Building a Culture

Sara Blakely

Lesson time 19:10 min

Company culture is a top priority for Sara, especially as Spanx continues to grow. She stresses the importance of hiring for your weaknesses, empowering employees, and creating a culture that embraces learning from failure.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Early Hiring · Prioritize Culture Fit · The Interview · Fire Fast · Stay Scrappy · Define Your Culture · Set the Tone · Give Back


SARA BLAKELY: When you're building your business, hiring the right people, timing the right hires, and building the right culture is super important to the success of building a company. So there's two different kinds of people that you're hiring. And one is to support your bench strength and your lanes and the other is to completely fill the voids. Start with filling the voids when you're first starting. When I started Spanx, I can share with you the hires I made and in what order. The first person I hired was an operator, because that was my very core weakness. And he focused right away on inventory, delivery, accounting, accounts receivables. And then my second hire was actually a person in PR. And this person had never done PR before. I literally went to go for a walk for a bagel with her in my neighborhood. And I had given her a free product. And the entire walk, she told me how amazing the product was and all the things she wore it with and how it changed her life. And by the time we got back from the walk, I said, do you want to be my head of PR? And she said, I didn't go to school for that. I don't even know how to do it. I said, neither do I, but you could be calling all the people that I'm trying to call now. And what you said sounded perfect. So she was my second hire. And then my third hire was actually an assistant, because I was booking all of my own travel and spending a lot of time with trying to book airfare, hotel reservations. But I ended up having her as my assistant for only two weeks, two to three weeks, because I needed her to become an extension of me in product development. And so we laugh about it now, because she had no experience whatsoever in product development. She was an interior designer. And after a few weeks, I said, do you mind being head of my product development? And she goes, I don't know anything about hosiery. I don't know anything about shape wear. I'm like, I don't either. It's perfect. And those were my three key first hires. So it was the operator, someone to build the awareness for me, and to become an extension of that, and someone to become an extension of me in product development so I could go out and continue to sell. My first hires-- none of them had experience doing what I hired them to do. And there are certain times that you have to look for deep experience in hiring someone in a certain position. That makes perfect sense. But because I had no experience myself in hosiery, I'd never worked in fashion or retail, I had never owned a business, run a business, I'd never even been anyone's boss, I was more open to the fact that other people might be able to really be dynamic in certain positions that they weren't technically trained for. And that's sort of stayed the spirit of Spanx. We definitely look for people with deep experience where it's necessary, but I'm looking for people who have a positive attitude. I'm looking for someone who cares the most. I'm looking for som...

About the Instructor

With little more than an idea and a drive to find her way, Sara Blakely went from selling fax machines door-to-door to becoming the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire in 2012. Now the inventor, entrepreneur, and founder of Spanx teaches you to open doors and close deals. Learn Sara’s customer-first approach and her tactics for prototyping, branding and building awareness, and bootstrapping your way to success.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Sara Blakely

Spanx founder Sara Blakely teaches you bootstrapping tactics and her approach to inventing, selling, and marketing products that consumers love.

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