Sara Blakely is an Icon
Today, I watched Sara Blakely’s live conversation with Marie Rosecrans, SVP of Salesforce. It was part of the Stories of Resilience series — ongoing virtual discussions in which business leaders share real stories, inspiration, and live Q&A of how they’ve navigated challenging times, adapted their businesses, and forged a path forward.
It was inspiring; Blakely always is. She feels like the Cameron Diaz character, you know the one, impossibly gorgeous but doesn’t know it? That’s Blakely too, impossibly successful, but self-deprecating and funny. If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss the gold nuggets of wisdom from a formidable female executive who runs an empire while raising four children.
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Sara Blakely is the Founder and CEO of SPANX, an American undergarment maker focusing on shaping briefs and leggings, founded in Atlanta, Georgia. Spanx’s mission is to help women feel great about themselves and their potential. It mirror’s Blakley’s calling to empower, elevate, and support women.
After more than 20 years in business and more than eight years as a self-made billionaire, she’s graced the covers of Forbes, Inc., and Success magazines.
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If you have entrepreneurial dreams or are growing your business, spend some time asking yourself the questions — How are you different or better as a leader? How can you incorporate storytelling into your brand? How can you prioritize more effectively, or bet on your strengths to be even more successful?
Be a Storyteller
Blakely’s story is fascinating, and she maximizes it. She knows she’s in a unique position to dole out advice from a rare vantage point. Many ambitious women want to learn from her, and she’s a relatable yet iconic teacher.
She uses stories to share the pivotal moments of her life and business. When she was 16, and her parents divorced, she discovered self-improvement. When she repeatedly used the word “fanny” in the UK, not knowing it meant something different to the audience there, she realized the value of humor in her business.
Early on, when male executives warned her that business on that level was war, she deliberately chose another path and focused on service, empowerment, and philanthropy instead.
Prioritize What Matters
A mother of four, when asked how she does it, Blakey is candid about the self-doubt and mom guilt that came with becoming a working mother. She gives credit to her husband, with whom she tag-teams home and parenting responsibilities, and credits her ability to prioritize, delegate, and stop sabotaging thoughts in their tracks.
She doesn’t beat herself up for not working when she’s with the kids or not being with the kids when working.
Stay in Your Lane
Blakely balances persistence with humor and vulnerability. She knows by the nature of what she sells and why her customers buy it, that there is an intimate connection between them, so she keeps it light, but personal. For example, once seated between Warren Buffett and Madeleine Albright, she asked Albright her bra size to send her a gift — a business move that took moxie and humility.
Her well-documented resilience and tenacity have facilitated success. She’s utterly committed to self-improvement, maximizing her company, and making the world a better place. She loves what she does, focuses where she excels, and reminds us that others feed off our passion and confidence, so we need to believe in what we are pursuing convincingly.
And finally, she innovates and invents at every stage to build a moat around the more important aspects of her business, so others might be able to knock off her brand, but without the same results. A category creator, she remains authentic, true to herself, and is the special sauce that powers Spanx.
If you are a female entrepreneur who wants to uncover your special sauce or get really clear about what breakout traits can take you to the next level, book a free discovery call with me.