She’s graced the covers of Forbes, Inc. and our very own SUCCESS. She’s appeared on 60 Minutes, Shark Tank and The View. In 2012, at 41, she became the first woman in the world to become a billionaire, without the help of an inheritance or spouse. She’s Sara Blakely, founder of shapewear company Spanx.
But before that, she was a hopeful lawyer, a Walt Disney World chipmunk character, and a door-to-door fax machine salesperson. Then she came up with an idea that changed everything. It’s an inspiring story, one that’s been told a hundred times.
“The sound bite in the media for 20 years has been, ‘Sara cut the feet out of her pantyhose and then Spanx is here,’” Blakely says. “But it always starts before that.
During a vulnerable interview on The Tony Robbins Podcast with the host of the same name, a No. 1 life and business strategist, No. 1 New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Blakely shares some of her greatest lessons while building Spanx, which celebrates its 20-year anniversary this year. Here’s what we learned:
1. Death was her first lesson but not her last.
When Blakley was 16 years old, her friend was struck and killed by a vehicle while riding a bicycle. Shortly after, her parents decided to separate and her father moved out of the family home. Before leaving, her father gave her a cassette tape collection, How to Be a No-Limit Person by Wayne Dyer.
It would become a spark that ignited a lifelong journey to better understand herself and to capture each moment, knowing that life is fleeting. Loss, whether physical, emotional or spiritual can either cripple someone or propel them forward. For Blakely, loss became a catalyst.