watching comedy. Or stand-up comedians, I told. You how to crush on Gene Wilder, had. A crush on Gene Wilder when I was little and I tried to join the gene Wilder fan club wasn't one all, my friends, were like had crushes on Andy Gibb and all these other fan clubs and I looked. Up the Jan my mom tried to find the Gene Wilder fan club and apparently. I was the only one trying to join that but I think. He's so, fabulous, and funny and and. Very sexy and I my husband, actually looks a lot like gene mother like, crazy curly hair going in every direction. What. Lessons, did you take away from your time as a stand-up comedian ah. What. Lessons, do I take I mean well.
One. Thing that I learned that was random this isn't really a takeaway but like the green room I'm just like why is it called the green room it's not green the, green room is never green and then after about six. Months of doing stand-up comedy everyone, in the room was, either throwing, up or about to throw up and I'm like oh that's why it's called the green room like we're all just sitting there green. But. I. Mean. I learned, because I wrote all my own comedy so I had notebooks and notebooks full of comedy so I learned the importance of one word I learned the importance, of a comma, I learned the importance of timing I mean, you could tell a joke, and the next night tell a joke and change, one word in it and it's like a completely, different reaction, it's flat so there's. So, much, importance, in in, the delivery and in how you write comedy, I. Let's. See I mean I learned so much I learned that I needed to go invent, something cuz I actually wasn't, that funny. To, create a full-time career out of it. But. As an entrepreneur I've seen you kind of pull threads of comedy as you mentioned, you've, said that you try to go out of your way to embarrass yourself on a regular basis, why. Is that. Well, I'm I'm curious about the things that hold power over us and one of the big fears is fear of embarrassment we all have that we have fear of failure so I'm always working on these things that I feel, like might hold me back and so. If I embarrass, myself then, it loses its power over, me and especially, if embarrassing, myself at times becomes, the goal then. It. Feels. Like. I don't know it's like I'm playing my, I'm like playing, my own head games with myself on that but like. One, example of embarrassing, myself is, you know I joined Instagram and, I joined F feel like I might be the last one on the planet to have joined it was about a year ago and my. Team is like join Instagram you got to do it you got to put yourself out there and I was nervous I wasn't sure like I don't know and the. Day that I joined. I happened to be flying, to, New York on business and, I was at the Atlanta, Airport and so, I was like I'm, gonna go around the airport and personally, asked people to follow me and it. Was so embarrassing and, I was mortified, and I was embarrassing, myself and I posted. The whole video it's like my first post, on Instagram is me cuz I'm like how does this work how do you get followers so I was around you. Know Jackson, Hartfield Airport, and I even like stood up in the video I'm filming myself and I make an announcement at my gate I'm like excuse, me I'm. Sara, Blakely and I just joined Instagram today will, you follow me and literally I go, like that's not one person, looks about really.
I Was. Like thank you thank you I. Was. Gonna ask if it worked but not, many more followers. So. You've given us many examples of how you've been able to push yourself to face your fears what. Fears have you not figured out how to face yet. You. I mean, I can't really think of one I. Work. Hard at them, and. Sometimes, my fear of heights and flying is winning and sometimes I'm winning it at it, you. Know I have fear of public speaking sometimes. I'm winning sometimes, I'm not at that you know there's just a lot of different things but. There's. Nothing that I I feel like I'm not. Trying. And, working. So, Sarah. You talked about your Instagram account where, you share literally. Unfiltered, moments, as a mom as a wife as a friend and as a leader, what. Keeps you so unbelievably, grounded, amid all your resounding success. I. Feel. Like success just, makes you more of who you already were, I feel. Like money and success just, does that so. It's. Like it holds a magnifying, glass up to who you are people. You know people always ask you that and I'm like I don't know who else to be I mean I am Who I am so the, money the success, and, so. I like to say if you were a jerk before you got really. Successful. And a lot of money you become, a bigger jerk easily and if you were insecure you'll become more insecure, if you were nice you become nicer if you were generous you become more generous it's literally just a. Magnifying. Glass but yeah I am. You. Know people, ask me I don't know any other way to be just. Going. Through it figuring. It out along the way, awesome. Well I know there's a couple of people in the audience who have questions. For you so, I'm gonna hand it over for. A minute great, I'm so if you have if you have a question, please raise your hand and we'll get a mic to you. Hi thank, you so much for being here my name is Beth and I'm a second, year and about to have to leave this place uh, the question, that I've been wondering about and that you've spoken about a little bit is I mean your Instagram is just awesome like there there are not other CEOs, who I want to spend time like, seeing what they're up to in their daily life and I'm, wondering you, know what. You think other people, who are running companies and, and and businesses, can, learn from how you think, about communication. Through social, media. Well. You know I I, I, haven't thought that much about what other people are and aren't doing I I love, the idea of leaders. And, CEOs. Showing, vulnerabilities. And. Showing. The ups and downs and, you, know, I just, I just don't really subscribe in, the feeling that I need to put on any kind of a facade to be taken seriously, as a leader and so it's like. This. Is my life this is Who I am I'm a mom of four some, days I'm working it out some days I'm not and. And. I think that that that's important, I also I, sort, of have my own filter, for Instagram, I don't it's not planned out I do it 100% myself and I'm having fun with it and if, I wake up one day and it's not fun anymore then I'll figure out a plan B but, so. It, everything, kind of happens organically and, in the moment for, for my, Instagram, and. I. Tend. To think before, I do it or if it's happening, is this gonna inspire. Someone, or make them feel better, you. Know I'm kind of interested in. Making. Other people feel like. They're. Not in it alone or. It's. Not it's not the projection, of a perfect, life. How, much for being here we're so excited to have you I'm Brittany I'm an MBA too as well about to graduate and. So as dean Levin mentioned you're famous and very much admired, for your hustle I. Think the story of paying your friends to go buy our product, from the shelves in human Marcus is one that many of us have heard and I'm. Just curious kind of what Hustle means to you whether. You think it can be learned and. Also whether it's possible to take hustle too far, hey. That's. A good question that's a few questions I'm gonna try to hit them all I've, got momy memory so I'm gonna start with the first one which was what do I think of Hustle I feel. Like Hustle is the. Willingness to work really really hard and, then, also your, willingness, to get the job done like, kind. Of navigating. And doing. What it takes and. And. So. I yeah. I've there's. So much about my journey where, I was like I am NOT gonna let the outcome, or my, success, be, contingent. On other people, as much as I can control. It help it navigate, it I'm going to so. So. Yeah in the beginning especially still, now I mean obviously I'm hustling I'm like at this. Where I am now and I'm running around the airport asking people to follow me on Instagram, you know I, just. Feel like it's innate in me also to, a degree. But. The. In, the beginning, it's like there's a few examples that come to mind you mentioned, that I paid, my I called, my friends and asked them to go buy Spanx, and I wrote to everybody checks and sent them a check.
Because. I needed to drive momentum. And I had no money to advertise so, I'm like this products gonna sit on the Shelf so I needed to get people. To go in and buy it I also, when I went into the stores I realized, very quickly that my. Product, was in the sleepiest, part of, the department store it was back in the corner and nobody was going there so, then I immediately. Went. To a, Target. And I bought. Envelope. Dividing. Dividers, that you put on your home desk and I ran around Neiman, Marcus and, put them at every register. And I put Spanx, in them and then I walked away and. Neiman's. Has like impeccable, visual. Rules, and regulations. And and. I did that because I had to get my product out of the department, and because I did that women in shoes. Started, buying Spanx, and women in contemporary, and and those. Decisions, made such a big difference and by the time somebody figured out that nobody else had approved it because I you know everybody thought somebody else approved, it. It. Was so successful that, the head of Neiman's was like whatever this girl's doing let her keep doing it I mean, I have so many stories like that of just. What, do I need to do. I am, a second-year biophysics. PhD, student, my, question, is what advice did you receive about getting. Spinks off the ground in the first few years good, or bad and what. Approach did you take to taking. This mentorship. Or advice into consideration. And. How did you navigate, meshing, that advice with what you wanted to do based off of your intuition and plan for your company, okay. So, what advice did I get in the beginning we have compound, questions. What. Advice was I given in the beginning of Spanx, I. Mean. I. I. Remember. Somebody, saying to me as I, was delegating. And growing and getting, bigger. That. They said Sarah if it's 80%, as good as you could do it yourself let, it go and be very happy and that, was so freeing for me because I think I was trying I was always critiquing, in my mind like I couldn't you know that wasn't a hundred percent exactly, the way and I was just like that, became a really. Important, lesson for, me in in growing, the business and. Letting. Go more. No. I I it's, so funny I I didn't, have I don't have a mentor, and I didn't have I never took a business class and. Wayne. Dyer the, gentleman, I mentioned he's no longer living he died almost, two years ago I think the inspirational, motivational speaker. Was. Someone that I really, kind. Of taught me without, ever knowing him. Then. I'm sorry you had like two or three more questions in there. Did. I answer them or, okay. Cool. We'll. Take maybe one last question from the audience before. Hi. I'm mark I'm an MBA one so I'm not graduating for a little bit. Hi. Mark hey a quick question you talked a lot about intuition versus, data and decision making and also failing I'm curious if there's a situation. Where, the numbers would have led you one way your intuition, led you another and it was a failure in kind of what you learned from it. If an. Example, of intuition. Not. Working or we'll see I guess example. Where your intuition, may be led was, a mistake. I. Cannot. Give one example I can't. I can. Give examples on the other end of, not. Listening to my intuition and it being a mistake.
But. There's been so much along, the way where I, and. It requires you, being quiet and and being. Receptive and, and. Listening, to whatever the, knowing is inside, of you, it. Requires that. I'd. Love to take the final question if that's okay Sara you've. Said the, harder you work the more the universe will believe how serious, you are about your goals and dreams and will then show up to help how. Much of your success do, you attribute to your hard work versus, luck handed over by the universe, I. Think. They're so related. I really. Feel like they're one in the same and, you, know I mentioned when I first started, Spanx. I was selling fax machines sorted or I had, a particularly, bad day I literally, did get escorted out of buildings almost all day every day and people ripped up my business card in my face often and one. Day I just pulled off the side of the road and I was like this is not my life I'm, in the wrong movie called. The director, called, the producer like cut, this is not happening and I went home to my apartment and I wrote my, strengths, I was like what am I good at and pretty much the only thing in the good column was sales and so, I started, asking, myself well what is it what is it about sales, that I'm good at and I realized I like giving somebody something or selling them something that could help them or change their life or make them feel good so, I actually wrote in my journal that night I'm going, to invent a product that I can sell to millions of people that will make them feel good and then. I specifically. Asked, the universe, for, the, idea, and I said out loud in my apartment. Universe, give, me the idea and. Two. Years later I cut. The feet out of my pantyhose to go to a party, I couldn't, figure out what to wear under white pants and I did. It only one time because I was so, and receptive, to what the universe was going to provide, for me and it. Took two years and, I was always looking but, it, showed up and I was gonna pursue it I wasn't sure if that was the idea or not so, I've been in partnership, with the universe I feel like the universe you. Know my CFO who's, you. Know a little bit more analytical. Minded than I am. She, now she now, says the universe is the, best employee. On the payroll because they're. Free free. So, she's, now a believer and, you. Know what's so, funny is about, like, I when I first started, Spanx - I joined a group and, they put me in a forum, of men, and there. Were only men in this, entrepreneurial. It's like a YPO, across the country and they put me in my chapter in Atlanta and I got put in with 10 guys I'm the only girl I have met with these 10 guys every, single month for 17. Years now they're.
Like My brothers but. They will tell you when, I first started they were all taking bets in the group of how long I'd be in business and. They're, you know I would always say things like they'd go around the room and talk about things. Then I would say wives I've asked, the universe to do this and I taking, care of this and, I have visualized, that I'm gonna be on a woman, and I have you know and they're like and so. And then and, then like my results, kept going up and up and up and then eventually after a couple years one by one and I'm not kidding every, single one of them pulled me aside secretly. I was like so. How do you talk to the universe.