Want to Innovate? Find Your Role Model !



Here at IAI- we spend a lot of time investigating innovations AND the people/teams behind them. In this inspiring video, motivational speaker Tony Robbins urges aspiring entrepreneurs to learn, live well and honestly, take care of yourself and your friends and community, and find your role model(s). Did you know that Tony was homeless early on but decided to go to libraries so that he could learn about business and fill his brain with ideas that he shares freely today? Did you know he had stage fright but now cheer-leads entrepreneurs to focus on your audience and declares, “the secret to living is giving.”

 And Tony’s mentor was: Jim Rohn – founder of Adventures in Achievement.


Picture Credit: Flipboard

Tony highlights the youngest self-made woman to become a billionaire, Sara Blakely of Spanx, who started her business with $5,000 in savings. Forbe’s Kelly Caprino created a great series on Forbes called, “Entrepreneurial Women Rocking the World” in which Sara is profiled. Here’s a product evangelist – “Believe in your idea, trust your instincts, and don’t be afraid to fail. It took me two years from the time I had the idea for Spanx until the time I had a product in hand ready to sell into stores. I must have heard the word “no” a thousand times. If you believe in your idea 100%, don’t let anyone stop you! Not being afraid to fail is a key part of the success of Spanx.”

Here are the top 10 lessons I learned from Sara’s journey from fax machine saleswoman to entrepreneurial superstar:

1)      Fail Big – Sara’s beloved father followed Wayne Dyer’s guidance in teaching his children the power of failing big.  Each day, her father would ask – “So, what did you fail at today.” And if there were no failures, Dad would be disappointed.  Focusing on failing big  (which startup guru Tom Peters championed) allowed Sara to understand that failure is not an outcome, but involves a lack of trying — not stretching yourself far enough out of your comfort zone and attempting to be more than you were the day before.   Failing big was a good thing.

2)      Visualize it – Sara is a big fan of “visualizing” your big goal, in specific, concrete ways.  She saw herself clearly on the Oprah TV show 15 years before it happened.  She simply knew it would happen.  She’d see in her mind’s eye sitting on the couch with Oprah having an exciting conversation, and wondered, “What are we talking about?”  The rest was just “filling in the blanks” to get there.

3)      Don’t share your fragile idea with the world too soon.  Sara kept her idea of making a fabulous new undergarment for women under wraps for an entire year while working on developing the prototype.  Only after she was 100% committed to it and ready to launch, did she sit her friends down and explain her new direction.  Sara explains that ideas are vulnerable, fragile things.

4)      Don’t take no for an answer. Sara reached out to slews of manufacturers and lawyers to help her patent her idea and create a successful prototype.  In every conversation she had with potential manufacturers, she was asked three questions: 1) Who are you? 2) Who are you with? 3) and Who is backing you?  When the answers to these three questions remained, “Sara Blakely,” no one wanted to take a chance on her, until one manufacturer called her back and said “OK.”  Why? Because he had gone home and told his daughters about the idea, and they said, “It’s brilliant!”

5)      Hire people you like and trust (even if they don’t know a great deal about what you need them to do).  Sara hired a head of Product Development and a PR director who had been friends and supporters from the beginning.  Neither knew anything about the functional areas they were hired to oversee, but Sara trusted they’d be fabulous at their new roles, and they were.

6)      You don’t have to go in order. Sara’s passionate commitment to her new Spanx product was so fierce, she just tackled each task in the development and marketing journey as they came up, not necessarily in the best order for a smooth launch.  She landed a Neiman Marcus deal involving placement of the product in seven stores, before figuring out how to mass produce.

7)      You CAN figure it out you have the ability.  Sara knew absolutely nothing about women’s undergarments, patenting a new product, manufacturing, marketing, product development, website development, online commerce, and more.  But that didn’t stop her. She researched what she needed to, hired out what she couldn’t do, and marched forward with undying commitment and energy.

8)      You can build a billion dollar business starting with $5,000.  Sara had only $5,000 in savings on that fateful day when she cut the feet off of her stockings in order to wear them under her white pants for a more flattering look (and thus, realized the world needed a new undergarment product that would be comfortable yet flattering to the female form).

9)      Don’t worry about the outer “stuff” until the time is right. Sara worked tirelessly from her apartment creating her product, avoiding investing in outside office space or other marketing and business tools until the product had taken off.  Anything that wasn’t essential to building the product and getting the name out there simply wasn’t a priority.

10)   Breaking the mold is a good thing.  When Sara began to research undergarments for women and how they’d been made for the last 50 years, she was astonished.  From the absurd sizing protocols (only one average waist measure was used on all the products, regardless of the size of the garment), to how products were tested (on manikins not real people), Sara saw that the undergarment industry needed a female perspective – insights from a real woman wearing these items.

Sara is not afraid to be a rebel or thank her mom last Mother’s Day. But keep grounded, unlike James Dean in the iconic 1955 movie – “Rebel without a Cause“.

Reach out to your family and friends JUST BECAUSE!

#CallYourMom – http://sarasnotebook.com/2016/04/19/happy-mothers-day/

Sara, Alexandra and their moms Ellen & Elsa talk entrepreneurship, motherhood
and the sneaky things they got away with as kids (or so they thought!).

There are countless inspiring characters from peacemakers like Martin Luther King and Gandhi, intellects like Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, sports heroes such as Lou Gehrig and David Ortiz (go Red Sox), etc. but find whomever inspires you !

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