Spanx for the Business Lesson, Sara!

Podcasts are my lifeblood. I listen to them when I’m commuting, when I’m at the gym and when I’m cleaning. If there’s an unenjoyable, monotonous task that requires tending to, I’m probably listening to a podcast while I’m doing it. Recently, I’ve been listening to the following:

  • FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast
  • NPR Politics
  • The Run Up by the NYT
  • Serial
  • How I Made This
  • Revisionist History
  • Keepin’ it 1600

I recommend them all. You’ll probably notice that a lot of these are political, but one of them is about entrepreneurs and how they started their massively successful companies. While listening to How I Made This (HIMT), I heard the story about how Spanx undergarments came to exist. Now, as a guy, I’ve never worn Spanx and I know next to nothing about them. If you were to ask me what their value proposition is, I probably wouldn’t be able to explain it to you. Even after listening to the podcast, I still don’t fully understand what makes Spanx so great. But, as Sara Blakely‘s bank account can attest, women love them.

I’ve listened to one other episode of How I Made This, and what stood out to me about Sara in particular, is how passionately she talks about her product and her journey as an entrepreneur. She clearly believed in her idea from the get-go, and she dedicated all of her energy, time and money to ensuring her product’s success. She didn’t let the challenges of starting her own business discourage her, and she put the time, effort and money into her product development to maximize the likelihood that the product would gain traction.


As someone who is starting to accumulate some savings of my own, I tried to imagine myself in her position. Like most people, I have an emotional connection to the money that I’ve saved, because a lot of my time and effort has gone into earning it. So, when I tried picturing myself doing what she did – pouring her savings into the development of her product – I realized how crazy and inspiring she was. Not many people are willing to spend $10,000 on a business idea, let alone $50,000 or more.

But that’s the point of business, and entrepreneurship – you have to take risks, otherwise you won’t ever gain anything. I hope that when I have an idea that I think can be a success, that I have the guts to take the risks that people like Sara have. Until that time comes, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about entrepreneurship and business as I can.

If you have any resources, or books that you would recommend, please share them with me in the comments section below!