Individual Behavior


Wisdom Learning From Others


The story: Woman, unhappy with the way she looks in white slacks, cuts feet off a pair of panty hose, puts them on under slacks, attends party, and feels great. The result: Sara Blakely founds Spanx, Inc.

“I knew this could open up so many women's wardrobes,” Blakely says. “All women have that clothing in the back of the closet that they don't wear because they don't like the way it looks.” With $5,500 and the idea for “body-shaping” underwear, she set out to start a business. But the pathway to profits wasn't a straight line. Others with the same idea might not have succeeded.

Blakely brought a unique experience and personality to the task. She had a passion for direct selling and diligently researched patents and trademarks. When manufacturers balked—with one calling it “a crazy idea”—she persisted. When department stores turned her down, she persisted. Finally, she persuaded a buyer at Neiman Marcus to give Spanx its first big chance.

As sales grew, Blakely realized her limits; additional skills were needed to handle the firm's fast-paced growth. Saying she “was eager to delegate my weaknesses,” she turned day-to-day operations over to CEO Laurie Ann Goldman and freed herself for brand development and philanthropy.1


Little Things Are Big Things at Life Is Good

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