THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 112: Sara Blakely, Founder of SPANX

Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”

By the way, looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.

No. 112: Sara Blakely, Founder of SPANX

Age: 44
Where I live:
 Atlanta
Job: Inventor/Supporter of Women/Founder & Owner of SPANX
Kids: 
Three boys: 16-month-old twins and a 6-year-old—oh boy!

S09_Sara_Blakely_226_HSf01_GF01_RGBHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
No. I just layered the full-time job of being a mom on top of another full-time job at Spanx and then wondered why I was so exhausted. I started to notice changes in my health and couldn’t think as clearly. I feel like this happens to a lot of women. We just assume we will figure it out. There is no manual, and no way to truly prepare. I am still a work in progress.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I don’t know what having “it all” means. I imagine it’s different for everyone. I think what’s important for us to remember especially as women is to make ourselves a priority too, (gulp). Yes…oxygen mask goes on mom first then the kids for a reason. Pursue what you love and focus on being present and grateful in each moment including during all the delicious chaos that ensues when you are the mother of small children.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
My schedule. Because a big portion of what I do doesn’t have a rhythm or predictable cadence to it, it’s made it an even bigger priority to create routine where I can.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Making it more of a priority to figure out.

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance?
Trying to find the themes of when and how I spend my time and bucket them so I don’t feel too scattered.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor? “If what you delegate is 80% as good as you would have done it, let it go.”
From your mother?
 “Creativity creates beauty and balance. Breathe and be kind to yourself.”
From your spouse/partner? 
My husband is always doing pie charts to help me sort out my time. It’s so sweet. I don’t have the heart to tell him his pie charts just make me hungry.
From your kids? To be present and in the moment.

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Thinking.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
He shows up!

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
That we discovered life beyond earth.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Exercise–I know I should do it but I’m not a fan. Does chasing kids count?

Whose job do you wish you had?
Beautician doing makeovers or an astronomer studying the creation of the universe/other planets and stars. OR, a restaurant and spa/resort critic. That would be so fun! I think the people who are paid to eat fabulous meals and stay at amazing spas and resorts around the world and critique them for a living have it pretty good.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
I used to walk on a moving sidewalk 8 hours a day putting people on rides at Disney World. I’m really glad I don’t have that job anymore.

Favorite books?
Any short one with lots of pictures..

What are you reading right now?
Mindful Parenting by Kristen Race and my husband’s new book, Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, about when he invited a Navy Seal to move in with our family for a month to get him in really good shape.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Creating fake commutes to work so I can be in the car longer to think. I live 5 minutes from my office but sometimes I leave an hour before work just to drive.
Food? French fries, Cheetos, Cheez-Its, salt & vinegar chips, margaritas…do I need to go on? You get the point.
Website? I don’t have one, any suggestions?

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
Consecutively? Not much, but cumulatively…probably 7.

What do you read every morning?
My emails.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: have a purpose to help women.
I wish I: could wave a magic wand and completely erase all the pollution in our oceans, waterways, soil, and air. I wish I could elevate and empower the female energy on the planet so we can have more balance between male and female energy which would resolve so many global issues. I wish I could get consistent blonde highlights in my hair.
My kids: 
make me so happy.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
Yes. I was at a cocktail party and told a group of people that I had a life motto I live by. However, when someone asked me what it was, I forgot it. My husband thought that was so hilarious he actually had a neon sign made and installed in our house while I was away. It says… “I have a life motto, but I forgot it.” My motto (that I eventually remembered) is: “The more you experience in life the more you have to offer others.”

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Sara_Blakely_2About Sara:
Sara Blakely founded SPANX, Inc. in 2000. A frustrated consumer turned entrepreneur, she created a product that revolutionized an industry and changed the way women around the world get dressed. Sara’s invention got her foot in the door, but the inspiration to continue inventing was driven by her passion to make things better and more comfortable for women. Sara was selected as one of Time Magazine‘s 100 Most Influential People and was featured on the cover of Forbes Magazine. In 2013, she signed the Giving Pledge to donate half of her wealth to support her larger mission of empowering women.

Find out more about Sara:
www.spanx.com
Twitter: @SPANX
Facebook: SPANX
Instagram: @spanx
Pinterest: spanx

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WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? CHECK OUT MY NOVEL THE BALANCE PROJECT!

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One Comment

  1. Marné October 9, 2015 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    “I have a life motto, but I forgot it.”

    Hilarious! And so true. Great interview of yet another inspiring mom.

    Thanks

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