Listen: Sara Blakely of Spanx: Ideas are Most Vulnerable When They're Brand New
"Today. They of course. Thanks is an international brand and Sarah is a billionaire and you'll discover here is that she's also super open about the strategies. Used to stay stay confident and optimistic. When she was just getting started? I WANNA go back to one thousand nine hundred eight when I experimented when you cut the feet the legs of pantyhose any hose and began to design. What would become eventually spanks pockets? You said something to me that I've I've never forgotten and I'm going to quote here. You said ideas Are At their most vulnerable. When their brand new yes in other words that's when people say oh it's GonNa work socks is stupid? Forget it so great. Why didn't other people do it? You decided not to pretty much not to tell anybody to keep it a secret and it was for that reason because you knew that you would be discouraged. Yes now I shared my idea with people who could help me move it. Forward like a patent attorney the people in the manufacturing plants but I decided. I wasn't going to tell anybody just to say. Hey what do you think of this for awhile. Ideas are the most vulnerable in their infancy and we all have amazing ideas. I'm a believer. That everybody in their lifetime has has at least one million dollar idea maybe even a billion dollar idea but as our inclination as humans to immediately turn to our right or left and say to our friend or coworker husband and wife and say hey I have this idea what do you think and out of love and concern. They'll say well you know if it's such a great idea. Why isn't anybody done on it or things like that and then you end up spending all of your time defending it and explaining it rather than pursuing it? And so I pursued the I dea spanks for one year before I told anybody. I sat my family down. I said guys you ready. All they knew was Sara's working on some crazy idea they they didn't know what it was and I sat down and I said Okay Ready. It's footloose pantyhose right. You can imagine the response and they were like what what. And then I got all the out of total love. If it's such a good idea Sara why does it already exist and honey even if this is a a good idea you're going to spend your five thousand dollars in savings and within six months the big guys could just knock you right out of the water and I think I really believe that had I heard with that in the minute that I had the idea and cut the feet out of my pantyhose. I really think I would not have started spanks. You think if you would've told people or your family and friends or the people who sort of judgment you know could have affected. You would have given up or I just would have been easily. Let that one fly fly right out the window and just been like. Yeah okay. Maybe you're right but I also I had set intention for an idea two years before this and that also helped me so I sold fax machines door to door for seven years and I was always kicked out of buildings. PEOPLE WOULD RIP UP MY BUSINESS CARD in my face all the time and one day I had had such a particularly bad day I pulled off the side of the road and that's when I thought I'm in the wrong movie like call the director or call the producer. Call the writer later. This is not my life and I wrote down what I was good at in my apartment. I'm like what are you good at Erin in my good column was sales and I started asking myself. What is it about sales that I liked? Mike and I realized I really liked selling somebody something that they needed or would improve their live and I wrote down. I'm going to invent something that I can sell to millions of people that that will make them feel good and then I looked up and I said I need the idea and so two years later when I cut the feet out of my pantyhose to go to a party I had never worked in fashion or retail but I cut the feet out and I solved this undergarment issue kind of because they rolled up my legs all night but but I you know I looked smooth. I had no lines and I thought this should exist for women but because I had said that intention and been so clear what the universe two years prior and said please give me the idea. I believe ideas are gifts from the universe and I think they're very precious and I think the minute we get them. We should write them down. Instantly I think carrying the same style notebook with me for twenty years and now mostly used my phone but I keep a log of every thought an idea that I think could potentially be something thing you know. I think about your story a lot because in those early days where you're going door to door selling fax machines getting doors slammed in your face at wonder group that built resiliency. Did you have to be exposed to that kind of rejection. In order to be able to start this company one hundred percent. I believe that cold calling rolling is one of life's greatest trainings. I had to learn how to be quick on my feet. I had to learn how to win somebody over quickly I had to learn to get to the heart the matter in a sales scenario very quickly which is when I learned. What's in it for them and get to the point very quickly and don't sell the product? Sell the problem you're solving. I learned all this through massive mega trial and error and door after door. Slamming in my face and that helped me so much respect because for the first two years I was working on spanks spanks at night and on the weekends while I was still selling fax machines by day and that I got told no for those basically no which I just want to point out if you invent something or if you're an innovator it means you're doing something that's different than how everybody else is doing it. You're going to hear the word now. That's cool if I mean if you say you had told people about this idea people who loved and cared about you maybe some with them would've said Hey. Why don't you go work for Fashion Company for a couple of years and get experience in the industry and learn about it and learn the INS and outs and then you know you? You'll know what to do. You'll have connections and so on breath wonder if you in some ways you had a sort of an intuitive advantage given that you you told me on the show. Oh you didn't know anything about the industry right. I mean that's really logical advice. Get right especially as a parent to a child like go get experience before you go. I do this. So there's a very high likelihood I would have heard that right away and you know one of the things. My life was so bad when I was selling fax machines door to door and I had this conversation one time with my dad and he said honey you live in Atlanta now go get a job at CNN. or go work at coke and this voice inside of me said but then I might be content. And and I thought I need to be miserable right now like I need to stay miserable because if I stay in rock bottom and I'm this unhappy. I'm going to ensure that I am willing to take some sort of a leap that terrifies me but I mean even early on. You didn't ask for permission. I mean didn't ask for permission when you went to Neiman and Marcus I mean your products display in the back of the hosiery section syrup tissue next to the cash register so people would notice them. And you didn't ask for permission and you almost like you were fearless you. Wouldn't you weren't worried about the consequences of doing those kinds of things. Yeah I'm definitely not fearless. I'm courageous -rageous and there's a big difference. I'm afraid of so many things like those days that I moved the stand when no one gave me permission to I was shaking but I believe the differences that courage is doing things despite fear and we build our courage muscle by continuing to just face it and do it but I was terrified. Fight during all of those steps I will say that. I think being an entrepreneur and charting your own course especially if we're going to be doing things different than how everybody else does it which is where real change and innovation for society"