- The Sunday Starter
- The Sunday Starter Silhouette: Sara Blakely
The Sunday Starter Silhouette: Sara Blakely
How To Reshape Our Life For The Better
Welcome to The Sunday Starter, a weekly email of tools and techniques, that help you navigate your journey to just get started and keep moving forward.
In this week's Sunday Starter Silhouette issue, I want to shine a spotlight on someone who has long been an inspiration to me – the remarkable Sara Blakely.
She's not just one of my all-time favorite entrepreneurs; she's one of my all-time favorite people. I've been captivated by Sara's journey ever since I first heard her as a guest on the "How I Built This" Podcast with Guy Raz.
You've likely come across Sara as the Founder of Spanx, a billion-dollar clothing brand that she ingeniously started in her own apartment. She's not just reshaped the fashion industry (pun intended 😊 ) you could say she's redefined it. But what's truly remarkable is that, despite her monumental success, she remains remarkably down-to-earth.
While I haven't had the privilege of knowing Sara personally, there's something about her that resonates deeply with me. She exudes an unshakable blend of grit and determination, all wrapped up in a package of infectious fun and boundless energy.
Sara's story strikes a chord with me because it's a testament to the power of unwavering commitment.
You see, she wasn't handed a "qualified" certificate to start her business.
Instead, she took an idea, held onto it with both hands, and committed herself to seeing it through, no matter the challenges.
We all have ideas – some big, some small – but it's the ones who take that leap, roll up their sleeves, and bring those ideas to life that are the true architects of their own success stories.
Sara Blakely is living proof of that.
So, the next time you ponder your own ideas and dreams, let her journey be a spark of inspiration to ignite your own entrepreneurial spirit.
❔ Did You Know?
→ After graduating from FSU, Blakely sold copiers and fax machines door to door and was more than once escorted out of office buildings for cold-calling. She also was a sales trainer and moonlighted as a stand-up comic.
Blakely recalled her “light bulb” moment when she came up with a product that would make her millions.
“In 1998, I was getting dressed for a party and couldn’t find the right undergarment,” she said. “So I cut the feet out of my pantyhose to wear with white pants and open-toed shoes. At that moment, I knew this was something women needed.” (read the full article from the Tallahassee Magazine)
🍿 Sunday Snacks To Munch On:
🎥 Her Instagram is business motivation w/ a mix of her family life (follow here)
📺 Her Interview with Tony Robbins (watch here)
🎙 Podcast Interview on “How I Built This” with Guy Raz (listen here)
📺 Great Interview with Forbes Next1000 Summit (watch here)
Sara openly shares her insights and advice about entrepreneurship, parenting, relationships, and otherwise and it’d be hard to say which is her “best piece of advice” as each can be relatable at various points on our journey.
However, I must narrow it down so I wanted to share three as it pertains to taking control of our lives and getting started.
1. Embrace Failure
Sara often emphasizes the importance of embracing failure as a stepping stone to success. She believes that failures are valuable learning experiences that can lead to innovation and growth.
She says, “My dad encouraged us to fail. Growing up, he would ask us what we failed at that week. If we didn't have something, he would be disappointed. It changed my mindset at an early age that failure is not the outcome, failure is not trying. Don't be afraid to fail.”
I heard similar advice from a recent clip with David Goggins (who, ironically, came to live with Sara and her husband, Jesse Itzler for 30 days and was the basis for Jesse’s book, “Living with a Seal”.) He said “Failure isn’t a failure, it’s an attempt.” (clip from Instagram)
→ I used to categorize failure as something I was doing wrong.
Does anyone else feel that way?
What I’ve come to embrace is that the “fear of failing” far outweighs anything that could go wrong during the attempt to try.
Do as Sara says and “Don’t be afraid to fail.”
2. Stay Committed
Sara advises aspiring entrepreneurs to stay committed to their ideas and businesses, even in the face of skepticism or setbacks.
→ Persistence and determination are key to achieving one's goals.
When she was building Spanx, she bootstrapped early on starting with $5,000 and not taking on any investors. People looked at her like she was going crazy.
What is a fax machine salesperson doing selling clothing garments?
She knew she was onto something and didn’t let the naysayers in the crowd convince her otherwise.
That’s often what happens when we are gung-ho about an idea. We have some early success but as we start to share our ideas with the world we are met with criticism, unsolicited advice, and negativity toward what we are trying to achieve.
→ We must believe we know best.
There will always be people that don’t believe in us, but even more concerning, are the people who care for us deeply and want us to be safe. They feel like they are protecting us by encouraging us to turn back around and quit.
They’re not wrong for feeling this way but they have never done what we’re about to attempt to do.
Neither have we, right? But we believe enough in the idea (and ourselves) that we must see it through!
3. Network and Seek Mentors
Building a strong network and seeking out mentors can provide valuable guidance and support as you navigate the business world. Sara has credited her own mentors with helping her on her journey,
→ Trying to do it all by ourselves leads us to more misery and suffering than needed.
We can’t see the edges of our viewpoint and therefore miss valuable opportunities to sidestep obstacles or advance further more quickly.
Although we can never anticipate all the challenges that lie ahead, having mentors who can provide us with a new perspective can help us get to where we want to go faster. Most likely, they’ve been in our shoes, so leveraging their expertise (and all of their missteps) helps us avoid some of the same.
Don’t have a mentor? Who, outside of your friends and family, do you respect more than anyone? Maybe they were an old boss or family friend or a local business person in your area.
If we don’t ask we never know if they’d be over to helping us on our journey.
As you look to grow your network and find suitable mentors, that might be a wonderful place to start.
I can’t put a price tag on how having mentors and trusted advisors has improved my life.
It’s a simple one this week. Go talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be about an idea you have or that you want someone to mentor you. Baby steps here.
→ Just pick someone. A person you haven’t spoken to in a while, an old colleague, someone you look up to.
It doesn’t matter who it is. It’s the act of reaching out and asking to connect that is the most important.
What if they don’t get back to me? What if they say no? What if…?
Who cares? This challenge is as much about handling rejection as it is about connecting with someone meaningful.
→ Who is one person you can reach out to in your network (or maybe it’s a cold email to someone you’ve always wanted to talk to) and ask if they’d be willing to catch up and talk?
It’ll be amazing what you learn in that discussion and, more importantly, you’ll be more inclined to do it again and again. Being around like-minded people is infectious! What's the worst that happens?
What’s Coming Next…
Next week we are going to take a deep dive into our thinking and how that could be affecting our perspective on the world including our happiness.
🙏 Thanks again for your support with this newsletter.
❓What did you think? I’d love feedback on this newsletter in order to continue to make this a superb resource for everyone. Nothing is off-limits. Simply reply and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.
✅ When you complete the challenge, I’d love to hear who you reached out to and how the connection went. Reply directly to this email and please share.
How Can I Support Your Journey?
One of the coolest things about building the Just Get Started community over the last several years is the number of interactions with new and interesting people who are on the cusp of getting started or early in their journey.
If I can support you in any way, please let me know. You can reply to this email and let me know what’s going on in your world. I’ll try to help where I can!